Graduating from 3rd AD PLDC

Someone posted to Facebook that he liked going on Temporary Duty (TDY) when he attended the Army's Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC). I'm not sure where he was sent for PLDC, but I had to attend the 3rd Armored Division's school, which was notoriously awful. However, PLDC was required in order to become a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), and therefore it wasn't TDY for me, but I had to attend if I wanted to be promoted.

With that in mind, here is the response that I posted to Facebook:

3rd AD PLDC in Butzbach was pretty bad.

We started out with 320 students and graduated with only 240 - they threw out 33% of the students for the most-ridiculous of reasons; I watched the cadre as they literally yanked students out of the class for looking sideways in a chow line and tossed them from the program.

I had an instructor tell me on day one of PLDC that he personally hated my MOS; he promised to make my life a living hell because of it, and he delivered on his promise. I got lots of crap for my MOS, and I was assigned to an extra cleaning detail every evening with another person in the same MOS.

The cadre used sleep deprivation for the duration of the course; so lights out was at 2400 every night, followed by reveille and morning PT at 0400. (Although everyone stayed up for at least another hour or so each night shining boots/shoes by flashlight and ironing uniforms.) Rooms had to be perfect for inspections, so no one ever used their wall lockers or slept in their beds; we slept on the floor next to the bunks and hid the clothes we wore in rucksacks.

I attended in January, 1990, and as you might imagine - German winters can be quite cold. Because of that, I developed a debilitating case of Trench Foot during our week-long bivouac ("field problem") because my feet (and every ounce of clothing) were continuously soaked for several days and exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees. One of the instructors caught me limping, and despite my insistence that nothing was wrong, he forced me to go see the medic. I had severe blisters all over my feet, and after the medic applied copious amounts of moleskin and bandaged my feet, she said: "I'm supposed to report this, but they'll bounce you from the course and you'll have to start over. So do your best to pretend not to limp." (I lost the feeling in my toes for a few weeks, and after I returned to Fulda I walked with a limp for the next several months.)

Although to make matters worse, our bivouac happened to coincide with the "Burns' Day Storm," which was - according to Wikipedia - "one of the strongest European windstorms on record." ( Gigantic trees were being knocked over everywhere and literally crushing tents, so with huge branches falling from the trees around us we had to hurriedly break camp and expeditiously evacuate from the forest before someone got injured or killed.

Despite all of that - I had the 2nd-highest GPA for the course and was one of only five students to graduate with honors. (I was promoted to E5 upon graduation since I had already made my points.)

3rd AD PLDC Graduation Certificate

PS - If the military taught me anything, it's that I can push myself to persevere through conditions that I never thought possible.