Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Stranger

Hey All.       Life is full of things and events that we may never understand.  The memories may dim with time and hindsight............. that is looking at life as a past event........ is said to be 20/20. 
  Camp Humphreys, Korea, 1982.  It was early summer and I had re-enlisted a few months ago, so that I could stay in Korea and get married.  The paperwork involved for a soldier to wed a Korean national took about 6 months to complete, with background checks through the military and Korean authorities.  During that time I was still assigned to the 213th Aviation Company  (ASH-Assault Support Helicopter).  Life was changing fast.  With re-enlistment in the Army, a fiance' and now a baby on the way..............I was adapting to the changes pretty well.
     It was Saturday, and I sitting on the slight porch at my "Hooch" downtown in the "Ville"  My Fiance" was out shopping and it was good just to sit and relax while time permitted.  I looked up from the ground as a unfamiliar voice called to me by name.  He asked "are you Specialist Scarborough"?  I replied "Yes, I am.  Can I help you"?  He was a tall man and as he walked through the open gate and  I noticed that he was carrying a book in his left hand.  He stood looking down at me and as he  started telling me things that he knew about me.  My name, rank, birth date, physical fitness scores  and military test scores.  I interrupted hm.  "Excuse me, sir.  Who are you?  How is it that you know anything about me?  How do know where I live"?  He just smiled without answering any of my questions. 
     He explained to me that I was being given a great career opportunity.  I was chosen to go to Flight School.  I would be sent back Stateside.   I would be trained to fly military aircraft and attend  Officer Candidate School.  He then handed me the book he was carrying.  It was text book on flight and avionics.  He then said  "We want you to read this book.  I will come back in two weeks and we will discuss what you've read.  Then well talk about what happens next".   Then he said "Any questions that you have will be answered later.  Understood?"   I said 'Yes sir", as I was shaking my head in disbelief and amazement.  I couldn't stop wondering.  Who was the "we" that the stranger referred to?
     I explained the whole story to my fiance' when she got home and showed her the book.  She was excited to say the least.  She was going to marry  a Specialist and end up with an Officer.   The whole deal sounded way to good to be true.  Why me, of all people?  I considered that this was some joke being played.......... at my expense.  I did not tell anybody at the motorpool and waited to hear if anybody might let it slip that they knew something.   They didn't............and I read the text book.
    True to his word, the stranger came back on Saturday 2 weeks later, right after lunch.  He asked  "Did you read the book"?  Yes sir, I did", I replied   He then asked, "Did you understand what you read'?  "Yes sir. I believe so", I responded.   He proceeded to ask me questions about avionics, the principles of flight and lift.  After about 30 minutes of questions, answers and discussions on wind shear  and how different types of aircraft achieve lift...........he seemed to be satisfied.  He asked me for his book back and I handed it to him.  
      He then repeated everything from his previous offer.  All I needed to do was say "yes".  It was that simple.  I hesitated.  The only question that I had, I then asked.  "Sir, as you probably already know, I am getting married and have child on the way.  We they be able to come with me"?  He didn't hesitate.  "No Specialist Scarborough.  You will have to leave them behind."  I paused for about 3 seconds considering this and then replied.  "Sir, I am very grateful for the opportunity.........but I won't leave them behind.  I know that I should jump on this and I may regret my decision  later.  If I leave,  then my fiance' will get an abortion and that's just not something  I can live with.   Thank you for considering me."  He responded "This is a rare opportunity that isn't offered to just any soldier.  Are you sure you don't want to think about this?  I can come back  in another week."  I quickly replied, "Sir, it won't matter if you come back in a month.  If it means I leave them behind then I can't accept your offer.  I am honored that I was thought well enough of,  to be considered at all".   He shrugged his shoulders and said " It was good meeting you" and then turned and walked away. I never saw him again.
     I never discovered the strangers name, where he came from or who the "We" was.  I know now.................what I knew then.  I made the right and only decision that was possible.  I loved my son from the moment I knew he was to be born....................no opportunity could come to me,  that would be greater than to be his Dad.   I believed at the time, that  I was marring the wrong woman................due to our battles over her desire to get an abortion.  A fight that I'm very happy to say that  I won.  In all honesty ............I COULD have left HER behind................but it was a package deal.  All or nothing. 
      I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been..............had I accepted that offer.   I never regretted turning it down.  I Love Charlie.
