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Thread: Short story on initiation back where i came from

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Short story on initiation back where i came from

    Well Vaughn had me do a flashback with a hazing comment so i thought what the heck why leave it to Jim to tell all the stories here, Sorry Jim.

    So I am around 18 been in the military 6 months through the basics and post basic training as a "radio mechanic" (go figure the name ) in the SA Signal Corps. But given the times, we are talking around 1976 this was no ordinary Signal Corps unit. What this unit did was to operate stand alone bush stations on the SA border with other nations, even had a couple of stations inside other countries until CIA found out.

    Anyhow these were Electronic Warefare units, and the mission and outfits lent themselves to very tight knit groups. Around the same time our national service which started out at 9 months then got extended to 12 months and then to 18 and 24 months meant there was not only a need for handovers in doing the work as each group rotated at the end of their tour of duty, but the kind of work resulted in some guys being in the bush for 12 to 18 months.

    Now as with all initiaition its totally frowned on officially but anyone who has been through this kind of thing knows how important it is post the event to bind guys together.
    Naturally our military had the normal rank system, however in the bush in these units that was merely a pay grade, what counted was the months you had been in the bush. So a family hierachy evolved related to fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers and yeah in some cases even great great grandfathers. Naturally all in Afrikaans so i am translating for ya all.

    Rank went ...6months in the bush = grandfather ...12 months = great grandfather and so forth with 6 month duration. I dont know how well this is going to go with translation but will persevere.

    So when you arrive you are a bush rookie (afrikaans = bosroof) and this rank puts you lower down the foodchain than even the chickens in the coop. Side story unit had two Rhodesian (not Zimbawian ) ridgeback dogs and even they knew when you were a bosroof and did not come near you at all.
    Now normally there is a large contingent of bosroofs all doing their intiation together as the overlap and handover takes place. So the effect and severity of initiation is spread over a group and the bosroofs all get to console each other as they wonder what hell hole the just landed themselves in. This was a volunteer unit since it was on active duty in operational territory.

    As luck would have it, I ended up being flown in alone to replace the radio mech as he had family issues, so i was totally out of cycle and joining a unit where there was no other pending changes going to take place for over 6 months.

    Well i get out the small spotter type plane the airforce used then and boy did it hit me, for the next 6 weeks i was on initiation....and this crew took out all their frustrations on me.

    Initiation dont get what you ask for at the bar (no beer for 6 weeks only cold drinks but no choice) plus you rang the bell which purchased everyone in the bar at the time a round on you.

    You did not get to sit at the tables in the mess, you sat at the tea and coffee urn and forget about eating cause you up and down serving tea and coffee at anyones request. With a fair amount of abuse being handed out in the process.

    Each week you got to clean anyone and everyones rifles for inspection and woe betide you if they got picked out by the loot. The only person who cared two hoots about you was the person you were relieving because they could not go before you knew your role and job.

    Each night you were subjected to humiliating acts of all sorts of nature some i will not describe here. We had a huge camp "bible" it was called but it was not biblical at all. It had stories written in of all the guys that had gone before. Pictures of the various bush stations set up before and words to the camp song and other pledges you were expected to learn before your big day.

    Then finally the big day arrives...or should i say night. Everyone is crammed into the pub, in our case "The Red Kettle Inn". Wish i had some pics but they only in my head. It was a cool make shift place though with burlap or hessian hanging down with camo net as a ceiling and captured enemy camo outfits hung from that. The bar counter had a thatch roof and in the middle to hold up the cross members was an enormous log and the red kettle hung from a hook in front of it.

    So if you can picture a garage size venue with garage type swing double wooden doors hanging at the entrance and the bar at the end. My table which happened to be the wire garden furniture we had, was positioned just in front of the doors so the doors could close but only just behind my back.

    Now your bosoupa or bosoupagrootjie (get it? grandfather or greatgrandfather) had to dress you up with toilet paper and lead you into the pub. Then there was a person that smered something on your lip which until today i have not been able to find out what the stuff was but it made your nose run uncontrolably. Then you had to go through the pledges and sing the camp song in front of the whole group and finally you got sat down at the table and given your "roofie delight" . This was a stainless steel serving dish with lid which had been filled with anything and everything availble in the kitchen.
    We talking raw eggs, salt pepper and any other spices like chilli and chuncks of bread, cooking oil, worscheshire sauce flower sugar you name it all mixed and thrown into the dish.

