09 September 2010

Other Assigned Duties” & getting “Coined”

From the Soldier side: I’m going to ramble on a little about my final “AT” (National Guard Annual Training) as I am retiring. Being a Soldier and being a civilian copper have many things in common. Both get paid to shoot firearms and in both jobs,each day will usually bring something you may have never seen before. I laugh whenever I hear some old copper or soldier claim they’ve “seen it all.” If that is true, it’s time to wake up and start really looking.
Yeah the work might be repeated, but it’s the people who get thrown into the puzzle each day that you really have to watch and enjoy…or not.

One of my “Other Assigned Duties” in both professions was to get people to laugh when they were stressing out. I was the “Combat Comedian.”  (this is a duty that you'll never see in the books.)  In so many cases, some of my best humor was wasted on people who simply lacked the intelligence to fully comprehend the fact that we were often surrounded by some of the funniest shit anybody could ever imagine. Paid comedians couldn’t possibly make up shit this funny.

Of the dozen or so times I was on some little camp of FOB in Iraq and we came under mortar fire, I always tried to get people to calm down by getting them to laugh. In civilian police work, there’s almost nothing that could be as totally –cked up as having people you didn’t even know trying to blow you up….so I find almost no stress in police work these days.

At my last “AT” a few weeks ago…the “General Order #1” was put out: “NO DRINKING” until the end when we would have a EOATP (End of AT Party).
What the National Guard used to be all about!

So one of the things I did each afternoon when our company commander (a truly great person) was in the orderly room…I’d walk over to the company refrigerator and open it and say: “hey, can I have one of these beers?”  There was never actually any beer in there...

He would always look with an expression of great concern. I have a great deal of respect for this man, so I enjoyed getting him to laugh.
The last day of AT, they loaded the fridge' up with lots of beer.... then my joke wasn't funny any more....so I had to change it to: "Sir, you need to get to rehab." 

In the Army there are many old traditions. Sometimes I say: "The US Army, 200 years of tradition unchanged by progress."   One very old tradition is when a brand new officer gets his or her first salute from an Enlisted or NCO soldier, that officer is supposed to give that soldier a silver dollar coin. This is a great honor for both the new officer and the Soldier. In all my years in the Army, I have never had this honor…until this last AT. And it was not just me saluting a new LT, but I was the first to salute a brand new Warrant Officer. This is even more special because all of our Warrant Officers (we call them “Chief”) were former NCOs.

The “Chiefs” went through more crap to become a Chief than any brand new LT.

Not only did this Chief give me a Silver Dollar, but it was a real silver dollar from 1901! This tradition met so much to this Warrant Officer, that he went out of his way to find a real silver dollar. This is one of the most special things I will remember from the Army.
Custom coin, silver dollar, custom coin

I was also “Coined” by our new Battalion Commander, who I had worked with in Bosnia, then later went to Iraq, but didn’t work with her there. A soldier is given a Coin for doing something cool etc.

Honor, Respect and Duty. More on these thoughts to follow at a later date.


Momma Fargo said...

Very cool post! Love the fact you have worked with honor and pride and defended our country! Hats off to you!

Coffeypot said...

Getting and receiving that first salute is a momentous occasion and well worth a coin.

Do you cops have a system like that? A silver bullet or your first issued citation (ticket) in a frame or something?

Kanani said...

Love the sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

1. Like the idea of coining for merit.
2. Got a drawer full of the things that were given to everyone in the unit.
3. The idea was to call a "coin check" and those not carrying be forced to buy drinks.
4. Didn't work with me. By the time coins started showing up where I was, had had it with CS.
5. Stopped giving to CFC, plaque funds and just about everything else.
6. Was nasty enough that no one pressed the point.
7. Think the tradition originated in AF fighter squadrons and other high speed, highly motivated outfits.
8. Given the rare nature of and difficulty in officially recognizing merit, love the idea of #1.
9. Wish I had thought of that, back in the day.
10. Keep writing. You and one Marine First Sergeant are the only people writing whose commentary might be of use to youngsters starting out. That I know of, anyway.
11. Everybody's talking about how to win the war or DADT or other big arrow stuff.
12. The troops want to know how to do their jobs, what to expect -and how you did it back in the Jurassic Era.
13. Hundreds of times, have said something and the young man I'm speaking to stares at me in astonishment and says, "Goddamn sir, that's just what we did."
14. Just know they have me rubbing elbows with Fred and Barney -but things are still pretty elemental when you get close to the pointy end.
15. Stuff I was told by WWII and Korea Vets, was true for me -and still is.
16. The problem with troop lore is that it's simple -but you don't get it if you haven't been there.
17. Laying it out short and sweet like you and 1stSGT Burke do gets the message across -if anything will.
18. People like me overanalyze. The message gets lots in the words.
V/R JWest

CI-Roller Dude said...

MF, It seemed like a lot of the time I was just trying to avoid getting into trouble!

CP, No in regards to the first ticket...but there used to be a tradition about our first arrest... getting a beer from the most senior officer...nobody seems to do that any more.

K, "First to Laugh!"

Mr West, I suspect if we got to speak with vets from the civil war, we'd all have a lot in common. "Our wars" today at least we have pretty good chow once the US Military machine gets settled in.... big improvement over past wars.

the whole "coining" thing sometimes got done at random...then there's the one cheapass general I had at AT last year who handed out fucking marbles instead of 15 dollar coin. The cheap bastard.