Currie walked across the lobby, picked up a local paper, pitched a buffalo on the stack of papers, and then walked out the door to the street. He stood on the sidewalk looked up and down the street nothing was new that he could see. Columbia South Carolina was not unlike Fayetteville or the 100 other cities and towns that the trains passed through, once you saw one, most likely, you had seen them all.
He slapped the pack of camels on his palm ejecting one from the pack he caught it and flipped it into his mouth his Zippo clicked once, and the soft yellow flame appeared. He lit his cigarette and then blew the first puff of smoke out. He reached up and pinched a small piece of tobacco from is lip. The porter arrived with his luggage and whistled for a cab.
Down the street headlights popped on and the Yellow-cab approached the men and drew up the curb. “Where do you want to go Mac?” The cabby asked.
“Headquarters Building,” Currie said climbing into the back seat,
“Yes, sir Captain I’ll have you there in a jiffy,” the cabby jumped into the front seat revved the engine, ground the gears and they were off in a cloud of blue smoke “We will be there in about 10 minutes.” The cabby said, trying to start a conversation. Currie flipped his cigarette butt out the window and lit another.
Currie ran his fingers through his hair and then his face and around his chin. He could feel the stubble of his beard, “oh well,” he thought.
The cabbie flashed his lights, honked his horn, and waved to the two MP’s that stood under the overhead fan in the guard shack, and rolled right on through the gate, the cabby made 4 turns and pulled to a stop in front of a large white building.
“Wait for me keep the meter running,” Currie said as he stepped out of the cab and headed toward the building. He took the front steps 2 at a time and then pulled the tall door open; the inside of the building was painted the same light green color as every other building the Army had. He walked to the desk, behind the desk were several sergeants and a lieutenant he walked to the lieutenant and cleared his throat “good afternoon,” Currie said.
“Good afternoon Captain, how may I help you?”
Currie handed him his orders and leaned against the counter.
The lieutenant opened the folder, pulled the papers out her tore off the first four pages, and then separated the rest. He mumbled to himself, “travel goes here, pay goes here, this goes here and these here,” The Lieutenant said without looking up from the stacks of paper, are you going to the BOQ or are you going to live off base.” He pulled out a stamp and began stamping the papers and without looking, he shoved them into the covey holes that were to his right.
“Was that on or off base, Captain?”
“BOQ,” Currie said
The lieutenant pulled several pieces of paper from under the counter. “Fill these out bring them back to me tomorrow, the BOQ is…” Currie filled out the papers and handed them back to the lieutenant before he had finished his rhetoric.
“Very good, Captain the BOQ is…”
I’ll find it lieutenant, thanks a lot,” Currie said and held out his hand “My copies.”
“Oh yes your copies and have a very good day captain and welcome to FT Jackson.”
Currie walked out the door the cab was waiting, Currie descended the steps and entered the cab “BOQ, cabby if you don’t mind” Currie said lighting up a Cigarette. The cabby drove 2 blocks, made a right turn, and pulled to a stop. “Here it is Captain; I’ll get those bags for you.”
Currie took his two rifles and carried them up the two steps and into the lobby of the BOQ. A sergeant with his feet propped up on the desk and making snoring sound was the only person around. “Excuse me,” Currie said loudly trapping his ring on the counter top. The sergeant jumped up and came over to the desk.
“Sorry Captain it gets a little slow around here and you know…”
“Yes, I know you were checking your eyelids for pinholes, I’ve done the same thing sergeant, but let’s not let it happen again shall we. Fix me up with a room would you Sergeant and make sure my luggage gets to the room I’m going to the O-club.” And you, how much do I owe you?
The cabby held out his hand and said, “two dollars and fifty cents.”
Currie handed the man three dollars and said, keep the change.”
“Yes Sir, Thank you Sir.”
Currie wandered out of the BOQ and made his way to the O-club he sat at the bar had several scotches before he entered the dining room. He took a seat with his back against the far wall, he enjoyed watching the people, and how they acted in crowds.
HE stopped the first waiter he saw and ordered his dinner he had the special soup, salad, entrée and drink. He sat for the longest time watching people he saw how some went out of their way to avoid someone or to pass close by them to make sure they were seen.
He finished his dinner and headed back to the BOQ, he checked in, was given his room number from the wide-awake sergeant and his key. Currie found his room on the second floor; it was like every BOQ room he had been in: two beds, a sink, a mirror, two dressers, two chairs, a table, and a closet. His A-bags were beside a dresser. Currie unpacked his clothes he hung his class A’s and dress uniforms; he tucked his rifles into the back corner in the closet. He looked around the room. Whoever his Roommate was, he was a slob.
Currie made his bed, and undressed, tomorrow he would join his company he was nervous his stomach growled, he knew this would pass he would be right with the world after his morning run. He lay down on the bed and was soon asleep.
Currie jumped to his the alarm clock was ringing, Currie reached up to turn the bell off got up he grabbed his shaving kit and towel and headed to the showers when he return he dressed in his fatigues, he ventured down the stairs to the lobby and then out into the chill crisp air. He checked his watch, a black faced luminous dial Bulova his father had given him when he graduated from the Point. Noted the time and began his run. H had no Idea where he was going, he just ran up one road and then back up another road and back until he had run for forty-five minutes then he began his run back to the BOQ his total time running was one and a half hours. He was lost on the base for one hour and fifteen minutes. He climbed the stairs to the second floor he shaved, showered, and dressed.
He headed back down to the lobby he leaned in the window two sergeants were talking and drinking coffee. Say would one of you call the 236th and have someone come pick me up.”
“Who would I say is calling,” the First Sergeant said.
“Captain Currie, Able company 236th commander.”
“Yes, Sir I’ll give them a call,
“Would you like a cup of Coffee sir, the other sergeant said holding up a cup.
“Yes, I would, thank you very much,” Currie, said taking the cup from the buck sergeant.
Captain, Able Company will have someone here directly,” the sergeant said.
“Currie set the empty coffee cup down on the window sill and walked out the front door. The sun was up but it hadn’t cleared the top of the pines and everywhere he looked, there was a golden glow. What a marvelous day it is going to be…” Currie hadn’t finished his thought when a battered Plymouth with a wobbly front wheel, puffing clouds of blue smoke came into view. Currie hoped that was not the company car, but when the squealed to a stop it stopped in front of him at the curb. He knew it was for him, all he could do was shake his head in despair. The driver slid over to the curbside of the car and opened the door. He got out saluted Currie.
I’m Michael Myers Your XO; I won’t make excuses for it, but it runs and will get you there, besides it is all we have anyway.”
“It will have to do for now,” Currie said returning Myers salute.
Myers opened the rear door of the sedan and made the gesture for Currie to enter.
I’ll ride up front.”
Yes Sir,” Myers said climbing back in and sliding across the seat and behind the steering wheel. Currie climbed in and slammed the door close.
“I’m William, friends call me Billy,” Currie said
“Yes Sir,” Myers said, as he pulled away from the curb the old Plymouth sputtered and coughed, blew blue smoke from its exhaust pipe as it began moving. Myers turned left and then turned right a column of white barracks came into view he slowed and then turned in beside the first barrack. “We have the first two buildings, then Baker Company has two, and so on, Headquarters Company is 3 buildings down that way. In front of Golf Company, Myers shifted the car and rumbled down the gravel road he turned left and then another left and pulled up behind Headquarters Company. “I wait for you,” Myers said.
“I’ll walk back to the company I don’t know how long I’ll be in there.”
“Yes Sir, but I would like to accompany you, I like to watch people and at least have a good cup of coffee.”
What we don’t have a good coffee mess at the company that will have to change coffee is the nectar of the gods, and something I enjoy very much without coffee I am not worth being around. Yea Come on I’m due a good cup too.”
They entered the building and Meyers led the way pointing out everything that Currie should know, and who was who, Meyers introduced the officers and the NCO’s that knew where all the bodies were buried. Their last stop was the colonel’s office Currie handed his orders to the colonel’s adjutant the major called the Colonel and told him Currie was there.
Currie knocked on the open door, a deep bass voice told him to enter, Colonel Snow, was a barrel-chested man about Curries’ height and weight but had the blackest eyes he had ever seen it was a striking contrast to his white as snow skin.
“It’s about time,” Snow said, “Oh, I see you’re here early, well that’s just grand welcome aboard,” he said. Snow thrust out his hand it was the size of a mitt and he squeezed Billy’s hand tightly.
