There was one. Corporal Quintano stood. ``Sir, we need to do something about the meals. They were so bad that half my men are sick. The other half wish they were. Could we do something about this, sir?'' He sat back down to the accompaniment of cheers. Clearly the room was with him.
As was his leader. ``I'd already planned to address this, Corporal, but I'm glad to hear you speak up, and the response.'' He glanced sternly across the stage at an embarrassed officer. ``Lieutenant Weltner, do you have anything to say?''
The lieutenant snapped to attention. ``Sir. No, sir!''
Captain Diaz waved him back to his seat. ``It was an easy mistake, Lieutenant. But don't make it, again! No more caterers, no more home cooked meals, no more hotel meals when we're in the field; is that clear?''
The Lieutenant nodded once, staring straight ahead in shame.
``We'll have to make up for this to average back out, get the men back in shape. Dog food for a week or two. Or stray dogs.'' He paused as the troops cheered. ``Or maybe just dog poop.'' The cheers rose to a deafening crescendo.
Two weeks later, a visiting colonel sat in a tree line as A Troop conducted another field exercise. He watched as the men performed flawlessly. That evening at dinner, the colonel looked sadly at a moldy piece of something before taking a bite. He shuddered.
``Not like in the old days, is it, Colonel?''
The colonel smiled, lopsidedly, at the eager young corporal before him. Quintano, his name tag said.
``No, Corporal Quintano'' he signed, and leaned back against a tree trunk. ``Not like the good old days. At all.'' He glanced at the moldy object (bread?) and tossed it to the corporal, who caught it gratefully and wolfed it down.
The colonel closed his eyes and saw before him the battlefields of his youth. ``I remember the jungle in the 'Nam... We just let rot grow in our boots, and when we got hungry we nibbled our toes...'' He fell asleep in his reverie, smiling faintly.
The corporal shook his head slowly, stood, belched softly and trotted off to find Lieutenant Weltner. They could try that recipe next week.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514