I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
Humor - Civil War Era
BIGGEST MAN... The biggest man in the Union Army was Capt. David Van Buskirk of the 27th Indiana Regiment who stood 6 feet 11 inches and weighed 380 pounds. He was captured in 1862 and was sent to a Richmond Prison where a Confederate entrepreneur put him on exhibit. Even Confederate President Jeff Davis came to see him and was astounded when the impish Van Buskirk claimed that back home in Bloomington Indiana, "when I was at the train station with my company, my six sisters came to say goodbye. As I was standing there, with my company, they all came up to me, leaned down and kissed me on top of the head."
LETTER HOME... A young soldier left home to join the army. He told his girl friend that he would write every day. After about six months, he received a letter from his girl friend that she was marrying someone else. He wrote home to his family to find out who she married. The family wrote back and told him. It was the... mailman.
KINDNESS... Treated kindly, a soldier responds with kindness. Treated kindly, a citizen responds with treason.
PATROTIC... Many soldiers enlisted because they thought it was their duty, others joined for the bounty and others joined to impress their girl friends. Many of the married women also encouraged their men to go to war. One of these men, while bidding his wife good bye whimpered a little and showed signs of back out. His wife told him that if he was going to cry about it, to pull off his britches and she'd go in his place and he can stay home and run the farm.
COFFIN was called a wooden overcoat.
GREY UNIFORM... After the war a former Confederate officer, who violated the city ordinance against wearing a grey uniform in public, was arrested and put in jail. He broke the law because he did not own another suit. A former Union Officer asked for and received permission from the sheriff to share the cell, remaining there until public opinion forced the one time Rebel's release with repeal of the law.
MANNERS... Don't let your hurry up take over your manners.
DRUGS... A lot of drugs will make you any person you want to be; but no drug can make you be the person you used to be.
NO HONOR... During a battle, a Captain observed that one of the soldiers of his regiment was not shooting at an enemy soldier that had dropped hismusket and was running away. When the battle was over the captain sought outthe soldier and asked him why he did not shoot at the retreating enemy soldier. He replied, " When that soldier decided to run away, he marked himself as a coward and has to live with the decision all his life. If I had shot him I would have shortened his burden and also there is no honor in shooting a man that is not facing you."
OFFICER'S SHOULDER BARS were called pumpkin rinds.
NO COUNTERSIGN... When food was scarce many soldiers would steal or pillage
nearby farms for anything that could be converted to food or drink. One evening an Officer smelled roast pork, investigating he found a pig roasting over a camp fire and asked who the soldiers were that stole it. A Corporal came to attention and said "sir, I was on picket duty and when I heard a noise and I called out for the pass word. All I heard was oink and that is not the countersign so I shot him. We were just going to bring him to your tent for court martial and have you pass judgment on him. The Officer, suppressing a smile, said " bring only a part of him and I will pass a partial sentence."
FREE WHISKEY... A soldier, who was habitually drunk, publicly announced to all the men in his company and surrounding companies that he was swearing off drinking and that all the other soldiers should give up this foul habit also. The other soldiers would tease him to fall off the wagon by giving him whiskey and get him drunk. Every morning he would be back preaching about the sins of alcohol. One day his tent mate told him he ought to give up preaching about the evils of the jug as he always ends up drunk. With a twinkle in his blood shot eyes he said " what, and give up all that free whiskey?"
CANNONBALL... A whistling cannon ball can dampen a soldiers courage.
COWARD... A Confederate expression used to express a coward, "He developed a case of Yankee Chills."
YOUNG SOLDIER... A young soldier never sees danger until it is time to die.
SCARED... A soldier in battle stated that he was so scared that if he was a girl, he'd cry.
WAXED MUSTACHE... A soldier that had no respect for his commanding officer who wore a waxed mustache, would shout to him " take those mice out of your mouth, I can see their tails hanging out."
FOG OF WAR... A term used to describe a sense of confusion that seems to over take a Commander at the commencement of a battle.
SLIPPERY BACON... Bacon that is so rotten, it's only use would be to start a fire with.
BATHROOM... Although not listed in the rules of war, soldiers on both sides did not shoot at the enemy when he was going to the bathroom.
FIRST BATTLE... When a soldier went into a battle for the very first time, it was called " seeing the elephant " and also when two veterans would meet and discuss their first battle they would use the expression " Where did you lose your grin?" The fun for a young soldier was over once he entered his first battle.
BUGLE... In the winter, one of the favorite tricks that the soldiers would play on the bugler was to put water in his bugle at night and let it freeze. The next morning the bugler would be unable to blow reveille until he thawed out his bugle.
BUTTONS... When an officer was detailed to do many different duties by his Commander he would describe himself as having to many buttons on his coat.
ROOSTER... The Confederate Army won many of the battles in the beginning and the middle of the war. One reason was that the Union were the invaders and were attacking fortified positions. The Confederates were entrenched and defending their homeland. They described it best with the expression, " A rooster fights best on his own hill."
BAYONET... A soldier had lost his bayonet and whittled one from wood so he could stand inspection. He was hoping not to be discovered until the regiment had gone into battle where he could pick up one from a dead soldier. At an inspection, an officer asked to see his bayonet.
The soldier stated "Sir, I promised my father I would never unsheathe my bayonet unless I intended to kill with it."
The Officer insisted he hand over the bayonet.
Taking it out, the Soldier looked skyward and declared " May the Lord change this bayonet to wood for breaking my vow."
BRAVERY... A brave soldier is a compassionate enemy.
A retired general ran into his former orderly, also retired, in a Manhattan bar and spent the rest of the evening persuading him to come back to work for him as his valet.
"Your duties will be exactly the same as they were in the Marine Corps, while we were in Vietnam, Korea and the Philippines," the general said "Nothing to it. You'll catch on again fast."
Next morning promptly at eight o'clock, the ex-orderly entered the ex-general's bedroom, pulled open the drapes, gave the general a gentle shake, strode around the other side of the bed, spanked his employer's wife on her bottom and said, "OK, sweetheart, back to the village."
EVERYTHING I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW IN LIFE I LEARNED AS HELICOPTER CREW IN VIETNAM.
- A grunt is the true reason for the existence of the helicopter. Every helicopter flying in Vietnam had one real purpose: To help the grunt. It is unfortunate that many helicopters never had the opportunity to fulfill their one true mission in life, simply because someone forgot this fact.
- Decisions made by someone above you in the chain-of-command will seldom be in your best interest.
- If the rear echelon troops are really happy, the front line troops probably do not have what they need.
- Hot garrison chow is better than hot C-rations which, in turn, are better than cold C-rations, which are better than no food at all. All of these, however, are preferable to cold rice balls, even if they do have the little pieces of fish in them.
- Always make sure someone has a P-38. Uh, that's a can opener for those of you who aren't military.
- C-4 can make a dull day fun.
- If everything is as clear as a bell, and everything is going exactly as planned, you're about to be surprised.
- It is a fact that helicopter tail rotors are instinctively drawn toward trees, stumps, rocks, etc. While it may be possible to ward off this natural event some of the time, it cannot, despite the best efforts of the crew, always be prevented. It's just what they do.
- Loud, sudden noises in a helicopter WILL get your undivided attention.
- The further you fly into the mountains, the louder the strange engine noises become.
- The engine RPM and the rotor RPM must BOTH be kept in the GREEN. Failure to heed this commandment can affect the morale of the crew.
- The BSR (Bang Stare Red) Theory states that the louder the sudden bang in the helicopter, the quicker your eyes will be drawn to the gauges. The longer you stare at the gauges the less time it takes them to move from green to red.
- Running out of pedal, fore or aft cyclic, or collective are all bad ideas. Any combination of these can be deadly.
- It is a bad thing to run out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time.
- Nobody cares what you did yesterday or what you are going to do tomorrow. What is important is what you are doing-NOW-to solve our problem.
- If you are allergic to lead, it is best to avoid a war zone.
- A free fire zone has nothing to do with economics.
- The terms Protective Armor and Helicopter are mutually exclusive.
- "Chicken Plates" are not something you order in a restaurant.
- "Pucker Factor" is the formal name of the equation that states:
The more hairy the situation is, the more of the seat cushion will be sucked up your asshole. It can be expressed in its mathematical formula:
S (suction) + H (height) above ground) + I (interest in staying alive) + T (# of tracers coming your way).
