Currie had briefed his company, he had proven it could be done, he laid out his training plan for the company 10 miles was the goal, yet, Currie knew he would be satisfied with a consistent five. In addition, Costello will teach you all the down and dirty ways to kill with a knife. Costello stood and took a bow. Currie had Doc stand; Doc will fix you up when you get cut. He had all the expert marksmen stand; they were to teach the rest of the company to become expert marksman.
“There will be no excuses for being a poor shot, Men it’s very simple you shoot at your enemy and miss your enemy shoots and kills you, the only way to stay alive is not to miss what you are shooting. Currie called upon the men to move in closer around him” Men, before the year is out we will in a war right up to our tits, you read the papers you see the news reels, you see what Japan is doing in China and southeast Asia and what Hitler and Mussolini are doing in Europe. I don’t want to get caught sitting on the privy, with my pants down around my ankles and not be ready. I am also aware that war may not come, but do you want to take the chance. Do you want to gamble your lives on it? I certainly don’t want too.”
I’m not going to sit at my desk, look out the window, and watch you train. When you run, I run, when you shoot, I shoot, when you run the obstacle course, I run it too, when you play with your knives, I will be there to play with mine.”
“You know the rewards; you train you show improvement you get passes.”
“What if we can’t or don’t get better.” A voice in the back sounded out.
“If you can’t get into shape or you don’t become better the enemy will kill you.”
If you continue to show improvement or show significant improvement and get in the best condition you can, we will reward you. Otherwise, I won’t have to punish you; the enemy will kill you and everyone around you. Everyone here has a stake in the man beside him if he screws up or you screw up, you’re both dead. If the man next to you needs help doing something, learning something, help him. If any of you want to transfer out of the company submit, your paperwork to Gleason. Otherwise moan, groan, and bitch about it while you are on those 24 and 48 hour passes.”
“Doc, where are you, since you don’t shoot, I am going to approve you for those schools.”
“All right anybody, have any questions, gripes, bitches, let’s hear them, Currie looked at his officers and then at his troops, “All right Top they are all yours.”
“Atten…hut,” Kovac, yelled the troops scrambled to their feet and stood at attention Currie and his lieutenants left the group of men. Currie was entering the barracks when he heard Kovac yell dismissed.
Currie sat at his desk he finished the training schedule he had integrated his training SOP with the existing company training SOP, he deleted nothing he just added to it. “Gleason come in here” Currie called out, Gleason poked his head around the doorjamb and knocked “Come in Gleason, bring me a cup of coffee, and then find Snipes, have him report to me ASAP.”
“Yes Sir, Captain right away.”
Currie sat back leafing through a stack of disapproved requisitions, he lit a Camel, Currie sometimes wondered why he even smoked sometimes a pack of camels would last him a whole week and other time they wouldn’t last a day, but he did like the way they tasted.
“Here’s your coffee Sir, Snipes will be here in a little while when he returns, I will have him report.”
“Very good Corporal,” Currie said.
Currie waited for Snipes, he looked at his calendar, and began looking back at the months that had passed. He started keeping track, of what Hitler and the Japanese were doing, at Fort Bliss; the calendar was full of Black and Red X’s Black for Hitler and Red for the Japanese. He looked at the black X’s Hitler invaded; Norway April 9, 1940, France, May 10, Belgium May 17, Dunkirk, May 26, He began the Bombing of England, July 10, He dropped the page and looked at the X’s he had logged so far in 1941.
Just last September FDR had signed the Draft Act and Fort Jackson was filling with men, he hoped he could keep his company intact. New buildings were being built and roads were being cut and paved. The base was in a state of chaos to which Snipes would say was a blessing.
Currie looked up to see who was knocking on his door, “Come, Ah Sergeant Snipes, look at these, Supply seems to have a hard time finding or filling these requisitions. Snipes looked through the stack of requisitions.
“Might take a while, but I’m sure they can be located, I don’t see a big problem getting them filled. An Anti-tank gun, Sir.”
“I believe Dawg Company 3rd battalion has one, Oh and Sergeant, good hunting.”
