The Girl He Left Behind Author:Marion Hargrove From Time Magazine 6/4/1956 — THE GIRL HE LEFT BEHIND or ALL QUIET IN THE THIRD PLATOON . — Andy Sheaffer, the hero, is a goldbrick long before he gets to the induction center. His gentlemanly marks at U.C.L.A. are designed to "keep the draft board happy without exciting envy and jealousy among my schoolmates." Andy figures he can work the student... more » ploy right through law school and tool past the draft-age barrier of 26, preferably in his cozy little MG. But he underestimates the power of a woman. His girl Susan cannot stand a slacker. Or as she puts it to Andy: "Everything with you is cotton candy." The Cotton Candy Kid is so flummoxed by this that he promptly flunks his exams and finds himself in the U.S. Army.
Beyond a few superficial pleasantries, the noncoms processing the new troops at Fort Burnside make the familiar old G.I. sounds : "You men can make it easy on yourselves or hard on yourselves, and I don't particularly care which, because I can play it both ways ... if you screw up around here, your behinds will be grass and I will be the lawnmower."
Andy, of course, is a goof artist. He is a menace on the rifle range, gets his outfit gigged for dirty barracks, spends a weekend emergency pass for home with one of the blonde natural beauties of Southern California. Then, one day, he kicks a live grenade into a sump and saves a buddy's life. He becomes an overnight hero and, more slowly, a soldier and a man.
At training cycle's end, Andy marries Susan and gets picked as a cadreman to train incoming recruits. "I'm a hard man but a fair one," he tells them. "If you screw it up, your behinds are grass, and Sergeant Sheaffer is the lawnmower."« less