The Man, the Myth, and Madness, Part 1

After having survived Basic Training in Ft. Jackson, SC, gone through a rather fancy graduation service that included music, fancy dress, and even fancier marching - if that really could ever be a thing - found ourselves with orders as to where our AIT (Advanced Individual Training) was. All but five, found their next stop in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. Those five who weren't headed to Kansas, including myself, were to go on a short one hour bus ride southwest of Jackson to Ft. Gordon, GA, home of the US Army Signal Training Corps. As Drill Sergeant Hart handed out orders, his eyebrows arched, and he took a long curious look towards me. I froze instantly. Scenarios from my expulsion from the army to some other denial ran rough-shot through my thoughts.

"Private Poling!"

"Yes, Drill Sergeant!" I came to attention, eyes forward.

He approached me with certain purpose. From the periphery I could see that those around me, packing up, stopped to watch what was about to happen. Normally, the Drill Sergeants never game within a foot of our faces, unless they were enraged by poor performance, or felt the need to use their literal and physical position to impress the importance of a particular topic. This was different. Hart came up within a foot of my face, lifted up my orders, and gave a slight grin.

"How did you do that?" Drill Sergeant Hart whispered just loud enough for me to hear. For the briefest moment, I wondered what he was asking about, then it dawned on me. When I had decided to join the Army back in June of 1993, my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score was in the top 6% of those who had ever taken the test. When I asked what jobs I was qualified for, the recruiter handed me the book of MOSs (Military Occupational Specialty) and said,

"Anyone you want." After about an hour or so of talking about my interests, and hobbies, they pointed me towards two choices, Military Intelligence or Encryption Technician. Both fields required high scores, technical and critical thinking, and both were among the longest periods of training after Basic was completed. When I was fourteen, my very first job was working for my evil-ex-step-father and his friend in a computer store. This was in 1989, and back then, you'd go to a local shop to have your PC built by a tech or nerd, or even me. When I decided on a career path in the US Army, I went with Encryption Technician, and at the very least to being AIT, I had to have at least a provisional Top Secret clearance.

What Drill Sergeant Hart's question was about, was how, in less than three months, did I have an actual Top Secret clearance.

"My grand-uncle was a spy," I whispered.

See ya'll Thursday for part 2, and check out the social medias, chat with me and stuff! Now I have to study for more midterms!


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