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Veterans’ Tales by Allen Ness

Vassar wrote about a Salutin’ Demon a few days ago. They weren’t uncommon in my day either. Usually they are young Second Lieutenants who haven’t figured out their actual place in the chain of command. Do you know the difference between a PFC and a First Lieutenant? A PFC has been promoted twice. It kinda puts things in their rightful place. Theoretically a Lieutenant out ranks his Platoon Sergeant but in fact that Platoon Sergeant is, by Army regulation, responsible for the LT’s training. The Platoon Sergeant has ten or more years of experience compared to the LT’s two. Explain to me how I am responsible for his training and he’s actually in charge? Its not possible. If worse comes to worse and the LT refuses to see the light, you (his PSG) just agree, “Hell yes Sir, that’s perfect, you tell everyone how things work and we’ll just reap the rewards. You’re f*ckin’ brilliant.” It gets ugly fast and Lieutenants don’t know whether to shit or go blind. Some folks learn best when lessons are learned the hard way.

In my first unit, the Wolfhounds, in 1988, Vietnam Vets were in abundance. We had a Command Sergeant Major who wore a different combat patch on his sleeve every day of the week. I remember seeing him with a Screamin’ Eagle, a Big Red One, a Papa Company Ranger scroll and the southern star of the Americal Division (of Mai Lai fame) among others. Then came the day he inspected my company during the peacetime Army tradition of “Best By Test Inspections,” CSM Lopez was an angry Filipino about five-foot four who, according to local legend hated everything.

We were dressed in Class A’s and gay-ass shoes. I’m sure things would have gone better if I’d have been able to wear jump boots and a maroon beret like a real man but I was still “straight leg Infantry” at the time, therefore stuck with stupid shoes and an even stupider “cunt” cap . The CSM was conducting the inspection that day and when he crisply stepped in front of me the first thing I saw, nearly covered by the epaulet on his shoulder was a tiny powder blue ribbon with five white stars zig-zagging across i. I’m sure my eyes bugged out of my head and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of his stack.[…]

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See also Vassar Bushmills:

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