It started with a few war-weary soldiers trading basic training survival stories to laugh away the stresses of combat.
Like the one about the Chinese private who convinced all his drill sergeants he didn’t understand English well, a fib that earned him an easier time at basic training – until graduation day, when he revealed that he was fluent in nine languages.
Funny military survival stories like that grew into a popular Facebook page and online network, and now, they've inspired a book, "Awesome Sh-t my Drill Sergeant Said."
The book, which hits shelves Tuesday from Harper Collins, is a hilarious introduction to basic training in book form, from what a typical day is like, to what a "shark attack" entails, to what awaits soldiers after 10 weeks of training.
“Basic training is an experience no one forgets,” author and soldier Dan Caddy told the military lifestyle site We Are the Mighty (WATM). “[Soldiers] hate it while they are there and then miss it when they are gone and are able to look back on it. ASMDSS gives them a way to connect back to that time ..."
In fact, that's how it started. After a deployment to Afghanistan, Caddy began trading basic training stories with Army friends over email.
“I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time, and all the stress and pressure I had been feeling had been pushed away,” Caddy told WATM. “Later that day I spent a lot of time reflecting on the impact my drill sergeants had on me, the lessons taught, and how what I learned from them still guides me to this day.”
So in 2012, he started a Facebook page to broaden the network for swapping basic training stories. Within weeks, the page acquired 22,000 likes. Today, it has 831,000.
The page quickly grew into an active online community of soldiers and vets, as well as a support network that participates in military charities and helps veterans suffering from combat-related issues.
As Caddy said, “For me the most amazing and life changing thing to come out of ASMDSS, beyond the laughs, was the creation of Battle in Distress," a non-profit that connects soldiers or vets in "mental, emotional, financial, or psychological" distress to organizations that can help.
With his book, Caddy is bringing basic training stories to civilians with drill-sergeant gems like these: “Privates, all I do is eat gunpowder and run,” “I’m going to levitate and fall asleep inside your soul," and “I can shower, feed myself, feed a baby, and make a baby all in under ten minutes. You knuckleheads sure as [expletive] can eat a ... meal in ten minutes.”