With “Murphy’s Law” just a few weeks away from publication, I thought I might share a few stories that just didn’t make the cut for the book. When I wrote it, I really focused on what I thought were the most important or interesting aspects of my life and discarded a lot of material that I know has been written about by others. For instance, stories about the experience of going through Infantry Basic Training or Ranger School.

I forgo most of those trips down memory lane in the book to keep things moving and give the reader some material to chew on that they haven’t seen before. By page 10 of the book I am attending the Ranger Indoctrination Program and by page 20 I’m on my first combat deployment. That said, I’ve had a few people ask me to share some of these stories that didn’t make it into the book or on our podcast. In a recent podcast, I told the story about how my basic training platoon was stealing Choco Tacos from the chow hall, inevitably got caught, and then blamed the entire ordeal on the mega-shitbag in our platoon who always shamed out of training. Another early reader of “Murphy’s Law” asked why the story about my Golden Patrol in Ranger School was not included.

As noted, this story doesn’t appear in the book, but makes for a pretty funny anecdote to publish here.

There I was, a brand new E-2 in 3rd Ranger Battalion. I had been there maybe two months when the battalion sergeant major told our company first sergeant that A/co was not sending enough of our guys to Ranger School.  We were light on tabbed Spec-4s at the time. So, in accordance with the sergeant major’s wishes, all the non-tabbed enlisted men in the company were sent to Peden Field to take a PT test.

The top performers would get to go to pre-Ranger and then Ranger School. I was probably the most cherry guy in the company at that time and was no stellar performer as I had already racked up a summarized Article 15, but everyone without a tab had to go take the PT test. I was 19 years old at the time and being super motivated helped make up for my lack of job competence. I maxed out the PT test and, by decree, was then sent to regimental pre-Ranger.

Holy shit, did that suck. My ordeal there was even worse by virtue of the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. Having only been in Ranger Battalion for a few months, I was tactically inept and had zero leadership abilities. I was a good private despite the occasional fuck-ups, but that was about it. I certainly wasn’t ready for what has been called the hardest school in the Army. As you can imagine, I struggled through Ranger School. I got recycled in Darby Phase because the ink on my map sheet bled when it got wet in the rain. I had the correct hole punch, proving that I had found my point on the Land Nav course, but the number of the point that I had written down was illegible. “At this time you are a no-go at this station, Ranger.”

I got to recycle but had to wait until the next class started after Christmas exodus. I think RTB kept us around just so they had some scrubs on hand to do details. Waxing and buffing floors, trash details, polishing brass door knobs (seriously), and that sort of thing. The holdover/recycle platoon was called Vaghn’s Platoon, but I figured that I had been there so long they should have renamed it Murphy’s Platoon.

While there, a Ranger instructor (RI) caught us stashing Playboys in a Monopoly board game box in the barracks. He kept screaming at us for violating the rules, and while chewing our ass he would say things like, “Why did you have pornographical materials in the barracks?! You know you are not supposed to have pornographical materials! Pornographical materials are against RTB rules as clearly stated in blah, blah, blah.” I thought it was hilarious that he kept repeating the word “pornographical.” When the RI caught me smiling he smoked the whole platoon.