Schultz walked into the barracks one Saturday
morning just before inspection, looked at Goldberg's empty bunk and asked, "Vhere the
hell is Goldberg?"
Every man on
that floor of the barracks had pitched in to keep Goldberg's bunk and clothing in perfect
order. Goldberg's bunk was next to Obert's pigpen, so in comparison, it couldn't help but
look good. In addition, having Goldberg's bunk next to Obert's kept anyone else from
having to sleep next to him. Goldberg's boots were always spit-shined to a mirror finish
and every piece of clothing was hanging in exact order. The US on the blanket was
perfectly centered, exactly thirty-six inches from the foot of the bunk. Goldberg's bunk
and clothing had stood a number of inspections and never received a single gig.
on KP, Sarge. He was gone when we got up this morning and there's a towel on the foot of
his bunk," Arthur Arthur Arthur replied.
he is always on KP, guard duty or some other detail every time I try to find him?"
asked Schultz. "I haven't seen him in so long that I can't remember what he looks
silly, Sarge, you know what Goldberg looks like; little short, fat Jew, 'bout so
tall," said Arthur Arthur Arthur, measuring with his hand. "You ought to
remember what he looks like. You chewed his ass out the other night for being late when he
reported for guard duty."
I remember him now," replied Schultz. "Too bad the rest of youse bastards can't
keep youse areas a neat as Goldberg. Anyway, I came to tell Foreman that Captain Sanders
wants to see him. Get down to the Orderly Room on the double."
hell have I done now to get the Captain on my ass," I thought to myself as I hurried
along the company street toward the Orderly Room. "Surely it's not about my losing
Goldberg, or Schultz wouldn't have asked about him when he came in."
always asking about Goldberg and someone would always tell him that he was on some sort of
detail or assignment which kept him out of the barracks. It had become a game to see who
could come up with the most outrageous story to tell Schultz when he was looking for
Goldberg. Then, perhaps the Captain was wise to the scam and was having Schultz ask one
last time to see what we would tell him before he lowered the boom on me.
smartly, I reported, "PFC Foreman reporting as ordered, Sir."
Foreman," answered Captain Sanders, returning my salute. "There are a couple
things that I wanted to talk to you about."
things! Goldberg and what else?" I thought to myself.
noticed that you are wearing an Acting PFC armband. I haven't issued any of those in this
unit and was wondering how and where you got it."
Sir. It was issued to me before I left there. It is on the orders which transferred me
here and I figured that I could just keep wearing it," I replied.
"Oh, I see.
I had also noticed that you are usually at the front of most formations and seem to take
charge in a lot of situations. Have you had prior military service of some sort?"
now," I replied. "But, I have always tried to be a leader." I knew that
those are the sort of answers officers like to hear and it never hurts to spread a little
"I like to
see men exercise leadership when it comes to them naturally," he replied, "And I
plan to recognize those leadership qualities with promotions."
I don't know
what he is leading up to, I thought to myself, but so far this meeting has a lot better
than I had anticipated.
thing that I wanted to talk with you about was the possibility of your applying for
Officer Candidate School. I've been going over your 201 File and you certainly
qualify," said the Captain. "I'd like to recommend you for OCS school."
be involved if I go to this school?"
be sent to a three month Basic Officer Candidate School and after completion, you would
become a Second Lieutenant."
I could see that
this wasn't going to be the ass-chewing that I had expected and that I should make the
best of it. "Thank you, Sir. I appreciate your faith in me and was wondering when I
would receive proper recognition."
There is an old
Texas saying that goes, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with
bullshit." I wasn't about to admit that the reason why I was usually at the front of
formations was because Schultz wanted the tallest person at the front.
time I've already served and that in school count toward my discharge date and would I
return to this unit after I become an officer?" I asked.
graduation, you would be discharged as an enlisted person and be sworn in for three years
as an officer. Once you were commissioned, you probably wouldn't return to this unit. My
guess is that you would go to the infantry or artillery, that's where they really need
of all of the benefits of being an officer, I think that I had rather serve the 15 months
that I was drafted for and get back to the business that I left when I came in," I
The meeting was
going so well that I figured that I might as well press my luck. "Since I have been
acting as a Squad Leader, and you consider me as being officer material, how about making
this PFC stripe permanent?" I said.
I am way ahead of you on that," replied the Captain. "Your promotion to PFC is
already on orders which come out tomorrow. I just wanted to be the first to congratulate
you. Now, for the other thing which I wanted to talk with you about."