Thus the term 'SHIT!' can also be used to denote a situation where high Pucker Factor is being encountered.
- Prayer may not help ... but it can't hurt.
- Cover your Buddy, so he can be around to cover for you.
- Happiness is a belt-fed weapon.
- NEVER get into a fight without more ammunition than the other guy.
- Once you are in the fight, it is way too late to wonder if this is a good idea.
- There is no such thing as a fair fight-only ones where you win or lose.
- If you win the battle you are entitled to the spoils. If you lose you don't care.
- There is only one rule in war: When you win, you get to make up the rules.
- Sometimes, being good and lucky still is not enough.
- No matter what you do, the bullet with your name on it will get you. So, too, can the ones addressed "To Whom It May Concern."
- If you are wearing body armor, they will probably miss that part.
- Being shot hurts.
- Having all your body parts intact and functioning at the end of the day beats the alternative.
- Flying is better than walking. Walking is better than running. Running is better than crawling. All of these, however, are better than extraction by a Med-Evac, even if it is, technically, a form of flying.
- Everybody's a hero ... on the ground ... in the club ... after the fourth drink.
- Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR.
- Medals are OK, but having your body and all your friends in one piece at the end of the day is better.
- Thousands of Vietnam Veterans earned medals for bravery every day. A few were even awarded.
- If everyone does not come home, none of the rest of us can ever fully come home either.
- If you have not been there and done that ... you probably will not understand most of these.
T A N S (This Ain't No Shit)
The Drunk Pilot
It is 1967 and I'm up in Tay Ninh Province supporting an operation there as a POW Interrogator. As such, we were allowed to wear any rank we wanted to while interrogating prisoners. Normally we would wear a rank of one or two grades higher than the person we are questioning. The team, 3 of us, had been interrogating prisoners and writing reports for about 90 hours straight. I was dirty, unshaven, unwashed and basically tired as hell. I had one more POW to question and I was not in a good mood.
I had found out that the NVA were generally good students of history albeit slightly skewed and distorted from their collective communist upbring and schooling, both military and civilian. So during this time period I had shaved my head bald, had a big black mustache, smoked big black cigars and wore an Iron Cross. My first question was always: "Are you Jewish?" Anything to get them off guard and this usually did the trick.
At any rate, this last POW was supposedly a Senior Sgt. so I donned Warrant Officer One bars for the interrogation (a Warrant in Asian Armies were considered a "3rd Lt or Lt Aspirant" and usually from the NCO ranks). I finished the interrogation at about 0500 and wrote my report.
I then sauntered to the chow area for morning sustenance and lots of coffee. As I was finishing the dregs of my fourth cup, the S2 approached me with kudos for a job well done and asked if I would like 3 days in-country R & R in Long Binh. Since the other two guys had sacked out I accepted with great speed and alacrity. He told me to be on the chopper pad at 0800 for a ride to Long Binh. I went back to my hooch, threw some civvies in an AWOL bag and grabbed my bottle of Jack Black and proceeded to the chopper pad.
0800: no chopper
0830: no chopper
0831: Started nipping on the bottle
0900: no chopper and several large sips from the bottle
1000: no chopper and bottle half empty
1100: no chopper and it's getting hot. Bottle 3/4ths empty
1140: Chopper finally lands, bottle is empty and I'm really blitzed. Can't find my ass with both hands and a search warrant.
1145: Chopper, two Warrant pilots and myself take off for Long Binh.
We arrive at Long Binh and the pilots shut down the aircraft and are doing a post flight check. I stagger across the tarmac toward operations to see if I can get a lift into town. I am still wearing jungle fatigues and WO1 bars. I am stopped by a Col and the following takes place:
Col: " Did you just get out of that Helicopter?"
Col: "You're under arrest"
Col: "You're under arrest!!!"
Wherein 2 MPs grab me by the arms and prance my drunk ass across the tarmac to LBJ (that's Long Binh Jail). LBJ is Conex containers with bars welded across the front. Oh happy day! I'm half drunk, half hung over, but have the presence of mind to request to see a person from the Judge Advocate.
About an hour later over comes a young Capt from the JAG office. I inquire as to why I have been arrested since I didn't think it was against the UCMJ to be drunk in Vietnam while off duty. The nice young Capt states I was arrested for flying a helicopter drunk!
Flying a helicopter drunk??? I stated in no uncertain terms that I am a POW Interrogator, can wear any rank I want by Army Regs and those wings on my chest are JUMP WINGS NOT PILOT WINGS. Furthermore I give him the names of the two pilots. The JAG Capt says, "OH shit!"
An hour later he comes back and I am released and after picking up my gear go with the Capt to the JAG Office. He informs me that I was falsely and unjustly arrested and the best thing for me to do is to forget it and move on to Long Binh for my in-country R & R.
I mull this over for about 10 seconds and state the Col owes me an apology. JAG agrees. I further ask that the apology be given on the flight line in front of a company formation and that the Col give a lesson to the troops on the difference between jump wings and flight wings. I go over to the Visiting Officer Quarters, clean up and take a nap.
About 1900 the JAG Capt returns and says the CO of the base will insure that the Col does as I requested and to be on the flight line again at 1000 the next morning. I am so happy about this I go to town, drink 33 and get laid.
Long Binh Airfield Tarmac...1000 hours
The troops are there. The Col is there. The Base CO is there. I am purposely a few minutes late.
The Col apologizes! He gives a 15 minute lecture on the difference in wings worn on one's chest. He marches over to shake my hand. I shake his hand and whisper in his ear..."If I ever see you in the bush you're a dead mother!" I do a smart about face, troop to a helicopter, board it, look at two Warrants laughing their ass off and we fly to Cape St Jacques where I have a delightful in-country R & R.
AND...This Ain't No Shit!!! -CJ
A World War I Postcard
The following letter was written from France on October 23, 1918 by Thomas C. Hale, age 27, Private, 111th Ammunition Train, American Expeditionary Force. Private Hale enlisted in the U. S. Army on May 6, 1918 in Granbury, Texas. Tom was from Lipan and was writing to his friend in Lipan, Miss Myrtle McCuan.
Dear little Mirtle
How are you by now. The leaves are dust. I hope you the same. Say little Mirtle what in the world has gone rong with yo I have not had a letter from you since hear I been. Not since I left U.S.A. Why don't you write me. Tell me all the Hood Co. news. Now I tell you a letter shur does look good to a fellow over hear. What is going on. A sound there. Are you all going to have any Xmas over there. Can't tell yet what just what we will be doing but ges we will have a big time. I mean it is busy at times. You have got to learn to dodg bullets an be cearful. Over here. I have ben quiet busy the last few days - dodging McChine guns, hangranades, shrapnels, an airplanes bulets. But at that it is all funney after it is all over but I had begin to think the other day that my fun was all over. Something hit clost to me an busted an made a turble racket an throde much in my eyes. But I dodged it. You can guess what it was but don't you tell my mother nothin about that caus she would vow I had been killed by now. Say Mirt, how is my Mother getting a long. Any different? She take it hard when Guy [Tom's brother] went to Camp A? Mirt - you ring her an tell her I am getting a long just fine and will be home next summer in time to eat peaches. Wish I had a big old peach now.
I may stay over hear a while after the war. Say I would give every thing to send you a picture of my house, a dugout which hear I have. I know you would laught at it but it is shure warm. Got me a little German stove in
Well Mirt, I will close for this time. So write me wonse in a while and tell me all the news. I am as ever yours.
Co. D. 111th Am. TN
American E. F.
A. P.O. 796
OK. J. P. Doyle, 2nd Lt.
-Submitted by Virginia Hale, Granddaughter of Thomas C. Hale
THE COURAGE OF SAM BIRD
By B. T. Collins
I met Capt. Samuel R. Bird on a dusty road near An Khe, South Vietnam, one hot July day in 1966. I was an artillery forward observer with Bravo Company, 2nd/12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, and I looked it. I was filthy, sweaty, and jaded by war, and I thought "Oh, brother, get a load of this". Dressed in crisply starched fatigues, Captain Bird was what we called "squared away" - ramrod straight, eyes on the horizon. Hell, you could still see the shine on his boot tips beneath the road dust. After graduation from Officer Candidate School, I had sought adventure by volunteering for Vietnam. But by that hot and dangerous July, I was overdosed on "adventure," keenly interested in survival and very fond of large rocks and deep holes. Bird was my fourth company commander, and my expectations were somewhat cynical when he called all his officers and sergeants together. "I understand this company has been in Vietnam almost a year and has never had a party," he said.
