Drill Sergeants Share The Funniest Thing They’ve Seen A Fresh Recruit Do
Joining the military is one of the most honorable things you can do in America. We are grateful for our troops and everything that they do for us. But joining the military is serious business. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, dedication, and training to make it through. It can also sometimes be quite intimidating as a new recruit, particularly in the beginning. There’s a lot to learn and the sergeants can be incredibly scary. It’s a lot to take in and requires incredible adjustment.
So, it’s no surprise that as new soldiers, there’s bound to be some mishaps along the way. And just because you’re in the military, doesn’t mean you lose your sense of humor—even if you have to try your hardest to mask it sometimes. Just take it from these soldiers who recently shared the funniest thing that they’ve seen a fresh recruit do.
#1 Fly Away Home
I had one recruit who was paying attention to a bunch of geese rather than his drill sergeants. I was dying of laughter on the inside, but I made him get up and chase them all away. As they flew in the air, we made him follow them for several hundred feet to make sure they wouldn’t come back!
#2 Sea Sick Sailor
I was in the Navy, and we were undergoing inspection by the Division Officer. He rolled in for inspection, walked up to the first dude, and the dude puked. However, this guy was a genius—he puked down his t-shirt and into his dress blues, saving the District Officer from getting puked on. The Division Officer was so impressed at the dude’s “military bearing” that he called the inspection right then and there. 5.0 sailors, all around; the highest grade.
#3 Case Of Missing Gloves
Standing in formation at Fort Knox, we were about to head to the range and everyone needed their gloves. One private came out without them and the drill sergeant screamed, “Private, where are your gloves?” In a thick Tennessee accent, he replied, “Well dang, drill sergeant, I must have done left them upsturs.” The drill sergeant, from New Jersey, just died laughing.
#4 A Howling Response
An RDC in another division asked a guy if he shaved that morning and the guy claimed he had. The RDC said, “Recruit, you are either a werewolf or you are lying, so which is it?” The guy responded, “I must be a werewolf, petty officer!”
#5 Mustache You Something
I was going through Air Force basic training. When on guard duty, if an unauthorized person wanted to be let into the bunks, you had to report it to your drill sergeant. Our sister flight’s drill sergeant came up while I was on guard and requested entry so I reported to my sergeant and he had me ask another a series of questions.
This particular sergeant had a bushy mustache, so one question I had to ask was, “In what year was Magnum PI canceled?” He dropped out of view from the window laughing, came back up and yelled: “It was never canceled because I’M STILL HERE!” It took everything I had not to crack up. The military can be hilarious sometimes.
#6 Cracking Up Over Crackers
We weren’t allowed to talk during chow at the galley. You had to point at what you wanted another recruit to pass, and they had to silently pass it.
One recruit wanted a napkin and pointed. The other recruit asked, “This?”
The coast guard drill sergeant immediately came over, circling him like sharks, screaming at him. They made him put like, 10 saltines in his mouth and chew until his mouth was full, then ask the first recruit if he wanted a napkin again. He barely could get it out, spitting pieces of cracker everywhere.
Then they screamed at the first recruit to answer him, but we were all silently cracking up.
It was the best.
#7 Die, Smile, Die
While in basic training, we had a female that loved to smile. She was just a happy person in general. Well, my training instructor came in, and she caught the female trainee smiling. She walked up to the female trainee and yelled, “Wipe that smile off your face!” The female trainee stopped smiling. The training instructor continued to yell, “No! Literally wipe the smile off your face with your hand!”
The trainee did so. “Now throw it on the ground!” The trainee followed orders. “Now stomp on it and scream, ‘Die, smile die!’ As loud as you can!” The female trainee stood there for a second before following through. Her tiny little voice cracked as she yelled: “Die, smile die!” It took everything I had not to bust out laughing.
