Learned how to strip, assemble, fire an assault rifle. And don't forget clean. I definitely spent more time cleaning the stupid rifle than firing it.
Also earned how to strip, assemble, fire a light machine gun, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher.
Thrown a hand grenade, once.
Learned to wear a gas mask and experienced tear gas.
Experienced a turn-out at 1am for fun and games.
Walked for many many kilometres. About 600km accumulated in the two years.
Walked through graveyards at 3am. Graveyard with an s because we went from the Jewish/Hindu to the Christian to the Chinese to the Muslim graveyards. Multi-racial and multi-religious indeed.
Killed, skinned and ate a quail.
Learned to start a fire, and build a shelter, survive without food for 3 days.
Learned to read a compass and a map.
Bashed through the same stupid jungle on 3 separate occasions.
Rode in a Chinook, and got the seat closest to the door.
Swam through a muddy looking swimming pool with all our gear.
Learned to drive a jeep, through rivers and hills. Actually fell asleep when driving once but that's what happens when the speed limit is a paltry 50km/h.
Learned to ride a bike, through rivers and hills. Fell down many times on the stupid bike and was horrid at balancing but I still passed on my first attempt.
Learned how to strip, assemble, fire a general purpose machine gun. But I never got to fire it for real. :(
Threw many thunderflashes. Lit up a trip-flare which looks amazing at night.
Turned-out my men at 1am for some fun and games.
Learned how to call for artillery fire.
Learned how to apply bandages for a variety of wounds and fractures. And CPR too.
Administered intravenous fluids on others, twice. Was poked about 10 times though, life is not fair.
Tried flower arrangement once by collecting some wild flowers and putting them into my hand. Even came with a tiny snail.
Got bitten by sandflies. I never want to be bitten by sandflies again. Worst itch ever.
And I guess I made many close friends. Friends that make me sad to leave the army. But they are leaving too, which is the only consolation.
Looking back at the 2 years, I’ve certainly changed. But I can’t really define how I’ve changed. It’s impossible to define really. You can’t help but gain a new perspective on cleanliness after being soaked through with mud and rain and sweat time and time again. You define urgency differently after crawling on the ground with bullets flying above your head (they were a very safe distance overhead hah not so scary). You define discipline differently after being made to stand still for an hour as punishment. And you change that definition again when you have to demand that the guys in your charge do the same.
It’s been a long two years, do I regret it? No. Would I do it again? Yes. But I didn't feel this way when I was serving NS, only now when it's over haha.