Jump School and Chill with GW

Did I ever tell you about the time I met President Bush? I didn’t?! Well, strap yourselves in and grab a cold one, because it’s time for another STORYTIME WITH NATE!

  

I know this was your reaction to reading that

So there I was, in jump school…
No seriously. In 2007, I was freezing my nuts off in Ft. Benning, where I was a Marine attending the Army’s Basic Airborne course. No, I wasn’t in Recon, and any cool airborne unit. I was just a dumb infantry corporal with a re-enlistment bonus. Anyway, it was a three-week event, and the well-known syllabus is as follows:
-Week 1: Separate the boys from the men,

-Week 2: Separate the men from the fools,

-Week 3: The fools jump.
  
Photo courtesy of airborneschool.com

It was a very demanding course, where I learned such things as;

-How to fall off of a platform without dying,

-How to fall off of a taller platform without dying,

-How to count to 4, hope that my parachute is open by then, then hit the ground without dying.
It was quite a surprise when the instructors informed us that President Bush would be “stopping by” for a brief visit. We were even more surprised to find out that our class would be one of the main attractions for the leader of the free world.
Some of you may be wondering just why it is that some men and women in the armed forces loved President Bush so much. Basically, he gave us two things that we really needed; a pay raise, and two, count ’em TWO, wars to fight. If there’s a couple of things that soldiers and Marines love, it’s a decent fight and some extra beer money. But I digress…

Back at Ft. Benning, a full-blown dog and/or pony show had been planned for this visit. I personally disagree with the comparison to dogs and ponies, as they both seem to enjoy their shows immensely. Since our class of 500 was spending time getting ready to leap en masse out of lethal heights, ours was more akin to a lemming show.
  
Photo courtesy of http://www.2ndmaw.marines.mil

The day had arrived, and I had luckily brought my brand-spanking-new, never-been-worn woodland cammies. The creases on that uniform were so sharp you could have cut yourself on them. We were told that there would be various stations on a large parade deck for the President to look at. A few dozen would be jumping off of pylons into gravel, some would be riding down ziplines to simulate a landing, and others would be literally picking up by A GIANT FREAKING CRANE-THING and DROPPED TO THE GROUND!
Fortunately, I was spared this. Along with about twenty other NCO’s, I was allowed to sit in the bleachers, in the shade, rather than get thrown to the ground for hours on end. 

  
Exactly like this

Apparently, the reason behind this was so that the President could take pictures with older, more mature soldiers and Marines, rather than Private Shmuckatelli or PFC Snuffy, who might ask, “Mr. President, can I get out of the war? PLEEEEEASE?”

As soon as the instructor pointed to the bleachers, I knew it was my time to shine. I sprinted straight for the front and center of the bleachers, knowing that would be where the President would stand for a photograph. Next to me was a buddy of mine who also stood knee-high to a leprechaun. We were ideally situated so as not to be blocked out by people of normal height.

So we sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Hours passed. GW was supposed to arrive at 11:00. By 2:00 we were starting to get a teensy bit antsy. Those poor guys in front of us had been jumping and smacking into the ground for an obscene amount of time, and I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. Should I have had more pity? Sure, but those guys should have thought about this before they decided to become Privates!

At 2:30, Secret Service showed up. Their elite counter sniper teams went straight for the top of the nearest building, and…set their guns down and stood staring at the show in front of them. Nice.

Another hour passes.

Still waiting. Still watching guys fall down.

What’s that? Could it be? IT IS!!! An armored black SUV motorcade (just like in the movies!!) pulled in, and out popped the biggest general and full-bird colonel I have ever seen. 

GW got out last, and was immediately dwarfed by these two officers, who guided him around the parade grounds with what appeared to be orgasmic enthusiasm. Seriously, these dudes were like walking Hesco barriers in uniforms.
At each station, they would stop behind an instructor, who would begin shouting instructions to the students. It was meant to look as if the President just happened to walk up on some training. I can’t read lips, but here’s how I imagined the conversation going;

Instructor who has been sitting there for hours; “KEEP THOSE ELBOWS TIGHT, SOLDIER!! REMEMBER YOUR PLF!!! Oh hey, Mr President, I didn’t see you there!”
GW; “What seems to be going on here, soldier?”
Instructor; “Oh nothing, just doing some training like we always do. Nothing staged about this event at all, and I’m proud to be an American!”
GW; “Awesome. Carry on, soldier.”

FINALLY, they start making their way over to us. The General and the Colonel walk on either side and slightly in front of the President, as if to ward off any offending air that might dare to blow in his direction. When GW gets to us, he goes down the line, shaking the hand of everyone in the first row.

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(gets to me and clasps my had with both of his) “LOOKING GOOD, MARINE!

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

(handshake) “Hey there, soldier.”

I haven’t washed my hand since.

The moment arrives. GW says, “Let me get a picture with these here warriors!” and moves to stand RIGHT BETWEEN MY AND MY BUDDY! Right as the photographer raises his camera, who should appear but those Mack trucks in uniforms, the General and the Colonel. They proceed to do the closest thing to a cock-block in the military, and stand right in front of my buddy and me.

Fail.

What does ol’ GW do? He looks back and says, “Oh hell no. Come ‘ere, Marine!” and pulls me and my buddy RIGHT IN FRONT of those two officers! He puts his arm around my shoulders, and the picture is taken.

 I know, right? 

When you see the picture, the shock is plain as day on my face, and I am apparently the only guy in the picture who was literally too surprised to stand at attention in the presence of our Commander in Chief. 

  
  

Pictured: Shock and Awe.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Doug O says:

    Absolutely love this story. Never heard how it went down.

    Like

  2. Jason k says:

    Cool story. Miss that guy.

    Like

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