Midnight Surfer Part 2

We were not sure what happened to the XO other than overnight he was gone. His orders were cut and he was sent packing so fast that he was a memory by noon the next day. Most of us surmised that he was sent to Korea on orders to keep him the hell away from the guns. The following Monday morning, we were told there would be a battery officer’s call at 0900. The meeting started with the battery commander telling us that he was promoting one of the other Forward Observers to Executive Officer and that I was the new battery “Special Weapons Officer (SWO)”. Normally the SWO was the Executive officer but in this case he had his hands full and needed all the time he had to get ready for the Battery Level Army Training Tests that were to start in three weeks. I asked the Battery commander how much time I had to train the special weapons team and was told the 6th Army team would be there for the practice Evaluation in a week.
I asked the Commander how much training the Special Weapons team had been given and he said, ”What team is that?” There had been zero persons selected for the team let alone trained. I immediately went over to the S-2 office to review the manuals. They were all kept there because they had the only safe cleared for Confidential and Secret Documents. It was pretty clear that I had my hands full and a rough week ahead.
I was told that I could hand pick the team out of all the battery personnel and I went back to the 1st Sergeant and asked to see all the battery files. I found five really smart individuals that had all been submitted for a National Agency Check that generally led to a Security Clearances and brought them together to train. I am not sure how much of the training is still classified so I won’t get into the details. We had to accept and assemble a nuclear capable round in a manner that insured it had two people with it at all times and that it was done properly. There was a checklist that if done step by step would ensure that everything was OK.
During my time in the Active Army, I met a world full of interesting characters. The team I picked for the Special Weapons work was all among the best five of the best 100 I had to choose from. One stood out more than the others. Stubbs was a nickname he used so I will use it here to protect the guilty. He had a superior IQ and was almost as full of good stories as I am. He was kind of short, hence the Stubbs nickname. I have been told that his mother called him Rob but his father called him Stub and that name stuck.
The day prior to the evaluation team arriving I got a call from the Battalion S-1. He wanted to know who the hell had selected my team. According to the Army Security Standards, Stubbs was not qualified to be any where near classified information. They wouldn’t share the details with me but to say his National Agency Check came back with some very negative information. I remember looking at his record during the selection process and he was the smartest soldier in the battery. He was a well-spoken young man and seemed very normal to me. My sister-in-law said he was handsome but I’m no one to judge. I’ll tell you more about him later but for now just know he was de-selected from my team for the remainder of the training and the evaluation period. He was given an out briefing by the Battalion S-2 and told he could go to Prison at Fort Leavenworth if he told anyone the classified information he had been shown. I’m sure he is no threat to National Security
The 6th Army team showed up from the Presidio of California (San Francisco) and put us through our paces. They showed us the exact way to do things and gave us no room for errors. The next week we trained about 60 hours and were able to do what exactly the book required process. The battery went to the field and shot most of the week and the SW team sat in a Quonset hut going over each step. There were two other teams there and we all were working hard to do everything right. It was the Blind leading the blinder. There was absolutely no experience on any of the teams so we just did the best we could and followed the steps in order. The preliminary inspection went well and the 6th Army Team came back the next week and we were given our “For the Record” evaluation.
The day of the formal evaluation went so smooth that I don’t even remember much of the details. The big thing I remember is that at the completion they said the 6th Battalion, 84th Artillery was Nuclear Capable and “certified” as such. If you don’t know anything else, just knowing that we were scheduled for deployment early the next year to Vietnam and no Nuclear Weapons were in Vietnam should have told you that this was a horrible waste of time for the unit to go through. The fact it was over was cause for celebration by the teams.
I invited the battery team over to my Bachelor’s Officers Quarters (BOQ) for a party Sunday evening. I bought enough booze and snacks to take care of a party twice the size of the group of four that remained after Stubbs was dismissed. When the guys arrived at my BOQ room, there was Stubbs in the middle of the group. I invited them all in and party hardy was the theme for the evening. After a few beers (Ok, many beers and Scotch on my part) I finally got Stubbs to tell me what the hell had happened in his past that made him so untrustworthy in the eyes of the Government.
Stubbs had earlier volunteered for the Peace Corps. In the 60’s it was a way to take the qualities of the United Stated to the World. It was also a way to be deferred from the draft. I’m sure that Stubbs had volunteered in the Vain of John Kennedy’s words’, “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”. In their wonderful system they trained him and sent him to Somalia. According to Stubbs the people there did not want anyone to come in and tell them what to do or how to do it. He found himself in an isolated site and as welcome as the plague. They sat around for a couple of months and Stubbs finally went to the leader and said, “Get me the hell out of here”. The leader consulted with his boss and confirmed to Stubs that short of being crazy there was “No way out”. Being an intelligent fellow, as I indicated earlier, Stubbs devised a plan. He took off all his clothes smeared him self with dirt and ran around shouting until they evacuated him as unstable. (This part of the story was told to a bunch of drunks and His family got a different story but hey, it is funny in my book.) For many reasons, one of which was a reported call to the Peace Corps Headquarters to complain about The Peace Corps being in Somalia, Stubbs found his deferment revoked and he was promptly drafted. He was too crazy for the Peace Corps but the US Army wanted him. We all laughed at the story and partied until all, repeat all, of the booze was gone. The guys told me that there was no way that I was sober enough to drive them back to the area and left. For the record, Stubbs had a car at Fort Irwin and may have well been the designated driver. I did not see them arrive or leave so that detail is way too fuzzy to argue over. In truth, I can’t even tell you what Stubbs drank, or if he drank.

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