Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hazing Part II

I was immediately dropped (into the pushup position) and a slight concern over what was going to happen began to fall. Over the next minute or so nothing happened. Then Fury started to whisper.

I always thought that was worse than yelling. A whisper in the ear of a cadet struck mulitudes more fear than a scream.

He implied to me how stupid that was for me to think I had a right to do that, and that he was going to make sure that I understood my error. Over the next 20 minutes or so I executed a series of pushups, hung by my hands from a pipe until I couldn't hold on anymore, and various other exercises designed to bring me to exhaustion. Mind you, this was immediately after our weekly PT run. Even with all of this, I was happy when I was released back to my room with strict orders not to breathe a word of this to anyone. I was still alive...

It wasn't until I got to my room that I started hearing the calls. JSD members from all over my batallion (barracks) were shouting across the galleries, gathering their number. Phone calls were being made to JSD members in other batallions. It wasn't long until my door was kicked open and I wearily stood at attention again.

Not all the JSD members had the same intentions as Fury. Some were sadistic and known to be. One grabbed a transom stick, a 3/4" wooden dowel used to open high windows. He weilded it like a baseball bat and ordered me to hang by the pipes again.

I don't recall ever being hit. I do recall doing more physical exertion than I had ever done in my life. And crying. Once fear overtook me, emotions started coming out.

It wasn't the PT I feared. With every other thing that had happened at The Citadel, I knew there was a limit. No matter how hard they pushed and threatened, I always believed that there was a point that couldn't be crossed. The fact that that line no longer existed was what frightened me the most, and generated stark terror.
Once it was over, Fury wrote a symbol on my soaked white PT shirt. The Crossed Swords, with the year of the JSD on wither side and the members position. Two others did the same. I'm not sure how many were actually in my room.

"That's three," whispered Fury. "You have eleven more to go." With that, they walked out. It was the only time in four years that I ever considered quitting the school altogether.

These sessions continued on and off for the next month or so, when either someone got busted or they lost interest. Along the way I picked up a companion, who was in the same situation I was. Fury made things easier for his crowd by kicking my roommate out and moving the other guy in. Throughout the trials we endured over the next few weeks, we became best friends.

We were inseparable for my whole knob year. In the end competition between us for promotion splintered the bonds we had created. We both later went on to become two of the higher-ranking cadets of the school. I chose a pilot slot over trying out for JSD my junior year, as (understandably so) grades suffered severly the semester you tried out for the Drill. He became my class's JSD commander.

My roommate's JSD had some individuals on it that the treatment we received as freshmen affected adversely instead of building us, as I strongly feel the treatment I received did. In my senior year several of them were expelled for hazing juniors attempting to make the cut. It was the last JSD that existed in The Citadel.

So--my point. The hazing that I was administered at my all-male military alma mater did not adversely affect me. It did not make me into a wife-beater or violent anti-women monster. It prepared me. Mind you, I was not set on fire, beaten with weapons, or made to drink overwhelming amounts of alcohol (the latter I did on my own). It made me stronger. It gave me determination to perservere. It gave me something that I strongly feel that I had to be proud of--above and beyond the immeasureable pride that one feels from graduating from that school as it is. I also don't think it is for everyone. There are definitely other ways to build character and pride. This is what worked on me.

I don't know what happened to Fury. He was commissioned as an officer in the US Army after graduation and I never heard from him again except in a book written about the JSD long after I graduated.

If he is like he once was, he is probably leading a batallion into combat somehwere in Iraq right now.


  1. Its good to see someone inject some common sense into the debate about military colleges, particularly with the farce that is going on at the USNA.

    I was a Summerall Guard, but never had the guts or the rank to be with JSD. You are a better man than me.

  2. I've added you to my link list.

  3. Skip--

    Nah, I didn't go for JSD (it's in the story up there somewhere)--my grades would have imploded and I would never have gotten a contract. I did SG, though. We still had shako pops (the alumni hated that).

  4. Interesting story. Coming near the end of my sophomore year, one of the 3rd Batt 1st SGgts picked on two guidon corporal types, setting them up for JSD. For some reason, which I never heard, he sprayed shaving cream up their noses, which resulted in a bust and severe sinus infections. The JSD went on. I still recall a hot morning in Aug 72 with a little, short, bald guy yelling at me. Tim Moore. He made drill, and SG, too. Went on to do good stuff as a Marine.

    I agree with your understanding of hazing, being something that takes you higher. I never was beaten, but the 15 push ups in 15 minutes were interesting. Pipe hanging, too, and then the obligatory M-14 at arms length.

    Side note. Our year for SG was the first with out "smokers" and other implements of pain. Come the day on Indian Hill, one of the '75 SG, who had abstained from any participation in the BV process, came out and cut the last few of us, to make sure no one made 76 minutes. I got to 73. He waited until those last 10 minutes, when only those who had done it the year before could cut. His classmates surrounding the event were pretty upset, was what it was.

    Then again, '75 was an experiment in no push ups (on the galleries anyway). They brought them back for us.

    Good story injected with personal insight.