Hello Tree (Part 2) - Ranger School, 1988

Hello Tree (Part 2) - Ranger School, 1988

A Story by The Warrior Poet

The second and final part to my story. It explains the name. By-the-way this is a 100% true story without embellishment.


Hello Tree

Part 2

US Army Ranger School, 1988


                When carrying the gun through the woods, the sling is over the shoulders (helping the ruck to dig burning trenches in your shoulder muscles) and the gun itself is about waist high, left to right, and held close to the stomach.  Your arms, unless pushing branches and bushes aside or pulling wait-a-minute vines out of your gear, uniform, or flesh, were usually draped across the gun as if leaning on a guard rail.  Because of the weight of the ruck, we naturally leaned pretty far forward.

                                Wait-a-Minute Vines

Any vegetation that has the capability of grabbing hold of you with tenacious thorn fingers and forcing you to deal with it is called a wait-a-minute vine.  The fatigues issued in 1988 were called rip-stop poplin.  They were supposed to have nylon sewn in to help keep the fatigues from ripping.  It worked about as well as Lindsay Lohan’s rehab.  Wait-a-minute vines could have also been called “go buy another set of fatigues” vines. 

I listened and moved, I motioned for the guys behind me and tried to let them know we were too spread out, and I moved forward into the pitch black as quickly as I could.  I slipped a couple of times and nearly fell but I didn’t.  I know it would have looked funny, as I had my head cocked to the side listening most of the time.  It wasn’t that far, but it was oh so far.  I heard the cruching leaves, I changed direction, I heard a grunt and a whispered “F***!” and changed direction again.

While training with the 82nd Airborne, we always had to wear our Kevlars.  At Ranger School, we wore patrol caps.  The patrol caps are soft brim caps.  On the very rare occasion that we 82nd boys go to wear our patrol caps in the field, it was considered quite a privilege.

                Kevlars and patrol caps

                The Kevlar is the helmet, named after the “active ingredient” in the shell.  It is somewhat heavy, somewhat bulky, somewhat clunky, and not liked very much at all by anyone that has to wear it for very long.  That was us, of course.  The guys in the Ranger battalions wore patrol caps to the field.  They would jump in, stuff their helmets into their rucks and don their P-caps.  A Kevlar would have proven useful for me that night.

There are a lot of Oak trees in Southern Georgia.  They didn’t seem to mind that slimy red clay which there was also a lot of.  The bark of an Oak tree is VERY coarse and the trees are rock solid.  It doesn’t bother them at all to be slammed into.

Just as my thoughts uttered “I made it " they’re right there,” inside my head, the front of my head slammed full force into what felt like an Oak.  My face was in its normal location which at that point was between my head (moving forward with the full momentum of all that gear, and 5 grit sandpaper bark of that Oak.  “Hello Tree,” I DIDN’T say or think.  What actually flashed through my mind at that point was a few disconnected thoughts.  One of those thoughts was " “Well, now " not as close as I almost was…”  and the other was “I sure wish I had my Kevlar on.”   The last one was “F*** that hurt!”

There was nothing to worry about for most of my face as it was protected by my nose, which wasn’t happy at all.  My P-cap landed on top of my ruck.  And the guys behind slammed into me.  I hurried forward again, saying nothing.

Ever accidently scraped off a scab?  I regained contact with the rest of the patrol by slamming full-on into the ruck of the last guy in line and as he was trying to figure out what was happening I was thinking “F*** that hurt!”  If it hadn’t been for the Zombie Haze, the pain would have been a lot worse.

                Zombie Haze

Sleep deprivation does terrible things to a person.  It can cause hallucinations, it dulls the senses, and it slows down reaction time a lot.  After about 3 days without sleep, the mind is simply numb.   

We made it into the patrol base that night/morning and had just enough time to not get to eat.  We were too busy not being allowed to sleep.  I discovered that I hadn’t broken my nose but it did have a few deep cuts on the outside.  I had also busted both my lips and scraped my cheek.  To make matters worse, I had whiplash.  Not a good way to be moving into the next day’s mission. 



© 2010 The Warrior Poet

Author's Note

The Warrior Poet
100% true and also 90% freewriting. I just put one of my "war stories" down on paper. BTW: "War Stories" for soldiers aren't just about war. They include all Army stories. AKA: "There-I-Was" stories

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Way to throw us into your world. This was an excellently written piece and the explanations you gave between the prose sections served well.


Posted 10 Years Ago

This story is full of details and I like how you explain what things are for those of us who don't know what they mean. Wow hitting that tree must have hurt but for the reader it is slightly funny. Great job putting this down on paper.

Posted 10 Years Ago

thanks for sharing this story ~

Posted 10 Years Ago

Take hard work and a lot of training to make a strong Soldier. Especially today where all Soldiers will have a very good possibility of ending up in a war zone. I was station at Fort Steward for 3 years. I didn't mind the winter. The Georgia summer was hell. I like this story. I did some training at Fort Lewis. Didn't like those walks into the Washington woods. A excellent story. Thank you.

Posted 10 Years Ago

This should help some civilians understand the rigors of Ranger training. I have worked with Army Rangers, they definitely have my respect. ( Even if they did aggravgate me by treating me like I was a delicate, frail princess, I'm actually more like the Oak.)

Posted 10 Years Ago

thoroughly enjoying this view from the inside out~ and 100% true is by far more interesting than fiction!~

Posted 10 Years Ago

100% true facts make the best fiction. I enjoyed reading this it was entertaining and made the reader ask what next.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Meant to also say that this reads well.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Ooofffaa. Ouch!

Posted 10 Years Ago

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9 Reviews
Added on November 20, 2010
Last Updated on November 20, 2010
Tags: Military


The Warrior Poet
The Warrior Poet


I am a combat veteran paratrooper and I've been writing since 1984. I was chosen by my English teacher as good candidate for Creative Writing and had to get a waiver to get into the class because my .. more..


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