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03 April 2014


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So no shit, there I was at Fort Richardson, a few months back from Afghanistan and there was snow on the ground up to your ass outside. Our C/O, CPT Chung, had done us a grand favor and released us at morning formation for the rest of the day since we had managed to avoid the flood of Article 15s that had plagued the other companies.

This had resulted in a grand shuffle of personnel across the 1/501st PIR, and my new roommate/squad member had come down from battalion mortars. Let's call him PFC Hoosier. It had become apparent that Hoosier had a drinking problem, being built like a beanpole and killing a 12 pack of Budweisers a night. Not that I was offended by his drinking, but it hadn't been my problem up to that point.

Well Hoosier gets back to our shared room and starts spiking back Boilermakers at around ten or eleven or so, killing two per hour at least, I found out later. I had left to go get lunch at the Air Force side of things, and took my time getting back there. When I get back, its obvious from the bottles he's had a few, and he's getting ready to go out.

Solicitously, I inquire about whether he's driving his giant jeep into town, and he informs me that oh no, he's being driven into town by a friend of his from battalion mortars, and he'll likely stay there for the night. I take him at his word and leave it at that.

I don't see him for another three days.

Come to find out, he did drive himself into town, after which he partook of more shots with a battalion mortars sergeant. Then they went to the soldiers' favorite hangout in Anchorage, Chilkoot Charlie's. According to the report I read later, that's when he "started to blackout". After more liquor there, he somehow managed to get past the gate guards on the AF side of the post and attempted to drive back to the barracks.

I say attempted because on the stretch of road linking the two posts he rolls his jeep on a deserted, wood lined highway. Now at this point I've heard several solutions to the dilemma in question. Perhaps the Wise Ones here have their own, but the most common seems to be: hide out with another friend and Lose Your Keys until the morning.

But no, Hoosier doesn't do this shit. He runs the two or three miles back to the barracks, tells CQ to call the MPs and then asks for the CQ to drive him back to his wreck. Now the CQ is a former mortar named Morris, who is a big ol ball of weird and freaky. One of those soldiers who had a thing against water and soap. But I digress.

However this explains why the CQ didn't have the common sense to figure out that he SHOULD NOT do this, and instead cheerily complied. The MPs, happy their quarry was coming back to them and having already found the unregistered, loaded firearms in his jeep along with the bottle of alcohol that had spilled all over the place, administered a breathalyzer where he blew an impressive .39. Go big or go home, am I right?

Top was pretty unimpressed at getting the call at 0200, and left Hoosier in the stockade until Monday. He did take the time to inform Hoosier his leave was pulled, though.

When I came back from my four days of AL that I took back home (I spent the rest back in Alaska, which is a story in and of itself), Hoosier had decided that the best way to deal with his new situation was not to straighten the fuck out, but instead to let the room become a mess of beer bottles, pizza boxers, and a cloud of cigarette smoke. Had to straighten THAT shit out really quick.

The end? Well Hoosier fights the company grade Article 15 CPT Chung tried to give him, based off his argument that he had already been punished by having his leave pulled. So the new BC's first action after taking over from the esteemed LTCOL Charlie Glenn was to hammer Hoosier into the ground with a Field Grade.

And me? I continued to follow my directive of: never do anything that fucks with your free time, your pay, or your rank.

John Minnerath

In the summer of 1962 I got my orders for Jump School at Fort Benning. This was back in the pre PC days and the Airborne units were up to strength and didn't need bodies.
If you couldn't cut the harassment and physical demands of the gorillas, there was a repo depot waiting. Hack it or you were gone. Out of about 400 in the training battalion I think about a 100 got their blood wings.
While I was there some SF guys came down from Bragg looking for fresh meat. One big problem, I wore glasses and those things had always put the kaibosh on everything I wanted, so I kept my hand down. After they got a few volunteers and we were dismissed, I approached these guys wearing those cool looking green beanies and asked about it. No problem they say. Sign me up I says.
So I began long nights of some of the toughest tests I ever took in the army. Managed without much sleep and actually made the cut with a few others. I think there was 4 or 5 of us, don't know what happened to the other couple dozen who started out.
After Jump School graduation we got loaded on a bus with a bunch of repos heading for the 82nd and made the trip up to Fort Bragg.
We got dumped off at this place called Smokebomb Hill, still wondering just what the fuck we had gotten ourselves into. If the stories were true this bunch of snake eaters were crazed animals.
We didn't get stripped and driven on a 50 mile forced march. In fact there were hand shakes all around, some empty bunks found in the old wood barracks and taken to the EM club for rounds of cold beer. So began my time at Training Group.
I wanted to be a demo man, me and too many other young bucks. There were background investigations, security clearances, and finally Branch. On the way there was the Missile Crisis. Some of you might remember that little incident when humanity came closer to nuclear war than it ever has. One particular day sitting in a Herc with full equipment as the plane climbed up to join the formation after being told, "OK you guys, this is it, this time we're going."
We didn't and it ended.
Then with the 1st on Okinawa and the President was assassinated. Another period of bewilderment and spooky confusion that finally ended.
Lots of good memories and a few bad, all beginning to fade from memory.