Glad to be here Sir Currie Said.
Oh, I see you have met Meyers he is a good man the Point you know he will be able to give you the low down on what’s going on. If there is anything, I can do just let me know.”
“I will Colonel and the Pleasure was all mine,” Currie said then Currie tapped his ring on the table as he was leaving the colonels office.
“Oh, by the way, there is one more thing, I have a couple of personal weapons.” Colonel Snow looked up from his papers. “I have 2 target rifles I would like to store them in the companies Armory if you don’t mind.”
“I’ll have Major Moore write an order you’ll have it by 1800 hours.”
“Thank you, Colonel,”
Currie left the Colonels office and headed toward Meyers, Where’s the coffee Mr. Myers.”
“This way Captain, the coffee is this way.”
Currie and Meyers were drinking coffee when Major Moore showed up and handed the special order to Currie, he joined them for a cup. “Best coffee in the whole damn regiment,” Moore exclaimed, “none better.”
Myers shook his head in agreement.
Currie thought to himself “Not for long, not for Long I’m not second best at anything I do.” Currie finished his cup. “Major Moore, Nice to meet you, we need to get to the company I’m sure there is much to be done and I’m ready to begin.”
Meyers and Currie left Headquarters building Climbed into the Plymouth and drove the 200 yards to the company door.
Currie got out and Meyers slid over and climbed out ran around Currie to open the door to the Dayroom. Currie climbed the three steps and walked into the same old green painted room, but this room was different the paint was cracked peeling and the walls were covered in bare spots. The First Sergeant sitting at a desk closest to the door jumped up and called the room to attention the noise of drawers slamming closed and chairs being slid back, and the shuffling feet of the men was all that could be heard. “As you were,” Currie said.
Captain Currie, this is First Sergeant Kovac, Kovac saluted Currie.
“Sergeant Kovac “I hear we have a terrible problem here,” Kovac stood at attention he had the look of oh god another asshole I’m going to have to baby along. Meyers tells me that the coffee we make here is the worst in the world. See if you can round me up a fresh cup. I want to see if the coffee is that bad or if Mr. Meyers is just kidding me.”
“Kovac turned to Corporal Lay Get the Captain a fresh cup of coffee pronto.” Kovac said.
“If the coffee is as bad as he says it is that’s the first problem we are going to fix.” Corporal Lay handed Currie a cup of steaming black coffee Currie brought it to his nose and sniffed he shuttered then he took a sip he turned around pushed open the door and spit the coffee out and then he poured what was left in the cup out the door onto the ground.
“Good God almighty, Currie yelled, that is the worst coffee I have ever had. Mr. Meyers was right Christ sakes we are going to fix that today.”
“Your office is this way,” Kovac said.
No, where is the coffee Mess, Top.”
This way Captain,” Kovac led the captain to a small room with a window and a counter. An old percolator sat on a sad looking 2-eyed electric burner the chrome had turned black and only one eye was working. There were no knobs on the unit to control the eyes. Currie looked around behind him standing in the doorway were all the NCO’s and as many officers Currie opened the window and pushed out the screen, he picked up the pot and the burner and threw them both out the window. “Mr. Meyers requisition a new hot plate and coffee pot.”
“Captain, we have tried for more than a year to get new supply doesn’t like to give out anything we can’t get anything unless we get the colonel to sign and then it’s like pulling hen’s teeth.” Meyers said.
“But for now, Sergeant I want you to go to the PX and I want you to buy, wait I’ll make a list for you. Paper. Currie said, “give me some paper,” several sheets appeared Currie began to write soon he had the list made. I want you to go to the PX and buy what’s on this list bring me a receipt. Currie reached into his pocket and pulled out two twenty-dollar bills take some help with you and sergeant hubba, hubba.
“Yes Sir, I will be back as soon as I can, Laye you and Gleason are on me.” Kovac said.
Meyers led Currie to His office his office, a corner office with 4 windows a leather sofa, 4 chairs and a desk there were the standard pictures on the wall and 2 filing cabinets.
Currie sat behind his desk in a rickety old swivel desk chair. He stood up and pulled the chair out from behind the desk, “use this as kindling, and find me a chair a good sturdy chair.” He pulled one of the armchairs behind the desk. “Ok, let’s get started Pull the 201’s and let’s see what we have.”
Meyers pulled the files out of the cabinet and handed them to Currie. Meyers file was lying on top Currie read the file Michael Myers USMA 1937, height 5-8 Brown hair brown eyes. Born 1915 Suwannee Georgia Fluent French Ft Macpherson 1937-38, Ft Jackson 1938 excellent reviews He laid the file down pulled his cigarettes out of his pocket and fired one up.
Currie picked up the next folder, second lieutenant, Copeland Roger 2nd platoon leader, OCS Camp Shelby.
The next folder was that of second lieutenant Sherrill Evans he read on down through his file then placed it on the desk with the others.
The next folder was that of second lieutenant Charles Rawls. First platoon leader, BS Engineering, Colorado School of Mining, OCS 1939 Fort Polk.
Currie thought, what an interesting group of men, chemical engineer, a mining engineer, and a business manager. He picked up the second stack of 201’s the First Sergeant Kovac Richard Dick 1918 AEF purple heart, bronze star, Marksman Philippines, Scoffield Barracks, Bliss, Good Experienced, Competent. Currie lit up a Camel and continued reading the file, “good man to have in the clinches,” Currie thought.
Currie opened the next file it was stuffed with papers, Currie read on; Snipes Benjamin, Sergeant 1st platoon, Camp Shelby, Camp Polk, McCall, Fort Bliss, Busted 3 times, boxer, marksman, man of dubious character. He laid the file on the desk, away from the other files.
Wisecarver, William A. Sergeant, Medic, enlisted 1936, Ft Sam Houston Medical Course 1st class corpsman excellent remarks and reviews. Currie stuffed out the camel and lit another cigarette he crushed the empty pack and tossed it in the direction of the trashcan.
Meyers walked to Curries door, “Top is back.”
Currie threw the files on the desk and headed toward the coffee mess Currie met him there. Top had bought all the supplies that Currie wanted. Currie stood by as they unpacked the items. Two aluminum 2-gallon percolators 2 one-eyed hot plates, 24 blue porcelain steel cups 5 one-pound cans of Maxwell House Coffee and a large bag of sugar.
“Ok,” Currie Said pushing his way through the men, I’ll show you once and then by god we had better have good coffee around here or I will court martial the lot of you. Fill this to here with water, he handed the percolator to Sergeant Kovac, Kovac handed it to Gleason, Currie opened the can of coffee and began measuring the grounds into the basket Gleason returned with the water Currie assembled the percolator and turned the hot plate on HI. “Now when it starts to percolate set the burner to med hi and let it brew for 8 minutes and then turn it too low.”
Currie turned, he looked at Gleason “you’re now in charge of this coffee mess, you run low on the coffee you tell me, and we will get more. However, I warn you. You had better not run out. Bring me a cup when it’s made.”
Currie fished through his pocket for a cigarette, his pockets were empty “Does anyone have a Camel,”
Spivey pulled a pack of camels from his pocket, “Here you go Captain.” He tossed it to the Captain.
“Thanks Sergeant I’ll return the favor.”
Currie thumped the pack on his palm the pulled the cellophane tape he folded back the foil and then thumped a cigarette up he pulled it from the pack with his lips. The Zippo was swiped across his trousers and then a flick and it flamed to life Currie drew a breath through the camel and then clicked the lid shut. “I’ll be in my office he said.
“Here’s your coffee, Captain.” Gleason said handing him a cup
Currie lifted the cup to his nose and smelled it then took a sip, “now that’s good coffee thanks Gleason. Good Job.”
“Mr. Meyers tell me about the condition of our equipment, and what going on.”
“Our Equipment, Captain that’s a laugh we have no equipment the only equipment we have is on paper. Equipment we can put our hands on and account for are the weapons, each man has his some of his equipment, and some men have more than others and some have less. I guess we could field one complete platoon maybe two. The last three CO’s have always borrowed from other companies for inspection and then we lend them our equipment, so they pass inspection. That’s the way it’s been done for years.
“Requisition the equipment if it’s on the company inventory then we should have it.”
