The Most Secret of Military Secrets



Fair warning: the following story contains crude, juvenile military humor. I regret nothing.


No joke, there I was, asleep in bed in my barracks at a small National Guard base. I was in week 7 or so of a 10 week course. My roommate and one of my best friends, “Doc Shelby”, was asleep in his bed a few feet away.

I had recruited Doc into the National Guard to be my Cavalry platoon’s medic. Then as soon as he finished basic and medic school I gave him the great news that I was leaving the unit. But I wasn’t being a Blue Falcon (look it up if you don’t know the term), there was a good reason for it.

A few months earlier, our squadron commander had visited my Scout Troop at drill. As we stood in formation, he gave us news we thought was great, though the average person would probably have found it terrifying.

“Men, we’re going to Afghanistan. And we’re not going to escort convoys or guard gates. We’re going to own an area, do all the patrolling and kick in whatever doors we need to.”

We were ecstatic. None of the typical National Guard missions for us, we were going to be in combat. Then next drill the commander came back with an update.

“Well men, the mission has changed. It’s still a great mission, though. Now we’re going to Iraq to guard prisoners.”

Oh, hell no, I thought. I had already been a Tanker Without A Tank, and you can guess what everyone called us, in Iraq. I had zero interest in being a Cavalry Scout working as a jail guard.

Fortunately for me, another unit was spinning up for Afghanistan and looking for volunteers. I threw my name in the hat. Several of my soldiers volunteered with me, either because I was such a good leader or, more likely, due to their disgust at the thought of guarding prisoners.

So a couple weeks after he finished months of training, I called Doc and asked him to come with us to Afghanistan. He’d have to attend another 10-week training course if he said yes. He wearily answered, “What the hell, I go whichever way the wind blows,” and agreed.

Doc and I had shared the small room since day one of the training course. We knew each other pretty well and got along great. We still do.

Doc was an experienced civilian paramedic and always gave good health advice. I had a minor concern about an occasional faint cramp in my calf. I should have mentioned it to him, but never did.

So that night, around 3 am, I suddenly woke up. My left calf muscles felt like they were twisting. I knew from experience that a bad cramp, not a minor one, was coming. I sprang up and reached for my calf. Too late. Before I could grab my calf, the cramp hit.


I shuddered in agony. Despite my attempts to muffle it, a loud “Grrrrrrr!” escaped my lips. I clutched my twitching calf and desperately tried to squeeze the pain out of it. Nothing worked.

About twenty excruciating seconds later, the pain started to subside. The spasm stopped, I laid back and breathed deeply in relief. For a moment I wondered if I had woken Doc, but he was still and silent. I forced myself to relax, and eventually went back to sleep.

Weeks passed. Doc and I graduated from the course, briefly visited home and then headed to Afghanistan. After roughly a year of trials and adventures, we came home and went back to drills with our Guard unit.

Fast forward to mid-2013. Almost five years had passed since my epic late night calf cramp. I was at drill, hanging out with Doc and several other soldiers during down time. The conversation turned to exercise, and the physical problems that come from pushing yourself too far. Someone brought up leg cramps, and I mentioned the one that almost killed me at the training course.

An expression of shocked surprise popped onto Doc’s face. With eyes wide he asked, “That’s what happened that night? You had a cramp?”

I was a little confused by his response. “You remember that? I didn’t even know I woke you up. What did you think happened?”

Doc isn’t the shyest guy, but he kind of blushed, smiled and looked away. Then he told me a secret he had been holding for almost five years.

“Actually, I thought you were jerking off. That’s why I never said anything about it.”

Man in bed with nervous look

Freaking Doc. All those years he stayed quiet and maybe a little uncomfortable about the night he thought I cranked one off just a few feet away. Maybe, if anything like that ever happens again, he’ll just ask me what’s going on.

And hopefully he never asks me about that unusual stain he found on his pillow. But that’s a whole other story. 🙂 

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17 Responses to “The Most Secret of Military Secrets”

  1. Chris, I so needed that laugh! Thank you! Shattered my ankle a month ago and I’ve been crankier than a Griz with no food, so any opportunity to laugh is a good thing.
    Sure do miss being around cop and military humor and you have given a good dose this morning. Keep up the great work!

