Short People Stories

Hum, what I mean is short stories about people I have met.  There have been one or two short people worth having a paragraph written about them but I won't focus on their height, just the opposite I will try to talk about what makes them stand out.

Years ago (Is this kind of like once upon a time?)  I commanded an Artillery Battery in the Guard.  It was located in a small town in North East Kansas and there was the darnest collection of people I ever met.  the 69th Brigade had been mobilized during the Vietnam War and when it returned many of the soldiers in that unit just ended their time in the Military.  A lot of young men wanted to join the Guard rather than be drafted. Within days of the unit opening their doors to enlistments, they filled their positions.  That had occurred about 4 years prior to my commanding the unit.  That meant that it was a collection of people that would for the majority end their enlistment about the time I gave up command. 

I don't harbor any ill will to those young men that served in that unit.  In fact many of my favorite day dreams are from that time in my life.  Today will be one of those days.

Prior to being assigned as Battery Commander I was assigned to the unit as a Forward Observer.  If there was ever a job that I was in at the right time it was that one.  I knew how to read a map, call for fire and deal with the Infantry.  In fact, it was so simple that I could have slept my way through that assignment.  

During that assignment, I met Phil.  he was a young man that was well educated and a lot more capable that the job required.  In fact, I think he was a Vice-president of a local bank and married to the President of the Bank's daughter.   He and I spent many hours cussing and discussing the world in general and the Military is specific.  We were ending the war in Vietnam and there was all sorts of hate and discontent out there.  Kind of reminds me of what it feels today is like.

Phil had a lot of friends in the unit and one day after our training  when we were at Fort Riley he asked to borrow the jeep and go mushroom hunting.  the Morel mushrooms grow everywhere in the spring at Fort Riley.  This had been a pretty wet spring and  they were ubiquitous. (everywhere- I always wanted to use that word and didn't find many places to use it) They returned late that night with several large trash bags of those tasty delights.

The next morning I woke up and much to my surprise the jeep wasn't right outside the tent area I was sleeping in.  I walked over to the mess hall and while I was drinking a wonderful cuppa coffee, I saw Phil sneaking across the back of the tent area and I told him to come here.  He obeyed the order but wasn't his usual self.  "OK Phil, where the hell is the jeep."  He told me that it was over by the maintenance truck and it needed some work.  

The mess team had taken those morel mushrooms and using the bacon grease had cooked then to a wonderful state.  They then took all the eggs and crumbled bacon and added them to the mushrooms. This was all cooked up in what they called a square head pan and it turned out to be a slice of heaven between two slices of bread.  I'm sure that Phil wanted me to eat and have a second cup of coffee prior to seeing the jeep.

I guess there was a game of driving through the tank wallows on the tank trails and Phil and my jeep was not the winner.  In fact, it had to be pulled our of a lob lolly and drug back to the battery.  The normal drain holes on the bottom of the jeep were plugged with mud and it was still full of water the next morning. There was a line of mud about three inches up the windshield and the map pockets on the back of the seats were bulging with muddy water.  Yes, the water in the battery compartment totally shorted out the batteries and it was one dead duck.  I wanted to really be mad at Phil, but more because I didn't get to go on the adventure than anything.  He and I started to drain the jeep by unplugging the drain holes with sticks. We checked and no mud or water had gotten into the gas tank or the engine. Even when the battery box  was less full of water we had to jump start the jeep.  Much to my amazement it did start but soon baked the mud on the engine to a hard loaf of brown clay.  We did our best to clean out the fins of the radiator so it wouldn't overheat.    I told the Battery Commander what had happened and he let me and Phil take off early to get the jeep washed at a local car wash so we could get home.  

Phil used up all of his available cash at the local car wash just cleaning  off the mud off the engine and out of the radiator.  I knew there was a new car wash right across the street from the Armory so we headed back to Horton.  Phil spent the better part of the rest of the day cleaning that jeep.  I spent my time working in the supply room checking weapons as they were returned after cleaning.  At the end of drill, we had a routine that included a short beer session and the adventures of the Midnight Mushroom Hunter came to light.  I think we laughed so hard my ribs hurt for a week.  

Phil went on to transfer to a helicopter unit as a crew chief for a few years and then went to OCS.  I lost track of him after he was commissioned.  I did run into him at an airport one day and he was working for the FDIC and was afraid someone would find out he was at the airport with a team that was ready to swoop in on one of the Savings and Loan Associations to take it over.   

So there was one day in the life of Phil and Denny the FO.  Someday he and I will meet at Fiddler's Green and share a cup of muzzle blast and laugh at the fun times in our lives.

MUD (Ret)


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