“Captain we can’t requisition the equipment. Supply won’t disperse it because if they do, they won’t have it and they won’t pass inspection. They disperse what they can get janitorial supplies soap and if the general signs off on it you might get it.” We have tried everything, except stealing what we need and on the rare occasion when it had to be done, we stole it changed the numbers, of course, then someone steals it from us it’s a vicious circle, but command is happy.”
“Command maybe happy but I’m not I want the equipment, the vehicles and whatever else we should have. I want the barracks painted, if we must do it ourselves. I want that Plymouth fixed or replaced it’s a disgrace. Mike do we have a scrounger, a company scrounger.”
“Yes, I think we do, I have heard rumors.”
“Who is it, if you don’t know who would?”
“Kovac would sir.”
Currie stepped out of his office, “Top, front and center.”
Kovac appeared seemingly out of nowhere, “You wished to see me Captain.”
Sergeant I want to talk to you alone, Currie waved everyone else away Sergeant Kovac Currie leaned up against the wall “Sergeant this is an off the record conversation it never took place. Though there will be some caveats attached to what I am about to say, do we have a procurement specialist, someone who can scrounge things up,” Currie said?
“Uh yes sir if this is off the record then I can say we have a man who would fill that bill nicely,” Kovac said.
“Yes, this is strictly off the record.”
“Yes, we have such a man, Kovac said.
“Good, Go get him I want to talk to you both.”
“You said there were some caveats Sir.”
“I will explain when I talk to you and the scrounger.
He’s outside Captain,” I have all the NCO’s assembled I thought you would want to address them before you talked to the company.”
“Let’s Go Top,”
Kovac and Currie Walked outside, Snipes popped to attention.
“As you were,” Currie said.
“Sergeant Snipes come here,”
“Sergeant Snipes, this is strictly off the record and it will be between the three of us Kovac, here tells me you are quite the procurement specialist.”
“He means thief,” Kovac said.
Snipes shot a look to Kovac that if looks would kill Kovac would-be stone-cold dead. “I know what procurement means Top.”
“You know how difficult it is to get anything around here, that’s why I need your help. We will submit a requisition 3 times after the third time if it is denied; I will use your talents to get what we need. I don’t care how you procure it or where it comes from, but do not take anything from the other companies in the 236th they can fend for themselves.”
“You said something about caveats.”
“This for the Company it’s not for the black market, is not for personal gain, if I find out you are using this for your own use. I will take it as a personal affront, and I say this with conviction. I won’t court martial you, I won’t transfer you to another unit, what I will do, is have you assigned to every dirty detail I can until, you or I retire from this man’s army. Do you two understand? On the other hand, I will cover your asses as far as I can. We are the only three that will ever know what is going on. I will have a to-do list for you by the weekend.”
“Yes Sir, we get your point, and thank you sir.”
“Thanks for what Top.”
“For putting the company first and not yourself, as the last three Co’s have done.”
Currie called out to Gleason and handed him his empty cup, “Say do you know where I can get some Camels,” Currie said.
“Kovac and Snipes left Curries office, “Ben You screw this up, and I’ll bury your ass under the parade field. You have known me for a very long time, and you know I will do it, this is the first CO we have had who was willing to put his troops first and he’s a fucking ring knocker to boot.”
Gleason returned with a full cup of coffee and a half carton of Cigarettes. “Here you go Captain, will they be anything else, Sir.”
“What do I owe you Gleason?”
“Not a thing Captain the coffee is payment enough,” Gleason said smiling.
Currie lit up a camel and returned to the files on his desk. “Ok, where are the bad ones hiding? I know they are in here he opened another folder Sawyer Joseph Staff sergeant enlisted 1917 Decorated excellent combat record, busted to Corporal 1924 Currie threw his file on top of Snipes’ file.
It was noon when the company returned from their forced march. He watched as they stumbled in “God I’ve Got a lot of work to do,” he thought.
Currie picked out Rawls first then Evens and then Copeland. Currie got up and walked into the dayroom he stood beside the door as the three second-lieutenants entered the room. “Atten-hut” Meyers said. The room came to attention Currie pushed his body away from the wall.
“As you were, gentlemen may I have a word with you in my office.” Currie turned and headed for his office the three lieutenants follow along behind him. Meyers followed the men into Curries’ office and then closed the door, Currie turned and looked at the three men “Your Rawls, your Copeland and your Sherrill, the men shook their heads as Currie named them. I’m Currie, William Davis Currie, my friends call me Billy.” Billy reached out and shook their hands “Let’s get some lunch and then we will get down to business. How’s the company mess hall?” Currie watched the men and their expressions.
“Uh, captain the company mess needs to be taken out, and shot and left for dead.” Rawls said. He was the first of the three officers to speak to Currie.
“In that case I think we will go over to headquarters mess I’m sure that they eat a lot better,” Currie said.
At 1330 Currie walked into the Companies briefing room, Rawls, Evens, Sherrill, and Meyers were sitting around the table Currie Set the 201’s on the table, Gleason walked in with five of the new blue enameled coffee cups, set them down on the table, and then set an ashtray down beside Curries’ place at the table
Currie laid the files and a pad of white paper on the table. He began by asking, each man questions about his pasts, his hobbies, and which field they thought they excelled. Currie listened and took notes.
“We are a rifle Company, nothing but ground pounders, we take ground, and we hold it, then we take more ground and we hold that too. We aren’t anything special… there are a thousand other companies that do the same thing we do, some do it better and some well they won’t survive when the shooting starts.”
“I was given some advice by a very wise man he said Endurance, Conservation, and Accuracy. By endurance, he meant to run 10 miles and be able to do what you could before you ran those 10 miles, to go all the way. He said, conservation, he meant conserve men, do not expose them needlessly, conserve supplies and ammunition. And accuracy, accuracy of fire, in the heat of battle the confusion the noise hit what you aim at the first time.”
“Gentlemen, this will be our new course of training, endurance, marksmanship, and tactics.”
“What about our Training SOP,” Meyers said.
“What about it, we run now we go to the rifle range we practice tactics, all we are going to do is shift the focus of the training to a more specialize area. I want to know what skills your men have that aren’t listed in their 201’s I want to know where the deadwood is and where I need to start chopping. Tomorrow at 1330 I want you and your Noncoms assembled in the day room any Questions?”
One question, what do you think about what’s going on in Europe and out in the Pacific?” Rawls asked.
“A friend of my father said by next year this time we would be tits deep in a world war, I’m not a soothsayer, I don’t know what is going to happen. But I am not going to be caught unprepared if war comes, I want to be prepared. We have a year to get organized, I don’t want to be sucking hind teat, when the crap hits the fan.”
The three lieutenants made their way to the coffee mess and each had a different opinion Think what you may, if war does come, I’m too young to be slaughtered; therefore, my friends I will train my platoon. Just like we were going to go to war tomorrow,” Rawls said as he drifted over to the window, sipped his coffee, and looked outside.
“Rawls has a point, it won’t hurt us, but it might kill us,” Sherrill said laughing.
Evens patted the Sherrill on the back and laughed, “You know he just may be telling the truth; I don’t suppose it will hurt that much. I just wonder if he will put his body where his mouth is.”
“Time will tell, wont it,” Rawls said.
Currie left the Company after dark he walked the three blocks to the BOQ Currie climbed the steps to the second floor and he knocked on the door and then unlocked the room. He showered and shaved, laid his clothes out for the following day and by 20 hundred hours; he was in his bed asleep.
Currie awoke to the sound of his alarm and voice of a man swearing “turn that gawd damn alarm clock off, what’s the matter with you, are you crazy it’s still dark out there.” Currie sat up in the bed and turned the alarm off Captain Jack Hill threw his pillow in Curries direction Currie threw it back but the man in the bed was dead to the world. Currie dressed in his fatiques, then headed out for his run in the cold January air.
Currie returned at 0530 and entered his room, Captain Hill was sitting on the side of the bed with his head in his hands, and smoking a chesterfield. “Morning,” Currie said as he grabbed his shaving kit and headed to the showers.
“Yea, morning to you too.”
Currie returned and dressed, Hill was still sitting on his bed, when Currie left the room, he stopped down stairs in the lobby and poured himself a cup of coffee. He had about finished it when Captain Hill came down. I’m Hill, Captain, Division HQ, do something with that damn alarm will you muffled it or something.
