(Picture: somewhere on manuevers in Germany)
Part of my training as an Infantry Officer required me to go to Ranger School, which is suppose to primarily be a leadership school for combat soldiers who want to join the Armyâ€™s elite light infantry unit known as the Rangers.Â It was an unwritten rule that every infantry officer had to earn the coveted Ranger tab or he wasnâ€™t worth his weight in salt as a leader of combat troops.Â
When I went through Ranger School, it was a 68-day course.Â We were given one dehydrated meal a day and an hour or two of sleep if we were lucky.Â Â The course was designed to test our physical and mental limits as combat leaders.Â We had to learn to lead men in all environments.Â There was the Benning Phase where we learned to fight as a small unit in a woodland environment. There was the Mountain Phase where we learned to survive and fight at high altitudes.Â This was followed by the Desert and Jungle Phase.
I drew the unfortunate short straw of having to attend Ranger school during the winter months.Â I have never been so cold in my life and have come to dislike the winter months for that reason.
One morning we were huddle together like seals trying to stay warm.Â We had on our Gortex winter jackets and we were still cold.Â A Ranger Instructor came strutting out of his warm command post, a big smile on his face.Â â€œTake those Gortex jackets off men.Â It ainâ€™t cold out here.Â Itâ€™s 80 degrees out!Â Cold is a state of mind.â€?Â We groaned and shuffled and did as we were told.Â
The Ranger instructor stood over us as we shivered and curse and said: â€œMen, if you make it through Ranger School, every day will be Christmas and every meal a feast.â€?
I didnâ€™t believe him at the time.Â But in retrospect, I now know what he meant.Â
Every day is Christmas; and indeed every meal is a feast.