#38 Pocket Full Of Tears
I work at basic training ranges and we had a drill sergeant yell at his soldier while they were getting ready to go down a buddy live fire exercise. The soldier froze and started crying. This 18-year-old kid was just in tears for getting yelled at. The drill sergeant yelled at him some more and he finally gave up because the kid wouldn’t stop crying. He made him scoop tears off his face and put them in his pockets till he filled his pockets up with tears. He did this for like an hour. It was hilarious.
#9 Prison Versus Training
In my basic training class, I was a squad leader, which is essentially just a person who does extra chores. Anyway, for reasons unknown, I and the other squad leaders were doing pushups in the drill sergeant’s office. Now, when you do these pushups, you eventually reach muscle failure so you just sort of hang out there in the front leaning for rest and trying to bust out another pushup every few seconds or so.
We were all in there dying and the drill sergeant said to one of my buddies: “Private Hudson! Tell me what’s the difference between basic training and being in prison.” Without missing a beat, Private Hudson said: “Drill Sergeant! In prison, they get to watch TV!” The drill sergeant cracked a little bit of a smile and then told us to get up and get out of there.
#10 The Forceful Nap
When I was in basic training, I saw three drill sergeants surrounding a private who was laying down. They were all screaming, “GO TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW PRIVATE, YOU TAKE A NAP THIS VERY SECOND YOU POOR TIRED SOUL!” (Not exact words, but you get the gist of it). I still wonder how he got himself into that predicament.
#11 Pass It On
On hikes, my DI’s loved having conversations using the recruits as messengers. The DI at the end of the formation would send a recruit to the front to give the DI up there a message and back. They would either have stupid conversations or talk trash using the recruit.
#12 Picking Up Pinecones
During Field Training Exercise, the DS told me to get a trash bag, then go around and collect as many pine cones as I could. For like three hours. I had a bunch of trash bags.
He then took a little walk around, contemplated for a bit, then said that he was mistaken. He ordered me to redistribute all the pinecones.
#13 Questioning It
When I was in boot camp, our drill instructor had a recruit sit in front of his own reflection and continually ask himself if he really wanted to be there… for three hours. All while screaming at him to “mean it!”
I don’t know how they didn’t crack up. It was hilarious.
#14 Gross Glasses
“WHAT’S THAT DISGUSTING STUFF ALL OVER YOUR GLASSES, MAGGOT?!”
“I believe it’s your saliva, drill sergeant, sir!”
He closed his eyes and waited for death.
#15 Funny Tree
The drill instructor made a recruit stand in front of a tree, point at it, and say, “I’m not funny, you are,” when he was caught laughing. The DI did actually laugh at that one.
#16 Top Of The Mountain
I had a soldier one time stop doing mountain climbers while we were being smoked as a platoon. The DS came up and squatted down, yelling in his face. Recruit yelled back, “This soldier has made it to the top of the mountain, Drill Sergeant!”
The dude just walked away trying not to break with laughter.
#17 Full Force
A pair of battle buddies were late to the formation. Everyone was lined up waiting for them to get dressed, and they ran down about three seconds apart from each other which was a big mistake.
The first one ran out, and drill sergeant screamed, “FREEZE… Aren’t you supposed to have someone with you?” Without skipping a beat, the private replied, “The force is always with me, drill sergeant.” After thinking about it for a second, he told the private to shut up and fall in line. His buddy, meanwhile, had made his way outside and was trying (poorly) to sneak into line.
The drill sergeant saw the private trying to sneak in, “Well now hold on a second, who’s this big shot over here walking around like he owns the place? You the new top? You think you’re special?”
The private replied, “No drill sergeant, I’m the force.”
Everyone, including the lead drill, lost their cool for two seconds.
#18 Crawling Over Correspondence
USAR here. One of the other platoon’s DS in my company took them upstairs to hand out personal letters from our family. While the remainder of us were down in the central training area cleaning our weapons, we heard a muffled cadence coming from two stories up. Apparently, the DS made them bear crawl around the barracks room while whipping letters at each person, all the while they had to sing the Blues Clue’s “We just got a letter” song.
