National Geographic : 1941 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Staff i'hotographh r J. HBaylur oliatI-r Proudly He Follows in Dad's Footsteps Veteran Master Sgt. Henry H. Beck, with 25 years' service, welcomes his son Ray who has just volunteered at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Draft boards report ever-increasing numbers of volunteer enlistments. stuffed with cotton, worked with machine guns. "Show me one," I said, "who had never pointed a gun before." They did. He was from Brooklyn. "He says he's never fired even a .22 in a Coney Island shooting gallery," said his colonel. "But here, look at his score. You wouldn't expect much more from a veteran. . . . No, we can't make soldiers as easily as you cut out paper dolls. But with this intensive training -and no more long, aimless hours marking time on parade grounds-we feel we're going to town." Some drill sergeants, of course, still bark. Older ones say you've got to be hard and snappy to get discipline and efficiency. I watched one giving bayonet instruction to a rookie squad. He had a voice hoarse as a sea lion's. "Ready now-left foot forward - bayo nets up a bit. Lunge! . . . Good! That got 'im....Nowtakea short hold on your weapon - pull your bayonet out, and step back." One rookie, slow on the pickup, wasn't get ting it. At him the sergeant didn't even crook a finger, much less call him by name. But everybody knew at whom the old non com's withering invec tive was aimed. I watched the rookie, helpless, red-faced, having to take such a panning before his buddies with no chance for back talk. He got madder and madder. Just when he couldn't have endured it an other second, the ser geant let up; he knew just when to let up! He broke into a broad grin. "That's better," he comforted. "Tomor row it'll come easy. Fall out!" Bulldozing? Yes. Heartless? No. I know that type of old noncom. He respects his officers and himself; he wants to make good soldiers out of these rookies; he knows that means obedience, instant reaction to orders. Iron Bulls, Steel Turtles, Hell Buggies Sure, the sergeant has a seal's voice and a line of razzing that infuriates his victim! Yet if that same laggard victim got caught in a burning bunkhouse, this old sour-puss with that same seal voice would be yelling "Stand back!" to everybody else, and he'd be going in himself, alone, to save that rookie. That's the way it is with trained soldiers. That's the kind of man the rookie will make, if his sergeant doesn't fall dead first of apoplexy!