” I’ll see what I can do.” Snipes said leaving Curries office.
The weather, in South Carolina in February was cloudy and cold, a nasty wet cold that on some days would pierce the skin to the bone. It seemed to Currie that no matter how he dressed, the cold nagged at him. His only true salvation was the coffee that Gleason brewed daily. He drank his hot and black, truly, if there was anything better, the God’s were keeping it to them, they didn’t want mortals to enjoy.
Currie was restless he sensed something was about to happen he just didn’t know what.
Gleason walked in to Currie’s office carrying a pot of coffee, “here you go boss, fresh, fresh beans, fresh ground, fresh made,” Gleason chuckled and poured Curries cup full. “I’ll be back in a bit to top it off.”
Currie kicked back in his chair, putting his feet up on the corner of his desk, he rolled the hot cup back and forth in his hands and sniffed the aroma of the coffee. He lit a camel and sat there enjoying himself when a deuce and a half rumbled by his window cutting the corner and coming dangerously close to curries office wall.
Currie watched as Snipes and a handful of men formed a bucket brigade line to unload the truck, they unloaded boxes, crates sacks barrels and buckets there was a flurry of activity the men slammed the tailgate shut, and the truck took off disappearing around the corner of the barracks.
Currie had finished his coffee when Gleason came in with the pot and filled his cup and handed him a handful of rumpled and crumpled requisition forms marked complete with some chicken scratches for a signature that was almost impossible to decipher.
“File these would you Gleason,” Currie looked at the Training SOP and reread the manual he made a few notes and made a few marks in the margins of the pages. With the new schedule he would use up a year’s supply of ammo in 3 months with the new M-1 Rifles. He wrote a note for Snipes indicating ammo would be a priority in his acquisitions.
Every day, Monday through Friday, Currie trained his men, PT, Calisthenics, running the obstacle course, hand-to-hand combat including knife training, rifle range, running and the ever-popular forced 20-mile march. Moreover, they complained worse than a dozen old maids with piles, yet, on Friday afternoon when passes were handed out the complaining stopped, and the smiles began to show through their aching faces.
Currie worked his men he worked himself every day he would add a few more pushups, a few more sit-ups, a few more jumping jacks, he would decrease the time for the obstacle course by a few seconds each time they ran it.
He began to transfer men out who didn’t care, or were slackers, or just weren’t physically able to keep up he sent them to the motor pool the Mess hall if they were good men close to retirement Currie put them in the clerical section until they cashed out.
Currie set up his network of Officers, classmates and friends, at the Headquarters of the Battalions and the Regiment. Jack Hill was sitting pretty, right in the middle of the Division’s Headquarters in a place where he heard about everything that went on. At the motor pool, he had Captain Miller, who would do anything he asked, for a dinner at the O-club. However, supply was different; he could not find anyone who was sympathetic with his plight. He had even wormed his way into the base commander’s office, after a visit from his dad who was a friend of the Major General.
The weeks went by the training was progressing as well as could be expected. Currie and Meyers headed off to the regimental staff meeting for their once a month boredom session. Currie was stopped in the hall by the Executive Officer of second battalion a Major Phillips, who inquired if Currie had any information of certain Plymouth body parts, namely a hood. Someone had swapped a battered hood for his hood. He inquired if Able Company was losing items that had been set on the loading dock. Currie listened intently, but shook his head; no, he didn’t know anything about it. He would keep his eyes open, and if he saw anything, he would let the Major know.
Captain Miller in the motor pool asked Currie when he was going to return the Diamond T 6X6 they had checked out. Currie said he would have it there first thing Monday morning, he told Miller he had been a lifesaver. Currie offered to buy the man dinner at the O-Club to thank him Miller accepted immediately without hesitation. “Around 2000 hours, that will give the O-Club time to clear out a little.” He patted Miller on the back as they walked into the briefing room. Miller was saying how he was responsible for that truck and if it were lost, he would owe the two thousand two hundred ninety-one dollars and eighty-seven cents, it would come out of his pocket, and he would be court-martialed and…
The Meeting came to order, the regimental commander had his staff give their reports all had the same things to say as they said last month. The S-4 said that it seemed that there was wholesale pilfering of supplies and materials, and it was on the increase and it had to be stopped, his inventory was now in such a shamble that only a Regimental wide inventory would or could resolve the problem. He expected all the companies to cooperate fully. The regimental commander said that in all armies, pilfering was inevitable, but what was going on now had to stop.
