EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Billy Gunderson, a six-year-old Make-A-Wish Foundation participant, was just days away from graduating from the Army’s Ranger school when the cadre informed the youngster he was a “day-one recycle,” meaning that he would have to re-start the 61-day leadership school from the beginning.
“Rules are rules,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse Garner, a Ranger Instructor. “Students can only eat when we say they can and that little maggot was stuffing his face without permission. I don’t care if it’s a chocolate pound cake or the fucking handful of pills I caught him choking down after the final patrol.”
“Besides, he’s never going to grow up to be a man if he can’t overcome a little adversity,” Garner added.
Billy’s parents say he told the Make-A-Wish foundation several months ago that all he ever wanted to be when he grew up was a Ranger. So when the foundation contacted the Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, the unit leadership was eager to enroll Billy in the next open class.
“We were excited to help little Billy achieve his wish, but as a point of pride, we refused to do some half-assed afternoon of obstacle courses followed by a bullshit tab presentation," Col. Christopher Hammonds, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, told Duffel Blog. "If little Billy wants to earn his tab, he's going to have to go through the same shared misery as the rest of us — extreme hunger, sleeplessness, and having to watch some droning dipshit take a dump on your terrain model while you brief your platoon.”
Sources say Billy’s Ranger school experience got off to a bumpy start after he recycled Darby phase once and the school’s storied “mountain phase” twice — the first time failing a patrol and the second for tripping over his IV line, which alerted the opposition force of his platoon’s location while they were emplacing an ambush. This time, Billy was just two days away from graduating when he received the crushing news.
“I thought for sure he would make it through this phase,” one of Billy’s Ranger school classmates told reporters. “He knew more about patrolling than some of the Ranger Instructors. They all called him Yoda because he’d already been here for a few months—and probably because he was only like three feet tall and looked like death.”
Friends say Billy remains optimistic about eventually graduating from the school, but he told reporters he was confused about why he could only eat one meal a day, sleep just a couple of hours, and have artillery round simulators tossed at him to achieve his “wish.”
“I love bears and cougars and camping with my dad,” Billy said as he packed his duffel bag for the bus ride back to Georgia. “But why do I have to do all of this stuff to be a park ranger?”
“I guess it is pretty cool that they gave me a rifle, though, and I’ve learned a lot of bad words.”
Whiskey Fueled Tirade is an Army guy, distilled spirit consumer, and throw-away COA composter. He identifies more with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but sometimes we’re stuck with the name our parents gave us. If you have a favorite whiskey, recommend it to him on Twitter @FueledTirade