Apparently, You Can’t Reenlist In A Latrine

You’re in a combat zone and your enlistment is up. Exit Strategy? Nope, a chance for dedicated professionals to raise their hand once again. And while I’m sure each ceremony is very moving, the ones I’m familiar with also include a slightly different emotion. All the troops I’ve “met” have a pretty healthy sense of humor. If you’ve seen the troops imitating cheerleaders’ Call Me Maybe video, you know what I mean.

One of my soldiers in Afghanistan sent me this picture of himself and a few buddies sharing a special moment in the Pesh River. He told me a favorite reenlistment locale for his unit was standing on top of the Battalion Commander’s desk.

Taking the oath in the Pesh River (I blurred faces for privacy)

Taking the oath in the Pesh River (I blurred faces for privacy)

Keeping with the water theme, here’s one I found on YouTube for a Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class.

What would mom say?

Sgt. Brown* (name changed for privacy) was in Iraq and thinking about whether or not to reenlist. I asked him what his parents thought and he said his Dad was for it. Then he shared that his Mom had died when he was a boy and he missed her very much. I told him that if he ever wanted an Official Mom Opinion, I could hook him up. I told him those opinions and the ability to write excuse notes were powers bestowed in the maternity ward. I didn’t expect him to say, “yes, I’d like that very much.”

I was kidding around to brighten his mood. This is a serious thing, how do I answer? Especially when I have a little girl that I wish I could swathe in bubble wrap and never let out my sight? (Attn: Child Services, no bubble-swathing has occurred) I wanted to do right by this fellow mom I never met and be supportive of her son. So this is what I said,

“If you reenlist, I will not get one good night’s sleep until your boots are safely back on American soil. But what is also true, is that I am so proud of the man you have become. So what I want you to do is this: follow what’s in your heart. If that’s the Army, then that’s what I want you to do. But if you’re done, I want you to come home now. Don’t feel guilty about leaving your buddies. Don’t worry about the economy. I will be there for you and help you figure out what’s next. Just promise me you’ll be honest with yourself. That’s what I want you to do.”

He thanked me and continued to think about it. Finally, he decided he wanted to reenlist. The officer in charge asked him where he’d like to do it. Sgt. Brown said, “the latrine.” That idea was overruled. I laughed and told him it was probably against regulations.

We would’ve done it

I spoke to my Pesh River soldier about the latrine locale and he said, “Our unit would’ve done it. They would’ve wondered why you’d want that, but…sure.” Apparently, you can raise your hand more ways than I thought, and even cause a few smiles along the way.

© Gina left the mall, 2013

8 thoughts on “Apparently, You Can’t Reenlist In A Latrine

  1. I’d never thought about all the different locales that someone might choose to re-enlist. I have to say, the underwater locale is a bit more appealing than the latrine! But, hey, the bathroom is sort of a sacred place when you really think about it. ;-D

    • The ceremony isn’t long but it is special. That said, I love the sense of humor and creativity that these troops added in, especially in a combat zone. If that sometimes includes a lesser known “shrine,” so be it 🙂

    • I was talking to one of the soldiers in the river picture last week and he had me laughing, telling me little ways they “give each other sh*t” all the time. I think that humor is part of the camaraderie he loves so much. And yes, it’s probably the best defense against the less heavenly moments 🙂

  2. Gina, that was a poignant and beautiful letter that you wrote. I have to be honest and say I wish he had chosen not to re-enlist. On this subject I’m afraid I’m very narrow-minded. I can’t comprehend his father’s attitude at all. But I love your advice to him to follow his own heart. I guess that’s what he did, and I respect him for it.

    • NP,
      Thank you. This was a tough question. I’m sure some moms would just want their kid home. Period. Some would worry of course, but understand and respect their child’s desire to serve. Some have a cherished family history of service. Knowing nothing, I went with something I felt sure of: you want your child to be happy. By making that my answer, and being as honest as I could, I believe I did right by his mother. And Sgt. Brown too.

  3. I love this!! I once reenlisted over radio comms while free falling during a HALO jump! Afterward, we discovered that it wasn’t authorized since the swearing officer wasn’t face to face with me. So we had to redo it. This time it was just a normal reenlistment done while in field training exercise. But I figured the jump attempt would give you a chuckle.

    • lol..Dave, yes it did. Thanks for sharing! Of course, if I ever jumped out of a plane the only thing anyone would hear over the radio comm is me screaming. Or praying. I have a thing about heights.

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