After the Regimental staff meeting broke up Currie asked the S-4 a Lieutenant Colonel Ponds, what had been taken or was it just a combination of items that brought it to their notice. Ponds spoke more with his hands than he said it seems that 16 brand new wide carriage Royal typewriters were taken off the dock right under the noses of the MP’s and his supply clerks. Currie wished him well and hoped he would find them soon.
When Currie entered Able company headquarters he looked at the typewriters he counted 4 brand new Royal Typewriters “Gleason do you have a requisitions for these new typewriters, If you do great if not I want them painted, camouflaged ,scuffed, scarred, and made to look 10 years old,”
Gleason stopped typing, “Yes sir, a coat of paint it is, right away sir.”
Currie could only wonder where the other twelve were, but he knew Snipes had something to do with it.
On his desk was a pile of crumpled requisition forms, one was for 10000 rounds 30 cal M2 ball ammunition. “We had better get to the range and dispose of this evidence.” He thought.
Currie heard the squeal of brakes he looked out the window and saw a deuce and a half being followed by a command car full of MP’s pull up to the barracks door, “Christ the shit is in the fan now.” Currie stood up then he saw the MP’s get out of the command car and help unload the truck the men unloaded the cargo of 10 large crates and 2 small boxes. The MP’s entered the barracks and reemerged each carrying two cases of beer. Currie sat down in his chair and watched as the MP’s drove off.
Currie’s curiosity had gotten the best of him, he grabbed his hat, and headed for the supply room, he climbed the ladder to the loading dock and knocked on the door, the door opened an inch, and a voice called out, “who is there.”
“Captain Currie that’s who’s there.”
The door opened slowly, Sergeant snipes in his fatigues, and a t-shirt stood in the doorway. “Come in Captain.” The room was packed from floor to ceiling with boxes, crates, and burlap sacks.
“Sergeant, would you care to explain all this.”
“Sir as you know, there are a lot of Items we need, and some can’t be procured outright so we trade for them. We needed the Ammo the Ammo dump needed some carts, the motor pool had the carts, but wanted some typewriters and some desks, supply had the desk and the typewriters, but they needed tents, the MP’s had the extra tents, but they wanted typewriters and some beer.”
“I saw the MP’s help unload the truck.”
“Don’t worry Sir the MP’s will pick up and deliver for the beer and whisky.”
“Where do you get the beer and Whisky?”
“Uh, we buy it at Fort Gordon in Augusta”
“I know where Fort Gordon is how do you get there to buy beer and whisky and where do you get the money to buy it.”
“Sir, Supply goes to Fort Gordon every week and we just fall in with them and follow them down and buy the beer and whisky from the green front store.
“The Money Sergeant,” Currie was getting a little frustrated when a voice from behind several boxes said the Poker house.
“Currie mouthed the words Poker House. “What Poker house.”
“Costello appeared from behind some boxes. Sir, it’s like this up in Brooklyn I ran a poker house for the family. It was not hard to start one here one parlor is for officers only, its open on Friday and Saturday nights the house gets 10% and controls the games. We took up a collection from the men for the startup expense and we do a good business on a good night we clear 300 dollars or more a night. The other parlor is for NCO’s only its open Saturday night only it moves from spot to spot the house get 20% we have the MP’s as security, and we split the money with them we make about 200 dollars a night. The wheels are greased, and things are going very smoothly. A few of the gamblers are indebted to us to the tune of 2000 dollars.”
“How long would it take you to close up shop for a while the General is pissing on the provost to get this crap cleaned up, we need to lay low for a while and let things cool down.”
“I can have it taken care of in a couple of nights.”
“Do it and for god’s sake slow down a little would you.”
Currie walked out the door shaking his head.
Costello looked at Snipes and Kovac, “that went rather well don’t you think.”
