KILLEEN, TX — The Army's 1st Cavalry Division has been under fire in recent years, with soldiers claiming their obsession with obsolete uniform items — Stetson cowboy hats and spurs without rowels — make them stand out in addition to being the target of countless jokes from other service members.
More recently, the enormous and expensive patch of the unit has also drawn the ire of lawmakers after a brigade comptroller's proposal to shrink the size of the emblem drew immediate and devastating reprisals.
But not all soldiers are so critical of the 'First Team.' Newly minted Trooper Specialist Ernest Whitman recently completed his change of MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), or re-class as it's more commonly known, from the infantry into the 'Cav.
When asked about the reason for his transition, Whitman didn't hesitate. "That's easy bro, Apocalypse Now. Did you see that movie? That fucking bad-ass Stetson hat Robert Duvall was wearing. God I can't wait to get mine! And those spurs, who wouldn't want to wear them? I'm gonna pull so much tail it'll be sick."
Suddenly, Whitman stood back from the table and shouted, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning! How amazing is that line?"
When reminded that Apocalypse Now was just a movie, the young Specialist was undaunted.
"It's based on 'Cav culture man. Aviator sunglasses, massed helicopter attacks with a soundtrack, and panty dropping uniform bling. Sign my ass up."
Whitman then produced his own pair of sunglasses and struck a pose. "I can't wait to trade my horse for a chopper and go tear-assing around the 'Nam looking for the shit."
Whitman was told that his comments didn't make sense, as the Vietnam War ended 19 years before his birth. The trooper looked troubled and turned away, clasping his arms to stare out the window.
"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. It's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering along the edge of a straight razor and surviving."
Whitman was silent for a moment before turning back.
"The Cav is where it's at. They know what it's like after seeing the elephant."
He looked somber before adding, "when I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think about was getting back to the jungle."
When this reporter noted that Whitman had never deployed due to a permanent profile, he began cursing and abruptly ended the interview.
As he peeled out of the parking lot in his F-150 with an enormous 1st Cav patch emblazoned on the back of the cab, Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' could be heard blasting from his stereo.
[Editor's note: Duffel Blog has been informed that although 1st Cav Troopers wear Stetson hats, spurs, and boots, they are not involved in the training, use, or care of horses in any way.]