Damn, could this
be about Goldberg? Surely he wouldn't call me in to give me a promotion and then hit me
with losing Goldberg."
went on, "Winter is coming on and, as I'm sure you know, all heating on this base is
done with coal. I need someone for a permanent detail as fireman to keep the water heater
and furnace stoked and going. It is a filthy, dirty job, but whoever does it will be
exempt from all inspections, details and formations. I have a man for the second barracks
and the mess hall, but I need someone for the first barracks and the officer's quarters.
Do you have any suggestions?"
"I have the
perfect man for that detail; Shoat Filpot. I mean Recruit Filpot, Captain," I
replied. "I can't think of anyone more suited for that job."
Filpot?" the Captain laughed. "That name certainly fits him. I understand that
Sergeant Cook threw his ass out of the mess hall because he got to be so filthy. You
didn't happen to have anything to do with giving him that GI bath that nearly killed him,
Captain," I replied. "You can't possibly think that I would be involved in such
juvenile antics, would you."
not, but I'd have given anything to have witnessed that struggle; it must have been
something. We could hear it all the way over in Officer Country; sounded like you guys
were having a free for all. Some of the officers wanted to come over and break it up, but
I told them to let you men work it out among yourselves."
"He did put
up quite a struggle."
first duty as a PFC and squad leader is to give Filpot the job of fireman," said the
Shoat and I come from the same town and have never gotten along too well, so I might have
a bit of trouble selling him on the idea of being the fireman. I had much rather have him
want to be the fireman than to simply tell him that he has to do it. Since he will be
exempt from all other details anyway, how about letting me use this Acting PFC stripe as
an Ace in the Hole in case that I need it to close the deal?"
that's what I call leadership. Do what you want with that armband," replied the
Captain, "I've never cared for acting ranks and have no plans to issue any of them.
If a man is worth promoting, I'll see that he gets it. Give the thing to Filpot if you
like, it doesn't mean beans around this unit anyway."
thing," he said as I turned to leave. "Next time that you come to see me, leave
the bullshit at home. I've been in the Army a lot longer than you and have seen and heard
it all. Be honest with me and we'll get along just fine."
My feet barely
touched the ground as I headed back to the barracks. I had been in the Army less than a
month and I already received a promotion to Private First Class. Perhaps the Goldberg
thing is so far gone that they will never tie his loss to me when it is finally
have I got good news for you," I said as soon as I walked into the barracks. "I
just lined up the sweetest deal in the world for you. I was in the Captain's office and
was able to get him to agree to let you be the fireman for this and the officer's
of shit are you trying to hand me?" asked Obert. "Why would you do anything for
me? You never liked me and I damn sure never liked you, especially after that damn bath
that nearly killed me."
home town boys have to stick together if we are to get along in the Army," I told
him. "I know how you hate to stand inspection, and if you are the barracks fireman,
you can move your bunk and stuff down into the boiler room where the officers will never
see you. Just think, no more inspections means no more gigs and no more walking guard duty
think that you are trying to screw me somehow," said Obert. "I never trusted you
and still don't. What's in it for you?"
have me figured all wrong," I said. "I just had a chance to do an old buddy a
favor and save you from standing inspections; and get you into a nice, warm place for the
winter. If this is how you are going to thank me for trying to help you, I'll just go back
down to the Captain and tell him to let someone else have the job."
the Captain can take all that shit about being barracks fireman and go shove it,"
said Obert. "I don't believe that there is any such job as barracks fireman and you
are just trying to get me down in the boiler room so you bastards can play another trick
on me. I ain't moving an inch."
that is the way that you want it," I replied. "I forgot to mention that being
the fireman for the officer's barracks also means that you would be made an Acting PFC.
Not only would you get out of inspections, you wouldn't have to pull any details like KP
and Guard Duty."
"No KP and
no Guard Duty?" asked Obert, "And I would get one of those PFC armbands to wear
like you wear?"
right, Acting PFC, no details and you get to stay inside where it is warm and dry while
the rest of us are outside, freezing our butts off in the rain and snow."
try it for a while just to see if you are trying to screw me somehow," said Obert.
your stuff on your bunk and I'll even help you move it down into the boiler room where
it's nice and warm," I said, handing him the Acting PFC armband. "I know that
you are going to be in hog heaven there."
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