SGT Russell Holmes, U.S. Army (1984-2003)



The following Reflection represents SGT Russell Holmes’s legacy of their military service from 1984 to 2003. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

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In 1984, FLW MO
We were training ‘Moving under fire”. We’d line up at the edge of the woods, and the first guy would run forward to cover. The first guy then yelled, “Covering!”. The next guy would yell, “Moving!” and run past the first guy and throw himself down at the next cover. He’d settle into a firing position and then yell, “Covering!”  The first guy would yell “Moving!’ and run past him to the next cover. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. We were also using the downtime between platoons to enhance CTT skills.

Located at this training area was the latrine. There was no running water at the training area, so the latrine was a wooden outhouse. It was about 8 feet wide and 30 feet long, with 10 holes cut out in the bench over the septic pit. It was well-maintained and clean for an outhouse. The stench, however, could lift the roof. Imagine countless soldiers doing their business in there, day in and day out. In Missouri. In August.

We were warned, in a general way, to body sling our weapons so that they didn’t fall in. Most of us did that even though it was rather uncomfortable and awkward. Private Hogfoss, however, failed to follow to the common wisdom. We were all standing in formation, getting ready to march back to barracks, when the Senior Drill looked up and noticed something odd.

“HOGFOSS! WHERE is your WEAPON!?!?!”

“I dropped it, Drill Sergeant.”

“Dropped it! Dropped it where!?!”

“In the latrine Drill Sergeant!”

“In. The. Latrine.”  I had never seen Senior Drill be that still or get that red. You know the cartoons where steam is coming out of someone’s ears? Yeah, that was Senior Drill. The entire formation is absolutely still waiting for the explosion.

“HOGFOSS! Drop and keep pushing until I get tired!”

“One Drill Sergeant, Two Drill Sergeant…..”  He was pushing for a while. The Senior Drill was still red in the face. He went over to the other Drill Sergeants and had a conference while Hogfoss was doing pushups and counting them off. I think they let him up somewhere near 50. 

“First Squad! Fall out and ground gear. Hogfoss, strip from the waist up.”  Evidently, the Drills had come up with a plan.

We fell out and grounded our gear. Hogfoss took off his web gear, BDU coat, and T-shirt. Hogfoss was the size of a linebacker, 260 pounds, and not an ounce of fat. His arms were the size of my legs. The only problem he had in physical fitness was long-distance runs. He was a nice all-around guy, but you didn’t want to make him mad. 

The Senior Drill ordered us into the latrine (with that smell so thick you could cut it with a knife). He unlatched the platform the holes were cut out of and lifted it up, exposing the septic pit in all its glory. The pit is about 10 feet deep with a fairly deep layer of….  Well. We took off our BDU web belts and, made a couple of improvised ropes out of them, and attached them to Hogfoss.  Then over he went, headfirst into the pit with us holding his feet and the improvised ropes. He was easily the largest man in our squad. We are having a lot of trouble just maintaining a good grip on the man.

“Watch out! He’s slipping!”

“Hold that belt!”

“You assholes, drop me, and I’ll kill all of you!”

“Drill Sergeant, can we dip him just a little?”

“GAAAAA! What is that? Drill Sergeant SOMEBODY has worms!”

He starts running his hands and arms through the sewage, trying to find his weapon, which, of course, had sunk deep into the reeking muck.

“Man, we thought he smelled bad before.”

“Ain’t you found it yet?”

 After a bit, he runs his hand over the rifle strap and can recover his weapon. 

“Hey, I got the sling! Pull me up! For God’s sake, pull me up!”

We hauled him up and retreated away from the funk as quickly as we could. You could almost see the funk clinging to him. It was very reminiscent of Pig Pen from the Peanuts comic strip. Poor Hogfoss walked out on the grass and tried to wipe off most of the stuff on the ground using grass and leaves.

We recovered our gear and distributed Hogfoss’ equipment and clothing throughout the squad. He was standing at attention away 50 meters or so to the left of the formation. His arms were stained with fecal matter from his hands to past his elbows, with a really filthy weapon on his right shoulder.

“HOGFOSS! You will march behind the formation no closer than 50 meters! Company! Right Face! Forward March!”
Senior Drill marched some ways behind Hogfoss to make sure he didn’t get lost.

We marched back to the barracks, rotating the carrying of his gear around the platoon. As soon as we arrived in the company area, two of the Drills got the hose out and proceeded to deshitify Hogfoss right before the Company formation as an object lesson. 

“Hogfoss! On your back,” the Drill ordered while hosing off Hogfoss’ front side. “Front”! as the grinning Drill repeats the evolution for his back. “Gooooooooo!” This caused Hogfoss to jump up and start running in place while being sprayed with the hose. “Back, Front, Go” lasted for what seemed to us watching for a long while.

For Hogfoss, I am sure it was an eternity.

There were no repeats of this mistake, at least in our company.

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Tags: FLW MO, Military Memories of our Runner-Ups


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