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Vassar Bushmills

As you already know, I’m the garritrooper in this outfit, “too far forward to wear a tie, and too far to the rear to get shot at.”

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know some things about wading in muck up to my elbows, sleeping on hard ground, marching ten miles in full kit, or peering down the sights of an M-14 at a target 200 yards downrange. Or having a big, tall black sergeant, with the same last name as me, bark down my throat, while calling me “cousin, Sir.” Although a JAG officer, I had been commissioned an Infantry 2nd lieutenant, so I was not the typical desk-jockey.

And I have been shot at, although never in uniform. In fact, I’d even been hit, but it was in commission of a felony, and I was running away. Just some buckshot in the leg, my Boy Scout training let me tend to it myself, so I could avoid seeing a clinic, where I would have been immediately reported and likely thrown out of college, and then what would I tell my Dad?

I’ll may tell that story some day, as it was one of my most effective stories in counseling young soldiers, for I became relevant in their eyes once they knew I’d done worse things than they were doing, which was bootlegging Class 6 whiskey to local bars, or working the backend of hashish distribution off C-140’s coming in from Thailand at Yokota AFB. After telling a kid that I’d already stood at the edge of the abyss that they were standing on, nothing more than blind frigging luck saved me, I think they got the message.

It gave me street cred, as they say today.

I’ve already told other stories about Army life in Japan. It was a Major US Army Command at that time, and its HQ was in a building designed and built in the early years of the Occupation, on the site of the original Imperial Japanese Army military academy, their West Point. It was designed just like our Pentagon near Washington. (I think that building has since been torn down.)


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Cross-posted on Veterans’ Tales.