Upon occasion, memories of my experiences at Air Force basic training come rushing back. In particular, I recall clambering off the bus that first brought us onto Lackland AFB in the middle of the night, and the shouted commands of a drill sergeant who ordered me to start running, telling me that I should not stop until he got tired. I don’t recall what I might have eaten earlier that evening, but I am certain that I left it along the side of road as I ran for my life in street shoes and civilian clothes. Ah, sweet memories!
The reason why this trip down memory lane resonates with me today is simple … my grandson is in US Army basic training, and he is on my mind. He is a fine young man who I know will succeed, and I have no doubt that he will be a different person when he comes back home in a couple of months. But compared to the basic training experience I remember so vividly, there is at least one significant change in how things are done today … his training company has a Facebook page!
I am sure this news will make some older veterans shake their heads, as they wonder aloud about what has become of today’s military. Facebook? What’s next, issuing an Xbox to every recruit? Or perhaps an Uber account so they can call for a ride if they are too tired to complete a training run. I have no doubt that some disaffected old salt, upon learning of this digital window into recruit training, will lament that it’s not like it was in the old days … back when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel.
For me and the rest of my grandson’s family, though, a peek at the Facebook page for his unit revealed something remarkable … young men and women becoming accomplished members of the military. I saw pictures of his unit on the obstacle course … on a march … at the firing range … and, yes, getting yelled at by drill instructors (some things, thankfully, never change). There are, of course, both good points and bad about the technology we have at our fingertips today. But being able to get a glimpse at how this young soldier and his team are doing was uplifting, encouraging and inspirational.