"Awesome Sh-t my Drill Sergeant Said" started as a fun Facebook page for sharing fun basic training stories, but it grew to be much more. The page started by soldier Dan Caddy has grown exponentially even beyond social media, literally saved the lives of soldiers, and inspired a new book, to be released on Tuesday.
"Basic training is an experience no one forgets," Caddy told WATM in an email. "[Soldiers] hate it while they are there and then miss it when they are gone and are able to look back on it. ASMDSS gives them a way to connect back to that time through the stories posted and the interaction with our Drill Sergeant Admins."
Following a deployment to Afghanistan, Caddy, 32, started passing around basic training stories with his Army buddies over email. He soon realized he was on to something.
"I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time, and all the stress and pressure I had been feeling had been pushed away," Caddy told WATM. "Later that day I spent a lot of time reflecting on the impact my Drill Sergeants had on me, the lessons taught, and how what I learned from them still guides me to this day."
He started a Facebook page, which went from zero to 700 likes fairly quickly. Then it exploded to 22,000 in a week, according to Caddy.
While his Facebook page — which now has more than 800,000 fans — shares hilarious stories of drill sergeants at their best, his new book features even more stories, many of which have never been shared before. And instead of just a mish-mash of basic training anecdotes, Caddy also writes handy explanations of basic training life, from a drill sergeant "shark attack" to the very serious mission that soldiers face after training: deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Still, fans of the page will get plenty of gems and hilarious one-liners, such as, "Privates, all I do is eat gunpowder and run" and "I'm going to levitate and fall asleep inside your soul."
And then there's this: "I can shower, feed myself, feed a baby, and make a baby all in under ten minutes. You knuckleheads sure as sh-t can eat a goddamn meal in ten minutes."
Despite the humorous nature of the Facebook page and the book, Caddy's real passion is in giving back to the veteran community, to include a non-profit he started shortly after a soldier messaged his page with thoughts of suicide (his quick thinking and social media following saved the soldier's life).
"ASMDSS has been able to use our reach to connect those who want to help with those in need," Caddy told WATM. "For me the most amazing and life changing thing to come out of ASMDSS, beyond the laughs, was the creation of Battle in Distress."
So what's the funniest story Caddy has ever heard? The short version, he told WATM, was the Chinese private who convinced all his drill sergeants he didn't have a proper grasp of English — a move that got him an easier time at basic training.
"[On] graduation day, he let the cat out of the bag too early that he was fluent in 9 languages and a DS overheard him. Chaos ensued," Caddy told WATM, adding: "It was brilliant, but his fatal flaw was hubris."
Even if people have limited knowledge of the military, Caddy believes they will still get something out of the book.
"Just yesterday I was reading a copy of the book at the bar at a restaurant and the bartender saw the title and asked if he could check it out," Caddy told WATM. "He opened to the middle of the book and within five seconds was laughing before calling over other staff saying 'YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS.' The book was passed around between staff and customers for a good 15 minutes with everyone laughing and saying 'I have to get this.' None of them were military but the concept and the humor transcended it all and brightened up the day."