Currie went straight to the company, when he entered the room was dark with one light coming from the coffee mess room, Currie walked over peeked in the door Gleason was standing there pouring a cup of coffee “Oh Hi Captain, cup of coffee.” Gleason handed Currie the cup he was holding. Currie took the cup and thanked him.
Currie went to his office flipped on the light and lit up a cigarette he savored the coffee, he perused the files there was something, he was missing there just had to be, he knew that all that glittered was not gold. Moreover, he knew his company was not gold. The files told him what was on the outside he wanted to know what was on the inside of his troops.
At 0900 Currie walked into the briefing room Meyers was standing the other three lieutenants were sitting at the table “As you were,” he said, Gleason came in and poured the officers another cup of coffee from a decanter a decanter that looked as if it came from the officers mess. Currie uncapped his pen lay it on the Pad and then looked around the room at the men.
“Mike you first.” Currie listened to him without, interruption, when he was finished. Currie asked the next man for his views and observations. Currie made notes as each officer told him about their platoons and their men. When they were finished, Currie had the names of a dozen or so unique soldiers. A hunter-trapper skilled in tracking and a marksman from Montana, a gunsmith from Texas a racecar mechanic from Indianapolis, a detective from Chicago, an Italian from the Bronx’s fluent in Italian and several other languages, a sausage maker from Milwaukee fluent in German and French. A dozen or more soldiers were expert marksmen. Two top NCO’s with combat experience, Currie thought he had a good start on things. Still things were not all in place yet.
Gentlemen, how about lunch, they talked on the way to the O-Club. At lunch Currie let them talk, he listened to each of them he determined that Rawls was more in tune to command than Copeland or Evans. Rawls had insight he could see past the obvious and the tangible and see what was behind the door or deduce what should be behind the door.
They made their way back to the company area Currie made his way to his office and made some notes. He was lost in thought when Kovac knocked on the door “Come,” Currie said.
“Its 1330 hours Sir,” Kovacs said, he picked up his pad and some files and two full packs of cigarettes and followed Kovac to the briefing room.
“Atten-hut,” Kovac yelled.
“As you were, seats, Currie took his seat and laid his pad and cigarettes on the table, “gentlemen please stand and give me your name I like to put a face with a name. Kovac started the ball rolling then snipes stood, the others followed in order of rank and date of service. Currie stood up he lit a cigarette “smoke-em if you have em.” Firstly, do you have any questions for me and Men this is off the record so whatever you say will stay here.”
The men looked anxiously around not believing what they had just heard.
“What do we lack, what do we need here at the company, besides a 72 hour pass every weekend for each and every one of you.” No one spoke. Currie looked around the room He pointed at Kovac, then at Snipes, and at Sawyer and then at Warren, “a few of you have been in this man’s army for 20 years and you have nothing to say, nothing to bitch about, I can’t believe that, a miracles has occurred a sergeant without a bitch. I didn’t fall off the fucking turnip truck yesterday, and this isn’t the first goat fucking I’ve been too, but, since you don’t have any bitches and gripes to tell me about. I sure as hell have a few of my own to tell you.”
“I have a company car that looks like you have used it as a battering ram. I have a company area that looks like a pigsty. I have troops that look like hell and look like they don’t give a damn about anything, now whose fault is that, it isn’t mine It’s your fault, there’s no pride that I can see. Kovac, you were in combat and you and you and you were in combat. Whom here would you want beside you in combat, who would you count on, who would you trust with your life?”
Without hesitation Kovac said, “Sawyer.”
“Why Sawyer?” Currie said, “why not him or him?”
“Experience, Sawyer knows what’s going on.”
“Experience and you can count on him when the shit hit the fan. Now look at the man beside you can you count on him…”
“Most of us have never been in combat,” a voice in the back said
“Neither Have I neither have any of the officers Lieutenant Meyers and I spent 4 years learning how to command, how to use tactics, how to deploy men, but those tactics are from WW1 trench warfare. The next war will be very different, the battle lines will change 100 miles in a week not 100 feet in a year like the one they did in the last war.”
“Gentlemen we will be at war within the next year that I believe wholeheartedly I want to be ready I don’t want to see you led to the slaughter like cattle, which is what will happen if we don’t get ready for it. The Germans took France in 2 weeks.”
“If we don’t know how to fight it, how do we train for it,” Sawyer said.
“A wise man told me that to win this type of war you need three things Endurance, Conservation, and Accuracy of fire. You must be able to move and move quickly, a moving target is hard to hit. You must be able to sustain that movement until you reach your objective and then hold it. You need to conserve your supplies and your men, and you need accuracy of fire you hit what you shoot at the first time.
I’ll give you an example of the first two, we go to the range and fire 10 rounds then we run 10 miles, come back, and shoot 10 more rounds and the score cannot vary by more than 10 points. Currie said and snuffed his cigarette out.
“No fucking way,” Bishop said, “It can’t be done.”
“Do you want to bet, Sergeant If It can be done by me, then you and your troops can do it, don’t you agree, if I don’t make the score, we do things as they have been done in the past. When we are called, to fight we just go get slaughtered. I’ll be there in the rear to lead you.”
“Now what materials and equipment do we need to make this happen. Kovacs
I know you have a list.”
“Yes, sir I have a list been working on it for 2 years,”
“Give it to Gleason.”
Currie looked around, as the preacher says, speak now, or forever hold your peace.”
A cacophony of voices erupted in the room “At ease” Currie yelled “one at a time.”
“Doc you go first,”
Doc began and Gleason began to take notes.
Currie sat back, lit a cigarette, and listened a lot of what the men asked for was legitimate, only a few asked for luxuries.
Currie allowed them to talk until they started repeating the same needs and wants. “Tell me about this man Costello.”
“He’s a good man, they say he is damn good with a knife, he’s supposed to have cut up a few boys at his last post. Carries a switch blade, good marksman and he speaks that I-tie pretty good He hasn’t caused any trouble here yet.”
“Tell me about this man Jones?”
“Probably the best shot on the company, he used to be a professional hunter up in Montana or someplace like that. He can sneak up on anything that lives or track it down. Good man, popular, doesn’t take no crap.”
“Ok what about Snotky tell me about him.”
“Oh Snotky, the Kraut, speaks German, good shot, bad temper when he drinks, rough, tough, little bastard,” said Snipes, “I like Him.”
“Ok what about this man Bailey, Wilbur how is he?”
“Damn good shot, he’s a gunsmith, honest to god, he can build it or fix it, he would have made a damn good armorer, but you know the army, he keeps our weapons up to snuff.”
“What can you tell me about Wilkins, Horace?”
“He used to be a detective back in Chicago, he quit, when his partner was killed, and the Department, wouldn’t do anything about it. He’s a damn good man, expert pistol shot, even tempered, kind of a loner at times, but all and all a damn good man.”
“Have those men report to me tomorrow at 1400 hours.”
“Type up that list, delete all the duplications, and then get the staff started on typing the requisitions in triplicate. Oh, and get that list from Kovac type it up as well I want the first batch of requisitions on my desk for signature Monday morning by 0800.”
“That’s its gentlemen.“ Currie stood up to leave.
“Atten-Hut,” Kovac yelled. The room of men stood up and came to attention. Currie left the room and headed to his office. “Dismissed.”
Currie heard through the vents that the men were betting he could not shoot and run, “Damn I wish I could get in on that pool I would take those men to the cleaners.” He thought.
Currie finished his work for the day and at 1700 hours he left to go to the BOQ on his way out the door, Kovac and Snipes stopped him. “Captain Sir, Snipes and Me, need the Company Car tonight.
“Ok but Give me a ride to the BOQ first” Currie said.
Snipes Went into the Building and came out with the Key to the Plymouth. They drove Currie to the BOQ.
“Now don’t make me come to the Brig in the morning and bail you two out it wouldn’t look right now would it?”
“No sir we are just going to reconnoiter Sir, I swear.”
Currie opened the door of the Plymouth, He shook his head, reconnoiter my ass, and remember what I said.” Currie made his way to the door he turned to see the raggedy car drive off.
Currie entered the BOQ he looked on the bulletin board, there was a note addressed to him he pulled the pin from the note unfolded the paper and read it. He turned and headed to the phone booth he calls the long-distance operator and then hung up, the phone rang a few minutes later Currie picked up the receiver “Hello Maw, I love you,” Currie said.