steve g

Speaking of Budweisers, my best friend in RVN,
Earl from Big D little A, double L, A-S, as he
was wont to remind us,had quite the escapade in
Danang summer of 69. New in country we were
attached to HQ before going out to various FOB
in the I Corps. We had a half a day off every
other Sunday and hitch-hiked to China Beach. For
15 cents a pop the ice cold Buds went down pretty
fast as in July the air temp was well over 100
and the water temp 88degrees.

On our return trip as the sun was starting to go
down we had to dee dee fast to make curfew. We
got stranded at some intersection in the middle
of town. I am sure most have seen Full Metal
Jacket where to guy pulls up on a moped with a
baby-son on back. Three guys pulled up and wanted
to know if we wanted to beau coup boom boom said
baby-sons. Well, the Buds and testosterone took
over and soon we found ourselves going down various
back alleys that kept getting smaller and smaller.
Not good. Matt and motioned in a kindly manner to
take us back to the aforementioned intersection.
No Earl.

As he was my bunkie I kept leaning over and looking
for him until who knows what hour. I figured the
worst and finally drifted off. Lo and behold about
sunrise I looked down and sure enough there he was
toes up and snoring as usual. When pressed for intel
on his whereabouts he replied in his best Don Meredith
Texas twang. "I have no f-ing idea." We still laugh
about it 44 plus years later.


Great story.

Old Gun Pilot

At Phu Bai in ‘68 the only American beer we could get was Carling Black Label. Mostly we drank Korean OK beer. One day we got word that they had Budweiser at the 3rd MAF px and I was tasked with taking a bird down to Danang and to get a load.
The 3rd MAF helo pad was a small court yard about 100 by 200 feet enclosed by an 8 foot masonry wall. We had loaded up with all the cases we could find space for when we were approached by an O-6 who wanted a ride up to Phu Bai. I said sure if he could find space and he managed to cram himself in.
Because the area was so small and I was so heavy I wasn’t sure I could get translational lift to get flying before I came up to the wall. I backed up and with full power I was just bouncing in a hover 2 or 3 inches off the ground. I began to make my run and as I got closer to the wall I decided I wouldn’t make it and aborted. After coming to a stop I thought that I actually could have made it so I taxied back for another try. The second time I pressed on and as I got to close to abort I realized I wasn’t going to make it but wouldn’t be able to stop before hitting the wall. At the last second pulled back hard on the cyclic (control stick). I had just enough speed to clear the wall but not enough to keep flying and I came down in dust cloud in some Vietnamese back yard. Chickens were flying everywhere. Fortunately I didn’t land on anyone or damage the helo. When I turned around to check on the crew and the load I saw the colonel with his bag on his shoulder double timing away. He’d had enough.
We unloaded half the load and left the gunner to guard it and took the rest to Marble Mountain where we unloaded . We then went back to pick up the gunner and the rest of the beer. Marble we had a long runway which gave me plenty of ground run to get off and return to Phu Bai. I can imagine it was a while before the colonel got into another helo.

Charles 1

I'm not entitled, so I'll just include this link to a Vietnam vet's obit. Sounds like a man of great character, to iclude amongst all your character's tales.


Bless you all.


Charles I

I knew a couple of Canadians who were in the US Army in VN. They had, of course, been stripped of their citizenship by your government. pl

steve g


I was TAD at MAG-16 Sep-Dec 69 right
at the end of the runway you mentioned.
Tech on a three man TRC-97 micro shot.
You probably saw the 8 foot parabolic
antennaes at Phu Bai as 1st Wing had
them at all MAGs. If you google earth
Danang the air field is still there. I
believe they keep it as a war memorial
plus the fact the soil is polluted with
many chemicals including agent orange.
The good news, a 4 or 5 star resort is
right next to it!

