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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Hey All,   We all have to get along with others in this life.  Some people make this a chore and a difficult relationship to survive.  At times these interactions are forced upon you and you have no choice but ride them out.
     Motorpool, Korea 1983.  I called him Harvey because he called me George.  Neither is Militarily correct or our proper given names, but we both were E5/SGT and it became a accepted and even expected titles between us. It may be, that the position of Motor SGT went to his head.......... his ego to big to fit under his hat. Or, perhaps he just wanted everybody to be as happy as he was.
     I had been assigned to this position for 2 years now and he was the 4th  man assigned to this position since I had arrived in Korea.  It didn't take long for the enlisted in the motorpool to realize what they were up against.  He would overload mechanics and personnel with trivial things to make the day harder and longer and when he felt he had gotten under your skin he would say "ping", and smile and chuckle. He made it his mission to make the lives of those  under his command  as hard as he could, with whatever he could come up with. I was not immune to this standard.  Even though we were the same pay grade, he had authority of position, so I also had to follow his orders and endure his harassment, the same as the rest.
      Our first field training exercise together was in the humid days of Korean mid-summer.  We were camped in rice fields that were left unplanted.  After a few days of this mosquito infested sauna,  the CO and 1ST SGT announced that there was a reservoir about a mile from our site and everybody would get a chance to cool off a little.  A little relief from the heat and a definite morale booster.  Harvey decided that motorpool personnel would not be permitted to partake in this event..........he was taking in more territory than his rank and position allowed.  He informed the 1ST SGT of his decision.   Well, Top, as his position is referred to in the Army, wasn't giving Harvey the option.  Top had noticed  Harveys' methods of leadership by this time and informed him that all personnel can go if they individually want to.  Harvey was looking to me as his ally ........... he wanted me to talk to the men, as I had more influence with them than he did, and convince them not to go.  Well, that just wasn't going to happen.  I told Harvey of this and he asked me to side him and not go myself......I refused.  Hell hath no fury as a bully denied.   He through a fit that would make a 2 year old proud.  He went out of our tent and started screaming at Top. In front of the motorpool and other people present he just went off.   He raged on  "This isn't a Boy Scout camping trip!  We're soldiers and they need to tough it out!  This is F******* Bullshit!  You're treating them like children, This is the Army, they need to be tough!"   Top walked calmly up to Harvey and tried to calm him down.  Harvey continued yelling in Tops face, eventually settling down enough to take Tops suggestion of going into the motorpool tent and get a hold of himself.
     All of us enlisted who watched this thought that Harvey had lost his mind.  Insubordination and disrespect to senior NCO was not to be taken lightly.  Top let Harvey go with a warning.......he was fortunate that Top was the type of man he was, or we would have had a new Motor SGT in a heartbeat.
     One of Harveys' great ideas was to require everyone to work late to 9 pm, if it was their Birthday. You "earned" this extra duty simply because it was your birthday. This made sure you wouldn't have time to get cleaned up and celebrate properly with your friends after your time was served. Only the birthday boy and Harvey stayed.  He would stay  with them and give them odd jobs and cleaning detail in the motorpool.  These were not things that were of high priority or easily noticed. After you were notified by him that you were working late, he got a big smile on his face and said "ping!"  Which became his favorite word and he used it often.  Harvey became disliked by just about  by everyone who ever worked for him.............which was easy to predict and understand.
      Harvey decided that making the men work late on their birthdays wasn't enough.  So, he approached me one evening after everyone had left for the day and decided I was going to help him harass the men.   One man a week, would work on Friday night to 9 pm and I was going to assign them work and make sure it was completed.  I sat in my chair looking up at him as he stood above me, describing  with delight how this was going to happen.  I asked him, "how do you think that this is going to be helpful to motorpool operations and the morale of these men that you're  hell bent on pissing off?   They are doing a good job during the day.  Why make them work a Friday night for no good reason?   This is punishment for good behavior and their performance overall will ultimately suffer."    I might as well have talked to the commode.  He informed me that this wasn't  a discussion or a choice.......... I was going to do it.  The idea occurred to me that he was trying to make me as unpopular an NCO as he was.  I thought for just a second and said "no".  He asked "what do you mean,  no?"  I said, " if you think that I'm going to help you give these guys a hard time, think again. I said no"  "don't you tell me no" he replied.  "I just did", I said with a smile.   I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by his reaction.  He kicked a steel trash can that flew up and shattered the florescent tubes in the light fixture.  I ducked my head down toward the floor to prevent glass from getting in my eyes.  When I looked up he grabbed me by the throat and started choking me, yelling that I would do as I was told.  I didn't move.  I just looked up at him as he continued choking me and my face got red, I couldn't hold out much longer...........then I smiled up at him.  He got it almost immediately.  I had him for assault of  an NCO and his career path was now in question.  All that was need was a phone call to the MP station and we would have a party complete with handcuffs.  He released his hold on my throat and I was able to squeak out,  "Ping!"  He left the room without looking back or making a comment.
