Kitchen Patrol by John L. Neel

Drill Sergeant Nickerson called me into his office. "Neel, I'm about to teach you a valuable leadership lesson. Never ask your soldiers to do anything that you are not willing to do. This is a DA Form 6, a duty roster. This one is for Kitchen Patrol. This roster is populated Alphabetically by Rank. Since you are my Platoon Guide, you are first on the list."

"You and these two members of the Platoon have KP tomorrow beginning at 0500 . Report with both of them to the Mess Sergeant fifteen minutes early in Fatigues, shirttail out, boots, and no cover."

I had become the Platoon Guide about a week before. I was older than everyone in the platoon, paid attention, took things seriously, and had proven scrappy enough that people didn't mess with me. My Drills picked up on that and put me in charge when they were not around. For my trouble, I was given a black armband with dress uniform Sergeant's Stripes for my left sleeve. The Squad Leaders wore the same band with Corporal Stripes.

I was proud of this armband and wore it that morning to the mess hall, reporting on time at exactly 0445.

The Mess Sergeant met us at the door. "Oh, you're the Platoon Guide! You're going to be in Charge."

"Cool," I thought.

He put the other two to work. One was Dining Room Orderly (DRO), responsible to fetch things for the officers and drill sergeants and to take their trays away after the meal. The other would help the serving line, replenishing trays of food from the kitchen and restocking the cereal line.

Then he took me to the back of the kitchen to a room filled with sinks and stacked full of dirty pots, pans, plates, glasses, and field food containers called Merimites.

"Platoon Guide, YOU are in charge of cleaning everything in this room."

I spent the next seventeen hours, soaking wet, ankle-deep in greasy hot water, scrubbing everything in sight.

When I returned to the Platoon Bay I was a mess and my platoon had a good laugh, but never once complained when I told them they had KP.

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