Another old Army tradition is the “Cattle Truck”. Oh, they’re not allowed to call it a Cattle Truck today– comparing trainees to cattle is considered improper today. But I never saw the use of the term “Cattle Truck” to be a slam on trainees (even if we did move pretty much as a herd) but just a reflection of what the truck looked like: a semi-trailer rig with an aluminum trailer, very similar to the trucks you see on a lot of western highways transporting livestock.
The trucks were bare-bones mass transport. You stood up in them, and there were handholds –bars and overhead straps– that would not be out of place in creaky old mass-transit rail cars or buses. The small windows let in insufficient air, and they were stuffy and crowded, especially when it was jammed to the brim with sweaty young trainees with all their gear.
And oh, the brands? That wasn’t real, not physically real anyway. Psychologically you were branded in a way, but I just felt I’d give it a punchline. Someone would always start to “Moo!” when boarding a Cattle Truck, and I always hoped the metaphor wouldn’t be carried through to its obvious extremes.