CPT America

One of the most memorable people I met in the Guard was a colorful Captain who will remain unnamed to protect the guilty.   Somewhere along the line, after serving in the navy for 4 years as an enlisted man, he decided that the nearer we got to Vietnam the more he wanted to be an officer.  He joined the Guard and went to the Kansas Army National Guard OCS.  He was in the accelerated class that went on Active Duty when the 69th Brigade got Activated in 1968.  Somehow he managed to apply for and was accepted into the Special Forces. I suspect they wanted rid of him and let him apply with a favorable recommendation.  He remained on Active Duty until in the 1975 time frame  when the Reduction in Force cuts sent him home.  He did not have a college degree and the Army needed reasons to cut the force size.

The first time I met him, I was working full time in Ottawa as the Battalion Training Officer.  We were in Ottawa and CPT America (as I will call him henceforth)  was living in Lawrence right up the road.  I think we were short staff officers and he joined us to utilize the GI Bill and the Guard pay to help him pay for college.  Had I known what a turkey he was, I might have tried to get him in another unit.

Somewhere in the short circuit brain of CPT America  all the unconventional training he had led him to believe that rules were made for normal mortals and he was somewhat exempt from them.  He loved to pull pranks on people and pick on personal weaknesses of other officers, rank was no concern.  The real sad part was that CPT America was at least half way through 20 years and he was doing his best to not be successful in completing the other 10.  Now that I have my retirement in hand, I can tell you that it is nice to have that extra check each month.

In our Battalion was a guy that had played college football and for some reason had no sense of humor what so ever.  He had the potential to be a pretty nice guy but no one wanted to spend hours with a guy that never smiles. CPT America was about 50 lbs lighter and about a foot shorter and could not resist pulling the big guy's leg.  Finally one day, it erupted into a skirmish where the big guy just picked up CPT America and threw him on his head on the concrete floor.  Greco Roman Wrestling was one of my favorites and I had never seen a better throw even in the Olympics. Like I said, he hit on his head and it was not apparent that any damage was done.  I think that it was about that time the Battalion Commander decided that CPT America needed some command time in a firing battery.  We also needed a battery commander really bad.

CPT America was given one of the batteries and he immediately set about challenging most of the rules. He wanted the unit to be able to wear red baseball hats and Tiger fatigues.  he adopted the John Wayne greeting "Ya Ta Hey"  as their motto and even had a banner of that they flew on their Unit Guidon.  They had some fine junior officers that accepted the wild appearance of the battery and for about 6 months things were hunkey Dorey.  Somehow CPT America got in touch with the Adjutant General and conned him into letting them wear the red hats and tiger fatigues when they were at their home station.  Much to the amazement of our Battalion Commander. 

It was the money for the fatigues that got CPT America in the most trouble.  In the fall his first year, they began to collect money to send off and buy the Tiger Striped Camouflaged Fatigues.  About Christmas, we got new guns and were scheduled to go to Fort Sill, early in March for Annual Training.  Word got out that CPT America had "Borrowed the Fund" to pay his tuition for second semester.  It took having a Field Grade Officer at the end of the pay line to collect the back money at the end of that AT.    CPT America wound up back on the battalion staff after that and it wasn't until the next year that he managed to get fired.   The battalion commander gave him a direct order and he did not comply.  He told the Commander that he could not fire him and guess what,  The Brigade Commander had two MP's escort him off the post.  I never did see the relief for cause Officer's Efficiency Report that terminated that career.  I'll bet it gave off smoke when you read it.

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