“Hey Dad, how are you Things are going along fine here.” Currie listened and then told his dad “Goodbye.” his friend had sold his car and would be sending the money home and then his dad would bring it to him. Billy hung up and then ventured upstairs he opened the door and sitting in the corner reared back in a chair was his roommate.
“Hello, I’m William Currie, Friends call me Billy.”
“I’m Jack Hill, your senior by 44 days, now get dressed we are going out drinking and going to town for dinner, the hell if I’m going to sit here all night and listen to your life story I’ll have time to hear all that later but now I’m hungry and want a drink so chop, chop.”
“Why not, I have nothing better to do.” Billy pulled out his civilian clothes and put them on. They hit the O-Club first the only legal drinking establishment in Columbia, Jack walked down a line of cars and opened the door to a 3-window ford with a Lincoln engine. Billy settled in the front seat. Jack fired up the Ford. He put it in first gear, idled it to the O-Club three blocks Away.
The Two men entered the club and found a table away from the door and close to the bar.
“Now about 2200 hours the old married couples will leave the club and the split tails from town and the surrounding area will invade this place. We have good seats we will just wait here have a little dinner and then make our move,” Jack said.
Billy and Jack ordered dinner Billy had the special a porterhouse steak and all the trimmings Jack had the Fish, fries, and hushpuppies.
“So, what’s your story?” Jack asked.
“Mine it’s a long boring one so I’ll make it a short one. “Dads a Bird Colonel at Pope Field, West Point, he going for his 30, I followed in his footprints except I went Infantry, West Point this is my first Company, My first trial by fire so to speak, so I’m winging it, and hoping it will go well. Tell me about yourself?”
“I’m ROTC I’m on the Division Staff, the Division Commanders’ Step and fetch it boy attached to the public relations.”
The waiter brought the food Jack and Billy dug in to the food.
“There’s Janet, Betty and Laura and oh god there’s Helena,” Jack said pointing at the women. Billy watched the four women enter and sit at the bar he finished chewing his food. “Not bad looking girls.” Billy dabbed his last fry into the ketchup and ate it.
“Wait here, I’ll be right Back,” his words trailed off as he walked away.
He headed straight toward Betty and Janet he stopped and talked to them then pointed over to the table where Billy was sitting, within minutes, Jack was leading the women back to where Billy sat.
“Billy Currie this is Janet Marshal and Betty Ray,” Jack said pulling out a seat for Betty Janet sat down; she pulled her chair up close to Billy’s chair.
“Pleased to meet you,” Billy said charmingly.
Betty sat down close to Jack “our pleasure I’m sure,” Betty said in a deep southern syrupy voice.
Billy looked into Janet’s face he surmised she was in her late 20’s she was very nicely dressed a nice figure and smelled like a gardenia her blue eyes sparkled below her rich brown hair Billy sat back listening to Janet talk.
Jack made sure there were drinks on the table and plenty of them, Betty was hanging all over him when Jack stood up and gave Billy a salute, he and Betty walked out of the club leaving Billy and Janet and the Check.
Billy looked at Janet, “I hope you drove, I don’t have a car yet,”
“No, Betty drove but I have her spare keys.”
“Billy would you like to take a walk with me; I’d like to get some fresh air.”
Billy smiled and took hold of her hand he squeezed it gently; “Sure I would like that very much.”
Billy took Janet’s arm he stopped at the cashier and paid the check. Then the two of them stepped out into the cool night January air. Janet was telling Billy about all about herself, what she did, what she liked. Billy just listened. When they reached a small cluster of trees, Janet pulled him off the sidewalk; she pulled Billy to her and kissed him. Billy backed her into a tree and pressed his body against hers and kissed her. He opened her coat and fondled her breast; Janet made no move to resist him. Her only reaction, to his aggressive move, was to moan and kiss him harder.
He squeezed her a little harder, and dropped his other hand to her buttocks and pulled her mound to him his manhood began to stiffen Janet rubbed herself against him harder
“Oh Billy, your key is so big and hard.”
“Janet it is a skeleton key, it will fit your lock and definitely unlock your passions.”
“The only way we will know is if we try.” She bit his neck, reached down, and squeezed his manhood.
“Where’s the Car!”
“This way come on; Janet led the way to the car Janet got behind the wheel Billy joined her in the front seat. She drove him to a deserted place on the base turned off the lights and parked she slid across the seat she pulled up her skirt and then removed her panties. Billy unbuttoned his trousers, pulled his cock free; he got on his knees and pulled Janet over to him. He slipped his arms under her knees and raised them to his shoulders, he reached down grabbed his cock, he rubbed it up and down her slit until he found her opening, then he pushed himself into her belly until his cock was in her to the hilt.
Billy rested his cock deep in Janet he began unbuttoning her blouse; he pulled her breasts from her bra and began sucking on them. As he did, he withdrew his cock slowly until only the gland was in her then he squeezed her breast and drove his cock home he teased her with his cock played with her breasts.
“Oh God, Billy, For God’s sake, fuck me,” Janet moaned in his ear.
While he was fucking her Billy thought’ “this slut is too easy, she wants an officer to marry, he found it funny, but he also found it kind of pitiful; however, he hadn’t been on Post three days and he was being laid He wondered if all the split tails were going to be this easy.”
Billy held here tightly as she orgasmed, Janet shuttered, she clamped her legs tightly around him. She mumbled his name and pulled herself deeper onto his cock.
Billy’s body stiffened he plunged his cock in as deep as it would go, he spewed his seed into her belly he felt himself fill her. He pulled his cock from her and kissed her she pushed him back and then swung her leg across him.
She grabbed the door handle and opened the door she slid out of the car and squatted and pulled a seltzer bottle out from under the seat she turned the bottle up and put the nozzle in her opening and squeezed the handle the seltzer water squirted up into her and she deuced herself right there in front of Billy. She stood up put her breasts back in her bra buttoned her blouse and straightened her skirt. “Oh, be a darling and hand me my panties would you.”
Billy handed her, her panties. “Another use for seltzer water I never would have dreamed of that use.”
“Necessity, they say is the mother of invention she stood up and twirled herself around see, “All lady like again who would have thought,” and then she walked around the car to the driver’s side got in.
Billy got out straightened his clothing and reached in his pocket for his lighter.
Janet was watching him when she said, “That won’t be necessary, Jack has already paid me.”
“If I may,” pulling his lighter from his pocket, “ask how much?”
“Oh, 5 dollars for a screw and a sawbuck for the night”
Come on, I’ll drop you off at the BOQ or you can ride back to the O-Club with me. It still early and I may find another date.
“The BOQ will be good for me,” Billy got in and closed the door; they rode back to the BOQ in silence.
“Here’s my number, she said, “handing Billy a slip of paper, just give me a call and I’ll be ready to go when you are.”
Billy got out and walked the short distance to the door he watched the car until it was out of sight, he entered the BOQ and checked the board for messages before he went upstairs.
Billy opened the door to his room Jack was sitting in the chair reading a book.
“Hello, Billy, how goes it.”
“You son of a Bitch,”
“Aw Billy, I just wanted to welcome you to Jackson, I didn’t think you would go for a tattoo. So screwed and blewed it was,” Jack Laughed. “Oh, thanks for the dinner.”
“Were even I would say wouldn’t you.”
“Yea were even.” Billy grabbed his robe and his towel, “I need to go wash that lady out of my hair.”
“Hey, Billy, did you like the trick with the seltzer that’s something else isn’t it.”
I did but you know I like it when they use a hot coke, they say everything goes better with coke and it gives it a better taste.” Billy laughed and closed the door he reemerged a short time later, the steam rolling out the door behind him. He set his alarm and lay down on his rack.
“Do you always set your alarm for 0430 hours,” Jack said.
“Nope I used to get up at 0400 but I guess I’m getting lazy in my old age.”
At 0430, Billy was awoken with the sound of Jacks Cursing and the clanging of his alarm. He dressed in his sweats and his comfortable old boots; he picked up his rucksack and web-gear. He headed out the door for his weekend run of 25 miles. Billy stopped at the desk the sleepy corporal was pouring himself a cup of coffee. “Hey corporal would you have another cup of that coffee.
The corporal looked over to the window then looked around. “I only have this paper cup, Captain will that do.”
“Yes, it will corporal, I would appreciate it very much.”
The corporal filled it, walked over to the window and hander it to Currie
“Thank you, Corporal.”