Charles 1

I'm pretty sure now if a citizen goes off and joins in a foreign war its illegal terrorism.

Wasn't my government, too young to vote then


Charles I

Well, then, I guess my uncle John was an illegal terrorist when he was in the Canadian Black Watch in WW1. pl

joe brand



I've told this story once or twice but I'll record it here for posterity.

So no shit, there I was in the middle of Bagram Air Base, detailed to make sure our shit would make it back to Fort Richardson, Alaska. Bagram was 'big PX land', where the MPs traveled across the world so they could give out speeding tickets, the pogues were thick and fierce, and the only alcohol to be found was in the "International Camp", along with the better selection of female soldiery.

The big PX in Bagram had become something of a little open air food court/trinket shop area, as well as having the PX there. I got a little KGB flask floating around somewhere that I bought from there. It was the place to be if you wanted to buy a coffee, sit on a bench, and watch the pogues waddle by. Once a rocket landed outside the concertina wire and you'd think it was WWIV kicking off, with the guard IMTing down the main roadway.

I was sitting there with the detail sergeant, Ruby, and another soldier named Wart, shooting the shit and mean mugging the marines who had been tasked to pull gate guard when they were trying to slap that damned ball, bird, and chain on everything that wasn't moving. The National Guard was also floating around, M16s dusty, boots unbloused, and looking like soup sandwiches. This will become important here shortly.

As I said before, Bagram was an "international" base, so you had many different nations represented. Yesterday we had been told to walk by some US Army bastards because we didn't have our helmets and therefore couldn't ride the 17 miles from the loading area of post back to main post. It was a British Colonel and his Regimental Sergeant Major who gave us a ride back; the only price they charged was stories of the hot and heavy action over in Khost, in Paktia Province.

Currently, there were two soldiers at a wrought iron table, both wearing the French flag on their sleeves. One was a short, wiry white dude, who was regaling his companion, a tall black guy so dark we'd call him 'blurple' with a story. My high school French was still relatively fresh (I had used it not too long ago to swap US MREs for a box of French rations), so I could pick up the story was about the cordial meeting between the French soldier and a female last night.

Mind you, this was during the entire "freedom fries" debacle, so I guess some people didn't look kindly on anyone wearing a French flag? I don't know, but I'm assuming that's why these two National Guard soldiers walked up and began talking shit about France, the French military, and anyone who would wear such a sorry flag, all in English mind you.

It was obvious that the two French legionnaires were being addressed, but they seemed to be clueless about what was getting the one soldiers so red faced.

Yeah I did say Legionnaires, as in Foreign Legionnaires. I guess they understood what was being said enough that the white guy was kind enough to let the one dumbass finish his trash talking before he tore into him, driving him to the ground even though the soldier had about five inches and likely a hundred pounds plus on the legionnaire. Once they hit the ground the legionnaire began to smash forearms and fists into his opponents face while cursing him in a thick Scottish accent that seemed all consonants and burred vowels.

Well the other soldier thinks to try and unsling his M16 and turn it on the scrappy Legionnaire. He begins the motion but not before the black Legionnaire has grabbed the other chair and swung it into the soldier, blasting him to the ground. Stalking over him, he grabs the M16 off the soldier's body and butt strokes him in the face with it before breaking open the take down pins and hurling the lower receiver into a nearby area marked with signs that warn of mines.

Whoops. Then he proceeds to break down the bolt carrier and toss them in the same direction while his buddy gives the Good News to the other chucklehead.

People are screaming, running every which way, and some (I assume) SF soldiers with their Velcro patched desert cammies are standing there, shaking their heads. "Well, it was going to fucking happen eventually" one of them said thoughtfully, stroking his beard to a chorus of affirmative responses.

"Should...should we do something?" I asked SGT Ruby.

"Nah. Not our problem," he responded non chalantly.

The problem was solved when the British colonel from earlier appeared, and shifted his English into that same thick as clotted cream dialect, and managed to talk the Legionnaire off the soldier. The MPs had arrived minutes ago, but were doing such a great job standing around looking hard with loaded rifles I guess they didn't feel the need to do anything else. Honestly, I think that was the best choice because goodness knows what might have happened if the MPs had tried to enforce their 'authority'. I don't think those guys were taking orders from anyone who hadn't worn a kepi blanc at some point in their lives.