Snipes and Kovac looked at each other, “What was that all about,’ Kovac said.
“The boss is nervous, let’s take it down a notch, we still have a lot to do we have to get rid of all of our old crap and bring in the new and we need to do it over time not in one fell swoop.” Snipes said.
Currie was walking to the BOQ when Jack pulled up beside him and yelled for him to get in “we are going to dinner it’s on me.”
“That sounds real good let’s try the hotel in town, I hear they have a damn good Kansas City steak.” Billy opened the door and climbed in.
Jack drove to downtown Columbia; he pulled in to the parking lot across the street from the hotel. “Let’s go I been having hunger pangs ever since you mentioned that steak.”
Billy laughed, “come on don’t dawdle.”
They entered the hotel and headed to the dining room, the maître’ de had them wait a few minutes before he guided them to their seats. He pulled their seats out for them and called their waiter over to the table.
“May I take your order Captain?”
I’ll have the large Kansas City, medium rare, with a baked potato, salad with oil and vinegar and iced tea.” Billy said looking at the menu, “and for desert I have a slice of Apple Pie.”
“Very good sir, and for you Captain, what would you like to order this evening.”
“I’ll make it easy on you; I’ll have the same thing but cook the steak medium.”
“Excellent Sir,” the waiter disappeared.
The conversation during dinner ranged from A to Z and then everything in between but mostly W. The talk was about a war Jack and Billy set up the battle lines with the items on the table and played their war games. Neither of them noticed the figure that stood beside their table, until the point of a gold pen tapped on the table, they looked up at a very distinguished looking man.
“Always pay attention to your flanks Captains or the enemy will make an end run around your lines and bite you right-square in the buttocks.”
“Come on General, let the boys play their war games, you had your war.”
“Yes mother,” he looked at Billy, your right Son war is coming, and we are no more prepared to fight a war than I can walk on water.”
His wife gently tugged on his arm “Why General, I thought you did walk on water that’s why I married you all those years ago.”
The General patted her hand and looked at her, “You are the reason I can walk on water mother.”
“Good night boys,” She said.
“Good night General, Ma’am,” Billy said.
“Who was that masked man?” Jack asked.
Billy shrugged his shoulders. A pretty young woman stopped by the table, that masked man was retired Major General Gerald Smith, my dad,” she said in a seductive southern voice, “Good night, Captains” she turned and followed her parents out the door.
Billy murmured as he watched the woman walk toward the door “now those flanks I could watch all day,” the woman looked back at the two men one more time before she disappeared.
Billy stopped the waited “Does the general come often to dinner here.”
“If every Friday at 730 is often then yes he does”
“Does his daughter often accompany him she is here every other week do you know if she is married?”
“Not that I know of,” The waiter said.
Currie handed the Waiter a five-dollar bill, “now there will be another five-dollar bill if you call me the next time, she comes in here’s my number.”
“Yes, Sir I will definitely give you a call.”
“You know Jack I’m going to marry that women.”
“Oh, come on Billy, you can’t be serious you’re kidding me aren’t you.”
“Not on your life Jack I as serious as I can be.”
Jack paid the bill, and then clapped his hands together, “Let’s go to the club, and have a drink.”
“Drop me off at the BOQ I have some reading to do.”
“Can’t do it old man after one drink you can go to the BOQ and read until your hearts is content.”
Billy nodded, “Where are my manners of course you are right, but one drink and one drink only.”
“Fair enough,” Jack said smiling like a Cheshire Cat.
Jack drove down the boulevard to the base. They stopped at a red-light Billy looked out the window into the display window of the Chevrolet Dealership and on the turntable was a brand new 1941 Custom Deluxe yellow convertible coupe with a tan top. “UH, Jack how about dropping me off in town tomorrow.”
“Billy this car is your car, take it whenever you like.”
“I know that Jack, but I just saw the Car I’m going to buy.”
“You know what kind you’re going to buy.”
“Oh, yea I sure do.”
“Sure, what time do you want to go?”
“After my run say around 10 or so.”
