It’s a little after noon on a hot sunny day and the sun is streaming in through a window above me in the cafeteria. I’m sitting on a bench at a table with a plate of food in front of me waiting for the order to eat. Others are still gathering their food and taking their seats, marching in a prescribed orderly fashion. The food isn’t all that appetizing but I’m starving, it’s been a hard day so far.
Sitting, in this unit, means sitting on the front 2 inches of the bench, feet together flat on the ground with knees at 90 degrees and together. Upper body is erect and rigid with back straight, chest out and stomached sucked in as much as possible. Head is level with eyes staring straight ahead, no expression is allowed. Hands are placed on knees. It’s a position of attention from which no deviation is allowed.
We live by a strict code of discipline and are never without orders or expectations. We are expected to be the absolute best. Best in training, best in physical condition, best in drill and best in appearance so that presumably, we’ll be the best in combat. The consequence for even the slightest mistake can be brutal and the grip that the commander has on this unit means that what happens in the unit stays in the unit. The unit performs, he gets rewarded and we do as ordered. We all genuinely fear this man and wouldn’t dare cross him, even when his methods of enforcing the code of discipline exceed what is authorized by regulation.