Beyond The Pale

The Event Formerly Known as FTX

This has been another week where thinking about a good topic to blog on would have been impossible, though I should have plenty of time this coming week. Rachel, if you read this, next week should have a discussion of what homeschooling was like for me, which I think was what you wanted to hear about.

The reason I didn’t have much time for brainstorming and drafting a post for the week was that I was with my unit on the final exercise of my training, JICTC, or the event formerly known as FTX. Yes, apparently we can get in trouble if we call it FTX.

I had heard horror stories about the FTX from all of my friends who had been on one. They said that there was nothing to do, the training was unrealistic, and the NCOs in charge were a bunch of moronic jerks. Being a pessimist, I figured that the event was going to be like a flashback to basic training. It turns out that it wasn’t that bad.

Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely some idiocy involved, especially from the NCOs in charge of the training, but OUR NCOs were super chill, and they did everything that they could to shelter us from the bullcrap going on all around us, which wasn’t really that extreme anyway.

Here’s an example of the kind of stuff that was going on: we had paintball guns that were designed to look like M4s, and even though they are pretty safe, there is still a distance at which if you get hit, you are going to really feel it, so we did most of our missions with a “safety kill.” To safety kill, if you find yourself within ten to fifteen feet of an enemy, instead of shooting them, you just yell “safety kill” and they are considered dead. This is a basic rule that a lot of paintball places have.

On one mission, we had been receiving fire from a lot of directions, and we hadn’t been doing a very good job of covering our escape, so we were pinned down against a wall when some “Iraqis,” aka NCOs in turbans, came rolling upon their golf cart. We thought they were friendly when they stopped by where we were all slumped against the wall until one of them raised his weapon and said “safety kill” before proceeding to shoot one of my fellow soldiers, Corbett (who deserves a blog post all to himself), in the leg. The shot was so close that it tore the skin open and left him bleeding freely. The “Insurgent” turned to me and pointed his weapon at me, so I shot him—right in the nuts.

Granted, it wasn’t the best shot, but I was shooting right handed because I’d gotten shot in the right arm a couple of minutes earlier, and we were supposed to play like any parts that had been shot were out of commission.

He freaked out, saying that I was dangerous and not following orders, etc. He kept asking me why I did it, and wanted to know if I thought he didn’t want to have kids someday, blah blah blah. From previous experience with that NCO, I knew that it was pointless to try to explain that his own rule said that if he shot at us from a dangerous distance, then we were allowed to reciprocate, so I just kept on repeating “I screwed up.” He didn’t know how to deal with my lack of self defense, so he had to give up on yelling at me, but he did ban me from using the paintball guns for two days, during which I had to carry around an M16 with blanks. Not very effective in a paintfight.

But the real idiocy of the week didn’t come from the NCOs who, when the realized that the Bco people weren’t losers, eventually became really cool. It came from the other soldiers, one in particular.

On Tuesday night, it started raining, and it rained for the rest of the trip. It also got a little cold, not cold in a really dangerous, or even uncomfortable, sense, just chilly—the mid 40s I’d guess. Well, this guy couldn’t take it, and because he happens to coach the Sergeant Major’s kid in baseball, he has the Sergeant Major’s telephone numbers, home and cell. After a couple hours of shivering in his sleeping bag (while I was in mine, sleeping better than I do at home), he couldn’t take it any more and called the Sergeant Major’s house. The Sergeant Major wasn’t there, but his wife told this soldier that he had his cell phone with him, so the soldier called his cell phone and told him that he was cold and he thought that there were going to be some people with cold weather injuries if someone didn’t do something about is being out in the cold. Keep in mind that it was only in the 40s and we had all kinds of cold weather gear with us. The Sergeant Major told him he would take care of it within the next hour.

About 30 minutes later, there comes some shouting outside the gate. I don’t wake up because, like I said, I was perfectly warm and dry in my bag, but the gate guards catch a guy carrying a bag, yelling that it needs to be delivered to the soldier who called the Sergeant Major. The guards lose their minds. They think that this is some part of the scenario, and they want to search the guy to make sure that the bag isn’t an IED. He won’t let them because he isn’t part of the scenario (which they should have known because he wasn’t wearing any protective gear), and the bag is full of arctic quality winter gear that the soldier had called him and asked him to bring. They came and got this soldier, and he got his gear, but while he was still out there, the Sergeant Major came rolling up in his car and gathered all of the NCOs together to tell them that if they didn’t shut down the FTX right away for the night, he was going to see to it that they lost rank and their careers were over.

Yep, I’m not joking.

We ended up spending the next two nights sleeping in the high bay of the fire school instead of in our tents, which was nice because we ordered pizza both nights, but wasn’t what I would call the most realistic of training environments.

This is the weakness of the modern soldier.


March 16, 2009 - Posted by | Army, Journal Style Entries | ,


  1. Um, wow. Mr. Wineybutt is a freakin pussy. Thanks for posting this story.

    Comment by xgravity23 | March 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow. You know, I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely tough person, not having been put in many situations that would require me to “toughen up,” and even I find this story pretty ridiculous. I’ve slept outside in weather colder than that myself, and even when my bag wasn’t warm enough and I didn’t sleep much at the coldest part, I still didn’t complain. And that wasn’t even in a situation where I was being tested. Jeez man.

    Comment by wordorgy | March 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. I read this twice and I still can’t believe it. I’m guessing the sergeant major in question is M*****w (covering my ass, just in case). I fucking lost all respect for him now.

    So which nco was running the ftx? I’m gonna laugh if you say DeHoyos

    Comment by alex (aka spc vigo) | May 2, 2009 | Reply

    • Well, I think there is only one out there…

      Nah, Sergeant DeHoyas wasn’t there. It was a couple of guys from second platoon who were in charge of our part of the FTX, and I forget the name of the sergeant who actually ran the thing. I’m pretty sure that is all he does.

      Comment by davidjgross | May 2, 2009 | Reply

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