        Until the next time......................God Bless.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Hey All,        It amazes me sometimes that there are people who step forward to help others.  I can't really say why this so.  Maybe, it's because of all the bad things we hear and see in our world everyday.......that makes me full of doubt and frequently apprehensive of my fellow man.
    Fort Lewis Washington, 1980.  Henry was a head taller than my 5'9", was muscular and was half again as wide at the shoulders than me.   He was a was of Spanish descent with a black mustache, brown eyes and  spoke with a  gentle, soft voice.   I was to learn that Henry had not only a strong physical presence..........but had a calm, deep inner strength that I had come to appreciate and admire.
     One Friday after chow, Henry came to the room that I shared with a couple other soldiers and wanted to talk.  He wanted me to join him at the local Post Gym to workout and then spar in the boxing ring.  I stared at him in amazement.  "Are you kidding?' I asked.  "I can't compete with you. I'm nowhere near as strong as you are, you have longer arms and you outweigh me by Fifty pounds!  I get in one lucky punch and you'll kick my ass"!  Henry said, "you have to change the way you are looking at this.  You have already lost the fight because you believe you have lost before it starts.  Nothing has guaranteed ending."  I replied " Henry, why don't you find someone else who is a little more your size and weight'?  Henry then said, " you need to learn how to fight and protect yourself.  These guys will leave you alone, when they realize that you will and can fight back. You can't always rely on your speed to keep you safe.  So, after breakfast tomorrow morning, we'll go to the Gym, workout with weights and then spar a few rounds.  Don't worry, they have boxing gloves and protective headgear."  I just looked at him......I didn't know what to say. He was going to teach me how to defend myself.  I didn't know why he was involving himself........except that maybe he saw that I needed a little help and direction.  "You won't get mad if I hit you?" I questioned.  Henry said," No. I promise I won't get mad".  I shrugged my shoulders and sighed, "OK, but I'm not so sure this is a good idea".
     Saturday morning, Henry and I ate breakfast together in the Mess Hall.  We worked out in the gym and then put on the boxing gear and my lessons began.  At the end of our workout,  I could barely hold my arms up.  We spent other days training and talking.  I had become stronger, bigger and more confident in myself.  Even after Henry went home, I still continued training.  Henry was right.  The day came...........  all that  I needed to do was stand my ground.  Once it was realized that I would fight..............the harassment stopped.
     Henry chose to intervene and help someone that he barely knew.   Aside from teaching self defense......he also instilled in me a sense of compassion to be shown toward others. I learned that strength in not limited to the human body............it should be in your heart and character too.  The knowledge that just because you can hurt someone because of your size or skill............you should only do so in defense of yourself.................or even  the defense a stranger.  I don't know how Henry got to be so wise, but, I'm thankful he was willing to share.   Henry...............thank you for being one of my teachers.
    . The person you become is the sum total of the impact of the people in your life, lifes' experiences and how you react and respond to them.  We are better and  can be more than what we see in the News media. Remember this when you interact with someone, especially our children.  I can state for certain that good can be taught and learned.   That you have a chance to make a huge difference in a life ..............that will be felt by a heart in need.................... and seen by Gods eyes. 
                Until next time........................God Bless.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Night on the Town

Hey All,   This is another entry about SGT Harvey.  He was not one to sit idly by and let anyone catch their breath.  If you weren't stressed out enough, he was only glad to step in and make your life harder. Harvey wasn't as smart as he gave himself credit for.......................I guess I  have been guilty of that at least once.
       Korea 1983. Everyday, we usually had a brief meeting in SGT Harveys office just before we broke for lunch.  Everyday, he would go over the scheduled work that still needed to be done and anything  "extra" that may have came in for an emergency repair or anything he personally decided was going to have to be done before anyone went home at the end of the day.  After the meetings concluded you could count on hearing "Ping!", his favorite word.  I got the impression that he wanted all the men to know that he was the boss........that even I had to do what he said.  Which was a military fact as he had authority of position, but, it didn't stop him from giving out more tasks to have completed than he thought I could get done in a day.   He would say " George, write this down and make sure it's all completed before you leave tonight." I never commented, I just wrote down the things he spit out and nodded my head. It really didn't bother me too much, almost everything he assigned to me was already done as a general rule, but, I wasn't going to tell Harvey that.  He would just think of something else for me to do.
