"…and uh take Leszek with you. We best make ourselves useful while we wait for further orders." And with that, Lip nodded with a soft, "yes sir." and set off to fulfill his orders. Take a look around. That was simple, and he was sure any of the men would jump at the offer to do something other than wait. Lipton’s eyes scanned the group, looking for the lucky soldier who got to wander around with the sergeant. Ah, and there he was. Caleb was a friendly guy, the kind that you would have pictured to be on the wrestling team, the one they always cheered for, and he certainly offered good company. "Leszek!" Lip called, "We’ve got orders to go for a walk. Mind looking around with me?" He smiled in a welcoming way and shrugged gently. "Better than waiting around!"
Waiting around was driving him crazy. This wasn’t what they trained for, not what they told the it would be like, and quite honestly, it was nerve wracking. He tried to keep it to himself, knowing better than to let his anxiety show (that wasn’t exactly the best word he’d use to describe the way he was feeling, but used it in lack of a better one) - yet still couldn’t held but seem impatient.
He was in the midst of retelling the story of a successful football match when he lost his train of thought, head turning to the sound of his own name as his gaze rested at Liption. Finally, something to do! Something to distract himself with. Nodding a little too enthusiastically, the sergeant got to his feet, rifle hanging from his shoulder.
"Guess I gotta finish the story another time, fellas." He said, practically giddy as he went to join Liption outside the foxhole. "Where we going, sarge?"
He chuckled. “Yeah well, I guess it’s not too hard to spot me, especially when the CO keeps bringing up that my name means ‘bullshit’. But hey, the other fellas don’t bother me about it, so I guess I can live with it.”
He sighed as he stared at the pack. He could definitely use one. Besides, it’d be rude of him not to join his new friend. Nodding, he grabbed the pack from Caleb and took a cigarette before handing the almost empty carton back .
He put the cigarette between his lips and mumbled a thanks as he lit it with a match. “Tell me about it.” As he flicked the ashes off the cigarette, he took a second to size up Caleb. He was pretty tall, and didn’t seem to have that difficult of a time adjusting the rigorous amount of physical activity that was required of them. He must’ve been an athlete or something before he joined the airborne. Malarkey thought he was one of the guys that stood out the most.
"Well Caleb - seeing as how we’ve started on the right foot here, I gotta ask - what made you want to become a paratrooper?"
"Oh - I dunno. Pretty much what made anybody want to become a paratrooper, I guess." He said with a shrug, the tip of his cigarette burning a bright red as he had another long drag. "Pearl Harbor happened and there was just no question about drafting. Saw the poster at the recruitment center and, well, my folks could use the fifty bucks a month. Would’ve hightailed outta there if they told me I was gonna get Sobel." He added with something of a crooked smile, clearly joking.
Caleb watched Malarkey as he spoke, feeling so incredibly little around him, and, quite honestly, around most the other men. Not necessarily physically, that went without saying - but, well, mentally, he supposed. It wasn’t that he was unsocial - but mostly felt like it was out of his place to speak, especially around people such as Malarkey, who seemed to be able to make friend instantly.
Most the paratroops weren’t old, but they were certainly of a ‘legal’ age, if you wanted to call it that - he was just barely seventeen and lying about it, too. They all had jobs and some even their own families already - what was he supposed to talk about? High school?
"What about you, huh?"
Obviously would have liked to be combat if my medical condition allowed it - but it didn’t, so Foreign Affairs was the next best thing, and I’d never change it. Got to meet and make friends with plenty of foreign officers and hear a shitload of interesting stories (not to mention a one night stand with a very handsome Irish officer buuuuttt nobody needs to know about that. Especially not my former CO).
That I’ve been persistent with? Generally five, but it’s been brought up to seven lately. Anyway:
There’s Joe whom I’ve mentioned before, my main character from the RPG I had. Jewish American paratrooper, gets lost on D-Day and is forced to join forces with a Wehrmacht soldier as they roam Europe searching for Allied forces.
And then there’s Caleb, whom you already know.
Then there’s Mike; an anxious, paranoid, god-fearing hick, living in 1920’s Atlantic City and a performing escape artist in the Midnight Cabaret, and freakshow and speakeasy set on the boardwalk.
