FAL or not?

This morning, A FAL rifle while ordering coffee at a local Tim Hortons’, I was watching one of the slideshows about the Hortons Kids camps, which somehow reminded me of the first weeks of my military service. I mentioned this before. Smiling kids, camps and military service: quite the combination.

I’ll spare you the details of the first weeks (which was all about conditioning rookies into flawless operating cannon fodder and me starring on the obstacle course). The only thing I thought was surreal was the initial introduction to our personal weapon (which was a Belgium made FN FAL rifle), which I remember like it was yesterday. We were given weapon numbers and were reminded that anyone who refused to carry a weapon had to come forward. As far as I remember nobody did, one by one we went by the weapons room, memorized the weapon number and picked up the FAL. The next days we learned everything about taking it apart, cleaning and making it combat ready (as illustrated here).

Returning to the parental house in between weekends was surreal and I’m not sure if I ever discussed service with family members. Not that it mattered a lot: It felt weird and I had a harder time adjusting to civil life than to military life particularly during weekend returns. Now I know that that was the point of it all: it was all about creating a bond between your fellow roommates (who formed the crew of one artillery piece) and the sergeants. I was skeptic, questioned seemingly ordinary combat routines and generally not particularly impressed with everything. I had my run-ins with higher ranked officers, but was generally liked by the smarter drill-sergeants and the captain. When leaving military service, I remember saying goodbye to the captain and the sergeants and ‘wishing them all the best in the next nuclear war’.

Which perfectly illustrates how I felt about the whole thing.

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