In every class our instructors come in contact with individuals that own varying levels of adaptation skills. An instructor can talk to a person for 5 - 10 minutes and pretty much figure out where that individuals mindset is at in relation to being prepared for anything. Some guys/gals are ate up with weaponry, others are ate with combatives, others are hunters in there spare time, and then there are those that view the military life as just another job. The latter we call "rock & rollers." They always wanted to be rock or rap star or anything that didnít take a college education because high school sucked. They really havenít come to grips that they are professional soldiers and maybe warriors that kill the enemies of their country. These guys/gals jump out of their uniform at the close of business and jump into civilian clothes with accessories (earring and weird clothes). Then head off to where ever a party can be found. The guys/gals come in all shapes, ages, and social backgrounds. And they just want to be different. This story is about one of them.

There are many different kinds of gear junkies, some are well skilled and are anticipating the worst and then there are those that have zero skills and pack to make up for it. This particular "stud" (just slang for student) was good at his job as an infantry NCO. But he had little motivation to absorb the skills that where being presented to him. What he did know was that he would be called on sometime during this block of instruction to fend for himself in the wild places.

During one class on the bow drill he commented to an instructor that if he didnít master the bow drill it was no big deal because quote, " he carried a lighter so he could light his cigarettes and he ALWAYS had cigarettes." Just from that line alone you can start to get a feel for this joker. Come the day that all the studs where told of the up coming field exercise they began to form together their kits. The instructors scrutinize all kits before they are allowed in the field.

You can tell who is knowledgeable and confident, who is knowledgeable and nervous and who doesnít have a clue. Nervous and knowledgeable is good because it will mean the most to them when they test themselves and come out on top. And if they fail at some task it is a learning experience that they seem to concentrate their efforts on when they come out of the field. Now the clueless typically over pack their kit because they know that they are unprepared in the skills area, so they try and make up for it with gear.

The cigarette stud was no exception he was geared and ready to go. The instructors made sure to pick out the clueless studs and put them on the same chopper manifest. Plus, they let them carry more equipment into the field than the rest of the class. This boy had everything but the kitchen sink jammed into his ruck.

The studs would be inserted by rotary wing and at each mans own LZ. He was on his own for the next four days unless bad weather keeps the birds grounded. Which is not unusual and not a bad thing either. Each day they must link-up back at their LZ or a prearranged rendezvous point to check in with an instructor and show the cadre their progress. After that the instructor will ask them some question that they should know the answers to then have them demonstrate some disarm or escape or attacking drill (hand-to-hand). They are not graded on their combatives skills, but they do have to show that they retain most of the material. Proficiency in H2H comes with practice in the future.

The bird with the bolos on it flares on the shoreline of a lake and begins to descend slowly. All the studs are sitting with their legs hanging out and their small rucks on their laps. The cigarette stud is getting ready to egress when at about six feet off the ground the bird does a 180-degree spin and instead of him looking down at dry shoreline he is looking right into the water. One instructor, who shall remain nameless, grabs the studs kit away from him and the other instructor shoves him out the door. When his ass left that metal doorframe he was already trying to spin around in the air and recover that ruck. About a half-second later we had splash down.

We still laugh about it because we canít decide whether he was reaching back for that ruck because he needed it to make it through the field problem or because his cigarettes were in it. To top it all off one of the instructors snapped a shot of him with a disposable camera, as he stood on shore looking back at the chopper, soaking wet. Needless to say he wasnít a happy survivor. By the second day at his first rendezvous he was asking for some tutoring from the instructors, which is a good thing. A lot of the eight balls have such attitudes that they wonít ask for help and donít care if they fail the course. So there are special techniques for them. The 1st Sergeants make it their mission to give them some extra attention.

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