Beans and Donuts – Part II


Donuts_OCS Part IIIn Part I we left our hero (me!) in a darkened barracks eating 4 glazed donuts. To understand how those donuts got there we have to get our heads around “pogey bait” and the unofficial side of OCS dining.

Simply put, “pogey bait” is military lingo for any food that is not government issue. How the term arose is most interesting, if not a bit lurid. You can go here for the details.   In OCS pogey bait was a very big official NO NO and there was hell to pay if caught with it.   Hence, those four wonderful, delicious glazed donuts put us in danger of grueling punishment.

PushUps OCS

Aftermath of a failed pogey bait run.

However, when you have a bunch of very hungry “beans” (see Part I for why “beans” and the hunger), the desire to get pogey bait trumps the risk of getting caught.   So you can imagine our collective excitement one evening just prior to “lights out” when one of our fellow “beans” announced that he knew how to get us some donuts. All he needed was some cash and he would take care of the rest. Naturally, we all jumped at the opportunity and shelled out the cash.  Off he went into the darkness on his mission. In about an hour he reappeared with stacks of donut boxes. We had just experienced our first pogey bait run!

(I should point out that pogey bait runs were probably a part of OCS for as long as tactical meals were a part of OCS. They represented a kind of underground commerce, aka “contraband smuggling,” that inevitably emerges in “total institutions” such as prisons or military training camps –see this for a riveting sociological explanation.)

Now for the critical part  — how to do a pogey bait run.  Start by sneaking to an on-base phone booth (no cell phones then) and call one of the local off-base cab companies (no Uber then) or, if available, call a nearby friend or spouse. The cab drivers are very familiar with the routine and will pick up your order in a predetermined parking lot on the base.  They then buy the food off base at a fast food joint and return with the goods, sometimes cruising in with lights off to avoid detection. Always tip generously.  Of course, you have to figure out how to get it from the parking lot to the barracks undetected, a particularly hazardous part of the operation.

Learning this dramatically changed our dining behavior. After lights out, we would post guards to watch for upperclassmen or the dreaded Tac Officers while our commando pogey bait smuggling team completed its mission.   Beyond donuts, we brought in hamburgers, fries, pizza, and KFC.  This was not dining at its finest, but definitely a step above our tactical meals.

So for me, those four (pogey bait) donuts were a crucial part of a survival strategy to endure OCS until the graduation ceremony where Ann pinned on my hard-earned second lieutenant bars.

Without pogey bait I “donut” know how I would have made it.

Lieutenant Bars

Ann pinning on my hard earned second lieutenant bars, 1968

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