#19 Happy Push Ups
When I got to basic training, I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. You wait in processing for like, a day or two and then go to your drill sergeants. When I got off the bus, I was immediately smoked. I was so excited and nervous that I just awkwardly started smiling while in the front leaning rest position. The drill sergeant got down in the pushup position with me and was going up and down until he finally just cracked a huge smile and I lost it. It was the only time I saw him smile. But was hilarious.
#20 Hand Holding
I had two guys get in a fight in our bay during basic training. The drill sergeant made them hold hands and pretend to be on a date all week. The only time they could let go of each other’s hands was rack time. They ended up becoming pretty good friends.
#21 Food-Based Aggression
During the beginning of basic training, we were monitored while we ate, which included being told when to begin “consuming” and when to stop. We had this chubby kid who was having a particularly rough time, and you could see he was already close to breaking.
We were told our chow time was up and we all instantly got up from our seats and formed a line next to the wall at the end of our tables to clear our tray. The chubby kid did not join us but instead chose to sit and finish his meal. He was completely alone in the middle of the mess hall.
A drill instructor came up to him and immediately began berating him.
The chubby kid looked at the drill instructor dead in the eyes while sitting and had a completely insane look on his face. In his hand, he had a butter knife clinched in what I can only describe as a threatening manner.
Without missing a beat, the drill instructor yelled at him, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THAT TUBBY, SPREAD ME ON YOUR TOAST?!”
#22 Bird Banter
Was the XO of a basic training rotation in 2001. I had a young man who couldn’t do two sit-ups. He cried, saying, “I can’t!” A drill sergeant came over and after yelling at him about how all he’d ever done in his life was eat Cheetos, he told him that he had better never hear the words “I can’t” ever again. He then said, “Even if I tell you to fly, you’d better take off running with your arms flapping!” He then proceeded to run around the kid flapping his arms screaming “caw-caw” at the top of his voice! I thought I’d fall out laughing!
#23 Cold Feet
When I was doing my basic military qualifications, I had forgotten my running shoes for P.E. I only had my boots. While the rest of the unit was running laps around the facility, the Master Corporal took me outside and had me march to his instructions in the back parking lot. This was in February and the lot had just been plowed. There was a particularly large snow mountain in the very center of the lot (15 feet high or so). He had me march over the snowbank countless times, back and forth, falling down every so often while he yelled. The others were back inside at this point watching it happen, enjoying lunch.
Never forgot my shoes again.
#24 Bouncing Between Bunks
We had a perpetual screw-up in our platoon that for once actually did nothing wrong. However, his reputation led the DI to believe he did. So for a good hour or so, they made him leap between one set of bunks, crawl under the next, then leap between the next, over and over and over. All while yelling, “Me, Myself, and I, sir!”
#25 Beautiful Star
I saw a recruit doing burpees and at the top of his jump, he’d have his arms stretched out while yelling, “I’m a beautiful star!”.
#26 Fly Funeral
Not in boot camp but in a “school” setting in the military. In our formation one morning, I heard a loud slap. A guy killed a fly or a mosquito or something. The instructor started screaming that Corpsmen do not kill unless defending themselves, their Marines or patients. He had just killed an unarmed friendly and would give it a proper burial. He made us all dig a human-sized grave while the sailor that killed the fly stood there watching with a dead fly in hand. We gave it a funeral and everything (without honors) and had to fill in the hole. We kinda hated that guy for a while.
#27 Sick On Skittles
We had a recruit in our platoon that got caught with Skittles out of an MRE in his rack. The next time we had an MRE out in field week, the DI had him sit in the middle of everyone and anyone who had Skittles had to pass them forward. They made him eat only Skittles for the entirety of chow as fast as he could. Of course, he puked later on, but imagine trying to eat Skittles that fast. He said his jaw was on fire. We called him Skittles from then on of course.
