When I was in the Army I loved to pick on new 2nd Lt's in any way possible. There was one in particular, while a nice guy, was young and not only didn't he have the knack for commanding others, he barely had command over his own body. One day I was walking to the mess hall, and there he was making his way toward me, left hand clinging to a slippery stack of manila folders and a hard-side brief case in his right. I couldn't resist the opportunity. I snapped him a salute and barked "Fly to Glory, SIR!" At which he jumped, returned my salute, banged the briefcase into his head,
dropped the folders and landed flat on his back. Yes, I laughed hard. I didn't laugh too long though. I helped him pick up all of his things and carry them to his office.
Any permanent party military member who has ever been stationed at a training base knows to stay clear of the post office at lunchtime. Inevitably, this is when the masses of trainees make a mad dash to check their mailbox, and for an officer this can mean endless saluting. I sat in my car once in front of the post office and watched a group of enlistees (about twelve of them) stagger themselves in a long line with just enough distance so that one unfortunate second lieutenant had to raise his arm in a return salute for each and every one! It was hysterical. And I bet that lieutenant never returned to the post office at lunchtime again.
"What a Time To Get the Giggles"
I'm a Captain in the Air Force, but my fondest memory from officer basic was an experience with the Army. It was a hot summer day at Ft Bragg. I was at Air Force field training, but we had the good fortune to be one of two camps who participated in Ft Bragg Recondo training. We learned how to make a raft from two forty pound ruck sacks, ran around yelling "RECONDO!" and basically had a great time. It was a lot of fun, although it did confirm for me that I made the right decision to join the Air Force, since mud really isn't my thing.
Sometime around noon, my flight moved over to the rappelling tower. I had been rappelling before, and I enjoy it, so I was looking forward to this. I made my seat from a piece of rope, climbed up the 50 foot wooden tower, and hooked in to the ropes. "Recondo Schwartz requests permission to rappel!" I shouted. "On Belay!"
"Belay is on!" yelled the PFC who was belaying the ropes from the ground.
The PFC at the top of the tower decided to have some fun with me, which at the time I didn't figure out until it was too late. "Recondo Schwartz!" he yelled to me, as I progressed down the tower. "Your feet are too low!"
Since he was supposed to be teaching me, I obediently climbed my feet up the tower.
"Recondo Schwartz, they are still too low!"
Again, I climbed up my feet. Eventually I climbed them up much too high, and I wound up swinging by my waist about 40 feet over the ground. Once I realized that I was safe, which took all of ten seconds, I began trying to get my feet back on the tower. It was then that I noticed that the PFC at the top of the tower was in hysterics watching me swing freely back and forth with my head pointed toward the ground. It was then that I figured out he had been playing with me, and I started to laugh. The full blown laughter that transforms itself into the giggles. So now, not only was I hanging upside-down from a rope, swinging 40 feet in the air, but I had absolutely no motor control because I was laughing so hard that my sides ached and tears streamed down my face.
"Recondo Schwartz!" yelled the PFC on the tower. "That's too high!"
I think I must have hung there for about 2 or 3 minutes before I was able to stop laughing enough to get my feet back on the tower and jump to the ground. I haven't done any "real soldiering" since that summer, but whenever I put on my BDU's, or see Ft. Bragg mentioned on the news, I still remember that PFC grinning down at me as I swung helplessly from a rope laughing hysterically.
I was stationed at a training base in Mississippi as officer stationed at the Regional Hospital also on the base and had just a few months before put on my Captains Bars. My husband is a minister and he was called by a friend to help a young lady who was in serious distress. She had been in an abusive situation at her home and she managed to get just enough money to take a bus to the base. With only 1 suitcase and a baby on her hip, no money in her pocket, and a completely lost sheep look, she began to seek out her husband for help.
Well, as these things tend to go, she could get nowhere. No one would let get within a mile of her Hubby - as he was still unable to chew gum without proper permission, in triplicate. Well, my dear husband interviewed her and determined that she needed a place to live, a cupboard of food, and the knowledge that her husband was somewhere near. What was needed was for someone with just enough authority to have a few Senior Airmen decide that the First Shirt needed to be bothered. Unfortunately, a crying wife on the other end of a phone line didn't fit the bill. So, my dear hubby, picked me up after my shift, with me dressed in my normal dress blues and explained who the young lady and baby in the back seat were and what he needed me to do.
Well, I didn't think it would be a problem to flash the new bars on my lapels and hope to do a wee bit of good. Well, my husband drives across base and parks in the dormitory area. I emerge from the car, put on my hat, and BOOM - someone yells out.... ATTENTION!
Everyone, as far as the eye could see, myself included, snapped to attention in a manner I had never seen before. Through the corners of my eyes, I looked for whomever had such rank as to command this quality of response. It slowly dawned on me that I was THAT source. I had no clue what to do. I could feel my heartbeat... over and over and over. Then it hit me and I mumbled out "as you were."
Never in my life had I received such respect. Doors were open and people volunteered to lead me through the catacombs of the Dorm Building to the CQ. Always with a flurry of salutes. There, a quick phone call was made and within minutes an out of breath First Shirt and Airman Basic appeared. Taking the First Shirt aside I explained to him the young airman's and his wife dilemma and asked if it was within his power to see her safely housed and taken care of... and (in a burst of intuition) added, thus allowing the Airman to concentrate on his responsibilities.
Given assurances that he "would see to it personally" I thanked him and made good my escape Well, within four or five hours, we received word, from the First Shirt that she was safe in a furnished apartment with a cupboard full of food, and a bus schedule so that she could visit her hubby (under very specific circumstances).
Me, I was sitting at home with an Ice Pack on my right upper Arm. I hadn't saluted that much in my previous four years in the Military as I did in that hour. I felt pretty good about myself but did manage to extract from my dear Hubby that we would never go within a mile of that of that part of the base again, while I was in uniform.
One night at the officer's club the bar waitress told a group of us, mixed company; retired and active men, and women that a female had left her personal clothes behind the women's restroom. She had donned a swimsuit apparently. Since we had a beautiful view out on the backside of the Club, we knew it was possible the young woman was probably swimming, either in the O' Club pool, or at the serene lake w/ a ..... male... The women in the club( wives,retirees,and active members),excited w/glee said "when she comes back, won't she be wondering???? )where is her underwear????? The bra and panties were promptly "posted at staff" at the O'Club swimming pool.
"Plastic or Paper?"
After returning to the United States following a three year assignment in Germany, in 1993, I experienced credit card culture shock. In Germany, using cash to purchase goods on the economy was standard practice; credit cards were not as commonly used compared to the United States. I encountered this cultural difference during my first visit to an off-base grocery store, outside Sheppard AFB, Texas. At the checkout counter, the cashier asked me, "Plastic or paper?" Stunned that I could use a credit card in the grocery store, I surprisingly replied, "I'll pay with cash." She gave me a dumbfounded look, as I proudly stood there in my Air Force service dress uniform, and repeated, "Plastic or paper?" Again, I responded, "I'll pay with cash." Then she curtly replied, "Captain, I'm asking how you want your groceries bagged; in plastic or paper."