Now we officers and sergeants had our little clubs to which we repaired. So we stole bewildered looks at one another, cleared our throats and wondered what this wiry newcomer was talking about. "The men are going to have a party," he announced, "and they're not going to pay for it. Do I make myself clear?" A party for the "grunts" was the first order of business! Sam Bird had indeed made himself clear. We all chipped in to get food and beer for about 160 men. The troops were surprised almost to the point of suspicion who, after all, had ever done anything for them? But that little beer and bull session was exactly what those war-weary men needed. Its effect on morale was profound. I began to watch our new captain more closely. Bird and I were the same age, 26, but eons apart in everything else. He was from the sunny heartland of Kansas, I from the suburbs of New York City. He prayed every day and was close to his God. My faith had evaporated somewhere this side of altar boy. I was a college dropout who had wandered into the Army with the words "discipline problem" close on my heels. He had graduated from The Citadel, South Carolina's proud old military school.
If ever a man looked like a leader, it was Sam Bird. He was tall and lean, with penetrating blue eyes. But the tedium and terror of a combat zone take far sterner qualities than mere appearance. Our outfit was helicoptered to a mountain outpost one day for the thankless task of preparing a position for others to occupy. We dug trenches, filled sandbags, strung wire under a blistering sun. It was hard work, and Sam was everywhere, pitching in with the men. A colonel who was supposed to oversee the operation remained at a shelter, doing paper work. Sam looked at what his troops had accomplished, then, red-faced, strode over to the colonel's sanctuary. We couldn't hear what he was saying to his superior, but we had the unmistakable sense that Sam was uncoiling a bit. The colonel suddenly found time to inspect the fortifications and thank the men for a job well done.
Another day, this time on the front lines after weeks of awful show, we were given something called "coffee cake" that had the look and texture of asphalt paving. Furious, Sam got on the radio phone to headquarters. He reached the colonel and said, "Sir, you and the supply officer need to come out here and taste the food, because this rifle company is not taking one step further." "Not a good way to move up in the Army," I thought. But the colonel came out, and the food improved from that moment. Such incidents were not lost on the men of Bravo Company.
During the monsoon season we had to occupy a landing zone. The torrential, wind-driven rains had been falling for weeks. Like everyone else I sat under my poncho in a stupor, wondering how much of the wetness was rainwater and how much was sweat. Nobody cared that the position was becoming flooded. We had all just crawled inside ourselves. Suddenly I saw Sam, Mr. Spit and Polish, with nothing on but his olive-drab undershorts and his boots. He was digging a drainage ditch down the center of the camp. He didn't say anything, just dug away, mud spattering his chest, steam rising from his back and shoulders. Slowly and sheepishly we emerged from under our ponchos, and shovels in hand, we began helping "the old man" get the ditch dug. We got the camp tolerably dried out and with that one simple act transformed our morale.
Sam deeply loved the U.S. Army and traditions. Few of the men knew it, but he had been in charge of a special honors unit of the Old Guard, which serves as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and participates in the Army's most solemn ceremonies. He was the kind of guy whose eyes would mist during the singing of the National Anthem. Sam figured patriotism was just a natural part of being an American. But he knew that morale was a function not so much of inspiration as of good boots, dry socks, extra ammo and hot meals. Sam's philosophy was to put his troops first. On that foundation he built respect a brick at a time. His men ate first; he ate last. Instead of merely learning their names, he made it a point to know the men. A lot of the soldiers were high-school dropouts and would-be tough guys just a few years younger than himself. Some were scared, and a few were still in partial shock at being in a shooting war. Sam patiently worked on their pride and self-confidence. Yet there was never any doubt who was in charge. I had been around enough to know what a delicate accomplishment that was.
Half in wonder, an officer once told me, "Sam can dress a man down till his ears burn, and the next minute that same guy is eager to follow him into hell." But he never chewed out a man in front of his subordinates. Sam wouldn't ask his men to do anything he wasn't willing to do himself. He dug his own foxholes. He never gave lectures on appearance, but even at God-forsaken outposts in the Central Highlands, he would set aside a few ounces of water from his canteen to shave. His uniform, even if it was jungle fatigues, would be as clean and neat as he could make it. Soon all of Bravo Company had a reputation for looking sharp.
One sultry and miserable day on a dirt road at the base camp, Sam gathered the men together and began talking about how tough the infantryman's job is, how proud he was of them, how they should always look out for each other. He took out a bunch of Combat Infantryman's Badges, signifying that a soldier has paid his dues under fire, and he presented one to each of the men. There wasn't a soldier there who would have traded that moment on the road for some parade-ground ceremony.
That was the way Sam Bird taught me leadership. He packed a lot of lessons into the six months we were together. But the troops first. Know that morale often depends on small things. Respect every person's dignity. Always be ready to fight for your people. Lead by example. Reward performance. But Sam had another lesson to teach, one that would take long and painful years, a lesson in courage. I left Bravo Company in December 1966 to return to the States for a month before joining a Special Forces unit. Being a big, tough paratrooper, I didn't tell Sam what his example had meant to me. But I made a point of visiting his parents and sister in Wichita, Kan., just before Christmas to tell them how much he'd affected my life, and how his troops would walk off a cliff for him. His family was relieved when I told them that his tour of combat was almost over and he'd be moving to a safe job in the rear.
Two months later, in a thatched hut in the Mekong Delta, I got a letter from Sam's sister, saying that he had conned his commanding officer into letting him stay an extra month with his beloved Bravo Company. On his last day, January 27, 1967 - his 27th birthday - the men had secretly planned a party, even arranging to have a cake flown in. They were going to "pay back the old man." But orders came down for Bravo to lead an airborne assault on a North Vietnamese regimental headquarters. Sam's helicopter was about to touch down at the attack point when it was ripped by enemy fire. Slugs shattered his left ankle and right leg. Another struck the left side of his head, carrying off almost a quarter of his skull. His executive officer, Lt. Dean Parker, scooped Sam's brains back into the gaping wound.
Reading the letter, I felt as if I'd been kicked in the stomach. I began querying every hospital in Vietnam to find out if Sam was still alive. But in June, before I could discover his fate, I was in a fire fight in an enemy-controlled zone. I had thrown four grenades. The fifth one exploded in my hand. I lost an arm and a leg. Nearly a year later, in March 1968, I finally caught up with Sam. I was just getting the hang of walking with an artificial leg when I visited him at the VA Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. Seeing him, I had to fight back the tears. The wiry, smiling soldier's soldier was blind in the left eye and partially so in the right. Surgeons had removed metal shards and damaged tissue from deep within his brain, and he had been left with a marked depression on the left side of his head. The circles under his eyes told of sleepless hours and great pain.
The old clear voice of command was slower now, labored and with an odd, high pitch. I saw his brow knit as he looked through his one good eye, trying to remember. He recognized me, but believed I had served with him in Korea, his first tour of duty. Slowly, Sam rebuilt his ability to converse. But while he could recall things from long ago, he couldn't remember what he had eaten for breakfast. Headaches came on him like terrible firestorms. There was pain, too, in his legs. He had only partial use of one arm, with which he'd raise himself in front of the mirror to brush his teen and shave. He had the support of a wonderful family, and once he was home in Wichita, his sister brought his old school sweetheart, Annette Blazier, to see him. A courtship began, and in 1972 they were married.
They built a house like Sam had dreamed of - red brick, with a flag-pole out front. He had developed the habit of addressing God as "Sir" and spoke to him often. He never asked to be healed. At every table grace, he thanked God for sending him Annette and for "making it possible for me to live at home in a free country." In 1976, Sam and Annette traveled to The Citadel for his 15th class reunion. World War II hero Gen. Mark Clark, the school's president emeritus, asked about his wounds and said, "On behalf of your country, I want to thank you for all you did." With pride, Sam answered "Sir, it was the least I could do." Later Annette chided him gently for understating the case. After all, he had sacrificed his health and career in Vietnam. Sam gave her an incredulous look. "I had friends who didn't come back," he said. "I'm enjoying the freedoms they died for."