Jack pulled up to the club and parked,
Billy and Jack sat at the O-Club and had a few drinks, Jack said Smartly, “To sum up this evening; you saw the girl you’re going to marry, you saw the car you’re going to buy, and are you going to buy the rings while you’re at it.
“Good Idea, might as well,” hoisting the drink to his lips, “might as well.”
“Jack shook his head, “what is it Friday the 13th? Did we just walk under a ladder? Did a black cat cross our path? I don’t remember seeing it. Billy, sometimes I don’t know about you.”
“What’s to know? I see what I want, and I go after it and I get it by hook or by crook and pity the poor bastard that gets in my way.”
Jack looked at Billy, he saw into him it was like looking through a clear sheet of glass. Jack shuttered; Billy was right you didn’t want to get on his bad side at all. Jack had never seen such coldness in any man before, a coldness that would allow Billy to kill a man without a second thought. Jack feigned a smile and gave a halfhearted laugh, “I’m done for the night.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“What time tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” Billy said, “Oh yea after my run about 1000 hours.”
Late Saturday afternoon, Billy returned to post driving a new 1941 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe Convertible he bought the yellow convertible with the black top it had the same grey cloth interior and the same rubber mats, same radio and heater as the one with the tan top.
The yellow convertible in the display window had already been sold the day before to a Miss Smith. The dealer believed the Miss Smith was the Generals daughter.
The car seemed a little flashy, but Billy knew it was the right car for him he sat in the car inspecting it, it had 18 miles on the odometer, he ran his hand across the deluxe cloth upholstery. Billy pulled the key from the ignition, pocketed it he walked a few feet and turned to look at his car. Billy stopped in the Lobby of the BOQ to call his dad; the operator told him there was no answer.
Billy went to his room and lay on his bed; he pillowed his head in his hands and drifted off to sleep. He awoke up hungry at 2030 hours. He showered and dressed he drove the 2 blocks to the O-Club. Billy was taking a bite of his sandwich when he was tapped on his shoulder he looked up into Janet’s and Betty’s smiling Faces.
“Hiya stranger, how are you we haven’t seen you around in quite a while.”
“Hi, ladies have a seat; I was hoping to see you here tonight.”
“Oh, Janet he’s happy to see us both.”
“Now Betty what could he mean by that?”
“I meant that I was happy to see you both in the Roman sense of seeing you.”
“The Roman senses, Billy please tell us what you mean by the Roman sense.”
“The Roman sense as they did in ancient Rome, namely an orgy.”
“Oh my, he does mean both of us,” Janet said.
“I’m game,” Betty said.
“Ladies, it might take all night.”
Oh, how wonderful, I can’t wait.”
Billy drank the rest of his coke. “Let’s go I’m ready.”
“It’ll have to be at your place I’m at the BOQ.”
“My place it is, follow me.” Janet said.
“Who wants to ride with me, Billy said.
“Janet drove; I will ride with Billy that’s ok isn’t it.”
“Sure, go with him don’t get lost I don’t want to miss anything.”
Billy open his door, he patted Betty’s butt as she climbed in and slid to the middle of the seat.
“Wow this is sure a duesy and it smells so new.”
Billy started the car, shifted it into low and pulled out he followed Janet’s car after he shifted the car into third his hand went to Betty’s knee and then slid up her leg she spread her legs shifting around he gave her inner thigh a squeeze and tugged at her panties.
Billy pulled up behind Janet’s car he got out and was followed by Betty she was holding her panties and her bra in her hand; her blouse was unbuttoned to her waist.
“I see you couldn’t wait could you.”
Billy followed them up the steps to Janet’s small house.
Billy awoke in a room that smelled of sweat and sex. Janet still lay beside him her breasts exposed to his gaze and the morning sun. Billy gently touched and kissed her breasts before he got out of bed he pulled on his boxers and headed toward the smell of coffee.
Billy walked in the kitchen he sat down in a chair Betty came over and kissed him, he ran his hand up her inner thigh. She was naked under her short robe; Billy pulled her onto his lap.
“Hey, watch where you point that thing; you could hurt someone with that you know.”