       I don't know that I'll ever understand why anyone would go out of their way to hurt someone or make another  life difficult.  Where's  the gain or benefit?  A happy soldier is a hard working one.  Maybe I should have filed a complaint against Harvey, but, I thought that the idea that I could have, but didn't, might change the way he treated others.  You know, show a little grace and mercy.  Get a inkling of understanding how the other guy feels.  It didn't work.  He was on good behavior for about a month and then was his same old lovable self again.  The brainstorm of Friday night work detail was scrapped though.
      This won't be the only tale about Harvey.  A guy that operates like he did usually leaves a wake of unhappiness behind him.  Unfortunately for him........he was caught in the wake of his own making.  He won't  find a place in his life when things will be okay or he would be happy.  His happiness was dependent on the unhappiness of long as there is anyone around him happy, at peace or content........he will never rest and enjoy his life.  People around him didn't have to stay and could find peace at a distance...................but he won't ever be able to get far enough away from what's inside his heart.  
        Until the next time......................God Bless.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Hey All,    Those of us that have pets , know how very attached you get to them and they to you.  They in every sense become part of the family.  They will do anything for us to make us happy......from playing and doing silly things to protecting us and our homes.   They are as dedicated to us as we are to them..........they love us without conditions.
      We had a couple of different dogs when I was growing up.  The first was a German Shorthair that Dad brought home, named "Chipper".  He was already full grown and was big enough for Tommy and I to try to climb on his back and go for a ride. In the winter we would tie slices of bread to a fishing pole and dangle it in front of Chipper who was tied to our sled.  It worked pretty well and we always gave him the bread afterwards.
        Tommy and I went to Loller Middle School for 6th and 7th grades and like the rest of the kids in the neighborhood, we walked. One day when we got home from school, Chipper was gone.  Mom took him to the SPCA.  She said that he had small tumors on his face and wouldn't be around for too much longer.  We didn't notice this but didn't say anything,.........we were pretty upset.
        Standing in the kitchen was Chippers replacement.  He was a Beagle /Terrier mix named "Teddy".  He was about a year old and at first we resented him. We missed Chipper and didn't ask for this new dog..........but it wasn't very long and he was trying to get us to play with him.  He was much smaller than Chipper was and easier to wrestle around on the floor with and even win a game of  "tug of war".  Both these hounds had the greatest dispositions.  I guess that was how Chipper got his name.
        In my entry "The Plumbers Assistant", I had come to stay in the 8th Grade with my Grandparents in Glenside, for my health so to speak.  I would take the train and come home for the weekends and if Dad was around, he would take me back  It was spring and we had a lot of rain.  Like many houses we got water springing up through the concrete floor in the basement during periods of prolonged heavy rainfall. I didn't have boots so I borrowed Dads, which were to big for me but they kept my feet dry as I swept the puddled water into the sump pump hole.  Mom wanted to go into Hatboro to the convenience store and Dad was going to take her. He informed me he we would be leaving  for Glenside shortly after they got back. 
         I was still sweeping water when they returned and I could hear the argument before they came in the door.  It seems that while in a heated discussion, Dad backed into a concrete base that a parking lot light was  mounted  on.   It  put a deep crease in his bumper...........needless to say it didn't help his disposition.  I came up from the basement and needed to get into my own shoes......I knew that I needed to be quiet and invisible at times like these, so I walked through the kitchen past Dad......with my head down and my eyes on the floor.   Things happened pretty fast....   my back was suddenly slammed into the refrigerator.   Dad had me by the front of my shirt and was screaming at me for wearing his boots.  My head rocked from the left to right from the open handed blows.   I started to bring my hands up to my head as protection..........then I remembered the last time I did only enrages him more.   I forced my hands down to my sides and held them tightly against my hips as I tried to force my head as far down between my shrugged shoulders as I could.  My face and ears stung  and I had my eyes squeezed shut...........suddenly he stopped screaming and the attack ended.  The screaming was replaced with a new sound.............I opened my eyes and almost started to cry.  Teddy had Dad by his pant leg and was growling, pulling and shaking his head back and forth as hard as he could.  He had pulled Dads leg back and had him off balance.....and it was over..  He tersely told me to get my shoes and if I said one word along the way............ he would stop the Jeep and kick the piss out of me.  I looked down at my already wet crotch ..............he already did that.  I took Dad at his word and didn't utter a syllable on the drive to Glenside.  When we arrived, I opened the door and got out and paused for a second ...........then shut the door and watched him drive away.  He didn't say  a word or even turn his head to look at me. 
           It was pretty amazing............Mom left the room and a dog came to my rescue..........  I was very thankful that he did.  I loved my Dad...... and I sure wasn't going to point out the fact that he gave me permission to wear his boots before I started sweeping.  I still feel the pain inside from those days.  Dad was happy go lucky guy before he went into the Korean War as medic............when he came home he was always serious and didn't smile much.  I can only imagine the things he saw.  No excuses for this kind of behavior...........but it never stopped me from loving him............even when it felt that he didn't love me.
          Teddy died at home, in his sleep from old age.  He has a special place in my heart........for in my life, very few have come to my aid when I really needed help.  I'm sure Teddy is off chasing squirrels some where, having lots of fun.  Who knows................maybe he'll catch one.
                 Until Next Time.................God Bless.