The Sergeant

I was stationed at Camp Geiger in a unit made from Marines trained at Pensacola in SIGINT specialties. We trained for a year there and were sent to LeJeune and Geiger for lack of duty billets.

The stations promised were Edsel, Scotland, Bremerhaven, Germany, Angorra, Turkey, Key West, FL and others. But we got the privilege of going to LeJeune and being under grunt NCO's and officers.

No problem. We waited for duty stations and none came. In the meantime, a Sergeant was put in charge of our platoon. He had no idea what we did. He was not particularly bright, but did make SSgt while there.He did not like me, for some reason. I am sure it was my fault. I frequently punched the clock on lunch formations, which was his only metric to judge my performance.

One day, he chewed me out in front of the whole Battalion. Some behind me said my fists clenched and turned white as I stood at attention.We were scheduled to have a General Inspection later that year. We prepared for it by cleaning our vehicles and comm gear, as well as our uniforms and rack areas.

I took my van apart, put all the radio gear into 2nd & 3rd echelon maintenance, painted the van inside and out, added new traction strips on the floor, and had all inspections on the vehicle and radio equipment I could with my rank. Tags hung from everything. But I was late to formations at lunch because I took the time to complete all the work.

At the inspection, my van was last in line at Motor-T. The General's staff went down the line, one vehicle at a time. When they got to mine, they spent some time inside. Then, they called Sergeant over to the van. He hesitated, looking at me with questioning face, jaws clenched.

When he got there, the officer in charge went up to him, addressed him face to face and said, "This is the most squared away van I have ever seen. You ought to be proud, Sergeant."

I was vindicated, but the Sergeant may not have made the connection between my squared away van and late lunch formations. I still get a chuckle over this after forty-five years. The confused humiliation was worth much more than a punch in the face.

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