For all you military veterans out there


Compiled by Bill Derby

Stories from members of our military.

Military Pranks Are Scarier Than Bombs

The military has a long, proud tradition of pranking recruits. Here are some favorites some of you have probably experienced.

• Instructed a private in the mess hall to look for left-handed spatulas.

• Sent a recruit to medical-supplies office in search of fallopian tubes.

• Had a new guy conduct a “boom test” on a howitzer by yelling “Boom!” down the tube in order to “calibrate” it.

• Ordered a private to bring back a five-gallon can of dehydrated water. (In fact, the sergeant just wanted an empty water can)


An Iraqi Beauty Regimen 

After my niece returned from her second tour in Iraq, I remarked how beautiful her complexion looked. “What do you use on your face to keep it so smooth?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “I’ve been sandblasted.”


Forrest Gump

My husband and I were watching Forrest Gump at the base theater. The crowd was pretty quiet throughout the film, until the scene when Forrest graduates from college and is met by an Army recruiter. That was met with a shout from behind us: “Run, Forrest, run!”


The Deadliest Job in WWII 

My high school assignment was to ask a veteran about World War II. Since my father had served in the Philippines during the war, I chose him.

After a few basic questions, I very gingerly asked, “Did you ever kill anyone?”

Dad got quiet. Then, in a soft voice, he said, “Probably. I was the cook.”


Never Lose A Tank

When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me $85. That’s why in the Navy, the captain goes down with the ship.


A Vietnam Tupperware Party

The steaming jungles of Vietnam were not my husband’s first choice of places to spend his 21st birthday. However, the mood was brightened when he received a birthday cake from his sister. It was carefully encased in a Tupperware container and came with this note: “Dick, when you’re finished, can you mail back my container?”


War Stories

My father was telling his young nephew about fighting in Vietnam.

“Are you a hero?” Jose asked.

“Nah,” said Dad.

“Did you ever shoot anyone?”

“No. All I did was aim at ’em.”

Pause … “Who’s Adam?”



Marines are known for storming the beaches, not for romance. I witnessed this firsthand at the base in Twentynine Palms, California. One of the enlisted men complimented the receptionist’s flowered jacket.

“It’s very pretty,” he said shyly.

“Thank you,” she replied coyly.

“Yeah,” he went on. “It looks just like my mother’s sofa.”


A letter I received from my son stationed in Baghdad:


Yesterday I was part of a security detail for Kid Rock, Kellie Pickler, and comedian Lewis Black. This morning, I had breakfast with the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. War is hell. Johnny


Language Barrier

As a young officer on the USS Midway, I was enjoying shore leave in Marseille. One day, I was invited to a local club to play tennis with two young Frenchwomen and a Norwegian man, who spoke only the most rudimentary English. After the doubles match, the Norwegian and I changed back into our street clothes and waited for the women to rejoin us.

“You fly?” he said to me.

I told him I was a ship’s officer, not a naval aviator. After a pause to take in my response, he tried again.

“You fly,” he said slowly, “is open.”


War Tags

After returning home from basic training, our friend’s son told us about some of the interesting people he’d met, including one guy nicknamed Airborne. “Do the guys call him Airborne because he wants to be a paratrooper?” his mother asked.

“No, that’s not it,” said her son. “He got that name because on his first night, he fell out of the bunk.”


Landmarks and Spacemarks

While on maneuvers in the Mojave Desert, our convoy got lost, forcing our lieutenant to radio for help.

“Are you near any landmarks that might help us locate you?” the base operator asked him.

“Yes,” said the lieutenant. “We are directly under the moon.”


Baby’s First Army Roll Call

During that first roll call in the Army, I waited in dread as the sergeant got to my name: DiFeliciantonio. There was bound to be trouble, and I was right, because suddenly, he fell silent—eyebrows arched, brain overloaded. After a long pause, he thundered, “The alphabet?!”


Helping Her Out

When my very pregnant niece, a sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, accidentally knocked over a glass of water, one of her soldiers volunteered to help clean it up. As he was mopping up the mess, an officer walked in.

“Private, what’s going on in here?” he asked.

To the officer’s horror, the private replied, “Sir, the sergeant’s water broke, and I’m helping her clean up.”


No Smoking 

I was in our local VA hospital when a clerk began scolding a veteran who’d lit up a cigarette in a no-smoking area. “Sir!” she barked. “When did you start smoking?”

The conversation came to a halt when he replied, “In Vietnam, right after that first bomb dropped.”


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Before he was deployed to Afghanistan, my brother Ken was lamenting over how many people seemed unaware of the conflict. I had to concede his point when I later mentioned to a neighbor that he was leaving for Afghanistan.

“Really?” he said. “For business or pleasure?”


Giving It Away

As the soldier drove up to the Air Force base gate, my husband, who was on security detail at the time, had an inkling that the driver might have had a few. What gave him away? The guy thought he was at a tollbooth and handed my husband a dollar bill.


Fear Factor

I served in a parachute regiment. During a nighttime exercise, I was seated next to a young officer. He was looking a bit pale, so I asked, “Scared, lieutenant?”

“No,” he replied. “Apprehensive.”

“What’s the difference?”

“That means I’m scared, but with a university education.”


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