I visited Sam in Wichita and phoned him regularly. You would not have guessed that he lived with pain every day. Once, speaking of me to his sister, he said, "I should never complain about the pain in my leg, because B.T. doesn't have a leg." I'd seen a lot of men with lesser wounds reduced to anger and self-pity. Never a hint of that passed Sam's lips, though I knew that, every waking moment, he was fighting to live. On October 18, 1984, after 17 years, Sam's body couldn't take any more. When we received the news of his death, a number of us from Bravo Company flew to Wichita, where Sam was to be buried with his forebears.
The day before the burial, his old exec, Dean Parker, and I went to the funeral home to make sure everything was in order. As Dean straightened the brass on Sam's uniform, I held my captain's hand and looked into his face, a face no longer filled with pain. I thought about how unashamed Sam always was to express his love for his country, how sunny and unaffected he was in his devotion to his men. I ached that I had never told him what a fine soldier and man he was. But in my deep sadness I felt a glow of pride for having served with him, and for having learned the lessons of leadership that would serve me all my life. That is why I am telling you about Samuel R. Bird and these things that happened so long ago. Chances are, you have seen Sam Bird. He was the tall officer in charge of the casket detail at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. Historian William Manchester described him as "a lean, sinewy Kansan, the kind of American youth whom Congressmen dutifully praise each Fourth of July and whose existence many, grown jaded by years on the Hill, secretly doubt." There can be no doubt about Sam, about who he was, how he lived and how he led. We buried him that fall afternoon, as they say, "with honors." But as I walked from that grave, I knew I was the honored one, for having known him.
Note: At the time that this article was written, Mr. B.T. Collins had recovered from severe war wounds to become the highly acclaimed director of the California Conservation Corps and later chief of staff to the governor of California. He later became California's deputy state treasurer. He is now deceased.
1. Can cuss for ten minutes without ever repeating a word.
2. Have a spine.
3. Can play a cherry Lieutenant like a finely tuned instrument.
4. Can see in the Dark.
5. Have eyes in the back of their heads.
6. Still don't trust the Russians.
7. Still hate the French.
8. Don't know how to be politically correct.
9. Don't give a damn about being politically correct.
10. Think that "politically correct" should fall under "sodomy" in the UCMJ.
11. Love deployments because there is less paperwork and more "real work."
12. Can run a 4 miles with a hangover.
13. Do not fear women in the military.
14. Would actually like to date G.I. Jane.
15. Still know how to use a buffer.
16. Can tell you anything you want to know about an M1911A1 even though they're no longer in the inventory.
17. Believe that they do have a rendezvous with destiny.
18. Believe that "Nuts" wasn't all that Brigadier General McAuliffe said to the Germans at Bastogne.
19. Don't know how to use a "stress card".
20. Idolize John Wayne.
21. Don't believe that AAFES really needs a "commander".
22. Can remember when faggots weren't a "minority group".
23. Would have paid money to see Custer getting his clock cleaned.
24. Really don't like taking shit from those who haven't "been there".
25. Know how to properly construct a field latrine.
26. Know how to do a daisy chain.
27. Knows that a daisy chain is not a sex act.
28. Might admire the Germans, but still realize they got their asses kicked.
29. Aren't afraid of the Chinese, who probably don't have enough rowboats to invade Taiwan.
30. Would rather be OPFOR than MOPP 4.
31. Don't believe a damn thing the Iraqis say.
32. Don't need a GPS to find themselves.
33. Have enough BDU's in their closet to start a surplus store.
34. Think that MRE's taste good. (with a little hot sauce)
35. Are convinced that "wall-to-wall" counseling really works.
36. Have more time on the frontline than most others have in the chow line.
37. Know how to make coffee when the measuring scoop goes missing.
38. Know that it's not good coffee when you can see through it.
39. Don't blame poor marksmanship on their M-16.
40. Know that inept leaders will always say they have inept soldiers.
POSITION CAPABILITIES - OFFICER
Leaps tall buildings with a single bound
Is more powerful than a locomotive
Is faster than a speeding bullet
Walks on water
Gives policy to God
Leaps short buildings with a single bound
Is more powerful than a switch engine
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet
Walks on the water if the sea is calm
Talks with God
Leaps short buildings with a running start and
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine
Is faster than a speeding BB
Walks on water in indoor swimming pools
Talks with God if special request is approved
Barely clears Quonset huts
Loses tug of war with locomotive
Can fire a speeding bullet
Is occasionally addressed by God
Steps over dog house with ease
Recognizes locomotive instantly
Can fire a BB gun
Can float on his back
Talks with God's secretary if special request is approved
Runs into buildings
Recognizes locomotive two out of three times
Is not issued ammunition
Can stay afloat if properly instructed in the Mae West
Talks to walls
Falls over door steps when trying to enter buildings
Says, "Look at the choo-choo"
Wets himself with a water pistol
Plays in mud puddles
Mumbles to himself
Private Jones was assigned to the induction center, where he was to advise new recruits about their government benefits, especially their SGLI insurance. It wasn't long before Captain Smith noticed that Private Jones had almost a 100% record for sign-up for the insurance, which had never happened before. Rather than ask about this, the Captain stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones's sales pitch.
Jones explained the basics of the SGLI Insurance to the new recruits, and then said. "If you have SGLI and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don't have SGLI, and you go into battle and get killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $6000."
"Now," he concluded," which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?"
At morning roll call, the general pointed to a young private and said, "I am going golfing today and you're going to be my caddie."
While getting ready to hit his golf ball, some gnats flew around his head and the general said, "These gnats are really bad today."
The private answered, "They aren't gnats, Sir, they are willobies."
The general then said, "Willobies? What are willobies?"
The private replied, "Willobies are the little flies that fly around a horse's ass, Sir."
The general swung around and yelled, "Are you calling me a horse's ass?!!"
The private answered, "Oh, no Sir. I wouldn't call you that, but it's awful hard to fool a willobie!
USAF STAFF WORK: "WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?"
Air Education and Training Command (AETC): The purpose is to familiarize the chicken with road-crossing procedures. Road-crossing should be performed only between the hours of sunset and sunrise. Solo chickens must have at least three miles of visibility and a two safety observers.
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC): The chicken crossed at a 90 degree angle to avoid prolonged exposure to a line of communication. To achieve maximum surprise, the chicken should have performed this maneuver at night using NVGs, preferably near a road bend in a valley.
Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC): Due to the needs of the Air Force, the chicken was involuntarily reassigned to the other side of the road. This will be a 3-year controlled tour and we promise to give the chicken a good-deal assignment afterwards. Every chicken will be required to do one road-crossing during its career, and this will not affect its opportunities for future promotion.
Air Intelligence Agency (AIA): Despite what you see on CNN, I can neither confirm nor deny any fowl performing acts of transit. Questions? Please see the SSO.
Air Force Foreign Technology Center (AFFTC): This event will need confirmation; we need to repeat it using varied chicken breeds, road types, and weather conditions to confirm whether it can actually happen within the parameters specified for chickens and the remote possibility that they might cross thruways designated by some as 'roads.'
Air Combat Command (ACC): The chicken should log this as a GCC sortie only if road-crossing qualified. The crossing updates the chicken's 60-day road-crossing currency only if performed on a Monday or Thursday or during a full moon. Instructor chickens may update currency any time they observe another chicken cross the road.
Air Mobility Command (AMC): Neither the purpose nor the outcome are important. What is important is that the chicken remained under the OPCON of USCINCTRANS and did not CHOP to the theater on the other side of the road. Without CHOPing the chicken was able to achieve a seamless road-crossing with near perfect, real-time in-transit visibility.
Theater Air Control Center (TACC): We need the road-crossing time and the time the chicken becomes available for another crossing.
COMMAND POST: What chicken?
TOWER: The chicken was instructed to hold short of the road. This road-incursion incident was reported in a Hazardous Chicken Road-Crossing Report (HCRCR). Please re-emphasize that chickens are required to read back all hold short instructions.
