Playing a Role

Playing a Role
The Regiment

Nicholas Branch | 20 Jul 2010 11:57
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It was not every day that someone was disciplined for infractions. The discipline is there for the new soldiers who were learning the rules and troublemakers like myself who always bent or broke them. The rules are laid out in a handbook that was, at one point, twenty pages long. Members are required to play at least twice a week on the public servers, checking the forums at least once a day for updates and messages from your squad leader. You are also responsible for going to drills every Sunday and Thursday, or, if unable to attend, you are responsible for posting a drill excuse on your behalf. You are to follow the chain of command at all times and respect those above you. There were also "standing orders," such as "refrain from using 1337 speak on forums."


A few months after Basic, I began a bumpy road of promotions and demotions. My brash attitude toward the rules and a knack for profanity warranted many attempts to curtail my behavior. I was issued demerits, a form of administrative discipline that restricts privileges. If you exceeded three demerits, you were dishonorably discharged from the unit, unable to ever return. My attitude was not only a social problem, it caused riffs on the battlefield as well. My tactics were savage and cunning. When my ruthlessness didn't work as planned, I would blame someone else's lack of skill for my failure. I wanted to win at all costs and this attitude, though I didn't realize it at the time, alienated my peers for the passing thrill of a hollow victory.

Many different commanding officers attempted to tame me, each with little success. Then, I was given the chance to learn from someone with whom I could connect. Joseph was a kind-hearted man in his early 60s who started out as a private under my command; However, his tenure in the U.S. Army's Medical Corp and ROTC had taught him how to drop the hammer when it was needed.

Joseph's mentoring style was subtle. He didn't openly approach me with the same old story. His frankness made me slowly start to come to him. One day, when I was a Private and he was my superior, he pulled me aside and asked to speak with me.

"Private Branch, you are quite a pain in the butt, you know that?" Joseph described an infraction that I had committed against an NCO during a weekend play session. "I am very disappointed in you. You are smart and I think you have what it takes to be an NCO again someday, but you have to stop the doo doo crap."

"Yes, First Sergeant, I understand. I'm sorry," I said, wanting this to be over.

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