Celebrate Veterans!


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Military personnel have humorous stories

This week celebrates veterans from the
Armed Forces and focus on their sense of
Recruiter Jean Souffrant, native to
the U.S. territory of Haiti and his family
moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was
17. As he stared down the financial beast
and the time it takes to finish college (4-8
years) it was hard to justify both the financial
and personal costs.
A friend encouraged him to meet with
a local Marine recruiter, which explained
their process and no-nonsense approach to
military life.
Souffrant saw very little of himself in
the recruiter and zero sense of humor. As
much as Brooklyn hardens a young man,
the last thing he needed was more of the
same. He just was not a Jar Head.
He scored high on the Armed Services
Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
Smart students immediately see benefits
in job opportunities and training schools.
His next recruiter was from the Navy:
a branch notorious for their wild sense
of humor, rest and relaxation antics and
prank nature. For example, the Navy
allows facial beards, something no other
branch allows.
Essentially, his life accelerated. His first
tours landed him in exotic locations such
as Spain, Italy, Dubai, South America,
Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic,
where he built schools and hospitals.
“Most people think that being in the
military is about going to war. Really, its
about getting a jump start on life…there
are no dead-end jobs and instead of only
having one job that leaves you unable to
own a home in your 50’s, you have Plan
A, E, B and C,” he said.
Alex Flores, 25, an Art Major, ultimately
chose school. His mother was Army
and his uncles were in the Navy, so originally
chose the Reserve Officers’ Training
Corps (ROTC) program, while attending
Boyton High School.
He enjoyed many aspects of the program
– boot camps; parade marches, hiking,
as well as team building and time on
the shooting range.
“My Gunny had a funny singsong,
‘This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for
shooting, and this is for fun,’” he said.
It would have translated to a great
career in the military if the Army hadn’t
turned him down for being “short.”
So then he took a closer look at the
Navy. Like Souffrant, he found the humor
and teamwork appealing and loved
the idea that he could have beard and
mustache after boot camp.
Things were looking good until they got
to his tattoos. At that point, he was asked
if he would remove them.
This surprised him because sailors historically
have more tattoos than even Marines.
However, when it comes to tattoos,
Flores said, “My body is my campus,” so
he turned down the rest of the process.
Fortunately, his mom always told him,
“If your not doing something, your doing
nothing to give your mind improvement.”
After six years working everything
from dish-washing to chef, he said, he is
“truly enjoying his art” major at SJCC.
His favorite work involves making tiles
and burning them in the kiln. He “hopes
to have that translate into working with
his uncles in the construction business,”
he said.
Would he ever go in if the Navy let him
keep his tattoos? “Absolutely,” he said.
Francis Anderson, 20, a history major
presently is Active Reserve. His biological
father was Army, his adopted father
worked for the defense industry, and his
cousins are Army, Marines and Navy.
“I picked the U.S. Army National
Guard because I could stay in California,
do the reserves one weekend a month,
have a regular civilian job and go to
school. Also, there is a financial benefit.
It pays for school, healthcare and dental,”
he said.
“I chose the Army because I didn’t
want to travel and be at sea … I knew I
wouldn’t fit in with the Marines.”
When it comes to humor, he said, “My
Sargent, actually, woke up another Sargent
– a heavy sleeper – and we taped him
on the wall. Which means that everyone
got extra PT – seven extra miles of running,
20 push-ups and 300 sit-ups. But it
was worth it and wonderful.”
Ultimately, pranks are definitely funnier
when they happen to somebody else.
Anderson said, “My favorite prank of all
time, is the midnight prank. Where you
wake people up at midnight. They get up;
get ready for the day, thinking that it is
5 o’clock in the morning. They haven’t
looked at their phone and all the clocks
are turned to 5 a.m. Once a cousin got
all the way to his job before he realized it
was 1 a.m.”
Anderson said the most important
thing to remember is, “It is not at all like
the Call of Duty game, where you get
dropped off in the middle of a battlefield.
There is a lot of parent permission before
going to combat. Also, in a game, you get
revived. You take a life, it takes a toll.”