Currie walked out the door and stood on the steps until he had finished his coffee then. He looked at his watch and noted the time. He began his solitary run, down one street then across the parade field, down to the rifle range, past the grenade pits, and the mortar range, and then into the woods that almost surrounded the base, he emerged from the woods behind the golf course and then back on the paved streets back to the BOQ.
He moved quickly, but not quietly he heard his web gear rubbing together his ruck sack jostled about and his canteen rattled like a snare drum He began to think of ways to quiet his gear to quiet his movements. There had to be a way to quiet his gear including his tags they sounded like marbles shaken in a tin can. He thought a piece of tape would silence the tags. Billy ran past base housing, past the one stop, past the PX, he was insight of the BOQ. When he slowed to a trot and then a fast walk then the last 100 yards he walked. He walked into the BOQ; he undressed, grabbed his robe, towel, and shaving bag and headed to the Shower. He showered shaved dressed and then headed to the O-Club for breakfast.
After breakfast, he headed back to the BOQ picked up two boxes and headed to the company area. He was about to enter the building when he spied the Plymouth in the Companies space it had 4 new tires wheels and hubcaps, new looking chrome bumpers on the front and rear Currie smiled and walked into the building.
Currie was about to call out for the CQ when Gleason and the rest of the clerks and even the signal corpsmen came into the room carrying the new blue enamel coffee cups “Good Morning, Captain,” Gleason said.
“As you were,” Currie said and entered his office. He heard the clerks begin typing and cussing. “These goddamn worn out piece of shit typewriters.”
Currie stepped out of his office, “What’s the matter here why all the cussing.”
“Captain these typewriters were made back in 1917 and they are worn out, we have tried and tried to get new ones, and all we can get are the ribbons for them, and a load of crap to go along with them. Supply has new ones, so does division, and the battalion HQ’s, there are plenty of them in Supply, I have seen them, but they won’t give us any.”
“Ok, I’ll see what I can do.”
Gleason finished his typing, he ripped the papers from his machine pulled the carbon paper out, collated and stapled the papers together, “here you go sir, these are the notes from yesterday’s meeting.”
“Thanks Gleason, how about getting me some coffee.”
Currie took the papers to his office and began reviewing them.
“Here’s your coffee Captain,” Gleason handed Currie his coffee and a box of requisition these need your signature I will have the rest ready this afternoon
“Say Gleason how many requisitions are you processing.”
“About 300, Sir then we will start on the 2nd batch; we should have the third set done by the first of the week.”
Currie began unpacking his boxes of treasures, it didn’t take long to place his trophies, awards, and he opened the left top drawer and poured the contents of the smaller box into it. He closed the drawer, and then he pulled a stack of requisitions forms from the cut-down box and began signing his name to each form. When he had finished, he called Gleason to come get them, Gleason came in, picked up one box, and dropped off another box full of requisitions.
Currie shook his head and started signing his name again. He stopped and shook his hand refilled his Parker with ink, and then wiped the nib with a cloth. When he was finished, he had filled his pen twice.
Gleason said he would hand deliver them to supply first thing Monday morning.
Currie finished his paperwork and started back to the BOQ he noticed that the Plymouth was gone and then remembered Kovac and Snipes had the key. Was this a good thing or had he opened Pandora’s Box; time would tell.
The Plymouth rolled up and parked in the company parking space Kovac and Snipes, pulled several boxes from the trunk, and carried them into the barracks. Kovac reappeared at Currie’s door. “Captain, I have those men you asked about standing by do you want to talk with them today or see them Monday.”
“Good thinking Kovac I will see who you have rounded up now and the rest Monday.”
“Very good sir.” Kovac said.
Currie picked up his list, If Costello is handy send him in would you sergeant.”
“Costello, front and center,” Kovac Called out, Costello appeared at the door and Kovac pointed into Curries office Costello was about 5-8 -160 pounds, black hair, black eyes, he looked like a typical Italian. Costello walked in came to attention in front of Currie’s desk, “Private First-Class Costello reporting as ordered.”
“As you were private and close the door,” Currie stood and looked at the private, “I have been reading your file but what isn’t in you file is what interests me, I hear you speak fluent Italian and some German, you’re from the Bronx’…”
“No sir, Brooklyn,”
“At ease Costello, I didn’t mean to insult you, I have heard that you also carry a switchblade and at your last posting, you sort of cut-up a few folks. I also here you are an expert with the blade.” Now what I want from you is the truth and don’t try and pull the wool over my eyes,”
Costello with a flash of his arm and hand brandished a switchblade knife in front of Currie’s face and uttered a string of Italian words
Currie backed up, “a simple yes would have sufficed you know.”
“Sometimes words aren’t enough to explain things.”
Currie pulled a combat knife from its sheath and handed it to Costello.
“Captain, may I ask you a question why do you want to know this stuff about me?”
“If you are as good with a knife as people say you are, I need to know I don’t want a bum training the troops. That is why I ask the questions.”
Costello turned and threw the knife at the door it stuck in and the point protruded through to the other side.
Kovac came barging into the room “Are you alright Captain?”
“Yes, I’m just fine Kovac, Thanks.”
“Kovac, you see any reason why Costello couldn’t be promoted to corporal, I can’t have a private training the troops now can I.”
“No Sir, even though some of the Sergeants wouldn’t think to highly of it but I’m sure they will manage.”
“And Costello the rest of what I’m been told is true as well.”
“Could be, Captain could be.”
“Kovac send me the next one” Currie sat down at his desk.
“Private Jones, reporting as ordered.”
Ed Jones was about 6 feet tall he had sandy brown hair and steel grey eyes he was slender and wiry looking fellow.
“I have looked at your record, I see you’re from North Dakota I’m from Montana myself, I have read record, you a good soldier overall, but, I also hear you are a hunter, trapper and tracker, how good are you and don’t shit me.
“I’m not as good as one I know, but I’m better than all the rest. You see my daddy is the best. He taught me how to track it whether it crawls or walks on two or four legs or even if it flies. I can trap it, cage it, or kill it makes no difference to me.”
“Anything else I should know about your skills.”
I like to fish, fly fish, I don’t like to fish where you drown worms that is for city folk.”
“Thank you private that will be all.”
“Say Captain can I ask what that was all about”
“Sure, I am going to have you train some of men in the company.”
“Oh, ok I would like to do that, you want me to train them to track animals.”
“No, Private Jones, I want you to train them to track men. That will be all private, dismissed. Next man Top.”
“Private Snotky reporting as ordered.”
“At ease private, I read your 201, and it says nothing about you being fluent in German. Care to enlighten me.”
“Sir it never really came up when I joined and now that Hitler is rampaging all over Europe I figured I’d keep it quiet, well keep it quiet as long as I don’t drink too much and when I drink too much I lose control and speak German and tend to lose my stripes.”
“How good are you speaking German?”
“Jahold Hauptman Currie, I speak German as good as the Germans do.” What are you going to do transfer me?”
“Not on your life Snotky, I’m going to make you a sergeant again and put you in the clerical section as my German interpreter.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Top send the next man in.”
“Private Bailey reporting as ordered Sir.” Bailey said in a long drawn out west Texas drawl.
Currie looked at the tall Texan he was slim he had tanned skin, or it was a leather costume pulled over him. He had cold steel grey eyes he looked like the Texas cowboy from 100 years ago, but he was dressed in green army fatigues. “Top tells me you are a gunsmith you just dabble in the trade or did you actually make a living in the gunsmithing business.”
“I made a living in the trade until the depression gobbled up my business, I repaired them, restocked them, rebarreled, and built them from scratch. I built long-range target rifles and long-range hunting rifles with Iron sights and optics.
“What kind of range are we talking?”
“With a Lyman Iron peep rear sight and hooded front crosshairs 400 to 600 yards. With a Unertl 16 x external adjustable or Weaver K6, scope 600 to 800 yards. Add a heavy 1-¼ inch diameter barrel in .300 or .375 H and H, a target stock, and 20x Unertl 1000 yards easy.”
“Currie let out a soft whistle 1000 yards. What kind of grouping”
“Twelve to fourteen inches, 10 shots bench rest.”
“I shoot a consistent 6-inch group at 600 from the bench.”
Bailey laughed, “Not with the weapons we have here they are lucky to have 12-inch groups at 200 yards much less 6 inches at 600 yards.”
“Oh no, Private I have 2 custom made 30 cal rifles Winchester model 70 actions star barrels Timminey target trigger and Unertl optics.”
