Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What it means to be an Infantryman

The folks over at The Gruntworks brought up a good question a few days back about what it means to be a Grunt. For those who do not know and have never had the privilege a Grunt in the simplest of terms is a US Army or USMC Infantryman and the term Grunt is one that has been handed down since long before I became one. Well I digress but I shall attempt to explain from my vantage point what being a Grunt means to me.

First let me give you some background on the term Grunt. I can only speak from my point of view as a career US Army Infantryman so please excuse any ignorance in regards to the USMC Infantry.

The term Grunt is a term of endearment amongst a select group of brothers. Being a Grunt means you have endured what is perhaps the most grueling Basic Training any Army MOS can deal with. When I attended basic at E-9-2 Harmony Church Fort Benning GA it was 13 weeks of utter in your face Drill Sergeant mayhem designed to break you down to the lowest level in order to build you into the soldier they wanted you to be.

Many of the NON Infantry MOS's had 2 phases. They would have the Basic phase which would be PT and basic Army skills, such as rifle marksmanship, and then the AIT phase, which may be at another post entirely, where they would learn their job. The Infantry has what is termed OSUT or One Station Unit Training. What this means is that unlike most of the other Army jobs you went to Fort Benning GA for the ENTIRE course and you never realized when you crossed that phase from the Basic portion to the AIT portion because there is no distinction between the 2 phases for an Infantryman.

So what does it mean to be a Grunt? I know I know you are asking yourself why I haven't gotten to the answer yet. Well the answer is multi faceted and to fully understand you need to understand the molding process of what will become a feared warrior when all is said and done.

To be a Grunt and to earn that right to be one of the select few to earn that title you have to be willing to do many things that most of the Army could never imagine doing. To be a Grunt means getting up at 0 dark thirty to the Alert siren on your base in West Germany sounding and thinking through your drunken stupor that this is it and the balloon went up on WW3. Then sitting in your M113 APC waiting to hear what's gonna happen next while sucking down MRE coffee and trying to realize you got maybe 15 minutes of sleep after coming in from the NCO Club before that damn siren started sounding off.  <Yeah I have been there many times.>

To be a Grunt means that while most of the REMF's are back in the barracks getting a good nights sleep you are still downrange at 0230 after waking up at 0430 the morning before just so you can train to do your job which is to be more lethal than your enemy. While you are eating an MRE for breakfast the REMF's are enjoying a hot breakfast and a shower. While you are wearing 4 or 5 days of stink and your uniform is ready to stand at attention all on it's own those REMF's are wearing clean uniforms and smelling like a freshly washed baby and yet you glory in smelling so bad that even the flies stay away from you. <BTDT>

To be a Grunt means that you are the first line of defense in ANY war or conflict because the Infantry can be easily transported to the hot spots of this world easier than anything else in the Army's arsenal.

To be a Grunt means that when you can't get there via vehicle or helicopter you get to walk. I've walked many many miles in training and in places around this world with a 50+ pound ruck on my back.

To be a Grunt means you hold yourself to a standard that is usually higher than any other Army MOS. You hold your brothers to that standard and failure is not an option to a Grunt.

To be an Army Grunt means you are always tired and dirty but your weapon is always clean and you always have your buddies back as you know they have yours.

In short the Grunt is a special breed of soldier and if you aren't one you can only wish to be a part of this unique and select brotherhood.


  1. I love that statement: Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.....But sometimes he subcontracts it to the Infantry.
    Well said. I got to go through what you Harmony Church guys called "Hollywood" Infantry School since I went through on Sand Hill (1991). Still tough, though. I am glad I went through it and am very proud to say I am an 11B.

  2. I am personally glad I didn't go through the Hilton (Sand Hill) back when I went through. The barracks were still pretty new and that equaled a lot of spit and polish. At least at Harmony Church the barracks didn't require nearly as much spitshine work. As for the training Harmony Church and Sand Hill were equal in that regard. You have my respect for becoming an Infantryman.