I’ve been a 1st class legionnaire for 3 months on paper
but nobody knows (and cares) until you don’t have a visibly green stripe on your chest. 1st class legionnaire isn’t even a rank, but a distinction and didn’t really changed my life in the company. The only very small difference was when I worked somewhere else in the regiment and could mix with “older” legionnaires, so I didn’t have a spotlight directed on my face.
The Monday I arrived back to the company
called me in his office for a small chat ordered my platoon
chief that I have to be present in his office where I’ll report him what
happened during my holiday in Castelnaudary. I entered his office and after I
presented myself I told him, that I wasn’t the best but I gave everything I
could and finished 6 out of 24. He was surprised, wrote this small detail in
the log and congratulated me for my progress in French. He explained me that
the company just finished a long preparation for Mali and he counts to keep me
in my platoon. It wasn’t the case for everyone, because the company had 5
platoon, but only 4 were supposed to go on OPEX. Up to the end of January,
about 30 people left the company.
On Thursday we had our usual assembly in the afternoon
but it was a bit more special for me, because with some other guys I finally became a 1st class legionnaire. Right after the assembly, we went to the company’s club and invited everyone for a beer. The celebration kept going until 6PM when the corporals told us that we are gonna drink our “casque” at 7PM on the platoon’s corridor. I’ve already heard about this initiation, but I didn’t actually realize that I’ll do it one day.
At 6.55PM I was waiting
with the other freshly “promoted” legionnaires on my platoon’s corridor. We had to buy two packs of beer each. As a precaution, I didn’t eat anything for dinner and quickly found out that it was my most brilliant idea for the past couple of weeks. The others arrived a few minutes later, put some music in and told us to bring a chair and our helmets (casque in French) out to the corridor. The next moment, I was standing on a chair with my helmet in my hands and the corporals started to fill it up with the beer I bought.
One of the new 1st class legionnaires didn’t drink alcohol
so he chose to drink Coca-Cola instead and the another one bought the strongest beer of the regiment’s store… With an increasing music and noise, I started to drink out of my helmet containing my stripe and around 3 liters of beer. The rules were simple, we had to keep our lips on the helmet until we finished. It was a mission impossible to complete, because I started to vomit so hard that it even came out of my nose. Fortunately, I didn’t threw up into my beer like the guy with the Leffe or whatever he bought, because everyone had to finish. After the last sips a corporal took my stripe out of the helmet, put it back on my chest and punched it as a sign of “brotherhood”.
I think I threw up the whole quantity of beer I drunk, so I went to bed with an empty stomach and the wake up wasn’t so miserable as I thought. Not like the 12 km running at 7.45AM…
In the last three chapters, you read stories about drinking and parties. These events make part of the traditions in the French Foreign Legion and sometimes it could be hard to refuse a glass. It’s easier if you drink and I loved these kind of celebrations, but a few years ago I completely stopped consuming alcohol and everyone accepted my decision in my unit. Each time we organized an event, I always found some cans of sparkling water or an orange juice and never got any remark.
So, here is my advice
If you don’t want to drink because of your religion or for any other reason: stay calm. If someone in higher rank wants you to have a drink, just go away. Especially if he’s already drunk. He’ll only get in trouble, if he continues to force you.