So, I was sent back to my first training base to wait for the ‘newbies’ to arrive, train on how to be a sergeant and also train on truck driving. It was quite a busy period then.
Thankfully it was beginning of spring (5 years ago – time does fly quickly) and the weather was constantly improving. For the first week before the first arrivals we were busy cleaning the barracks, painting the outposts, replanting, doing laundry and making beds, clearing the grounds etc. We had a week to make the base look spotless for the newcomers. While that was being done during the day, the night posts were guarded by us as normal. Sleep was a luxury that we didn't have.
The first wave of people that would join the base was the people with some ‘specialties’. That would include immigrants applying for a green card serving for a shorter period of time, gypsies (can I use that term or is it politically incorrect?), people who illegally refused to join the army when properly called (mavericks?) or deserters. These people would stay in the base for a week and would be quickly transferred to proper military bases before the ‘proper’ new privates would arrive.
Greek Army is a fascist, racist constitution who discriminates between people as you can see. They put gypsies in a special category of people and they want to keep a different eye on them. Also, a major part of the immigrants serving are people from the former USSR. They have served a far more serious army of their own country, have families with children and are quite old to join this farce called Greek Army. They can’t afford to be far from their families for 6 months. I met many of these people and I didn’t have answers to this kind of their questions. They could do some social work to ‘prove’ their loyalty to their new adaptive county.
Anyway, the day that that first wave of people joined, I was away in the firing ground, tidying that area up. They placed them in groups (immigrants, gypsies, Greeks etc) in different rooms, far away from one another. The very first night though, there was an incident between a young gypsy and a Russian guy. As I was later told, there was a vendetta between their families and the gypsy stabbed the other man in the chest who was quickly transferred to the military hospital to be treated. The gypsy was also transferred to the military prison in Athens where he would be judged. I never learned what happened with him.
That incident caused us a lot of trouble though. It made everyone more tense and having agitated officers is never a good thing. We were to have extra shifts guarding the newcomers as well to keep an eye on them and also apart. There was a fear for retaliation. Proper sleep or evenings without duties were a luxury we didn’t have that week, which everybody hoped to pass quickly. I don’t know if the new extra guards helped (I doubt it) or the fact that the Colonel allowing that specific group of immigrants some extra freedoms, but there weren’t any other incidences with them.
Needless to say that we were happy to see these people go by the end of that week. Not all of them were creating problems but we hoped that the next bunch would be more obedient and trouble free. The day that new group arrived I was allocated to accompany the new privates from the gate to the building to have their stuff searched. I had been similarly accompanied like that, just three months ago into that same small room to have my stuff searched and it felt kind of weird. I could see the horror of the unknown in most of their faces and the anxiety of their parents dropping them off. I could also see the pride in some of the fathers’ faces seeing their children finally reaching adulthood and becoming a man (don’t get me started on that).
These days with the new privates were happy days. Most of the officers were preoccupied with them and we were left alone. We had fewer things to do, since some of the duties we previously had, were allocated to them. We also had this euphoria about being ‘old’ privates, taking some steps closer to been released.