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A Day In The Life Of A Cadet - Humorous Essay (1 Viewer)



This is a personal essay I wrote a while back on a few experiences I had. Not really got much in the way of philosophical debate, written more as a humerous piece.


It was summer. Location: RAF Leuchers. Time: 18:30. I was away with the ATC (Air Training Corps). A time where we get to play soldiers for a week. Attention! At Ease! Don’t eyeball me son! That kind of thing.

One night me and a squad of about five other cadets were participating in a night exercise (playing soldiers in the dark!) Not different from most nights but this time my squad actually achieved our objectives. Well…I say “achieved”, maybe that’s to strong a word, I’ll let you decide.

I and the rest of the cadets trudged into the briefing room, hurried along by an over-zealous Corporal eager for another stripe on his shoulder. I slumped into my chair, tired from a run we done just before, followed by a five minute period to allow us to shower, shave, iron our uniforms and get back on parade sharpish! An officer strolled into the room and carried on with the briefing. I won’t bore you with all the details (I was certainly enough!) but here’s the short short version. In an area of about 3 miles squared, with the officer eagerly jabbing with his stick on the wall map, there were three containers. Black boxes from aircraft shot down in enemy territory (not really but just to make us feel more soldiery!) Which we had to retrieve. Simple enough, but there would be enemy patrols going about looking out for us, avoid them and get the boxes back to base. The enemy patrols were personnel from RAF Leuchers with enough spare time and the worrying desire to track down cadets in the dark, in a field. I heard what I needed and then fell asleep with my eyes open (you become really good at that after a while) and skipped the rest.

When we got to the area we were split into teams and one from each was designated leader. I was annoyed and pleased at the same time that it wasn’t me. Annoyed because I wanted a chance to lead and prove that I could; and pleased because if the exercise all went wrong, most of the blame would be placed on him. I wished our leader good luck and cursed him under my breath, meaning both.

As we started out we passed a group of soldiers marching back to base after finishing some real soldier work. One of them pointed at my group and shouted:

“Ere! That lad’s got a bush on ‘is ‘ead!” This was followed by a volley of laughs from the rest of them and other various insulting cadet comments.
I glanced over my shoulder to see what they were laughing at. One of my squad had augmented his camouflage hat with various leaves and bits of bush. Useful, only if we have to blend in with surroundings that look like a cadet with a small conifer on his head. I laughed along with the soldiers not wanting to be singled out, and using the distraction, discreetly dropped the various leaves and bits of bush that were destined for my hat.

Now I remember during the briefing that if we were spotted by an enemy patrol them we had to let them catch us. We were allowed five catches, which were all reported to and logged by the officer in charge of the exercise, before we had failed the mission. Half an hour gone, four catches and four patronising lectures on the fundamentals of camouflage later (“see those bushes? Yeah? Well we do a thing called hiding. Repeat after me…”) we were about to get caught again.

We saw them in the distance, they saw us. They called out:

“Halt or we’ll report you!” I shouted back to him where he could stick his report, and we all ran.

We eventually lost them, which was surprising as they had land rovers and night vision scopes on their rifles, and resumed our mission for the black boxes. A cadet who had been a bit too enthusiastic in his escape, had hurt his ankle. So we continued at a slower pace. Just like the manual says, “You can only go as fast as your slowest man.” We took pride in our adherence to the rules, while a mile away a disgruntled enemy patrol was complaining loudly to our officer of our rule breaking.

How we were supposed to find the boxes I did not know! It was pitch black and I had finally decided this “ Let your eyes get used to the dark” advice was rubbish. I was reminded later that we were supposed to meet up with two agents at different locations and get coordinates from each then cross-reference them on the map, finally making a tactically sound route to the objectives (personally I preferred our method, less head sweat) as was gone over in the briefing, of course it was.

Eventually our fumbling and stumbling paid off. I heard a cry from behind us. A cadet had tripped over an objective! The black boxes were actually white juice containers with the words “black box” scrawled on them. Totally not worth the effort. There were three, which made sense as their were three teams on exercise that night including ours. A thought occurred to me, and after a few words with our squad leader we were headed back to base with all three boxes. If the other boxes weren’t there when the other teams came to get them then we would win for certain.

We arrived back at base twenty minutes late. Late, in a world where “Be here at half nine,” actually means, “Be here fifteen minutes early at the latest.” As we rounded a corner, I spotted the other squads already there, discussing where the black boxes went. They talked angrily to each other and I quickly shoved my extra box to the first gullible squad member who would take it. Best not have the blame put on me more than was necessary. Forty faces followed us as we walked past them with the boxes. I heard mutterings of anger and confusion amongst them. We gave the boxes to our officer. We had completed the mission…well a bit.

Now I was wrong when I said that the squad leader took most of the blame. Blame and punishment was handed out to us equally and with relish. The people put in charge of our punishment was the very same enemy patrol squad that had been harassing us throughout the night! I got thinking during our punishment (hand-cleaning 30 very dirty toilets can make your mind wander). I thought about how we had done. Even though we had “failed” I was pleased with what we had done. We technically completed the mission. The boxes were retrieved and brought back to base and a technical win was good enough for me. I realised that I had fell about in the dark, cold, wet, tired, hungry, being chased by an unrelenting enemy all to save a plastic box and persevered through it. I had endured it and came out triumphant! Against all odds. I had a smile on my face for a brief second before I continued scrubbing.


So any comments would be welcome.:thumbl:

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