    Rules were at the sound of the bell you lift the lid had to eat the lot and if you hurled back up it went in the bowl for recycling . The atmosphere in the pub though instantly changes from you being a rookie to being one of the team with every man edging you on and offering words of encouragement. The abuse ceased instantly and the support took over. It was an amazing experience.
    My bosoupa had the job of looking after me and giving me the secret words of wisdom to survive the event. Dont eat it fill your mouth and turn yourself for the doors and let it out in the bush outside. (yeah right easier said than done.
    Now a little side note is neccessary...between two major cities in SA (Johannesburg and Pretoria) there is a highway named Ben Schoeman. Well leading up to our pub doors we had a long piece of concrete that was named "The Ben Schoeman highway" in our camp. I never worked out why until that night.
    When you turn towards the doors with a mouth ful of delight the doors fly open since the guards dont want any on them. Note everyone knows the routine so they know whats coming.
    You get told to head down the highway and dump it at the end in the bushes and do this several times until it was all gone.
    Well in my case the doors fly open its pitch black outside (remember were in the bush no lighting) and i start running down the highway except.....the highway has been cluttered with wire garden furniture and you trip hit the deck and let it out. Of course everyone is having a good laugh at your expense.
    Then when you finally finished the delight, you have to drink 5 warm beers out of the red kettle spout with the lid on and finally ring the bell and buy a round for the whole crew in the bar.
    At that point having not had a beer in more than 6 weeks and being relatively fit and thin you get pickled pretty quick but then its over and you one of the team.

    Some initiation eh?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Good story Rob. I don't see a lot of people weighing in to top this one. Sooo....this is why you left??

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    And THAT is why I didn't join the SA Army in 1976.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Fun times ?

    I bet you look back on those times fondly. I've never had to go through anything nearly as sever, but I imagine it helps to create a bond that outsiders just cannot understand.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    You caught me! I was the one who mined the highway with all the garden furniture .
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    North of Reno, NV...middle of the desert
    "Short story"

    But seriously... a good read

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    Fun times ?

    I bet you look back on those times fondly. I've never had to go through anything nearly as sever, but I imagine it helps to create a bond that outsiders just cannot understand.

    Bent these we some of the best time of my life. We complained like crazy for having a couple of years of our lives taken from us and in way too many cases actual life taken but human spirit being what it is we tend to forget the bad times.

    One real funny occasion that came back to me thinking of this time was a day I returned from vacation to our bush camp. When we were around our camp we wore shorts and t shirts (all army color and issued) was just too hot for boots and full kit. But when we left camp and were out in "public" we had to wear our full uniform.

    Well we had a couple of pet Vervet monkeys that had been reared from tiny babies in our unit due to mother either having been taken by someone for bush meat or killed in some other way.

    Anyhow one specific character was named after his testicles but in Afrikaans namely "Balas". Now one thing a monkey is most afraid of is a snake and where we had our bushcamp, there were several very poisonous and deadly snakes. Most deadly one was the green tree snake or "boomslang" as its known in SA.

    Given the spread out branches style of tree that the acacia tree is, its a great shade tree and when packed together in the bush they often overhang walking paths. So you walk with your head up and eyes very kidding.

    Anyhow one guy returning from vacation with me brings back a small green fake rubber snake. Now when we returned it was kinda like expected by these monkeys that there would be something for them in our shirt pockets which were buttoned down either side, but they soon learnt to get their hands in their and open them while sitting in your arms.

    Well "Balas" is sitting fiddling with my shirt button and this guy pulls the rubber snake out and tosses it at him. Its funny now but was not at the time.
    He dropped his entire guts on me in one foul shot while he leapt away into a paw paw tree. Oh man instant diarrhea all over my uniform. Man I was mad with the guy made him do the washing.

    But these were the typical stupid things 18 year old bored soldiers did in the bush. I have to dig out the couple of pics I have and scan and post them.

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