“Find me a place to put it,” Billy said, Betty turned around and bent over she put her elbows on the table, her robe rose up over her buttocks exposing her womanhood to Billy. He stood behind her and sank his manhood into her in one frantic push; he put his hands and gripped her hips. He began his relentless pursuit of his pleasure. Betty pushed hard against him and bowed her back Billy reached around and grabbed her breasts; he squeezed her breast and pulled her nipples hard. Betty yelped loudly her body shook and then she orgasmed.
“Oh! Jesus Christ, Billy you are a fucking rabbit.” Janet said, walking into the Kitchen her robe hung open, an open invitation to her womanhood.
“You’re next you know.”
“You’re not going to touch this ass, till I have had my coffee then we will see,” Janet said defiantly.
“Ok then, fix me a cup while you’re at it.”
Betty cried out and ground herself into Billy’s groin.
“Oh, for god’s sake Betty wake the fucking neighbors would you,” Janet said laughing.
“Billy smiled, Betty pulled away from Billy his cock slipped from her it swayed back and forth his hard cock glistened from her juices, she lowered herself into the chair next to Billy’s she slumped forward in the seat resting her head on the table. “Oh God Billy.”
Janet handed Billy a cup of coffee, he took a sip and ran his hand up Betty’s leg.”
“Oh no, not again Billy I’m worn out.”
Billy laughed, “No not again Baby, I was going to say you make damn good coffee.”
Janet had finished her coffee she stood up to get herself another cup Billy stood his manhood still hard and glistening, Billy slipped up behind Janet and pressed her against the counter with his body, he reached down, pulled her robe up, he was probing her crotch when he felt a hand guiding him to her womanhood.
“Billy, are you always this hard and horney?”
Billy thrust his manhood deep into her waiting sheath, “what do you think.” he said. he reached around and began fondling her breasts Janet pushed back against him grinding herself on his cock “Oh fuck me your bastard fuck me harder.” She cried out.
Billy pulled her away from the counter and pushed her down till she was bent over, and he began to pound Janet as hard as he could, he drove his rock-hard cock deep as it was possible Janet rolled her hips and Billy drove his cock in deeper.
Janet cried out and Orgasmed, their fluids ran down her leg and puddled on the floor, Janet’s knees gave way and she began to sink to the floor, Billy grabbed her and carried her to a chair. She looked up at him and wiped her hair from her eyes, “God Damn Billy I have never been fucked that hard or that often by any man in my life.” She looked down at Billy’s boxers his cock was still hard and glistening with her juices, “No, aint no way in hell, are we doing it again, get that monster away from me,” she pushed Billy toward Betty.
Betty crossed her kegs and covered herself up “Not No, but hell no, this whore is closed for repairs,” she pushed Billy back toward Janet.
“Ok ladies, I get your point I’ll go get dressed.”
Billy showered and dressed he opened his wallet and took out two 20-dollar bills; he put one bill in each of his pants pockets.
Billy returned to the Kitchen he walked up behind Betty and kissed her on the neck he palmed the bill from one pocket and when he fondled her, he left the twenty neatly tucked under the fold of her breast. He went to Janet and kissed her and fondled her as he did with Betty, he left the 20 neatly tucked between her breasts, “Goodbye ladies, I hope we will meet again soon, I really enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed you two very much. Next time, we will head over to Myrtle Beach for some fun in the sun.”
“Oh, Billy now we would love to go with you to the beach,” they said in unison.
It was close to Noon when Billy pulled away from the little white house with blue trim on Hope Road. Billy nosed the coupe back toward the post. He pulled into the Better Burger drive in blew his horn for service. The same girl waited on him this time. He ordered two cheese- burgers, fries and a large Cola, she returned after a bit. I see they haven’t put your name on that menu board yet.”
“She looked at Billy and his new Coupe, “sometimes you have to ask to see the special menu.”
“I think I would like to see that special menu,” he said smiling. Have you a number where I can get in touch with that special menu.”
“Columbia, 2- 3121.”
He smiled, “thanks Toots” he winked at her and she winked back at him.