  2. 3 Kathryn Greten

    omg…Laughed and Laughed…Tears were rolling down my face….Almost peed my pants…it was so funny! The sad part…it is probably true…

    • Oh, it’s all true. Except maybe for the pillow stain. Maybe that’s not true… but maybe it is…:)

      • 5 Sean Dalton

        You have no idea how much I love this story. I have a story but not combat related. I was a prior enlisted 2LT Weapons platoon commander for 2/3 Echo Co based in HI. While deployed on the Belleau Wood for the 31st Meu our Battalion went to Pohang Korea for Foal Eagle (computer simulated combat at the Flag officer level). The company grade officers from my battalion were put in GP tents and were the keyboard pushers for the Flag officers. It was actually a very educational exercise, but we were fucking pissed off. Anyway, an Infantry Officer I went to IOC with, who was a plt commander for a different company in 2/3, was in the rack right next to me. Every night he would go, “Dalton, I need to take care of my body, put your headphones on.” Solid Motherfucker.
        Semper Fi.

        • My favorite “military guys have no shame” stories came from my old tank unit at NTC in 99. We had one tank driver who was spotted abusing himself in the driver’s compartment during live fire, and another who complained that he couldn’t finish because his tank commander kept giving him orders to drive to different places. “So I’d be about to finish, then the TC would say, ‘Driver, back up!’, and I’d have to put it away and start over when we stopped.”

          Then there was the very calm, very religious guy on my crew, who was engaged and didn’t partake in the usual guy banter about women. One morning about two weeks into our NTC rotation, he was sitting in the driver’s hole with the hatch open, staring intently at a Hustler magazine. The look on his face was almost pained. I climbed off the tank to grab a hammer from the next tank, about 75 meters away. When I got back the guy was laid back in the driver’s seat, eyes closed, with the Hustler thrown on the front slope. He looked totally relaxed. I asked, “Dude, what’d you do? I was only gone like two minutes!” He answered, without opening his eyes, “I beat off, man. Dang, that was good.”

  3. 7 SPEMack

    What? You mean in your Cav platoon y’all didn’t routinely jerk off on/or around one another? I kid. I kid.

    Ha, good laugh Chris. I once walked in on my choo mate having a very intimate skype date with his wife. Good times.

    • In Iraq we lived in trailers, and figured out that if you stuck your key in from the inside, the person outside couldn’t stick their key in to unlock the door. My roommate used to pull that crap on me sometimes when I’d leave to go to the latrine. By the time I got back, a few minutes later, he’d be done and asleep, with the damn key stuck in the lock so I couldn’t get back in. Bastard.

  4. 9 Mike_C

    Bwahahaha!!! Brilliant! Poor Doc, to have carried that psychic burden all those years!

    Now I’m really grateful I didn’t get a bad cramp during my sub-internship. I shared a tiny airless call room (bunk beds) with a stunningly gorgeous, and sweet-natured to boot, Persian girl for a month. Fortunately for her I apparently have the magnetism of a three-day flattened opossum by the roadside — she never had trouble falling asleep, dang it. Not exactly the same story in the top bunk (clearly a gentleman offers to take the less convenient and less desirable bunk; just so happens I also took the worse bunk).

    • Maybe if you had gotten a bad cramp, she would have taken pity on you, massaged your leg, started a conversation and moments later you two would be married? You never know…

  5. Holy crap! That was funny! In a world gone mad sometimes a real good laugh is better than sex. “sometimes” being the operative word here. Thanks, I needed that!

  6. Mr Hernandez,
    FWIW, I had a real bad leg cramp last Elk season. One of the guys in the camp told me to eat some mustard. I thought, “Yeah right” . He’s a hard corp bike rider and cycles all over. Anyway, after the second cramp I squirted some of the Frenches mustard in my mouth and the cramp went away RTF now! I couldn’t believe it. He said he carries one of the little mustards that Mickie D’s has in their stores. I’m a believer.

    • One day I had a cramp at home, my wife ran to the kitchen and came back with a banana which she tried to cram in my mouth.

      Hopefully it wasn’t some kind of a sexual thing…

  7. Now that’s funny! I like the part where you volunteered, I did that once and from then on it was announced to me that I just volunteered for something else. When you raise your hand, look around and you’re alone, well, you’re pretty much screwed, lol Thanks for the story….

    • In Marine boot camp we were told if the DIs ever asked for volunteers, the whole platoon better raise their hands. Then toward the end one of the DIs from another platoon asked for volunteers, a bunch of guys charged forward with raised hands, and the DI trashed them while telling them, “This is the Marine Corps, you NEVER volunteer!”

  8. So if you were Blue Falcon, would that make Doc, Dynomutt? LOL… Great story!

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