Big Red Car here. Oh what a beautiful crisp day in the ATX.
Here’s wishing thanks, good luck and Godspeed to all of our Veterans on Veterans Day.
Well, The Boss is a Veteran — Combat Engineer — as is his Mother (WAC) and his Father (Combat Infantryman). His Dad is still going strong at 95 years old and looks like he could step right back into uniform any instant he was needed. The Old Man would do it too.
Being a Veteran, you likely saw a bit of the world and had some interesting experiences. Those were the days that the US Army gave a brand new Lieutenant a platoon to command and to learn the fine arts of soldiering. The Army turned the green Lieutenants over to their Platoon Sergeants for a bit of finishing school to teach them what they had not yet learned at VMI, Engineer Officer Basic, Airborne and Ranger Schools. The real stuff.
Look at The Boss, sweet and innocent and fit to fight. He had 40 Combat Engineers and would eventually command Combat Engineer companies on different continents. He loved the Combat Engineers. They fight like infantry in an infantry division but also are experts in bridging, roads, airfields, minefields, demolitions, fortifications, construction, — did I mention demolitions. His favorite thing was to blow things up and he did a lot of that.
Take a notice that The Boss had just parachuted into a rice paddy and that’s “night soil” on his Corcoran jump boots. Nice landing, Boss.
If you were any good at it — not everyone was — they eventually gave you a company of about 200 soldiers.
Here’s a picture taken by The Boss in the ROK in the early 1970s. Click on it to see it full size.
They were out on maneuvers — or “problems” is what they were called. The Boss had been tasked to take a couple of platoons and to blow the top off about a 3000′ little mountain and to air lift in a small dozer and construct an airmobile accessible gun platform to set in some Division guns — likely 155s or 8 inch guns. The big boys. It had to be a pretty damn big gun platform and would be leveled and sandbagged and facing north. They were less than five miles south of the DMZ.
Some tanks were coming up the valley below and the guns would be leapfrogged forward to fire in support of the tanks attacking to the north. The Combat Engineers were to blow off the mountain top, build the firing positions and then dig in and provide local defense until an Infantry unit leapfrogged north.
Typical day in the life of a young officer of about 22 years old.
Then the whole process was to be repeated again. The completion of the gun platform — blowing up the mountain top and building the firing positions — was to be closely coordinated with the tanks moving.
As part of the exercise, The Boss — an engineer by training — was to go down and look over the bridges in the valley below and “rate” the bridges. He rated all of them as “unusable” by tanks and put up a sign indicating tanks should take the adjoining ford.
Well, one tank decided to test The Boss’s determination and insisted on using the bridge. The Boss was right. The tank tumbled into the creek and two men were killed. It was a mess.
The Boss’s unit was the first on the scene and they got the others out and administered first aid to the tank commander and the driver but, alas, they were both crushed under the tank. It was a tragedy.
In the Army, when people do not follow instructions, sometimes men die.
That’s what soldiering feels like. Always on the edge of danger. It was great fun but it could be serious business. It was an adventure. What were you doing your early 20’s?