Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FNG's and the IN Crowd

Katie and I are new guys down here in Green Valley. It's not the first time I've been a "new guy". It's an experience that has both positive and negatve stuff. When I went to private high school, for example, there was a distinction between those that lived on campus (Boarders) and those that lived at home and came to school by bus (Day Pups). In general Boarders were the "in crowd" and Day Pups were not. But the worst time I experienced being the newbie was in Vietnam. You weren't just a new guy there, you were a Fucking New Guy (FNG). Soldiers that had been "in country" longer knew that FNGs could get you killed. And many FNGs didn't live as long as the more seasoned soldiers, so by not getting to know you these more hardened soldiers protected themselves from the pain of losing somebody they knew. In time, I too became a seasoned soldier, but there was another stigma attached to me. I was in Army Intelligence at the brigade level. I lived in a hooch and I slept every night on a bunk and if I chose I could get a hot meal in the mess hall every day. Also I lived in a relatively safer world than your average Grunt. To the soldier out in the field who only came in to a base camp every month or so, I was a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker).  This was just a matter of perspective, however.  Our relatively small basecamp was in real danger of getting overrun. We were periodically barraged by  mortars and rockets. Sometimes the VC attempted  to infitrate our perimeter. We did go out on missions to gather intelligence information, which meant at times we humped with the infantry or were flown into dangerous areas to screen villages or  locate weapons or food caches that one of our detainees told us about. These missions definitely put us in harm's way. To the Intelligence personnel up at Division level, we were like Rambo.  So like I say it's all a matter of perspective. Here in Green Valley even though we are new guys, we fall into the category of "Year Rounders". I don't know how many times we've been asked if we're just here for the winter or if we  live here permanently. When we tell them we are here all year round, we seem to earn some sort of status. At least with other "Year Rounders". Truthfully, I don't think the Snowbirds down here give a shit one way or the other. They are so busy enjoying being away from the hellish winters in Michigan or wherever that they are frantically driving around in their golf carts  trying to maximize the "fun factor" before having to return home.   But we will take whatever status is bestowed upon us, which allows us to talk behind the Snowbirds' backs to other "Year Rounders". "Won't it be nice and quiet around here when all the Snowbirds go back home? And we won't have to wait for a machine at the Rec Center and we can ride our bikes around without the fear of being run over." It's great to be in the in crowd even though we are really FNG's.

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