Name Changed to Protect the Guilty

When the National Guard was notified that they would have a Brigade Activated for the Vietnam Conflict in 1968,  The Kansas Army National Guard was authorized to conduct a short course of their Officer Candidate School.   Years later, I was able to sit down with one of the Tactical training Officers and discuss the careers of a couple of the guys that completed that training.  One of them was a pretty good friend of mine and the other was just someone we all laughed at.  I will call them A and B just to protect them from any hard feelings.  Their Tac Officer told me that both had been boarded at least once and had they more time they would have never been commissioned.

The first time I met A, he was my replacement in Vietnam.  I mean that he came to my battery in a jeep and I hot seated it in that jeep back to base camp.  I didn't even  know his name then and really didn't care.  I had no attachment to the Kansas Army National Guard at that time.  It wasn't until much later after renewing our meeting in the Guard that I got the rest of the story.  It seems that our battery had a couple of tough times after I left. 

The only thing that I found remarkable about A was his inability to stay awake in a moving vehicle.  Seems that his parents would put him in the car to help him fall asleep.  Something about the sound and movement of the car just put him to sleep.  At one time, we were both commanders of a battery in the same battalion and we would drive to drill together as often as we could.  Needless to say even if we took his car I drove.  It only took one time of him falling asleep get that straight.  The last time I heard anything about A, he had made Major and that was where his career peaked.  I liked him as a person but was not impressed with his technical ability as a Field Artillery Officer.

I saved Officer B for last because there is so much more to laugh about.  My sister lived in Topeka and told me about the time that B lived right across the street.  He was a duffas even back in High School.  He was given a bow and arrow for a birthday present.  The first thing he did was take it out and see how high he could shoot an arrow.  Remember the old saying "What goes up must come down?"  Yep, as they were leaving the next day, they saw an arrow stuck in their roof.  One of their daughters said that they saw B shooting arrows the day before.  My brother-in-law called a roofer and then took the bill to the parents.  They paid it very quickly to avoid having my brother-in-law call the cops.

This only a story I heard from one of the other guys but it sounds so typical of B.  One of the pieces of field equipment always worn in the field was the gas mask.  For most of the enlisted men, it was something their section Sergeant would check.  Young officers weren't often checked so B would have his carrier full of candy bars and snacks when he would go to the field.  On one trip to the training area, we were going up Agony Hill with a convoy.   For some odd reason a loaf of bread fell off one of the mess trucks.  B in his desire to make sure he had enough goodies to eat leaned out of his moving jeep to try to pick up that loaf.  Guess who fell out of his jeep?  Yep B fell out and he left a trail of snickers, Baby Ruth's and butterfingers for about 25 yards.  The worst thing he damaged was his stache of goodies.  There were a lot of prickly pear cactuses and he did have to visit the Medics to get them removed.  I am sure that his candy bar caper was one of the reasons he wasn't levied for a trip to Vietnam.

One event that I did witness with B was the time I was running the Battalion Observation Post (OP) as the battalion trained up for their Army Training Tests later on that spring.  As it happened, the first position each battery went into was called a hip shoot.  The unit would get a fire mission as they were moving and they would have to pull off the road and shoot a mission as fast as they could.  I was standing just below the crest of the hill and could watch as the batteries went into that position without them seeing me. B decided that he would climb up one of the trees to watch.  He started to climb up and I just watched from my place just below the hill top.  The battery executed a hip shoot in great fashion and were rounds on target in less than five minutes. About the time they were give orders on the radio to move to their next position, I happened to glance at B.  He had just reached a place where he could see the battery.  They were long gone before he ever got down out of that tree.

I am not sure what happened to B after they returned to Kansas.  I am sure that his inability helped him to be released as soon as they could. 

I went on to complete about 30 years in uniform and retired as a full Colonel, 06.   I hope some of my friends have some good stories about me to tell at my wake.  I have told the wife that I want to be there when she brings out a case of whiskey and a keg of beer.  Kind of like the movie Weekend at Bernie's. 


No comments:

Post a Comment