Unless you've been a member of the armed forces, you may only know drill sergeants as uncompassionate leaders who yell at privates all the time.
But contrary to what's depicted in Hollywood, drill instructors endeavor to bring out the best from privates through tough love in addition to discipline.
"Drill instructors, what is the funniest thing you have seen a Private do?"
The following examples were utterly humiliating, but valuable lessons were learned.
"Had 2 guys get in a fight in our bay during basic. The drill sergeant made them hold hands and pretending to be on a date all week. Only time they could let go of each other's hands was rack time. They ended up becoming pretty good friends."
"Ex British Army officer here."
"A corporal went on a nine week mortar course and was accommodated (obviously) while he was away. It turned out he knew one of the DS teaching the course and was invited, regularly, to dine and drink in the Sergeant's Mess."
"The month after coming back from the course, he brought his payslip to me with a puzzled look on his face and, embarrassed, explained he didn't understand what it meant and could I help him?"
"It emerged that the Sergeant's Mess had a chitty system - you didn't pay for your drinks at the time, but signed for them and the total bill was deducted from your pay."
"This legend had managed to drink more than his monthly salary both months he'd been away and his payslip was a negative balance."
"I'm sorry Smith, I'm afraid you owe the Army £235 ($327.50) this month."
Asking For An Advance
"Former European Anti-Air Trainee here."
"Recruit spent his first check on alcohol and sex workers, asked his commander for next months check in advance the next day. Instead of having a good excuse prepared to actually succeed in that proposal he blankly told him in front of 80 other recruits why he'd need it."
"I saw a guy post about how he was like 6'3 and his DS was like 5'2, so whenever he messed up the DS would go up to him face to chest and yell 'Elevator!' and the guy would bend down to eye level with the DS and say 'Ding!' and the DS would proceed to look him in the eye while he chewed him out."
Some experiences were downright hilarious.
"Not an RDC, but in boot camp I was over the laundry crew. One recruit sh*t himself because he thought he couldn't leave his rack after taps. It was funny at the moment before I realized I had to wash it."
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"This was the funniest f'king thing I ever read from u/odomotto"
"Recruit fired all his blank ammo during 'ambush training.' He crawled in ditch opposite where the aggressors were, and started throwing rocks at them. DI came running in middle of the road blowing his whistle and screaming 'what the f'k are you doing?' Recruit screamed back, 'throwing hand grenades drill sergeant!' Without missing a beat, the DI screamed 'out f'king standing.' And walked away."
"My sides hurt and I was wheezing laughing so hard at this when I first heard it!"
"Not me, but my uncle is a drill instructor for Canadian Cadets and basically when the trainees were saluting, one of them karate chopped their own eye and he was so nonchalant about it that he just had one eye open for 5 minutes and my uncle was trying so hard to contain his laughter."
"I could only imagine how embarrassing that would be."
Consequences Of Volunteering
"This one was told to me by a retired army vet. The platoon was gathered and the instructor says 'We need someone to drive the colonel around base. Who has an Ohio driver's license?' So he whips out his ID all excited like and gets picked. Then one of the instructors pulls out a push broom and says 'Salute the colonel!' So he ends up sweeping the base for the day. Moral of the story, don't volunteer for anything."
"When you come off a shooting range you have to be checked to make sure you aren't taking any live ammo off of the range. The DS would pat you down and check your pockets/magazine pouches for any."
"One guy smuggled an apple out of the dining hall at breakfast and was storing it in his grenade pouch. As he was coming off of the range the DS felt in the pouch and asked him what it was. He had to eat the entire thing right there including the core. He was Jonny Appleseed for the rest of training."
These punishments made no sense. And that's why they're memorable.
"When I was in basic, a kid we called 'Albino' shot off a blank round accidentally in the field. The sergeants were pissed and took his weapon away and replaced it with a broomstick for the remainder of the week in the field."
"Not a DI, but we had this kid in my platoon pass out from heat exhaustion while staying in the sh**ty range barracks on Parris Island (Marines) DI's made us get on line and force fed us all water in a timed period and had to hold the canteen of water over your head upside down whether it was empty or not when the time ran out, then we all ran back to the bathroom and filled our canteens with water and ran back on line. Repeat this about 4 more times and eventually 1 recruit puked EVERYWHERE, AND THAT CAUSED ANOTHER RECRUIT TO PUKE, AND THEN THAT CAUSED EVEN MORE IN A HORRIBLE CHAIN REACTION OF EVENTS. I had to hide behind one of the columns because I was about to start laughing my butt off... THEN I SMELT THE OVERWHELMING STENCH OF STOMACH ACID IT WAS HORRIBLE."
"Luckily I didn't throw up, still one of my fondest memories during that horrible 3 months."
"Day one of basic training, a private in another Platoon came down to formation wearing one summer boot and one winter boot, I noticed it and laughed. 10 minutes later, and a Drill Sergeant from that Platoon had still not made the private go and fix himself."
"I informed the other Drill sergeant of the situation; wondering if maybe she hadn't noticed, so she yelled at him to go change."
"Another 10 minutes later and I heard her screaming again."
"The private had come back downstairs with the OTHER winter boot and the OTHER summer boot on."
Bed Sheet Cloak
"Man I remember some dude didn't put the sheet on his bunk the right way and had to wear the sheet as a cloak and go to all the other barracks dancing around sing about how he was the 'Catch Edge Fairy' or something. It was pretty silly, he owned it though. He was doing twirls the whole time. This was Navy bootcamp."
Despite how they are depicted on film, drill instructors are people who care.
Like, Beals – a drill sergeant at Fort Knox, Kentucky – who said:
"We provide more than just physical, mental and emotional guidance for them. You are a father, a preacher, a financial advisor, a counselor-you provide so many different services to the Soldier that the regular public doesn't see on day to day basis."
"They see what they see in movies and what they hear about by word of mouth. But you are fulfilling so many roles other than just being a trainer and teaching an individual how to be a Soldier in the Army."
And occasionally, they are having a laugh at the crazy things their trainees do.