Then there’s Bill; a late 1800’s outlaw based on a mixture of Jesse James, Doc Holliday and the ilk.
And then, there’s Stephen, my only modern-day character. He’s a junkie asshole and a Russian mobster, and that’s pretty much everything there is to say about him.
My other two relatively new OCs are the only one that have been made for Tumblr RPing, and I’ve gotten them face claims instead of painting them as Tumblr seems to dislike painted characters.
The first is Galway, also set in the 1920’s; WWI veteran and a host/singer at the very luxurious Dreamland Ballroom.
The second is James, an acquaintance of Galway’s; also WWI veteran, works as a night porter at the St. Hyacynth Hotel but then also operates and illegal distillery in its abandoned basement. JAZZ AGE GANGSTERS ARE FUN YO.
I’m not sure I’m fit to give advice as the service over here is mandatory. I’d like to think that I would have gotten myself enlisted even if it wasn’t mandatory, but that’s also not exactly comparable as Israel is a small country which is under constant threat - unlike the US, which is huge and can basically do as it pleases. If I were born anywhere else, I don’t think I would have ever served the military.
What I can tell you is this though:
I know there is a huge difference between fighter pilots in the US and in Israel. The US’ main strength is with its navy - while over here, fighter pilots are basically all we got and are looked at as gods. It’s the most prestigious job in the IDF, and training, which takes three years, is hard and unforgiving. Sure we have plenty of combat units, but the pilots are our strongest, best defense.
All that was just to make it clear that I don’t know if the training for fighter pilots is the same in the US as it is over here, but if it is:
It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be really hard.
You’re going to have a lot of moments of despair, a lot of moments where you’ll be questioning why you decided to go through with it in the first place; my father still remembers this one weekend he came back home from training and had to step into the shower with his boots still on, because his socks were so bloody they stuck to his feet and he wasn’t able to peel them off without hot water.
So, moments like that are going to occur. They’re bound to. It happens to everyone, even in the easiest of boot camps or training, and even if you are there out of choice and not because you were forced to.
The important thing to remember and the most helpful thing to do is look ahead. Keep in mind what the future holds for you and what you joined the military for, what you hope to become, and realize that sometimes, we have to crawl though some shit in order to get what we want. And sure, you’re crawling through that shit right now, but eventually, you’ll come out the other side a better person. It wouldn’t feel half as rewarding if it were easy.
I really hope that was helpful? :X
Oh my! You’re full of questions, aren’t you, my dear Anon? Let’s see if I can answer them all. :)
We have mandatory service over here (three years for guys, two for girls - or at least that’s how it was when I joined, I hear they’re changing it now), which is why I joined and also why, after three years, left. My commanding officer wanted me to sign up for a few more years and stick around, but the pay for young NCO’s isn’t great, and with the skills I’ve acquired during my military service, people would pay me a better buck to do the exact same job as a civilian.
I wasn’t in the Foreign Affairs department, though there is one - the Air Force Safety Center has an FA department of its own (I call it a department - it was basically just me and a private). I worked in the Crash Investigation branch - all six of my commanding officers were investigators and pilots (fighters and otherwise), with one of them also being in charge of Foreign Affairs - so other than my ‘official’ title I also got to help around with the investigations quite a bit. I wouldn’t get to go visit crash sites or anything but I’d help around with reports, especially when it came down to translation (we needed a lot of equipment recovered from crash sites to be examined in laboratories abroad, so the reports would usually come back in English). You can basically say I was a part-time secretary for them.
The most difficult obstacle, I think, would have to be having to handle things on your own. I was 18 when I got drafted and didn’t have plenty of social skills - the main reason I got picked for the Foreign Affairs job in the first place was that I have good English. Just, all the arrangements that needed taking care of were, at first, horrific to me - having to make phone calls and show up for meetings with people I didn’t know was absolutely horrifying, not to mention having to keep company and be hospitable and polite and nice when officers from other countries came to visit our unit. Fortunately this also turned out to be the best thing the military ever did for me - it taught me independence and it taught me social skills. I mean, it’s just a a freaking phone call or a new person to meet, it’s really nothing to get stressed over about.