“I would love to see them, and maybe fire them I do love a well-made gun especially a well-made American gun. I had plans to build a .50 cal long-range bolt-action gun but the depression took my shop and machines.”
“Browning 50 cal type weapon or a custom 50 cal I know the British have that 500 Nitro Express.”
“No Sir the Browning 50 cal cartridge.”
“What kind of action would you use”
“I would use a custom action or a receiver from a 20 mm anti-tank gun. we used have one in the armory. It had a range of 2000 yards and shoot accurately out to 200 yards; it was removed from our inventory last year.”
“Hmm, that is something to think about 2000 yards they would never know what hit em. Thank you, Private Bailey that will be all.”
Kovac sent Wilkins into Curries office.
“Corporal Wilkins reporting as ordered.”
“At ease corporal I was reviewing your 201, good marks good reviews, and you were a cop in Chicago, why did you quit.”
“I was a detective. First of all, I wasn’t for sale. When my partner was killed and the department wouldn’t do anything about it, I quit and joined the army,” He said angrily.
“Currie raised his hand, “Calm down Corporal.”
“Sir, it makes me mad as hell to be thought of as a washed-up cop.”
“Wilkins I’m looking for people who have more talent than just pounding the ground and carrying a rifle. I am not going to make you a cop here of transfer you to the MP’s. You can read a crime scene you see things others do not, where they might hide, help with interrogations these are just as important as shooting the enemy. Moreover, it shows you think logically. I believe we will be at war within the year and if we are, I want to, be prepared for any contingency that might arise. That will be all corporal.”
Kovac stuck his head in the door, “Captain you need anything.”
“Yes, Top come in, tell me about this man Waite, he supposed to be a mechanic.”
“Yes Sir, he used to be o mechanic on those Indianapolis race cars, he was damn good at it. He said he had to disappear when he got into trouble with the law, form what I hear it was nothing to serious.”
“Thanks Top that will be all.”
Currie returned to his paperwork. Gleason knocked twice on the door and then proceeded in to Currie’s office he put a fresh cup of coffee and a clean ashtray on his desk picked up the old cup and ashtray and walked out of his office. Currie just watched him saying nothing, he picked up the coffee and took a sip and then lit another camel.
Currie heard the Plymouth pull in to its parking spot, Currie looked hard at the car it had two dark blue rear fenders and one yellow and one light green front fender.
“Kovac front and center,” Currie called out. Kovac walked into the office Currie pointed out the window Kovac went to the window and turned to leave.
“I’ll take care of that Sir, Give me a few minutes.”
Currie watched as Kovac caught Snipes and said a few words to him. Snipes returned to the Car and drove it off. Kovac looked back at Currie from the parking space he shook his head up and down and then he approached the window.
Kovac walked up to curries window, “It will be all OD Green by Monday.”
Currie had told Meyers to give the company a 12-hour pass for Friday and Saturday he would give them a little fun before he worked their asses off and it all would start Monday. The range, the run, and the range would be the starting point. Currie snuffed out the butt in the ashtray, straighten up his desk, it was time for dinner, and he was hungry.
Currie headed for the BOQ to Change before dinner when he saw Jack under the hood of the Ford. “Hey what seems to be the matter Jack?”
“This damn thing died on me and now it won’t start.”
“Just leave it I have a mechanic in the company who used to work on race cars I’ll have him look at it tomorrow.”
“Ok it’s a deal but help me push it off the road.”
Billy helped Jack push the three window back to the BOQ and into a parking place.
Billy checked for messages on the bulletin board there was one from his dad he was going to be in Columbia Saturday morning at 1030 hours, Billy was to meet him at the airport.
“I won’t be walking much longer,” he thought. Once Billy was in his quarters, he cleaned up put on his civilian clothes and headed to the O-Club he had two thick juicy cheeseburgers and fries. He returned to his quarters to find Jack stretched out on his bed, snoring. Billy set the Alarm and settled in for the night.
“Just Imagine the surprise on the enemies face when that shell hit them at 2000 yards no report, nothing, just silence, then the report would be so faint it would hardly be recognized,” Billy thought, he lay there tossing and turning until he drifted off to sleep.
Currie entered his office he told Kovac to get Waite he had a special job for him to do.
“Kovac said Waite was with Snipes and they would be back shortly.
At 0800, Currie collected Meyers at his office, and they headed out to the division staff meeting, he caught Sergeant Snipes on the way out the door.” Sergeant Snipes, I have a little job for you and Waites. Go over the BOQ and you will find a yellow 3-window coupe parked behind the building, it isn’t running, find out what’s wrong. If you can get it running do so if not tell me what is wrong with it, here is the key.
“Yes, Sir we’ll take care of it first thing.”
Currie and Meyers spent 2 hours in the divisional staff meeting, the staff meeting did not tell them nothing new, nor did it clarify any existing questions everything remained the same.
One thing was clarified for them by a major in supply he handed Currie a folder with every single requisition form marked DENIED by a big black rubber stamp. “Captain Currie Supply does not have sufficient quantities on hand to disburse, what is needed to everyone who needs it. When we have enough on hand, we will advise you on when to submit your requisitions, but until then, supply is closed, except for emergency items and those will have to be approved by the Division before we will act on them.”
“How do they expect us to train our men? How do they expect us to do our jobs? You have the materials but until they overflow the storage rooms, no one gets anything. That’s bullshit; they are just too fucking lazy to break it out.” Currie said spitting the words out. “We are going to have our materials we are going to have the equipment the ammo and everything else we need one way or the other.”
Currie and Meyers rounded the corner from division as Jack’s yellow Ford rumbled down the street and pulled into the company area. Waite jumped from the front seat and popped open the hood and if by magic the rough sputtering engine began to purr a deep throaty rumble. Currie stuck his head over Waites shoulder and gazed at the chromed-out engine it had 8 Stromberg 94 single barrel carbs a Vertex magneto. Waite was using 2 small open-ended wrenches adjusting the carburetors’ linkage. Waite signaled Snipes to trip the pedal and rev the engine the engine roared to life and then returned to its deep rumble. Snipes cut it off and then restarted it; it fired up within two revolutions. Waite stood up bumping into Currie “Oh excuse me Captain I didn’t see you there,” he said coming to attention.
“As you were Private,” Currie said, “Carry on.” Waite closed the hood, and signaled Snipes to move over. Waite Climbed in the coupe and closed the door. He patted the accelerator twice, then threw the transmission in reverse and backed smoothly out of the space. He shifted the Transmission into low gear and let the clutch out, at the same time pushing the gas pedal to the floor, the rear tires broke loose and threw rocks and gravel and then the blue smoke began to boil out from the tires as they spun on the pavement. They burned a black patch of rubber on the road. The car shot down the road like a rocket on July 4.
Currie was in his office when PFC Waite brought the key into the dayroom; he knocked on Currie’s door, and waited for an answer.
Come in Waite, Excellent job on the car, what did you do to it?”
“Fuel filter was plugged up, and the timing was off a few degrees, the carbs linkages were all screwed up, a lot of simple things really. She will run like a scalded dog now; I suppose she could run right out from under you driver’s license.” He said handing the key to Currie.
“Thank you. I’ll see you and Sergeant Snipes get a 24 hour pass this weekend, keep up the good work Private that will be all.”
Billy drove the jalopy back to the BOQ, pulled up into the parking lot, found a space close to the back door, and shut the engine off. Before Billy could climb out the door, Jack came bursting out of the BOQ and headed straight for his yellow coupe.
“Gawd Damn Billy what have you done to my car.”
Billy looked at him and gave him the key, “here she better than new.”
Jack jumped in the coupe and started it up the motor roared to life Jack revved the engine several times and then shut it off he had a smile on his face that was as wide as the horizon. “What did your men do to her she hasn’t sounded that good since the day I bought her.”
“Jack, the fuel filter was plugged up the carbs were out of sync and the timing was off a few degrees and there was something else .Oh let me see oh yes, they said the last mechanic was an incompetent fool but I may have misunderstood what they meant.”
“I owe you big time, Billy, Big time.”
“I have to go into town to the airport and meet My Dad he’s flying in. he has some of my gear
“Sure, no problem I wasn’t going anywhere tomorrow.”
