Maybe this has already been done (hell, SDMB has been in existence since Gore invented the Internet, so it MUST have been done) but I’ve never seen it.
All you grunts, swabbies, squids, jarheads, zoomies and other assorted veterans of the military service, you have loads of stories you tell when the booze starts to flow and the memories start coming back. What’s your absolute favorite? I know we don’t embellish much, but to sort of guage the bullshit quotient in any one story, please specify when in history your story took place [(TD-Y)/10=BSQ] TD=today’s date, Y=Year story took place, BSQ = well, you know. Warning: Some of these will be long-ish. Here’s mine:
It was 1976, Aschaffenburg, Germany, we were making preparations for Change of Command of 3d Brigade, 3d Inf. Div. I don’t recall the name of the outgoing CinC, but the incoming was a Col. John Cottingham. A few week prior to the CoC, two of our brigade units, 1/4 Inf and 1/7 Inf had competed in a “military stakes” competition at division HQ in Wuerzburg. 1/7 had won the brigade competition, and celebrated for weeks afterward by running stomp past the 1/4 barracks an hour before the brigade’s designated PT formation. (Running stomp means “marching” at the double-time, which is an in-step jog, with an extra-hard stomp on every fourth step. When an entire battalion does it in formation, it is a fearsome sound.) The 1/7 also taunted their 1/4 bretheren, implying that they were not quite the warriors they should be.
After a week of this, 1/4 decided enough was enough. We need to know that 1/7 was nicknamed Cottonbalers because it was part of the Seventh Infantry Regiment and traced its lineage to the Battle of New Orleans, in which American infantrymen held off the British invasion during the War of 1812 by defending the city from breastworks made of cotton bales. The Cottonbalers had, as their mascot, an honest-to-god bale of Louisiana cotton, held in a plexiglas display case in the center of its compound, Graves Barracks in Aschaffenburg. One morning, as they prepared for their early-morning run, the Cottonbalers discovered that their precious cotton bale was gone. Later that day the battalion commander received an envelope with cotton ticking in it (it was from a discarded mattress, but the message with clear) with a demand that 1/7 cease its early-morning runs forthwith.
We also need to know that the 1/4 Infantry, nicknamed Warriors, had as its mascot a reconditioned and perfectly serviceable German WWII half-track captured at some point during that great war. It was paraded with the battalion at every pass-in-review, and had been painted with U.S. and 1/4 Inf markings, as if part of the battalion’s TO&E.
After a week of receiving envelopes with mattress ticking in them, the 1/7 commander decided enough was enough, and the Warrior half-track disappeared from its customary spot in the center of Fiori Barracks. It is suspected to this day that quantities of German beer exchanged hands in both “abductions”.
The back-and-forth was enjoyed by everyone and was to have been reconciled in time for the change of command, except that the U.S. Army decided, for reasons no one ever determined, that Col. Cottingham needed to take over 3Bde two weeks early. The missing mascots were forgotten in the rush to get everything ready for the elaborate change of command ceremony.
On the day of the ceremony, I was in my assigned place – taking photos of the VIPs for the post newspaper – when the battle of the missing mascots suddenly unfolded in dramatic fashion. All of the brigade units passed in review’ 4/64 Armor led the way because tanks are always dramatic, and the artillery unit (I cannot remember the unit designation) was second-to-last. 1/7, being the host of the ceremony, was allowed to bring up the rear. All of the units had assembled on the parade ground when 1/7 made its appearance. Heads turned at the sound of something mechanized making its way onto the parade ground. And there, at the end of the 1/7 formation, was the Warrior halftrack, re-painted with 1/7 markings. The halftrack stopped in front of the review stand, the battalion commander dismounted the halftrack, mounted the review stand and, with great ceremony, presented the new brigade commander the “keys” to the halftrack. This done, the halftrack was parked alongside the review stand.
It was almost a week before the halftrack was returned to its rightful place. 1/7 was told to cease its early-morning runs, which it did one day after the order was issued, and peace descended again on Aschaffenburg.
From that day until the day I left Aschaffenburg (three days before Thanksgiving, 1977) 1/7 mounted a 24-hour guard on the cotton bale display. The halftrack was bolted to a concrete pad at Fiori Barracks and, as far as I know, never paraded again.