The DI

by Richard Shand

Fort Ord, California, October 1968

King Frederick II of Prussia developed close order drill into a science in order to turn rough peasant conscripts into efficient fighting machines. This practice continues to this day.

"You gentlemen are here to become members of the United States Army. My job is to make you disengage your heads from your ass holes and make soldiers out of you."

The Drill Instructor was coal black and his eyes were almost a blazing white in contrast, rolling like ball bearings in his head. His body was stiff and mechanical, every movement oiled, precise and according to the book. He was literally a human robot and his words were bitten off like he was chewing on nuts and bolts. We could tell he would rather be chewing on our heads.

"You gentlemen will place the right foot in juxtaposition at a forty-five degree angle behind the heel of the left foot so the that instep of the right foot is adjacent to but not touching the left foot. Then you gentlemen will pivot to the right, executing an about face by placing your weight on the ball of your right foot and the toe of your left foot and turn with both feet in place."

He demonstrated and could just as well be showing us how to operated a vacuum cleaner.

"You gentlemen will notice that both feet remain firmly planted on the ground. I do not lift either foot."

Since this was at least the eighth time in the past month that he had painstakingly executed the movement with exactly the same commentary, the fact had not escaped the attention of any of us.

"Now lift your left foot and bring it alongside your right, heels together and toes apart at a forty-five degree angle."

Click, whir, click, whir. Really, he should have been on television - a model of the animatronics art.