It is funny how things that happened to you many years ago suddenly float into your mind like a red balloon drifting across a blue sky. It isn’t there and then all of a sudden it is. . Well, that just happened to me. A few hours ago I landed in Frankfort Germany at seven am having flown in from Newark NJ on a USAir flight. I rented a car and I am now driving to Munich for a business meeting.
My German is rusty and it took a few hand waves and head nods before I got the car and was driving on the auto-bahn. Then memories started to flood through my mind. I was back in the army on my way to a chemical gas depot on the Austrian border. I had been reassigned to a new unit and was anxious to get in and get settled. In the military, just like anywhere else, there is some stress involved in reassignment. You are an outsider and you are under scrutiny by everyone involved. You have a new CO, new officers, a new first sergeant and hundreds of fellow GIs’ to merge with as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I arrived at HDQ just at chow time .I introduced myself to the company clerk and headed over to get in line for lunch.
You know, the kind of informal moving back and forth waving line formed by a group of men who are laughing and nudging one another with a little horseplay. Suddenly, out of nowhere the man in front of me turned around and punched me in the face. Of course, I became enraged and punched him back and soon we were rolling around on the ground in heated combat. The other men in line were amazed and most probably amused at the stupidity of what was going on and quickly broke up the fracas before the ever present military police rolled up.I calmed down, dusted myself off, and went into the mess hall. While I was eating I reflected on the whole sorry situation and thought to myself what a hell of a way to enter into a totally new military unit. Further a buck sergeant was to exhibit some discipline and restraint. Even more, I strongly suspected the other man and his buddies would be waiting outside for me to come out for a verbal, if not physical, challenge to resume the action. When I finished eating, I thought, what the hell, lets get it over with. Sure enough, when I came out into the sunlight, I saw four or five men waiting around the door. I walked up to what I thought was going to be a whole lot of trouble when a corporal in the group said “ sergeant, We know you have been assigned to our squad and we are waiting to make sure there was no more action going to take place,”
I smiled to myself then and I am smiling to myself now, sometimes things just work out even if everything looks bleak.
Later on the other soldier, Mike, and I got to be friends and drank beer together at the Non-Com club.