#28 Miming Grenades
As a former recruit, we were taught how to throw frag grenades. I went on auto-pilot and threw it like how they did in movies— I pulled the ring by the teeth and threw. The DI caught me doing it the first time, ran over to me, then commanded me to demonstrate how I threw the grenade. I mimed it, which made him laugh at the top of his lungs. He beckoned the other DI’s to come over and made me mime it again. I got torched.
#29 Daytime Manager
During basic training, when we were all getting to know each other, one guy said that he was a daytime manager of a nightclub. Another guy then asked, “What the heck do you do as a daytime manager of a nightclub?” The DS could barely keep it together.
In another instance, while we were having shooting practice, these two idiots were chatting, One guy said, “Hey dude, listen to this,” and he let one rip right as the DS stopped talking. The DS busted his butt laughing.
#30 Randomized Movements
This one girl in our flight was sweeping or something in the bay and she forgot what she was doing. She did the little dance to try to help her remember. As she was spinning, she turned straight into our MTI and he asked her what the heck she was doing. She stopped and then stuttered: “RANDOMIZING MY MOVEMENTS TO CONFUSE THE ENEMY?” He had to duck into his office because he was laughing and she didn’t even get in trouble for not addressing him correctly.
#31 Meal Measurements
We used to have brutal room inspections at this certain time of year for the freshmen at the Air Force Academy. My buddy came in and asked how wide the bed folds needed to be. The freshman said, six inches.
My buddy pulled out a Subway sandwich and asked, “What’s this?”
“A six-inch sub, sir.”
“Then it ought to match right?”
He unwrapped it and set it down, but it matched perfectly. So he picked it up, took a huge bite out of it, and set it back down. Then he screamed at the kid because it no longer matched.
#32 Sweat Shaming
My uncle was a DI and he used to tell us that he would Scotch Guard the inside of all his clothes so that he wouldn’t show sweat. Then he would run with the recruits and badger them for being so fat and out of shape since they were already covered in sweat.
#33 Battle Of Screams
I was on the shooting range pulling targets for fellow recruits when my drill instructor, a seasoned combat vet from Alabama who looked like Skeletor, snuck up behind me. Now he hated me, but on this particular day, as he was behind me, I stepped back and bumped into him. He turned with his face lit up and he screamed. Panicking, I did what felt natural and let out the loudest roar I could. He turned red, put his face in his hat as all the recruits started laughing. After we all settled down, he told me if I ever did that again he’d throw my gear behind the safety line and order me to retrieve it. Basically a death sentence for those unfamiliar with a range.
#34 Bee-lining It
I went to USAF basic training. I’m deathly afraid of wasps (I ran into a wasp nest as a kid). I was standing in attention practicing for the parade. A wasp flew in front of me. I started flailing around wildly. Every drill sergeant within eyeshot came over. I did a lot of pushups.
#35 Sock Puppets
I was in basic training for the AF and we had two separate laundry bags. Very specific clothing went into the green cloth bag and the black mesh bag. Dirty black socks belonged in the mesh bag. Well, our TI was trashing our bay because it was what they did and he started opening laundry bags. My buddy had his socks in the wrong bag. So the TI made him wear them like sock puppets and march around the bays chanting “Dirty black socks belong in the mesh bag.”
#36 Seal Sounds
When I was in recruit training, a girl was up on the quarterdeck getting smoked for something. She eventually got to the point where she couldn’t do any more push-ups, so she just flopped down on the ground. The drill instructor yelled at her to get back up, so she tried to push back up, but couldn’t get her hips up off the ground with the rest of her. The drill instructor said, “If you want to look like a seal, I guess you better start barking like one.’
The girl got real quiet despite the drill instructor yelling louder and louder and eventually getting up in her face. Finally, she yells out, “This recruit doesn’t know what a seal sounds like!”
That’s how all forty of us in that platoon ended up on the ground, barking like seals, to show her how to do it.
#37 What Do You Meme?
Navy boot camp. My mom sent me a huge photo mailer full of memes. Like 3×5 glossy memes from the Wal Mart photo center. And there were like, 200.