Billy woke up at the acceptable time of 0800, as Jack would have called it an acceptable time for Jack was any time after 1200 hours at least this morning he didn’t curse Billy’s alarm. He was dressed and wandered to the officer’s club and had a late breakfast and several pots of coffee at 0915 hours he started toward the Columbia National Airport.
He parked the car at the fence overlooking the tarmac and had a bird’s eye view of the two intercepting runways. At 1025 hours, a new Douglas DC-3 wearing the blue colors of Southern airways landed and rolled to a stop at the terminal building, he heard another plane landing it was a Ford Trimotor wearing the badge of Piedmont Airways.
And right behind the Trimotor a C-47 painted OD Green appeared Billy watched the plane land he saw the two puffs of smoke as the wheels touched down on the runway, the tail wheel settled to the ground, the plane taxied to a place in front of a large white hanger. Billy got in the car and drove it down to the C-47. He pulled up to the Port wing tip and cut the engine off. The ground crews had already chocked the wheels when the starboard engine shut down.
The ground crew opened the hatch, pulled out the steps, and hung them from the fuselage. Colonel Currie soon appeared he signaled Billy to come over. Billy walked to the hatch and shook his dad’s hand.
“Listen son, I don’t have much time, I am taking some VIP’s to Fort Benning. I must get moving. Here give me a hand Colonel Currie said to his co-pilot. “Then he climbed down the Ladder and handed Billy the Ghillie suit, the colonel grabbed the custom-made mahogany shooters box and walked with Billy to his car. “Your mom says to write her or at least call her, you know how she worries, and she sure does miss you”
“Hell, Dad I have been here a little over a week…”
“Son, she is your maw.”
“Yes, Sir dad, Call Maw it is.”
“Ok Billy I’m off, Oh I almost forgot he pulled an envelope from his pocket and gave it to Billy, money from the sale of the car.”
Billy Saluted his dad and his dad returned it with pride.
Colonel Currie boarded the plane the ground crew stored the ladder and closed the hatch a grown crewman stood in front of the plane and directed Colonel Currie he signaled for the Starboard engine start the engine started with a puff of smoke. While the engine warmed up, the fire crews drug the 2-wheeled fire extinguisher to the port side. The ground crewman circled his finger in the air and the port engine fired up Currie revved them up and then checked the pressures and idled them. The ground crew pulled the chocks and the plane began to roll the ground crewman saluted then turn and walked away Currie throttled up the two radials and made his turn, heading back out to the taxiway.
Currie leaned on the fender; he watched the plane take off and wing its way south by west.
Billy stopped on the way back and stopped in the Servco gas station; he filled the car with ethyl and bought a carton of cigarettes.
Across the road was a drive-in burger joint Currie pulled across the street and into a space he honked the AH-OOOH-GA horn and shut the engine off. A pretty girl wearing the outfit of the day skated up to his car.
“What will it be Mac” she said popping her double bubble
“You of course” Currie said looking as serious as he could.
“My name is Marsha,” She looked at him and popped her gum once more, “Do you see my name on that menu board? It aint now is it? If it aint on the menu board, you aint gonna get it.” She scowled.
“Ok, Ok, give me 2 hot dogs with mustard, chili, and onions and a large Orange drink.”
“You want anything else, to go along with that fry’s onion rings?”
Yea a large onion ring.” Billy said lighting a cigarette.
The carhop put her number on the windshield and skated to the order window.
Billy turned on the radio; Louis Armstrong was playing a jazz number.
The car hop skated up to his window he rolled it up until 2 inches of glass was showing and she hung the tray on it “That will be 45 cents,” she said.
Billy flipped her 6 bits and said keep the change.
Gee thanks, Mr. Rockefeller, you think you can spare the change.”
Billy laughed and bit into the hotdog he listened to the radio and when he had finished his lunch he honked, the horn the carhop skated over picked up his tray, “thanks Marsha.”
She looked back over her shoulder and smiles and then waved to him Billy started the car and backed out then he loped the car around the burger joint in first gear. When he was straight on the road, he floored it the coupe swerved a little the rear tires lost traction and begun to spin smoke boiled up all around the car Currie back peddled the engine a little and regained traction and he was out of sight of the burger joint in seconds.
Billy carted all his gear; his father dropped off, to his room stored it in the closet. He hung up his clothes and then thought “the letter,” he opened the envelope inside was a letter and a check for 950 dollars. Billy sat down and began to read the letter.
His friend was going to get married in the spring and he asked Billy to be his best man, he had seen the girl he was supposed to marry “OOF”, he thought, “you will need all the luck you can get with that girl.”
Currie awoke from a good night’s sleep today was the day he would prove to his men it could be done and he would show them it could be done. Currie called the company to attention, he took report and marched them to the rifle range the range was deserted, save for a few men and the Range master Currie spoke to him. The range master took control and Currie took his place on the range he was going to shoot 10 rounds 5 standing and 5 kneeling the range master had the target run up and then made sure all was clear before he told Currie to load his weapon.
Currie pushed 5 rounds one at a time into the magazine, and chambered the first round,
“Ready on the right: Ready on the Left; ready on the firing range, Commence firing.” The range master yelled out.
Currie took off the safety, hoisted the weapon to, his shoulder, and fired the first round, and then another until he had fired all 5 rounds, he reloaded took the kneeling position and fired the second five rounds.
“Cease firing,” the range master said, “Clear your weapon and stand down. Range crew bring target #50 to the front.” The range master scored the target, Currie shot 7-X, and 3-10’s at 200 yards a damn respectable score. Currie shouldered his weapon. “Let’s go for a run, top get them moving.”
Currie fell in alongside the men as Kovac led the run. They ran mile after mile after mile they rounded the last corner before the rifle range, When Currie noticed a large crowd of onlookers at the range the stands were full of NCO’s and a few officers.
Kovac brought the men to a double time then to a march, he halted them behind the stands and dismissed the men.
Currie made his way to the firing range the range master handed Currie 10 rounds of 30 cal ammo he held five in his hand and the others he put in his front pocket.
The range master took over and cleared the range, then told Currie to take his place on the range. Currie loaded the weapon, and waited, ready on the right and ready on the left ready on the firing range commence firing. Currie aimed and sucked in a breath let a little out and squeezed the trigger the rifle barked Currie ejected the shell and rammed another home; he fired all five as quickly as he could. He took the kneeling position, he loaded the rifle and commenced firing he fired his last five rounds into the black eye of the target.
The range master called out, “Cease firing and clear your weapon,” Currie slid the bolt back ejecting the last shell. he stood up and began policing his brass the range master had target # 50 brought to the range masters tower the range master scored the target Currie had 8-X’s and 2 tens He announced the score there was applause and a few boo’s
“Hey Top, what are all these people doing here,”
“Captain those in the stands, were here to see whether they won or lost their bets.”
“What were the odds 3 to 2 that you wouldn’t make it?”
“Somebody cleaned up didn’t they.”
Form the company up Top Currie said, while he adjusted the sling in this rifle and slung it over his shoulder.
“Fall In,” Kovac yelled, “on the double.”
The men scrambled to take their places in formation.
“Atten… Hut,” Kovac yelled the men snapped to attention.
“Dress right … Dress,” the platoon sergeants yelled the men jostled about and formed straight lines “Front.”
“Company Right … Face, right shoulder…arms, forward… March,” Currie headed the company back to the Barracks.
Currie halted the company at the barracks and yelled out “Rest” the men relaxed where they stood. “Ok, you have seen that firing 10 rounds run 10 miles can be done, it can be done; now you will be trained until all of you can do it. Are there any questions?”
Captain Currie Sir. It isn’t fare sir you shot those rounds with a custom-made rifle and we are going to have to use these worn out pieces of crap. It’s not fair.”
We will train with what we have, but I guarantee you one thing, we will have new weapons within the month, isn’t that right Top.”
Kovac looked at Currie and said, “yes sir, within the month.”
“Any other Questions, Dismiss them, Top.”
Currie walked into his office and sat down he shuffled his paperwork
“Gleason knocked on Currie’s door here’s some coffee for you Captain Crockett and those requisitions.”
“Yes Sir, Davy Crockett Best damned shot in the whole world. That’s what we say down there in Tennessee. And Sir Gleason reached in his pocket and pulled a wad of money out and held it up, I won the pool seems there were only 3 who bet you would win.”
Currie Began signing the requisitions he thought to himself, it begins Monday I just hope I can pull it off,