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Memories # 18

Fun in Thailand:

Shortly after I completed the Jungle Warfare School in Panama, I volunteered for a special training exercise in Thailand.  It was a combination survival training and exercise.

For thirty days we (there were thirteen of us) went through vigorous physical training.  Hours of jumping jacks, pushups, squats and my all time favorite, shoveling sand...move a pile from here to there and back.  Of course we had to run everywhere we went.  We had been assigned to an Engineering Company for chow, but otherwise we were kept separate from the other troops and just did our thing.

The officer in charge of the unit was a young Second Lieutenant straight out of West Point.  The fact that we were almost completely segregated from the rest of the base, we pretty much thought of ourselves as outlaws and began acting as such.  For this reason and because of the oppressive heat we had modified our uniforms to tee shirts and cut off fatigue pants.

One day as I was walking across the Company area in my cut off fatigues, wearing a tee shirt with my sergeant stripes painted on the sleeves with a laundry marker, I heard someone shout.  "Freeze where you are trooper, don't you take another step."

I did as I was told, then turned to see a Major, fast stepping across the parade ground, heading straight toward me.

"Who in the hell do you think you are and what are you doing in my company area looking like a derelict?"  The man was only inches from my face by now, screaming at the top of his lungs.  I could see the veins in the officer's forehead bulging like they were going to explode.  "My company rules are for everyone in my company area to be in uniform at all times.  You are not only dressed like some kind of bum, you obviously haven't had a shave or haircut in weeks.  I want your name and unit and I mean right now."

"Sir, with all due respect, I'm not at liberty to give you that information."

The Major reached out as if to grab me by the front of my tee shirt, I took a half a step back and assumed a defensive stance.

"Sir, with all due respect, I can't let you do that either."

"Okay Sergeant, I'll handle it from here."  It was the young lieutenant walking up behind the Major.

"Lieutenant, I don't know who the hell you people think you are, but I will have you and this insolent piece of shit court marshaled and sent to the stockade at Leavenworth."  The Major cried out, his voice almost a squeal.

"Major you have orders straight from the Pentagon that say you have no jurisdiction what-so-ever over me or my men.  You were instructed to provide mess and to not question or interfere with us in any way, shape or form.  You chose to ignore those orders, I would strongly suggest you don't ignore them again or you'll be the one going to Leavenworth."  The Lieutenant was standing nose to nose with the Major by now, then he spun on his heel to face me.  "Come on Sergeant, let's get some lunch."

Right then I would have followed that West Pointer down the barrel of a cannon.