That was just a small slice of life on the mess called Bagram AFB.


"Should...should we do something?" I asked ....."Nah. Not our problem," he responded non chalantly.

Now there's an excellent command decision. Now if they would only teach that "Not our problem" part in political science classes.....


You have a way of telling a great story. If you have or plan to write a book please let SST know. I would love to read it.

Charles 1

heavy on the word NOW. that was then, this is now, about Canadian law


I have been published in a short story anthology and have a novel coming out in October, but it is not proper to hawk my goods on SST.



Feel free to do so. pl



Thank you for that privilege.



My author's website is www.iwritejack.com, and my short story published over at the Athenauem is now, in an edited form, available on Amazon in the Fox Spirits Guardian collection.

My first novel, Cry Havoc, will be available in October.


Ruby was a single E5 who lived in the barracks and had a pretty good grasp of discretion. Wart was in his squad though, and seemed to constantly do things to piss him off. Ever see someone do side straddle hops with a SAW?

Cold War Zoomie

I wasn't really a soldier but I'll distill many service stories into a single narration.

I was out and about and had way to much to drink. Then I said something really stupid to someone. Someone hit me in the face, but I probably deserved it. Those hangovers were really bad, but I sh*t, showered, shaved and stumbled to work anyway feeling like death warmed over. One day my enlistment was up. The end.


Midnight rations (Midrats. Names have been changed to protect the innocent; and the not so innocent).

So there we were, four hundred feet down at 2 am heading across the Atlantic at 20+ knots to our assigned ‘box’ to search for an Akula, or a Hotel, or some such class of SSBN of the Soviet Navy, along with the ICBMs they carried. Though off watch at midnight I had to stay in the engine room to finish maintenance on one of our motor-generator sets. Sadly a fifteen minute job turned into an hour. Figured I had missed mid-rats and was hungry in way only a 20 something can be at 2 am. Heading through the tunnel over the reactor compartment I see Rich E. coming aft.

Seeing a steaming cup of joe in his hand I observe “A little out of the way for Engineering Watch Supervisor (EWS) Rounds isn’t it?”

“Had to take a leak, Lt. Platt gave the OK, said we could go 5 minutes without an EWS. He replied. (The attack submarine were serving on had no ‘heads’ - toilets - in the engine room)

“Anything left to eat up there, besides that chilimac crap the Ehler keeps making for midrats?” I inquire.

“No, we had the same thing tonight too. Hope Chief Tang rotates him off that duty soon. He’s up in the wardroom pantry, maybe you can get him to fix something.” Rich says.

“Didn’t Lt. Platt chew his ass a couple days ago for dropping the wardroom’s dinner in the passageway and then scoop it all up and serve it as is?” I ask.

“Yep, lucky all he got was an ass chewing.” Rich replies.

I pass on, being careful not to slam the hatch after passing through. Going down the companionway ladder I pull up short. There’s the wardroom pantry dead ahead. Looking in I think, well, Ehler’s obviously not over that ass chewing. Looking to the left I see the wardroom door. Not that way I tell myself. Turning around I head back up and turn left, taking the few steps needed to pass into the control room. Knowing the chief of the boat (COB) is on watch I go over to give him the bad news.

“What the hell are you doing here, lost or something Petty Office Strack? Ask’s Lt. Weed, who’s both my division officer and has duty as officer of the deck. “Just making sure these guys know how to read a compass sir.” I reply Seeing he’s not in a laughing mood I continue, “Came to see the COB”.

From his diving station the COB chuckles. He raises an eyebrow, looks over at Lt. Weed then turns back to me. ”Well?”

“Thought you might like to know Ehrler’s in the wardroom pantry making something special.” I reply.

“So what, he’s go the duty.” COB says curtly.

“You don’t understand COB. Something special” I say, making a stroking gesture. “Kind of makes you lose your appetite.” I continue, though by this time the COB has already made it half way to through the passage way. Yep, some things make you lose your appetite, quickly.


The timing on this story was glorious. Noicely done.


Thanks, I look forward to reading your writing.


Thanks for the compliment Tyler. I'll see if I can dredge up a few more "Midnight Tales".

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