The Legendary Cadet

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 20
Occupation: Student, US Military
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 13, 2015
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Korean

Informant E was born in Korea and moved to El Centro California when she was 4. Before she came to USC she found that she was accepted into the school but also enlisted in the military. She put school on hold and deferred for a semester and went to training at the age of 17, and was one of the youngest soldiers to graduate. And after her experience with boot camp she came back to USC and started school and contracted to army ROTC. She has been deployed over the summers to Korea. She studies Psychology and Linguistics as a double major and a Forensics Criminality minor combined with dance as well. She wants to use her schooling and military experience to be in the FBI one day.

There was this one cadet and his name was Cadet D. So we have these FMs, which are Field Manuals, and it’s where all the army rules and regulations are and it literally has everything. And its very thick and detailed, there’s so many different aspects. So Cadet D, and I don’t know if he memorized the entire thing, but he would always know what to address. So we would be talking about like ‘Oh this is the right way to do this’ and someone would say ‘No its like this’ and he would put his little finger up and say ‘Well according to FM bla bla bla dash blab la, it says,’ and he would recite it off the top of his head. And he had this really nasally voice. And so today even some of the cadets that don’t know him if they’re having like a smart aleck moment they’ll put their little fingers up and say, ‘Well according to blah blah balh,’ and they’re being sarcastic but everyone knows who he is, even if they’ve never met him.   I knew of him, I didn’t know him too well though. But everyone has heard about him and will all do the same mannerism as him. It’s a fun, teasing thing. Its remarkable he memorized the entire thing and knew what to reference but it was also sort of funny because who has time to do that as a college student? No one really wants to have no life and memorize the entire manual, it’s not negative but it’s a joking playful kind of way. When things get stressful or tense sometimes someone will say ‘Well according to…’ and everyone will bust out laughing because they know who he’s all referring to and everyone will take a step back, laugh about it, and then come back and compromise and agree to do the specific thing. This legend will keep going through I think. People below me have carried on his tradition.

 

Analysis:

Here informant E talks about a legend in the military about a cadet who went above and beyond the already large demands of the military to memorize the entire field manual. She talks about how the stories of this cadet have already taken a life of their own and are likely to continue even after she’s left USC. Imitating this person also serves to lighten the mood and release tensions while fondly remembering a cadet who went above and beyond.  The military can be very tense and stressful, and its important sometimes to have a way to lighten the mood so everyone can work more effectively, and it also helps to bring the community together through humor.