C-130 CREWMEMBER: Just put it in back and let's go.
C-141 CREWMEMBER: I ordered a #4 with turkey and ham, NOT chicken. Besides, where the hell are my condiments?! We ain't taking off til' I get my condiments!!!
FIGHTER JOCK: Look, dude, that was the frag, OK? I've flown my 1.0 for the day and I ain't got time for any more questions!
B-1 CREW: Missed the whole show--we had an IFE so we couldn't get out to see it; you'll have to ask the SOF.
B-2 CREW: Missed the whole show--it was raining and, besides, we were afraid of FOD so we couldn't get out to see it; you'll have to ask the SOF.
F-117 CREW: Wasn't that great! I snuck up on it at 2 feet AGL at 600 knots, illuminated it's tailfeathers with the laser designator and goosed it before it even knew I was there!
AWACS CREW: Due to our being in a turn at that precise moment, we have no confirmation of any chickens in the area at that time. Our ACE advises that such an event is extremely unlikely, in any case.
CHECKMATE: The chicken used its unique ability to operate in 2 dimensions to bypass the less important strategic rings on this side of the road and strike directly into the heart of the enemy, thereby destroying the will of the enemy to fight and thus ending the conflict on terms favorable to the chicken.
CONGRESS: The chicken appears to be an efficient substitute for F-22s!
Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC): Recent changes in technology, coupled with today's multipolar strategic environment, have created new challenges in the chicken's ability to cross the road. The chicken was also faced with significant challenges to create and develop core competencies required for this new environment. AFMC's Chicken Systems Program Office (CSPO), in a partnering relationship with the client, helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes. Using the Poultry Integration Model (PIM) CSPO helped the chicken use its skills, methodologies, knowledge capital and experiences to align the chicken's people, processes and technology in support of its overall strategy within a Program Management framework. The CSPO convened a diverse cross-spectrum of road analysts and retired chickens along with MITRE consultants with deep skills in the transportation industry to engage in a two-day itinerary of meetings in order to leverage their personal knowledge and capital, both tacit and explicit,and to enable them to synergize with each other in order to achieve the implicit goals of delivering and successfully architecting and implementing an enterprise-wide value framework across the continuum of poultry cross-median processes. The meeting was held in a park-like setting enabling and creating an impactful environment which was strategically based,mission-focused, and built upon a consistent, clear, and unified Mission Need Statement and aligned with the chicken's mission, vision, and core values. This was conducive towards the creation of a total business integration solution. The Chicken Systems Program Office helped the chicken change to continue meeting its mission. And we did this with only 218 people, plus consultants, down from 223 last year.
Three Lieutenants and three Sergeants are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three Lieutenants each buy tickets and watch as the three Sergeants buy only a single ticket.
"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asked one of the three Lieutenants.
"Watch and you'll see," answers one of the Sergeants.
They all board the train. The Lieutenants take their respective seats but all three Sergeants cram into a rest-room and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please."
The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.
The Lieutenants saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the Lieutenants decide to copy the Sergeants on the return trip and save some money.
When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the Sergeants don't buy a ticket at all.
"How are you going to travel without a ticket," asks one perplexed Lieutenant.
"Watch and you'll see," says one of the Sergeants.
When they board the train the three Lieutenants cram into a rest-room and the three Sergeants cram into another one nearby. The train departs.
Shortly afterward, one of the Sergeants leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the Lieutenants are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please.
Of all the Services, the Air Force has the most intelligent enlisted people. (Who are really in Charge!) This is not just theory; it's provable fact.
Take the Army. When the shit hits the fan, the young Army private wakes up to the bellowing of his First Sergeant. He grabs his BDUs out of his foot locker, dresses, runs to the chow hall for breakfast on the fly, then jumps in his tank. Pretty soon, the Platoon Leader arrives, gives him a big salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, soldier!"
Now take the Navy. When the shit hits the fan, the young Sailor is eating breakfast in the mess. He hustles the 20 feet to his battle station, stuffing extra pastries in his pocket as he goes. There he sits, in the middle of a steel target, with nowhere to run, when the Captain comes on the 1MC and says, "Give 'em Hell, Sailors! I salute you!"
Now take the Marines. When the shit hits the fan, the young Marine is kicked out of bed by his First Sergeant and puts on the muddy set of BDUs he was wearing on the field exercise he was part of three hours earlier. He gets no breakfast, but is told to feel free to chew on his boots. He runs out and forms up with his rifle. Pretty soon, his platoon commander comes out, gives the Marine a sharp salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Marine!"
Now the Air Force. When the shit hits the fan, the Airman receives a phone call at his off-base quarters. He gets up, showers, shaves, and puts on the fresh uniform he picked up from the BX cleaners the day before. He jumps in his car and cruises through the McDonalds Drive-Thru for an Egg McMuffin and Coca-Cola on his way into work. Once at work, he signs in on the duty roster. He proceeds to his F-15, spends 30 minutes pre-flighting it, and signs off on the forms. Pretty soon the pilot, a young captain arrives, straps himself into the jet, and starts the engines. Our young Airman stands at attention, gives the aviator a sharp salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Captain!"
An American soldier had just returned from several weeks of intense action on the German front lines. He had finally been granted R&R and was on a train bound for London. The train was very crowded. The soldier walked the length of the train looking for an empty seat. The only one was directly adjacent to a well-dressed midle aged woman and was being used by her little dog.
The weary GI asked, Please Ma'am, may I sit in that seat?"
The English woman looked down her nose at the American, sniffed and said, "You Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can't you see little Fifi is using that seat?"
The soldier walked away, but was determined to find a seat. After the GI took another trip up and down the train, finding no seat empty, he found himself again facing the lady and her dog. Again he asked, "Please lady may I sit here? I am very tired."
The lady wrinkled her nose and snorted, "You Americans! Not only are you rude but you are also arrogant."
The GI did't say anything else. He leaned over, picked up the dog and tossed it out the window of the train, and sat in the seat. The English woman shrieked and demanded that someone defend her and chastise the soldier.
An English gentleman sitting across the aisle spoke up, "You know sir, you Americans do seem to have apenchant for doing things wrong. You eat holding the fork in the wrong hand. You drive autos on the wrong side of the road. Now, sir, you've just thrown the wrong bitch out the window."
This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995.
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES' ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT'S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call...
Scenario: A PFC is walking down the road to a porta potty and is confronted with a 10 year old boy in enemy territory pointing a gun at him.
1. The soldier will request permission to fire from his platoon sergeant.
2. The platoon sergeant will ask the plt leader.
3. The plt leader will ask the company commander. The CO will call the battalion commander and ask for permission to fire.
4. The Bn Cdr will call the Bde Cdr to get permission to fire.
5. The Bde Cdr will call division and speak to a person in the G3 shop.
6. The G3 personnel will immediately start working on a slide presentation in powerpoint to present to the CG on his options.
7. The slides will first be briefed to the Chief of Staff and will be sent back for revisions.
8. After 90 different versions have been completed, the Chief of Staff will finally approve the slides.
9. The CG will be presented slide presentation and will call Corps to ask the corps commander for permission to fire.
10. The G3 staff will fax a copy of the presentation to the corps G3 who will in turn ask for a copy to be sent by courier because the first copy got sent to the wrong fax number.
11. The poor captain who sent the fax to corps will be given a bad OER because he should have known that the fax number given to him by a colonel at corps was the wrong number.
12. Corps G3 finally receives the slide presentation and has his staff work on a corps presentation to give to the corps commander.
13. The corps commander is briefed, accepts his staffs proposal that the soldier should fire back, but has to call the Army commander to get permission.
14. The Army commander asks the corps commander to fax him all the information he has on the incident and he will get back to him.
15. The Army commander never receives the information.
16. Division is notified that the information did not reach Army so that poor captain with the bad OER is ordered to fax a copy of the slides to Army, the Pentagon, and the White House.
17. The Army commander finally receives the slides and says he will have to call the Army group commander for permission to fire.
18. The Army Group commander listens to the Army commander then tells him that he will have to call the Pentagon to get permission to fire.
19. The Army Group Commander calls the Pentagon and speaks with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The Chairman wants to know why some know-nothing captain from a division in theater is faxing a 200 page slide presentation to him and the president.
