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My Battle Buddy

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My Battle Buddy

I joined the US Army in June 2000. The Army gave all new recruits personal items upon joining and starting basic training. They issued new uniforms, boots, and a bed. In basic training, you are not allowed to be alone for any reason. It does not matter what task you are trying to complete, whether it be eating, sleeping, using the restroom or even while you are being disciplined. Therefore, the Army also issues each Private a battle buddy. Private Chavez was my battle buddy. He was not anyone's ideal buddy. He was not an ordinary person you would want to be partnered with but he was MY Battle Buddy and I spent every moment during basic with him.

Chavez was borderline 600-9 from the moment we partnered together. Chapter 600-9 is a chapter the Military uses to discharge Privates that are unable to physically meet the demands of basic training such as being overweight or not being able to pass a Physical Fitness test. Although my Battle Buddy was able to compose himself in many ways, he was unstable at times and depression got the best of him quite frequently; but after spending so much time together, he grew on me. I learned a lot about his life and his family. He was extremely excited about becoming a father for the first time in just a few short months.

In the Army, every private looks forward to chow time. Chow time is a short twenty minute meal break; a break from training and screaming from the Drill Sergeants. Around the third week of basic training as Private Chavez and I were going through the chow line, he told me he needed to use the restroom. Aggravated at the thought of missing my break, we broke out of line and requested permission to use the latrine. Knowing from personal experience that chow time was precious to every soldier, the Chow Drill Sergeant granted Chavez permission to go to the latrine alone. Relieved at this decision by the Drill Sergeant, I sat at the table and consumed my meal.

Everyday after chow, my platoon had a role call formation. Private Chavez did not "sound off" upon hearing his name that day. The Drill Sergeant's normal reaction to this was to call for Private Chavez's Battle Buddy, which was me. Very nervously, I reported to the Drill Sergeant in charge at that point. He asked me where my Battle Buddy was and I had to come up with an explanation. Apprehensively I replied, "He had permission from the Chow Drill Sergeant to use the Latrine alone." The Drill Sergeant was in disbelief that the Chow Drill Sergeant would give such orders. He ordered me to do pushups until Chavez's return. The Drill Sergeant went into our Barracks looking for Chavez. After quite some time, the Drill Sergeant and two others came out carrying Chavez as his lifeless body lie on the stretcher. Watching him being carried to the awaiting ambulance, still in

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