My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit http://:// and update your bookmarks.

this is what you shall do:: Tuesday�s With The Colonel

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tuesday�s With The Colonel

Stationed at VII Corps headquarters in Germany in the late 1980s, we were privy to some public and not so public operations being conducted in Europe and the Middle East. One of the more public events was the decision to bomb Libya in retaliation for terrorist acts. During the Libya operation, our headquarters was placed on high alert and we were issued our weapons and protective gear. Now, let me remind you, we were a very, very, very rear echelon headquarters, full of clerks and officers and the US Army band. We were not the Band of Brothers, dedicated to fighting the lines to the end. Instead, we are the Band of Lunchers, eager to leave our little desk cubicles and travel out of the HQ building and head down to Burger King for lunch. Well, during Libya we were on alert and suddenly we were expected to take part in the real Army that we had heard so much about. We were placed on guard duty and handed loaded weapons and most of us were taking turns walking the perimeter with walkie talkies, flashlights and orders to be vigilant for any kind of retaliatory measures in response to our bombing mission. Our commanding general had a Mercedes Benz staff car, this being Stuttgart, and he was driving up the main road of our little German military Casern when he ordered his car to stop. As the window lowered, the general noticed a skinny enlisted man serving as a chaplain�s aide, holding a loaded M-16 and shaking a bit, visibly nervous. The general got out of his car and talked with the clerk then traveled up to his office. It wasn�t three hours later that an entire brigade of infantry troops and engineering troops was dispatched to our post to take over our guard duties � apparently they had more experience in guard duty and Army stuff than our country club staff . Tents were erected and duty rosters posted. The new breed of soldiers was marching around our base and holding drills and formations. We were, quite frankly, baffled. This was that Army, we gathered, and this was how they did things. And apparently, it involved lots of barking and shouting. After watching most of this ordeal from our office window on the second floor, just a few doors down from the general�s office, we decided to head out for lunch at the mess hall. There were three of us and we were walking, talking and laughing along the way. We had a standing, unspoken rule on base to not salute anyone under the rank of Major. There were just too many officers on our post and a guy could give himself carpel tunnel if he saluted every single Lieutenant and Captain he came upon. It was good for the officers and good for the enlisted men if we focused our saluting efforts just on field grade officers. Everyone seemed the better for it. So we were walking down the street, ignoring our officer cadre as usual when a huge, burley real Army sergeant starts barking and yelling screaming at us to halt. We turned and looked at him incredulously. He ordered us to attention and began to explain the intricacies of Army protocol and demanded that we salute all the officers for the remainder of his stay on post. He also demanded that whenever we traveled in packs of three or more that we were to march in formation. He had us on a technicality. These were all protocols we were aware of since Basic Training but our HQ really had no wherewithal to follow them. Marching was a bit foreign to us. We had the 7Th US Army band on our post and it was a generally understood assumption that they would do all the marching for us, since they were in a marching band and all. A few times a week, while rehearsing for some performance around Germany, they would get all dressed up and march the three block square Army post � entertaining all of us along the way. That seemed like a much better use of marching. I did not bring this perfect example of efficiency and tradition up with the sergeant currently occupying the space five inches from my face. So, we marched off to lunch A few hours later I had the chance to tell the story to the Colonel, who laughed and said that until a real war comes around those soldiers on duty outside our building had to train and practice and this would all pass soon. I could only hope he was right.