20. The Army Group commander tells the Chairman he will find out.
21. The Army Group commander calls the Army commander and asks why Captain Know-Nothing is faxing slides to the Pentagon and the White House. 22. The Army commander calls the corps commander and asks the same question.
23. The corps commander gets personally involved and calls directly to the division's G3 shop and asks to speak to CPT Know-Nothing.
24. CPT Know-Nothing is given another bad OER and is reassigned to sewage control in a prisoner of war camp.
25. The Army group commander informs the Chairman that the problem is taken care of.
26. The Chairman tells the Army Group commander that he will get back to him after he holds a meeting with all of the service chiefs.
27. During the meeting, the Air Force and Navy Chiefs decide they want a part in this decision now code-named "Operation Return Fire"
28. The Chairman agrees to allow the Air Force to send two tactical fighter wings and 10 B-52s from Diego Garcia. The Chairman allows the Navy to send in 5 carrier battle groups and 3 Marine divisions. On top of all of this, the Chairman tells the service chiefs that the Army will send in two more corps, five brigades of Artillery and an armored cavalry regiment. Furthermore he will ask the Secretary of defense if 500,000 Reservist and National Guardsmen can be called up.
29. The Chairman takes all of these proposals to the Secretary of Defense who agrees and tells the Chairman to prepare a briefing for the President. 30. A colonel stays up for a week straight preparing briefing slides and charts for the President's briefing.
31. The day of the briefing, the light bulb burns out in the White House's projector and the colonel who worked his butt off to set up this briefing loses the command he was going to take over this summer and is forced to retire because he should have known that the light bulb would burn out.
32. Eventually a lieutenant colonel locates a light bulb and he is promoted to colonel and is offered a command this summer that suddenly becomes open.
33. The president approves Operation Return Fire, but first he wants to get "eyes on the target"
34. Navy Seal Team 6 is dispatched to the area. Upon reaching the location where the soldier reported the contact, they find the decomposed body of a dead American PFC, still clutching a hand mike to his ear, looking as if he is waiting for a response to whatever question he asked.
THE ORIGIN OF OFFICER RANK AND INSIGNIA
2LT - Relatively soft, easily shaped, and often hammered upon, the gold ingot is the perfect symbol of the Second Lieutenants rank and station.
1LT - Somewhat harder, holds it shape better, and needs less hammering, the bar of silver is well-suited to represent the rank of the First Lieutenant.
CPT - Worth 2 lieutenants, the Captains insignia of rank reflects his worth and is configured to resemble a railroad track, giving him the impression that he drives the train.
COL - An eagle of silver, the Colonels rank reflects both his lofty station and his ability to see and know all that goes on beneath him.
GEN - The Generals rank is symbolized by stars, for they are higher than all, give light to all, and are out of reach.
MAJ/LTC - Ever since the dawn of time, men have used leaves to cover up their dicks
An Army Ranger was on vacation in the depths of Louisiana and he wanted a pair of genuine alligator shoes in the worst way, but was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking. After becoming very frustrated with the "no haggle" attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the Ranger shouted, "Maybe I'll just go out and get my own alligator so I can get a pair of shoes made at a reasonable price!"
The vendor said, "By all means, be my guest. Maybe you'll run into a couple of Aggies who were in here earlier saying the same thing."
So the Ranger headed into the bayou that same day and a few hours, "Those must be the two Aggies the guy in town was talking about."
Just then, the Ranger saw a tremendously long gator swimming rapidly underwater toward one of the Aggies. Just as the gator was about to attack, the Aggie grabbed its neck with both hands and strangled it to death with very little effort. Then both Aggies dragged it on shore and flipped it on its back. Laying nearby were several more of the creatures.
One of the Aggies then exclaimed, "Damn! This one doesn't have any shoes either!"
Murphy's Military Law:
The further you are in advance of your own positions, the more likely your artillery will shoot short.
Hillbilly Herman was drafted, and on his first day as an enlisted man he was given a comb; the next day the army barber sheared off his hair.
On the third day he was given a toothbrush; the next day the army dentist yanked several of his teeth.
On the fifth day he was given a jockstrap; that afternoon Herman went AWOL.
G.I. JOE BEHEADED AFTER CRITICIZING PREZ
FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO (APUPI) - FAMED SIX-INCH TALL WAR HERO G.I. JOE, CONVICTED LAST WEEK BY A MILITARY TRIBUNAL FOR INSUBORDINATION, WAS EXECUTED HERE THIS MORNING. THE EXECUTION WAS WIDELY SEEN AS ANOTHER SIGN OF THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENTS GROWING INTOLERANCE OF POLITICAL CRITICISM BY MILITARY PERSONNEL.
JOE, 34, A VETERAN OF OVER 700 CAMPAIGNS, WAS WELL KNOWN FOR HIS BRAVERY UNDER FIRE. HE RECEIVED OVER 250 PURPLE HEARTS, INCLUDING 53 FOR DARING PARACHUTE-LESS JUMPS FROM THE TREEHOUSE AND TWO DOZEN PLUMMETS DOWN THE LAUNDRY CHUTE. HE ALSO HELD THE PRESTIGIOUS AMERICAN STANDARD MEDAL OF HONOR FOR NAVY SEAL MISSIONS IN THE COMMODE.
A NO-NONSENSE, CREWCUT LONER WITH A JUTTING JAW, JOE WAS DESCRIBED BY FRIEND DAVID HACKWORTH AS "A REAL SOLDIERS SOLDIER, AN HONEST-TO-GOD THROWBACK. YOU DIDNT MESS WITH THIS GRUNT. HE COULD KILL YOU WITH HIS KUNG-FU GRIP."
DESPITE HIS RECORD, JOE RAN AFOUL OF HIS SUPERIORS LAST MONTH WHEN HE PUBLISHED AN OP-ED IN STARS AND STRIPES, CALLING FOR THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT CLINTON. IN THE ARTICLE, JOE DESCRIBED THE PRESIDENT AS "A FAT, DISGUSTING SISSY DOPE-SMOKING GIRLY MAN" WHO WAS "FEELING UP MALIBU STACY AND CHEERING ON THE ENEMY WHILE YOU AND I WERE EATING COMMIE LEAD AT DA NANG AND GETTING CHEWED UP BY THE NEIGHBOR'S ROTTWEILER."
IN CONCLUSION, JOE SUGGESTED THAT FELLOW SOLDIERS TREAT CLINTON WITH THE SAME RESPECT "YOU USUALLY RESERVE FOR RETREATING IRAQI WAR CRIMINALS."
THE STRONG WORDS DREW THE WRATH OF PENTAGON OFFICIALS, WHO CHARGED JOE WITH INSUBORDINATION AND HURTING THE FEELINGS OF A COMMANDING OFFICER. HE WAS ALSO CHARGED WITH MISSING SIX MANDATORY GROUP ENCOUNTER SESSIONS AND INSULTING HIS TANTRIC YOGA INSTRUCTOR.
AT HIS COURT-MARTIALED LAST WEEK, HE WAS QUICKLY CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO DEATH. HIS APPEAL WAS REJECTED BY A MILITARY APPEALS COURT HEADED BY FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON.
THE MOOD FOR HIS EXECUTION THIS MORNING WAS SOMBER, WITH THE GRAY, DRIZZLY NOVEMBER WEATHER ADDING TO THE MELANCHOLY. BLINDFOLDED, JOE REFUSED A FINAL CANDY CIGARETTE, AND FORGAVE HIS EXECUTIONERS. AS A DISTANT DRUMMER BEAT A STACCATO ROLL, JOES TINY PLASTIC HEAD WAS REMOVED WITH A DEATHLY "THHHHHOT." A LIT M-80 WAS PLACED INSIDE HIS MUSCULAR TORSO, AND WITH A FINAL BANG, G.I. JOE WAS NO MORE. "HE HAS ONLY HASBRO TO ANSWER TO NOW," SAID WITNESS AND LONG-TIME FRIEND SGT. FURY.
