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War Stories

April 1, 2013

This is an excerpt from my second book, “Memory Harvest of a Sharecropper’s Son,” which is now available in Amazon Kindle format and in printed format. This story is about a coworker’s war stories.

When I was an instructor with RCA on contract at Fort Sill, I worked with a person who had served as an officer in WWII and Korea. Every few months he would go on a binge for a few days drinking too much. He was a Major with about 15 or 16 years in the Army when the Army discharged him because of his drinking. He even tried to enlist to get his last few years in for retirement, but the Army would not take him.

He taught tactics to the young soldiers learning how to operate the radars we were teaching. I taught maintenance. The ex-Major was teaching classes on where to set up the radars in a combat situation. He really knew what they would need to know and what they would run into.

The ex-Major kept us in stitches with his war stories. I heard him say many times that he thought a company should develop an Army of mercenaries and our government should contract the next war to the Army of mercenaries. I did not write them down, so have forgotten most of the stories he told.

When the ex-Major was in Korea, he was assigned as liaison officer with a company of Turkish soldiers. They were right on the front line. The first night he was with them, he saw that they had dug foxholes and trenches in their camp, which he understood. Then they built a large campfire. He suggested that they did not really want that large campfire. Their officer in charge told him to just watch and be ready to get in his foxhole.

They sat around the campfire having a good time, making a lot of noise. Suddenly, the officer in charge ordered ‘in the ground’. They all dropped in their foxholes as gunfire began coming toward them. The ex-Major said then he saw that the attacking force of North Koreans was being mowed down with gunfire from behind them. Some of the Turkish soldiers had been deployed to the outskirts and dug in. As the attackers came in toward the well-lit camp, the outlying troops had signaled them to hit the ground and opened fire on the attackers who were now between the fire and the outlying troops.

The ex-Major told us he saw this tactic used over and over by the Turkish soldiers. They also cut off the ears of the enemy they killed to keep as souvenirs.

After a period of time, the ex-Major received a notice to alert the Turkish officer in charge that it was time to rotate them off the front line. When he told the officer in charge, the officer wanted to know why. He asked if they had not been doing a good job. They wanted to stay on the front line.

A few months before we lost our contract at Fort Sill, the ex-Major disappeared. He had been warned to not go on any more binges where he would be gone for a week or so. One Monday he did not show up at work. When our manager checked on him, he had moved out of his furnished efficiency apartment. All he had was his personal clothing. A taxi driver reported that he had taken him to the city limits and left him and a large suitcase on the side of the road. We had no idea what had happened to him.

Some six months later, about two months after going to Grand Bahama Island, a person I worked with returned from a vacation trip to Mexico. He said someone he met in Mexico had told him to tell me hello and that he was doing well.

He had met the ex-Major, who was now working as a bodyguard for someone in Mexico. When he mentioned that he worked for RCA in the islands, the ex-Major told him that he had worked for RCA at Fort Sill. The person I worked with on GBI told him that he worked with me and I had come from Fort Sill. The ex-Major told him to give me the message.

Many years later, while working at LTV, I mentioned the ex-Major’s name while telling a story. One of the people at LTV had previously worked for a subsidiary of LTV and said the ex-Major was now working there. He called and I talked to the ex-Major a time or two after that. That’s the last I have heard about him. He was quite a guy to know.


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