    One day, in Harveys office, the Motor Officer by name of Chief Barnes, SGT Harvey and myself were discussing motorpool operations.  Cpl John, who was new and worked for me, was also there, updating  the list of "deadlined" or inoperable equipment for that particular day.  Cheif Barnes asked " SGT Scarborough, how is Cpl John working out?"  Before I could speak, SGT Harvey, who didn't realize John was behind him,  spoke.  Harvey said "Oh, he's  such as damn screw up!  He doesn't know how to do his job!"   There was a awkward silence as Cpl John turned around with a look of disbelief.  Harvey turned around to see Cpl John standing there and was caught off guard. Before Harvey could say another word, I answered Chief Barnes directly.  I said " Sir, Cpl John is doing a fine job.  We do things a bit differently here as an overseas unit than we were trained to do stateside, but he up to speed and doing a good job.  Don't pay any attention to SGT Harvey, Sir.  He just wishes he was as smart as we are."  Chief just smiled and nodded his head.  A little while later, Cpl John approached me and thanked me for speaking up for him.  I told him "don't take a single word Harvey says to heart.  You are and have been doing your job.  No one is more qualified to rate your performance than I am and certainly not Harvey!"  He thanked me again and went back to work.
   First SGT  Pointer, or Top, as his position is called, was a man that I have the the most respect for even to this day.  He was a great NCO and he treated everyone with respect, no matter what your rank was.  It was his policy to take every NCO who worked in his command, out for a few drinks to get to know them. It was a Thursday, when Top approached me about going out, I appreciated the offer and gladly agreed.  With Charlie and his bio-mother at home, I met Top and a couple of Officers at a popular nightclub around 8 pm.  They all were just regular guys.  We talked and drank beer............after beer.  Seems that they really liked me, because before I could finish one beer, another cold one was waiting next to the last.  Well, I was drunk, good and proper, by the time closing time came around.  Top and the Officers helped me home and Top told my spouse that someone would come by in the morning to pick me up.  They came alright,at 6am, but, I was still drunk and wasn't going anywhere.
   It was 9am before I came around and I knew I was in big trouble.  Technically, I was AWOL, even though Top knew the details.  I hurried as much as a hung over guy could and caught a taxi from the main gate to the motorpool.  It was just after 10 am Friday morning when I came stumbling in the door.  I wasn't shaved, my boots weren't tied and my shirt was hanging open.  My Military appearance was awful ............I was out of uniform.  I walked into Harveys office where Chief Barnes and Harvey were sitting.  I closed the door behind me and tripped while walking past a chair.  Chief  laughed at me and asked "did you have a good time last night?  First SGT told me what happened and where you were before formation this morning. SGT Scarborough, you have always done an excellent job for me and have never made any mistakes.  You have the rest of the day off.  Go get some breakfast and enjoy your weekend. I'll see you Monday morning."   I stood there shocked and speechless.  I thought my career was taking a nosedive and instead I got the day off!  When  I found my voice, I said "Sir, I don't know what to say except............... thank you."  He replied "your welcome, now get out of here."  " Yes Sir!" I said smiling.  I walked out of the office and Harvey followed me out.  He said" George, you may have bullshitted Chief., but, this isn't over.  You will answer to me over this. Your ass is mine."   I paused for only a second and turned on my heel and opened the office door, Harvey didn't follow.  I explained to Chief Barnes exactly what Harvey said, word for word.  He nodded and said  "Sgt Scarborough, go home. I'll take care of SGT Harvey and if he gives you any grief about this, you let me know.  I said there will be no punishment and this is, and will be, the end of it."  I replied, "Yes Sir.  Thank you again Chief."  The men working the motorpool  knew I was in trouble and were waiting around the break table when I went to call another taxi.  I briefly explained what had transpired...........they were surprised as I had been.  Harvey never mentioned that day again.  Chief gave him a direct order to drop it...........he wasn't going to gamble with his career by disobeying it.   
     I know it's hard to believe................ but, Harvey was really disliked by just about every single person who ever had the misfortune of serving with him in the 213th Aviation  Co. Motorpool.  He was likely very popular where ever served.  Men that would have re-enlisted, did not, directly due to Harveys great example.  Men like this are a detriment to soldier retention..........they do our Military a great disservice and are poor examples of leadership and Military life.  I am thankful that I have met other soldiers who were the opposite of men like Harvey.......... like the night is from the day.  How grateful I am for the privilege of knowing  soldiers and leaders like First SGT Pointer, Chief Barnes and many others................they were the faces of men with integrity and honor and their influence has followed me to this day.  These words are all I have to share for the impact they had on my life..............each of them has taught me something about being man.
                      Until Next Time.............................God Bless.