When you get photos, your RDCs need to see and approve of them. My third RDC isn’t up on internet culture and he started going through the photos one at a time, taking his time. He picked up part of the stack and after about a minute, yelled, “THESE ARE ALL MEMES.” He was angry, but he couldn’t do anything but keep going. The other recruits started to gather around and go through the approved stack. It was a bit embarrassing, but the barracks were a joyous place that evening.
Three memes were not approved.
#38 Shirtless Soldier
Back when I was in basic training, our DI informed us that the buttons on our tops were specifically shaped so that if it was needed, a medic could grab the bottom of the top, pull up, and all the buttons would undo.
Upon hearing this, one of the privates I was with looked down, grabbed the bottom of his top, and pulled.
All the buttons ripped off their threads and fell to the ground, and he was left without a shirt for the rest of the morning.
The DI basically keeled over laughing as we all watched.
#39 Make It Happen
I rarely raised my voice. That said, I would occasionally walk up to a private and say, “Private, you see the tree over there? Go make it happen!” I’d watch with great glee at what would happen next. Some would do push-ups in front of it, some would stand at attention in front of it, but most would look around in ever increasing confusion and terror as I came storming over, yelling. It was always hilarious.
#40 Funny Photosynthesis
I had some very old school, very non-PC NCO’s in my platoon (as is, in many combat arms units). We had a known knucklehead standing in the formation one day while everyone was at attention waiting for the morning calls. He was holding a potted plant to his side. I went up to the soldier before the top came out and quietly asked him why in the green thumb he was holding that plant in my formation. The little guy yelled at the top of his lungs: “To replace the oxygen I am wasting, Platoon Sergeant!”
It took every ounce of military bearing in my person to not lose it laughing. l had to later, very amusedly, tell my sergeants to keep their shenanigans to a minimum during formations.
#41 Buttons Be Gone
During the final inspection, I had to go down the ranks with one of the drill sergeants and inspect the soldiers one by one while they stood at attention in their class A uniforms. I had to inspect their appearance, ask some questions about their weapons or the general orders, stuff like that.
While moving down the line, I turned to face one soldier. There he was, standing at attention proud as can be. But his uniform had no brass buttons. My best guess is someone stole his buttons the night before. But there he was standing there with his perfect military bearing. I imagine he was hoping I wouldn’t notice or something.
I was doing everything I could do to keep my military bearing because I wanted to bust out laughing so badly. I was afraid if I opened my mouth to ask a question I would start laughing so I just looked at him all mean like (which is laughable itself), sighed, and shook my head slowly in disappointment and moved onto the next soldier.
#42 Poor Fork
My buddy dropped a fork in the chow line and the DS made him yell, “I’M SORRY FORK” for like ten minutes.
#43 The Hazard Of Wu
We had this kid named Wu.
Now Wu was the kind of guy that should have never joined the Marines. But here he was.
Even simple things like not running into the Company Commander was too difficult for him.
So the Drill Instructors labeled him a hazard, and as a hazard, he had to make sure people were aware. Thus, every time he walked or ran he would need to verbally make sure people knew by going, “BEEP BEEP BEEEEP!”
We got torched so many times for cracking up at that. Just imagine: it’s the middle of the night and you’re trying to sleep, then all of a sudden you hear some shuffling and then “BEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP!” As Wu walked to the toilet to pee.
#44 Sweating Eyeballs
I remember a kid getting smoked for a solid 30 minutes. They made him do mostly push-ups. When he finally broke, of the DI’s asked him why he was crying and he started shouting, “I’m not crying, my eyes are sweating!” I saw the campaign cover come down in chuckles for a moment before the DI said, “Get up, you’re done.”
#45 Not The Best At Bikes
My dad was a company commander, the navy’s drill sergeants. He told a recruit to jump on a bicycle and deliver something. The guy jumped on the bike, took off for about 40 yards in a wide-open paved area where the recruits marched and then he fell over. My dad went out and asked him what happened and he said he didn’t know how to ride a bike.