Billy paid the tab, he left her a tip, and she skated off to the burger shack. He drove back to the base listening to the radio and smelling the aroma of his lunch.
Billy eased the coupe into a parking place switched the engine off and finished listening to the song that was playing on the radio.
Billy sat at one of the picnic tables that lined the back of the BOQ he ate his lunch in silence thinking about the girl he had seen in the hotel dining room he wondered if she was like Betty or Janet or was she chaste and virtuous he would have to meet her to find out. However, one thing he knew he would meet her and her would marry her.
Billy threw his trash into the can beside the door he climbed the stairs to his room and laid down he thought what an excellent weekend it had been.
Billy drove his new coupe to the company area he was ready to run with the troops instead of his usual morning run he stood in the doorway drinking his coffee and watching the company form up. He walked out and gave the orders, calling the company to attention, he took the report, and inspected the troops, and then he gave the orders to begin their 2-hour run. He set the pace he took them on the same course he ran every morning and sometimes he would run the course by himself, and then run it again with his company. He had set a leisurely pace one that would keep the unit together he didn’t want any stragglers today. Today he had planned something different and special today he would lead them through the swamp a 3-mile detour. He would do this on the way back to the company area.
Currie was up front when he brought the unit to a double time and then a march and finally a halt. He said rout step, and then stepped off the road and down the embankment to the soggy ground. He slowly increased the pace, dropping back and checking on the men, he told his lieutenants to keep the men together. He kept the pace up and drove his men through the swamp. At the 2-1/2, mile marker the water rose to knee high, the water was cool stagnant and smelled of rotten vegetation, it was something the men wouldn’t forget anytime soon.
Not one-man including Currie emerged unscathed they all were wet and miserable some had fallen head first into the muck others were only wet to the waist. They emerged from the swamp up an embankment and onto the main road that ran through the post right past Division headquarters right past Regimental headquarters and right Past all the Battalion Headquarters they were in formation they were wet but they were proud they thought themselves to be the best company on the whole post. Currie never led them past the headquarters he always was beside his second platoon right in the thick of things and he was always on the outside away from the prying eyes of the Commands he was passing.
In the 6 months since Currie had taken over Able Company. The company like the company car had been totally rebuilt. The frame and body were original but the running gear the accessories had all been replaced. All the equipment on the company’s equipment list was complete and in first class order, the equipment even had the popper and correct serial numbers. Several items had been obtained and were hidden away from prying eyes that were not on the company’s equipment list.
Curries men, though they complained were always ready to go and were the first ones there no matter what it was. Currie and his officers were the first in line for training, and they were the first to pass out passes when the troops did well.
The battalion Commander called Currie into his office a few times before, but this time it was different Col Snow, Major Boyd, and Major Moore were waiting for him. Currie was more than curious; he had covered his tracks in the procurement of Items.
Currie was ushered into Snow’s office; he was introduced to Major Boyd a short stocky intense looking man Currie took a seat, across from Col. Snow.
“Captain Currie, how in the hell do you do it?” Said Major Boyd his voice sounded like course gravel.
“Do what Sir.” Responded Currie
“You know what I mean,” Major Boyd Reiterated.
Currie looked puzzled, he looked at Moore, and then at Snow. “What was Major Boyd asking and why?” Currie thought to himself.
“Come Now Captain Currie these personnel files either your men have improved beyond belief or there is a lot of shenanigans going on here. 78% improvement in marksmanship scores, that would mean now that 90% of all your men are expert marksmen regiment wide it is only 41%.”
“Hold on I’m not done yet your company has also shown vast improvements in other areas as well. In fact, in all areas of training and fitness, your men excel. Hell, Captain even your officers have reports that almost give them herculean status now either you know more than the army, or these reports are just fables.”
Currie sat back in the red leather armchair and smiled.
“Captain what have you got to say for yourself.”
“Major Boyd, those reports are correct, nothing in those reports are embellished, my troops trained hard and they were rewarded with passes and extra time off. They trained because they believe like me that a war is about to happen it’s not a question of if there will be a war but when will it start. A wise man told me once that an Army needs three things to survive in war, Endurance, accuracy of fire, and conservation of energy, supplies, and men.”
