Over the River and through the Bayou

Day 2

“Man I hope breakfast is good”.

Over at the mess hall where my hopes and dreams of a decent breakfast crashed and burned I prepared for a day of Competition, and more importantly a night on Bourbon Street. We had the morning after Breakfast to run through the drill a couple of times and finalize it. We actually finished writing our drill ten minutes before we left for the competition. We would be performing the entire drill all the way through for the first time when we were being graded at the competition.

Just as soon as we finished practicing we were back on the bus for the trip to Tulane. Somewhat tired from a not so good night sleep. Decided it was time for a nap since we had at least a thirty minute trip to the university from the base. This time I awoke again more confused than I expected. I awoke looking out of the smudged glass of the bus window to what to me did not look much like a University. As soon as I came back to my scenes I realized…….Our bus driver was lost again. By this time it was about 1300 we had to go and reform at 1545, and we had no idea where the hell we were. I guess you could say we took the senic route to Tulane when we went off road in a coach bus. Eventually resorting to crossing through peoples back and front yards, medians and over hedge rows. I would have loved to see the faces on the people as a 75 person coach bus drove through front lawn.

We did finally make it to the University at 1450. Changing immediately into our service dress blues and taking the field. Pumped up and ready to go our Unit and Rice strutted our stuff over to the competition field.

“Prairie View, Rice” our unit commander responded yes.

“We are behind schedule about two hours, take your seats in the bleachers and wait until you are called.” You have to be shitting me this is the military for god sake, and they can’t even do stuff on time.

I took my seat in the last row of the bleachers patiently watching the other schools drill and show what they had to offer. Spoke to other Midshipman from all over the United States, Practiced spinning my rifle (even though I wasn’t supposed to). Ultimately I found that talking to other MID’s was the most entertaining. I had a great conversation with the unit from the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Drill team. Boy was it nice to just to talk with someone from home.

It was also about this time that I realized I was not in Prairie View anymore. I mean I looked around for black people, and could not find even a single one not from Prairie View. It got me thinking about why it was only Prairie View with Blacks in NROTC, but we’ll leave that one for another blog.

“Prairie View, you’re up next, get ready.” The words I had been waiting for all day, finally lets get this thing over with so PV can go and do what it does best…..Party.

We took the field. “Yes, after a month of getting up at 0500 we were about to show off what our little NROTC unit could do.” My heart pumped like that of a P100 pump. To tell you the truth I have no idea how the drill itself went I was so focused on doing a good job, I would not have noticed a nuclear explosion 200 yards away. The good thing is I don’t think I messed up. By the time we marched off the field it was already about 1700. Everybody from the Houston Consortium was itching for some Bourbon street. Our gunnery sergeant came over and gave us a pep talk about how pleased he was with our performance. The man actually smiled at us, he smiled . I kind of zoned out for most of his pep talk but came to with Gunny saying “but syphilis lasts a lifetime, go and have fun you earned it”.

We left for Bourbon Street even before the awards ceremony began.

The bus stopped a few blocks away from Bourbon street. We got in our groups and began the walk. We walked skipping the parade, restaurants, bars and went straight to Bourbon. Gazing down the two mile street lined with bars and hundreds of parting college students. Beads of all colors hung from every possible point. The streets were littered with booze bottles and broken beads. Our group all looked at each other silently turning our heads back and fourth looking at each other showing the silent face of “OOOOHHHHHH yeahhh."