The Army is one of the few organizations that give you a true sampling of the types of people that live in America. It seems that shooting and blowing shit up while getting a free college education appeals to people of all races, classes, and creeds. The Army welcomes everyone from the lower-class youths who come from the ghettos, suburbs, and small towns to the kids born with a silver spoon in their mouths who join because being a veteran will look good when they’re running for Congress 30 years from now.
While there are hundreds of thousands of people on active duty and millions of veterans with complex personalities and unique sets of circumstances, this is the Internet and we don’t have time for such silliness. We like to package people in neat little descriptive boxes in list format so we can have a good laugh as we can relate those personality archetypes to those we have met in real life while taking our daily dump. In accordance with such a timeless tradition, here are 5 types of people you’ll meet while on active duty in the Army.
1. The Old Man
The Old Man decided to join the service in his late 20s to early 30s, which effectively makes him an old fart in an environment full of 18-to-21-year-olds full of testosterone and optimistic patriotism. He has a staunch air of dignity about him and is soundly schooled on how the real world works. The Old Man is no stranger to hard work and has done many blue-collar jobs in his late teens and throughout his twenties. He may have even gone to college, but more often than not, he didn’t graduate. Nevertheless, the Old Man isn’t stupid. From Basic Training to beyond, he’s usually the first one to grasp a concept, apply it, and unfuck the damage the dumb 18-year-old privates did when they fucked something up.
The Old Man always seems to have a dark past that he doesn’t talk about until he truly trusts you: a former lover who destroyed his spirit, a drug habit that took to him to the brink of financial ruin, or a slew of unfortunate life events and circumstances that made him need to get away from it all. Regardless, the Old Man sees the military as a fresh start in life and knows how to leverage it to his advantage. He is well versed in all the pay increases and benefits he is eligible for and won’t hesitate to take advantage of them. The Old Man’s maturity will make him a model solider that his superiors (whom he is older than) will never have to worry about.
2. The Ambivalent Patriot
The Ambivalent Patriot is the last person in the world you ever thought would join the military. When he was a civilian, people would describe him as shady and shiftless. His attitude toward life aligns closer to that of Jay and Silent Bob than that of Audie Murphy. Whether he got some chick pregnant or because he got kicked out of his house and had nowhere to go, he joined the armed forces. He usually picks a job that would require him to do the least amount of physical work and will enlist for the bare minimum amount of time required of him to get his full GI Bill benefits.
Surprisingly, the Ambivalent Patriot is usually a competent soldier not because he has any sort of patriotic duty or motivation, but rather because he realizes it’s easier to shut the fuck up, follow the rules, and do the right thing than it is to be an idiot who is constantly getting in trouble. He follows the philosophy of being “the grey man,” meaning that he remains invisible and tries to be exceptionally unexceptional. He meets the standard in every task that is presented before him, but he never stands out in such a way where he draws positive or negative attention. He’s in it to do his time and get the fuck out as soon as his enlistment is over so he can actually pursue the career he actually cares about.
3. The Cherry
The Cherry has been planning on joining the military since he was fifteen and has watched nearly every war movie made in the last fifty years. Fresh out of high school, what he lacks in real-world knowledge and common sense he more than makes up for in unrelenting motivation and physical aptitude. The Cherry will be a constant headache to his leadership. He may have grander visions of becoming a great soldier, yet he will make every retard mistake in the book on his path to doing so. He often has to learn lessons the hard way and will be constantly getting his balls smoked off because he fucked up something simple for the third time that week. He may receive an Article 15 or two and perform extra duty en route to becoming a good soldier.
The Cherry will spend his formative years in the military and spend the weekends in his barracks room drinking, bitching about his life, playing video games, and jerking off to gang-bang porn. On the rare occasion he does get laid, it will usually be with a woman of questionable moral character who already fucked one of his buddies. Yet he knows he isn’t in any real position to be picky. He’ll get his first taste of combat, lose a friend, lose a love, and lose his faith in humanity before he is 21. While the Cherry may have entered the Army full of innocence, glee, and hope, he will leave it corrupt, grizzled, and cynical.
4. The Lifer
The Lifer never intended the military to be his career, but several combat deployments and two reenlistments later he’s now a Platoon Sergeant with twelve years in service and knows that he may as well do twenty. While he is quite good at leading men and killing people, there isn’t a huge job market for that in the civilian world. Accepting his lot in life, he now seeks to be the best and most professional soldier he can be.
The Lifer comes in two varieties: 1) a total dick who, having been in the belly of the beast too long, is a stickler for the rules and regulations; or 2) a totally chill guy who realizes he isn’t going to make Sergeant Major and is over the fuck-fuck games. One will make you work your ass off to the point of stupidity and redundancy. The other will make your work your ass off, make sure you’re properly trained, and will release you at a reasonable time because he doesn’t see the point of you working late if you’ve been properly and adequately trained. Plus, he wants to get home and fuck his hot wife, too.
5. The Living Legend
You heard of him before you even see him. Even if he isn’t in your direct chain of command, just the sight of him strikes fear into your heart and soul. He has this aura that is a healthy mix of anger, hatred, and badass. His face is by default a scowl and his lower lip is constantly filled with chewing tobacco. He’s a salty, senior non-commissioned officer with the energy of a 19-year-old. You’ve heard of the crazy shit he’s done in Afghanistan and Iraq leading his men into the fray and leaving many dead Hajis in his wake. Some of the stories you heard seem so farfetched that if it were any other man, you would call bullshit. But since it’s him, you believe his stories.
He’s so respected and feared in the battalion that even his superior officers are afraid of him. When he gives his opinions, everyone listens. He rarely raises his voice because he is above that. He’s calm, cool, and decisive. He’s one of the few individuals you’ll meet in your life that not only lives up to his legend but adds to it every time he deploys. Even if you saw him today as a civilian, your heart would race and the hair on the back of your neck would rise because he is a scary motherfucker and you’re damn glad he’s on our side.