Pvt. FM Tinseth, 1953
He had been an enlisted man. He knew the ropes. He knew his men. Cared about them more than he did himself. More than he did his own family -- I'm guessing.
He drove up to Ft Benning to pin jump wings on my chest. After the graduation ceremony he was ready to drive me back home. Problem was, I had leave papers but they had not been signed by the company commander. A nasty little man who liked to call men, "Honey" and go on leave without signing leave papers.
I explain this to him standing in the hallway outside the 1st Sergeant's office. There's about 30 of my classmates in the same situation. We're all hoping the 1st Sergeant, or 'Top' as 1st Sergeants are known, can do "something."
He takes my leave papers and strolls down the hall. I see him knock on the door frame and enter Top's office. He's been retired just over a year. I'm thinking there's not much he can do when I see him walk out of the office carrying my leave papers and doing the silent whistle -- That purse of the lips with nothing coming out.
"Let's go," he says. "What?" I say. He hands me my leave papers and I see Top has signed for the C.O. "Grab your shit and lets get outta here." I look at 30 guys looking at me. "Do you think we could help them?" "We?" he snorts. "No, we can't help them." I follow him as he strolls down the hall past 30 guys looking at me.
He tells me somewhere on I-95 that Top was "chicken shit" and "scared shitless" he'd get his "ass in a sling" signing for the captain. He tells me the captain is a "fuck stick" for what he did but what Top did was worse. "It's a gutless fucking army." he moans.
I just realized that 80% of my vocabulary is in the above paragraph.