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The physiotherapist p3 : more reservist by thadeusz
This story consist of 7 parts, it is suggested to read them in order
p3 : the well trained reservist
After this initial military experience, like Ali, I hesitated about a life as a soldier, but I finally decided to remain a Reservist while starting to learn to be a physiotherapist. So I spent one first year in a university while having some periods as a reservist. This first year was a very general year and my parents still hoped that I would become a teacher.
After a full summer with 2 REP, patrolling in the streets of Paris on a "Sentinelle" mission under the authority of Master Sergeant Voralek and spending two more weeks on a special training, I was promoted to Reservist Corporal. Ali had left our group of reservists. According to what he told us the last time we met him, "he had special reasons to leave the reserves", but he did not say more.
I then started the difficult and specialized studies of physiotherapist, rather expensive and long : 4 years after the first University year. They were difficult studies, but studies I liked.
I had again a very short beard and a mustache. I had learned that since basic training was over now, I could keep them during my reserve periods, and my beloved Sophie liked that.
From then on, I also spent most of my vacations in uniform as a reservist, and this included Easter and Christmas holidays, more than the minimum of 30 days per year which are required to remain a reservist. Sophie hated these periods and, without me realizing it, she started slowly to stop being in love with me. But my studies and my passion took the maximum of my attention !
During one of these reserve periods I met my friend Ali. He was no longer a reservist: as soon as he got his BAC, he joined the Legion as active duty Legionnaire. He had received a new name, according to Legion tradition, and was no longer Ali Khider, French citizen, but Ahmed Kacem from Algeria. He told me that the apparent loss of his French citizenship was the only thing that bothered him, but he added that "he really needed that". He suggested that I should also join, as rapidly as possible. I told him that I might join after the end of my studies.
I was always very careful to have a reasonably short haircut when I went to my regiment, and only a very short beard and mustache, exactly what was now tolerated. At the end of my 3rd year of service, I was promoted to Reservist Master Corporal. I had reasonable hopes to be sent to the NCO course during my 5th year of studies and thus be promoted to Reservist Sergeant !
My fifth and last year of studies was nearly professional: I had to spend all my time doing a stage under the supervision of an established physiotherapist. I started one in a hospital in Marseille.
The Captain commanding the reserve unit, Captain Marcero, a former legionnaire, told me that an active duty unit was going to be on a long SENTINELLE mission in Marseille. He thus asked me whether I would he accept to serve as their physiotherapist and help them to rest ?
I discussed this proposal with my supervisor who accepted to let me go during two months at the barracks where the legionnaires were temporarily stationed. He even added that it would be a good experience for me.
Captain Premling was commanding the unit of active duty legionnaires I would have to help. He told me that I would have to be in uniform and thus have a decent short haircut. This time would be counted as time of service and I would thus be paid for it !
During the two months of this SENTINELLE mission, I had great contacts with my active duty comrades. I had these contacts while I was actually working, trying to help them be relaxed, but also when they had free time (and me to) at the barracks bar ! They kept talking about the beauty of their para training and this impressed me a lot. So at the end of the two months period I asked Captain Premling if, despite the fact that I was only a reservist, I could not have a formal paratrooper training: I had had a pseudo training during my Military Preparation, years before, and as reservist, I had had the 2 REP beret but no para training at all since I was only supposed to go on guard and Sentinelle missions. I added: "I have a real 2 REP beret but I don’t have the para wings. Could it be possible for me to have the required training ?"
Captain Premling promised to try to arrange something.
Two days later, it was the end of the Sentinelle mission and all the légionnaires had a great party. I took part in the party, as if I were actually a member of that unit and I drank an awful lot, like the active duty legionnaires. The next morning I was still slightly drunk. That’s when Captain Premling called me. He told me:
"Girard, you can have the full para full para training organized for the legionnaires, but you must first sign several papers", and he showed me the papers I had to sign.
I assumed that it was for an insurance problem and I signed without reading the papers. I was in any case in such a state that I would not have understood what was written, should I have read these papers. I was really happy to have this new possibility, rarely offered to reservists.