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Sgt. Gitchell

September 6, 2013
Posted at 10:26 pm

I have posted three complete stories that, through the gracious permission of 'Thinking Horndog' occur in the shared literary universe of "The Swam Cycle."

I actually started these stories three years ago when I first encountered T.H.'s Swarm stories. They kicked on a switch in my imagination and I thought of the character, "Richard Steward."

First of all, though I write what I know, I am not Steward. His experiences and mine have very little overlap. But I hope that we share some humor and humanity.

In fact, all of the characters I have written so far have been either whole-cloth creations or composites of several people. With one exception.

In the first chapter of Flight from Babylon, the pick-up is carried out under the direction of a Sgt. Gitchell. Sgt Gitchell was my platoon Drill Instructor (DI) in Army Basic Combat Training (BCT).

I am a tall person (~196 cm) and I was afraid that when I entered Basic Training, I would be assigned to a short DI who would make it his mission to make my life miserable because I was so tall. When I was assigned to my platoon, I was happy to see that my DI was tall--until he stepped up to me. DI Gitchell was taller than anybody else in the platoon--except me. I topped him by about 3 cm.

From that first formation, every time there was something dirty or dangerous to do, Gitchell would call out, "I need a tall, hardcore volunteer!" When his call was met with silence, he would call out, "Lewiston, fall out!" And I would proceed to run to whatever dirty, difficult task he had dreamed up.

Was I mad? Not even back then. He would smile as he called me out. It was a running joke in the platoon.

And so as I was writing the first chapter, I looked at a group photo of my old BCT platoon and realized that the man to call out the pick-up in his sing-song voice was Sgt. Gitchell.

As you were, Sgt. Gitchell, as you were.