THE EXECUTION OF JOE WAS WIDELY INTERPRETED AS A WARNING TO SOLDIERS WHO HAD RECENTLY BEEN MORE OPEN IN CRITICIZING COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF BILL CLINTON. "THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT HOPES THAT THIS ACTION WILL PUT THE KIBOSH ON ANY FURTHER CONTEMPTUOUS PUBLIC STATEMENTS BY MILITARY PERSONNEL," EXPLAINED NIGEL HARRISON OF JANE'S DEFENSE WEEKLY. "WHEN IT COMES TO FEELINGS TOWARD CLINTON, THE MILITARY IS ENFORCING A STRICT 'DON'T ASK, DONT TELL' POLICY."
"I suppose," snarled the leathery sergeant to the private, "that when you're discharged from the Army, you'll wait for me to die just so you can spit on my grave."
"Not me," observed the private. "When I get out of the Army, I never want to stand in line again."
SUBJECT: Kinder, Gentler Bombs
The following was taken from the Opinion page of the Savannah Morning News, 23 December 1998:
"In a move straight out of a "Saturday Night Live" skit, the Department of Defense on Monday announced it was upset with politically incorrect graffiti scribbled on one of the bombs dropped on Iraq last week. Pentagon officials saw an Associated Press photo taken during the four-day bombing campaign that showed a 2000-pound laser-guided bomb on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Persian Gulf with an inscription that said, "Here's a Ramadan present from Chad Rickenberg."
The Clinton administration was not amused at this breach of bombing etiquette. "Department of Defense officials were distressed to learn of thoughtless graffiti mentioning the holy month of Ramadan written on a piece of U.S. ordnance during Operation Desert Fox" in Iraq, chief Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said in a statement Monday. "Religious intolerance is an anathema to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and to all Americans who cherish the right to worship freely," he added. "The United States deeply respects Islam."
Imagine the nerve of some sailor insulting Moslems right before they're bombed, maimed and killed. It is irrelevant whether the victims could read the graffiti as the bombs plummeted toward their homes. Clearly what counts is the expression of the offending thought, not the fact that people are being blown to smithereens.
Although the Geneva Convention is silent on this matter, we salute the Pentagon for insisting on politically correct bombings. We suggest in the future that all U.S. armed forces paint yellow smiley faces on all ordnance and adopt as its official wartime slogan: It's not personal, it's just business."
Your family might be too Hooah if:
-Your newborn must attend the new comers' orientation briefing within the first 30 days of life. Your wife's two favorite shades of lipstick are light green and loam.
-You go to a barbecue and insist that your family feed tactically
-Your children clear housing before they go to college.
-You require your mechanic to replace the sandbags in your floorboard as a part of a tune-up.
-Your station wagon is equipped with blackout lights
-Your kids call their mother "Household 6"
-Your kids volunteer to pull air guard on the school bus.
-Your doorbell sounds off with the current challenge and password.
-Your house has sector sketches posted by every window.
-You give the command "Fix bayonets" at Thanksgiving dinner.
-Your kids show their meal cards at the kitchen door, except the oldest, who is on separate rations.
-You make your daughter sign out on pass on Prom Night.
-Your kindergartner calls recess "smoke break".
-Your wife calls foreplay "prepping the objective".
-Your wife conducts an AAR after sex.
-Your wife "takes a knee" in the checkout line at the supermarket.
-You do your "back to school" shopping at the U.S. Cavalry store.
-Your kids call the tooth fairy "Slicky boy".
-Your son fails the third grade but tells everyone he was a "phase three recycle".
-Your kids salute their grandparents.
-Your wife's "high-n-tight" is more squared away than your commander's
-Your kids get an LES for their allowance.
-Your grandmother won "All American Week" and "Best Ranger".
-All your kids have names that start with AR, FM, TM, or DA Form.
-Your pick-up has your name stenciled on the windshield.
-Your kids are hand-receipt holders.
-Your older kids call the youngest one "Cherry" or New Guy.
-Your kids recite their ABC's phonetically.
-Your wife keeps Mermites in the China cabinet.
-Your wife left you and you held a "Change of Command" ceremony.
-You call your in-laws the "Slice Elements"
-Your dog's name is "Ranger"
-All your possessions are military issue.
-Your kids call their sandbox "NTC"
-You have pull-up bars outside the kitchen door.
-Your daughter's first haircut was a flattop.
-Your kids pull fireguard
-Your newborn's first words were "all OK Jumpmaster"
-You decorate your Christmas Tree with Chem Lights and Engineer tape.
Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by US Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews. "Squawks" are problem listings that pilots generally leave for maintenance crews.
Problem: "Left inside main tire almost needs replacement."
Solution: "Almost replaced left inside main tire."
Problem: "Test flight OK, except autoland very rough."
Solution: "Autoland not installed on this aircraft."
Problem #1: "#2 Propeller seeping prop fluid."
Solution #1: "#2 Propeller seepage normal."
Problem #2: "#1, #3, and #4 propellers lack normal seepage."
Problem: "The autopilot doesn't."
Signed off: "IT DOES NOW."
Problem: "Something loose in cockpit."
Solution: "Something tightened in cockpit."
Problem: "Evidence of hydraulic leak on right main landing gear."
Solution: "Evidence removed."
Problem: "DME volume unbelievably loud."
Solution: "Volume set to more believable level."
Problem: "Dead bugs on windshield."
Solution: "Live bugs on order."
Problem: "Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 fpm descent."
Solution: "Cannot reproduce problem on ground."
Problem: "IFF inoperative."
Solution: "IFF inoperative in OFF mode."
Problem: "Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick."
Solution: "That's what they're there for."
Problem: "Number three engine missing."
Solution: "Engine found on right wing after brief search."
Problem: "Aircraft handles funny "
Solution: "Aircraft warned to straighten up, "fly right" and be serious"
Problem: "Target Radar hums"
Solution: "Reprogrammed Target Radar with the lyrics"
One day a platoon of Marines are on patrol when they come upon a Ranger relaxing on top of a small hill. The Ranger puts his hands on his hips and screams out, "Do any of you seaweed sucking jarheads think you're man enough to take me on?"
The biggest Marine comes running up the hill, screaming back at the Ranger. When he gets to the top he simply plows into his foe and the two tumble down the other side of the hill, out of sight. There is the sound of a horrendous fight for a moment or two, and then all is quiet. Soon, the Ranger reappears, quite untouched. He puts his hands on his hips and sneers, "Well, looks to me like one of you couldn't do it, how about the rest?"
The enraged Marine platoon leader sends his entire platoon (30+men) charging after the Ranger. They all go tumbling down the far side of the hill. After 15 minutes of screaming and yelling and cursing a lone, bloodied Marine crawls over the top of the hill. The platoon leader yells up to his man, "What's going on up there?"
The wounded Marine, with his last bit of breath, replies, "Sir, it's a... a trap, sir. There're two of them!"
MURPHY'S LAW'S OF COMBAT
You are not a superman.
If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid.
Don't look conspicuous - it draws fire. (This is why aircraft carriers are called bomb magnets.)
When in doubt, empty your magazine.
Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
If your attack is going really well, it's an ambush.
No plan survives the first contact intact.
All five-second grenade fuses will burn down in three seconds.
Try to look unimportant because the bad guys' may be low on ammo.
If you are forward of your position, the artillery will fall short.
The enemy diversion you are ignoring is the main attack.
The important things are always simple.
The simple things are always hard.
The easy way is always mined.
If you are short of everything except enemy, you are in combat.
When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the enemy.
Incoming fire has the right of way.
Friendly fire isn't.
If the enemy is in range - SO ARE YOU.
No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
No unit that ever passed inspection passed combat.
Things that must be together to work, usually can't be shipped together.
Radio's will fail as soon as you need fire support desperately.
Anything you do can get you shot - including doing nothing.
Tracers work both ways.
The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
Make it tough for the enemy to get in and you can't get out.
When both sides are convinced that they are about to lose, they are both right.
Professional soldiers are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs.
Murphy was a grunt.
Colin Powell Quotes
"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."
Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's inevitable-if you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You'll avoid the tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.
"The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."
If this were a litmus test, the majority of CEOs would fail. One, they build so many barriers to upward communication that the very idea of someone lower in the hierarchy looking up to the leader for help is ludicrous. Two, the corporate culture they foster often defines asking for help as weakness or failure, so people cover up their gaps, and the organization suffers accordingly. Real leaders make themselves accessible and available. They show concern for the efforts and challenges faced by underlings-even as they demand high standards. Accordingly, they are more likely to create an environment where problem analysis replaces blame.
"Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world."
Small companies and startups don't have the time for analytically detached experts. They don't have the money to subsidize lofty elites, either. The president answers the phone and drives the truck when necessary; everyone on the payroll visibly produces and contributes to bottom-line results or they're history. But as companies get bigger, they often forget who "brung them to the dance": things like all-hands involvement, egalitarianism, informality, market intimacy, daring, risk, speed, agility. Policies that emanate from ivory towers often have an adverse impact on the people out in the field who are fighting the wars or bringing in the revenues. Real leaders are vigilant-and combative-in the face of these trends.
"Don't be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard."
Learn from the pros, observe them, seek them out as mentors and partners. But remember that even the pros may have leveled out in terms of their learning and skills. Sometimes even the pros can become complacent and lazy. Leadership does not emerge from blind obedience to anyone. Xerox's Barry Rand was right on target when he warned his people that if you have a yes-man working for you, one of you is redundant. Good leadership encourages everyone's evolution.
"Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant."
Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can't be implemented rapidly and efficiently. Good leaders delegate and empower others liberally, but they pay attention to details, every day. (Think about supreme athletic coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Pat Riley and Tony La Russa). Bad ones-even those who fancy themselves as progressive "visionaries"-think they're somehow "above" operational details. Paradoxically, good leaders understand something else: An obsessive routine in carrying out the details begets conformity and complacency, which in turn dulls everyone's mind. That is why even as they pay attention to details, they continually encourage people to challenge the process. They implicitly understand the sentiment of CEO-leaders like Quad Graphic's Harry Quadracchi, Oticon's Lars Kolind and the late Bill McGowan of MCI, who all independently asserted that the Job of a leader is not to be the chief organizer, but the chief disorganizer.
"You don't know what you can get away with until you try."
You know the expression "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission?" Well, it's true. Good leaders don't wait for official blessing to try things out. They're prudent, not reckless. But they also realize a fact of life in most organizations: If you ask enough people for permission, you'll inevitably come up against someone who believes his job is to say "no." So the moral is, don't ask. I'm serious. In my own research with colleague Linda Mukai, we found that less effective middle managers endorsed the sentiment, "If I haven't explicitly been told 'yes,' I can't do it," whereas the good ones believed "If I haven't explicitly been told 'no,' I can." There's a world of difference between these two points of view.
"Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find."
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It's an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms. It's a mind-set that assumes (or hopes) that today's realities will continue tomorrow in a tidy, linear and predictable fashion. Pure fantasy. In this sort of culture, you won't find people who proactively take steps to solve problems as they emerge. Here's a little tip: Don't invest in these companies.
"Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds."
In a brain-based economy, your best assets are people. We've heard this expression so often that it's become trite. But how many leaders really "walk the talk" with this stuff? Too often, people are assumed to be empty chess pieces to be moved around by grand viziers, which may explain why so many top managers immerse their calendar time in deal making, restructuring and the latest management fad. How many immerse themselves in the goal of creating an environment where the best, the brightest, the most creative are attracted, retained and-most importantly-unleashed?
"Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing."
Organization charts are frozen, anachronistic photos in a workplace that ought to be as dynamic as the external environment around you. If people really followed organization charts, companies would collapse. In well-run organizations, titles are also pretty meaningless. At best, they advertise some authority-an official status conferring the ability to give orders and induce obedience. But titles mean little in terms of real power, which is the capacity to influence and inspire. Have you ever noticed that people will personally commit to certain individuals who on paper (or on the org chart) possess little authority-but instead possess pizzazz, drive, expertise and genuine caring for teammates and products? On the flip side, nonleaders in management may be formally anointed with all the perks and frills associated with high positions, but they have little influence on others, apart from their ability to extract minimal compliance to minimal standards.
"Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it."
Too often, change is stifled by people who cling to familiar turfs and job descriptions. One reason that even large organizations wither is that managers won't challenge old, comfortable ways of doing things. But real leaders understand that, nowadays, every one of our jobs is becoming obsolete. The proper response is to obsolete our activities before someone else does. Effective leaders create a climate where peoples worth is determined by their willingness to learn new skills and grab new responsibilities, thus perpetually reinventing their jobs. The most important question in performance evaluation becomes not, "How well did you perform your job since the last time we met?" but, "How much did you change it?"
"Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission."
Flitting from fad to fad creates team confusion, reduces the leader's credibility and drains organizational coffers. Blindly following a particular fad generates rigidity in thought and action. Sometimes speed to market is more important than total quality. Sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriate than participatory discussion. To quote Powell, some situations require the leader to hover closely; others require long, loose leashes. Leaders honor their core values, but they are flexible in how they execute them. They understand that management techniques are not magic mantras but simply tools to be reached for at the right times.
"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."
The ripple effect of a leader's enthusiasm and optimism is awesome. So is the impact of cynicism and pessimism. Leaders who whine and blame engender those same behaviors among their colleagues. I am not talking about stoically accepting organizational stupidity and performance incompetence with a "what, me worry?" smile. I am talking about a gung ho attitude that says "we can change things here, we can achieve awesome goals, we can be the best." Spare me the grim litany of the "realist"; give me the unrealistic aspirations of the optimist any day.
"Powell's Rules for Picking People"
Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done. How often do our recruitment and hiring processes tap into these attributes? More often than not, we ignore them in favor of length of resume, degrees and prior titles. A string of job descriptions a recruit held yesterday seem to be more important than who one is today, what she can contribute tomorrow or how well his values mesh with those of the organization. You can train a bright, willing novice in the fundamentals of your business fairly readily, but it's a lot harder to train someone to have integrity, judgment, energy, balance and the drive to get things done. Good leaders stack the deck in their favor right in the recruitment phase.
Lesson 14 (Borrowed by Powell from Michael Korda):
"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand."
Effective leaders understand the KISS principle, or Keep It Simple, Stupid. They articulate vivid, overarching goals and values, which they use to drive daily behaviors and choices among competing alternatives. Their visions and priorities are lean and compelling, not cluttered and buzzword-laden. Their decisions are crisp and clear, not tentative and ambiguous. They convey an unwavering firmness and consistency in their actions, aligned with the picture of the future they paint. The result? Clarity of purpose, credibility of leadership, and integrity in organization.
"Use the formula P@ to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired."
"Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut."
Powell's advice is don't take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don't wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late. His instinct is right: Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds "analysis paralysis." Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.
"The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."
Too often, the reverse defines corporate culture. This is one of the main reasons why leaders like Ken Iverson of Nucor Steel, Percy Barnevik of Asea Brown Boveri, and Richard Branson of Virgin have kept their corporate staffs to a bare-bones minimum. (And I do mean minimum-how about fewer than 100 central corporate staffers for global $30 billion-plus ABB? Or around 25 and 3 for multi-billion Nucor and Virgin, respectively?) Shift the power and the financial accountability to the folks who are bringing in the beans, not the ones who are counting or analyzing them.
"Have fun in your command. Don't always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you've earned it: Spend time with your families."
Corollary: "Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard." Herb Kelleher of Southwest Air and Anita Roddick of The Body Shop would agree: Seek people who have some balance in their lives, who are fun to hang out with, who like to laugh (at themselves, too) and who have some non-job priorities which they approach with the same passion that they do their work. Spare me the grim workaholic or the pompous pretentious "professional;" I'll help them find jobs with my competitor.
"Command is lonely."
Harry Truman was right. Whether you're a CEO or the temporary head of a project team, the buck stops here. You can encourage participative management and bottom-up employee involvement but ultimately, the essence of leadership is the willingness to make the tough, unambiguous choices that will have an impact on the fate of the organization. I've seen too many non-leaders flinch from this responsibility. Even as you create an informal, open, collaborative corporate culture, prepare to be lonely.
A sweet young thing thought she might have some fun with a stiff looking military man at a cocktail party, so she walked over and asked him when was the last time he had had sex.
"1956," he immediately replied.
"No wonder you look so uptight!" she exclaimed. "Honey, you need to get out more."
"I'm not sure I understand you," he answered, glancing at his watch. "It's only 2014 now."