What’s most funny about the whole combination of military service and history is - like I’ve mentioned before, the RPG Caleb was originally made up for included myself, a friend who back then was also a soldier in the US Army, and another friend from Germany. The German friend was so fascinated and jealous of the American girl and I comparing military experiences and ‘NCO business’ (as we called it) that, after the American girl and I were already discharged, she went and joined the German navy. She’s currently training to be an NCO.
I went to art school before the military and I go to art school now; though I can’t say either one of them taught me anything about illustration. In high school it was pretty much no one giving a crap about anything any of the students were doing, so I was pretty much self-taught - and now what I study is called ‘Visual Communication’, which are just fancy words for ‘graphic design and other things’ - so while I’m learning quite a lot about the principles of design, I haven’t really reached a stage where they’re teaching me anything new about illustration. Which is kind of a bummer.
Malarkey sat next to Skip as he was telling the rest of the group yet another story about his adventures. He had heard this particular one so many times before he could probably retell it word for word if he wanted to.
Glancing around the mess hall, his eyes landed on one of the paratroopers that Sobel enjoyed picking on the most. His name was on the tip of his tongue.
Lechek? No. Lezek? Not quite right. Lenszchek? Malarkey shook his head, knowing full well that he was just making the name more complicated than it actually was.
He snapped his fingers when the name finally clicked, earning a few curious glances from the guys. He shrugged and waved them off. When he glanced up again, he saw Caleb Leszek walking out. Malarkey stood up and pushed his tray aside, the others quickly fighting over it. Honestly, he wasn’t all that hungry, especially not after that last run. His stomach had been bothering him all afternoon.
As he walked outside, Malarkey looked to his left and saw Caleb fumbling with his match box. He laughed to himself and walked over to him.
"Leszek, right? Here, let me help you with that." He took the match box from a seemingly frustrated Caleb and lit the cigarette for him. "Don’t think we’ve properly met yet, I’m Malarkey. Donald Malarkey," he said as he held out his hand to the other young paratrooper.
All he wanted was one fucking cigarette to relieve him of the day’s hardships and he couldn’t even get the fucking match to light up. Frustration crossed over him before a fellow paratrooper came to his rescue, much to Caleb’s relief.
He nodded in thanks and inhaled deeply, enjoying the burn at the back of his throat and the satisfaction that came with the much needed smoke.
"Thanks. Yeah, Malarkey - I’ve seen you around." Mainly getting picked on by Sobel for his last name - which, admittedly, was kind of amusing, though the pollack wasn’t going to waste whatever little spare time they had discussing their sent-from-hell commanding officer. It did, however, curl the corners of his lips up in something of a lopsided smile.
"You want one?" He asked, flicking ashes away before he reached back for the cigarette pack and held it out for the other man to take. "Only thing that keeps me goin’ after a day like this."
((So I’m just going to put this out there again. Because of reasons.))
Boot camp wasn’t turning out to be as great as Caleb thought it would be. He got himself all pumped up about volunteering for the paratroopers once the decision was made - and while he wasn’t regretting it just yet and wasn’t one to usually complain, he found himself having the tiniest bit of second thoughts.
It wasn’t the physical part. Not to blow his own horn, but that was the least of Caleb’s worries. He didn’t enjoy running Currahee just like any other guy, but he did not suffer over it, either. No, what bothered Caleb was the constant put-downs, being treated as if they were nothing more than pieces of shit when, frankly, with all the talk revolving the paratroop units, they had to have been the best. Sure, it was the only way to weave out those who did not fit, but the physical challenge would have done that just as easily.
Suppose he was just going to have to suck it up and deal with it, though, as Caleb Leszek was not a quitter — well, you know, maybe except for high school - but that was for a worthy cause. His parents would have to forgive him. He could do all those things and go to college and do whatever he needed in order to please them after the war.
He finished his dinner as fast as he could so he could spare a minute or two for a smoke right outside mass hall. He was fiddling about with his match box when he heard someone approaching and looked up.