Residence: Torrance, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2013
Primary Language: English
“At the end of the sixth week of training… no at the uh… after the fourth week of training in the, in the Coast Guard, you get on-base liberty, which means you get an entire day to yourself where you can do whatever you want. You can go to the duty free shop, you can exercise, you can read a book, you can go to the computer lab… whatever. Then, um… during the sixth week of basic training, assuming you haven’t done anything to disrupt, you get off-base liberty, which means you get dressed up in your military dress uniform and you go off base—into the town, and you do whatever you want from eight to eight. Me personally, I went out and, uh, saw two movies. I, uh, I pigged out at a fast food place. Other people get hotels to, you know, sleep with other people on the base. Or uh, they go to the bars to get wasted—even though that’s not allowed, what they do is they get a hotel and they get roaring drunk before they have to get back to base—or at least, hide it enough so no one knows that they’re piss-drunk…
“There were six guys—they called them six pack—and they got so black-out-drunk that when they got back—they almost got away with it—they took a taxi up to the front gate, they managed to uh walk past the gate, and when they got to, to uh, their barracks, to their, to their private little room, they had to walk past their company commander office… and as soon as they walked past: bluuehhhh! [makes vomiting noise]. Their company commander was right there, they just, they almost made it, they just passed his office, and then [vomiting noise] everywhere. Guy came out, they all got busted for, like two weeks.”
The informant’s company commander told him this legend. The commander said that they tell this story to everyone when they are allowed to go out on weekend liberty. The commanding officers admonish the recruits: “don’t be like the Six Pack. This was a warning to training Coast Guard recruits that their position is tenuous as well as determined by themselves.
This is a good illustration of how the Coast Guard functions: part hierarchy, part brotherhood. The way in which the commanding officers disseminate rules and expectations to those under their command (done through folklore) is friendly enough to make it easy to accept as someone under the command of another.