“I have trained my men to shoot accurately and I’ve trained them for endurance, and I have taught them to conserve themselves I’ve taught them to be sneaky and to quickly deduce the safest and way to take the position and to keep casualties low. Major Boyd It was simple to motivate them. I told them the better they were trained, the longer they would live.”
“I had 2 NCO’s that were in the trenches in 1917, they have seen death first hand, they told their men what it was like to scrape the brains of your best friend off your face, because your best friend had just had his brains blown out.”
“Even in the best of conditions, no matter how well you have been trained, no matter how well you prepare, there is a good chance that they would still be killed; however, a 10% chance of dying is better than a 90% chance. Nevertheless, the biggest motivation of all if they didn’t train, they would surely be killed. What my troops do my officers do. My officers don’t stand by and watch their platoons work their way through the obstacle course my officers lead them through, and I lead my officers. If I can’t do it how can I expect my men to do it?”
“Captain Currie either you are a very outstanding man or you’re full of crap.”
“Would you like to find out first hand Major Boyd, join us tomorrow, and we will prove to you what I have said here and what those fitness reports have in them are the truth.”
“Currie, I think that is a capitol idea I think that Major Boyd and Major Moore would love to accompany you.” Snow said as he stood up.
“Tomorrow sir at 0530 in full field gear two bandoliers and full rucksacks we run to the range then run 10 miles and go back to the range.” Currie said standing up.
“We will be there Captain, see you at 0530.” Colonel Snow said.
Currie returned to the company just as the company was returning from the obstacle course, Meyers was about to dismiss the men when Currie walked up to the unit, “hold up there Mr. Meyers, have the men stand at rest.”
“Men, I have just returned from Battalion, there was a Major Boyd there from Regimental he called our fitness reports a bunch of garbage he said Mr. Meyers and Myself fabricated your fitness reports and said we were covering up for a company of slackers and misfits.” A murmur passed through the company. “At ease men, He said there was no way that we had as many Expert marksmen as we have reported, he said our times at the obstacle course were timed with a broken watch. He said we have exaggerated our reports, and he says there is no way you men could be as loyal and devoted as you are, he even suggested you men were sissy’s and pussies the company murmurs grew louder”.
“Sob” was called out, “we will show that bastard,” the company was ready to riot.
“I thought that would be how you would feel so I asked the Colonel to come watch, and bring the Major along; to my surprise, the colonel said the Majors would join us. They will be here at 0530 tomorrow. We run to the range we shoot, we run 10, and shoot again; we will drown those pious non-believers in the swamp. Ok We run with full gear, full rucksacks, two bandoliers ammo, full canteens, you know the drill. In addition, men let’s dress to impress. If he is still with us after we shoot the second time, we will do it again, and again until he falls out, we will show him. Sergeant Kovac Dismiss the men that will be all for today.”
Currie lit a cigarette he gathered his lieutenants around him. “We have been training these men for 6 months, tomorrow we are going to do it a little faster, and a make it a little harder, That SOB can say what he wants about me, but I will rot in hell, before I allow him to call you and this company a pack of liars.”
At 0530, the company stood at rest waiting for their visitors to arrive, a regimental command car pulled up Currie called the company to attention. Colonel Snow and Colonel Holmes the regimental G1 along with Major Boyd and Major Moore dressed in Fatigues stepped out of the car and headed for Captain Currie. Currie saluted the senior officers. The colonels were going to ride, and the majors were going to go along with the company. Currie like his men was dressed in full field gear except he carried his custom 03A3. Let’s go Mr. Meyers. Meyers called the men; to attention, then to Right face, then port arms, and forward march, then double time march. Currie waited till the end of 3 platoon was in front of him before he began to run he called cadence and urged his men along, he moved to 2nd platoon and urged them along he had set a good pace, and he was going to set a faster one once the rifle range was in sight. Currie led the men to the range.
The range master was not too happy when the 2 majors and the 2 colonels showed up, he called Currie aside, “What are you trying to do to me get me court martial you know I do this as a favor to Kovac and Snipes,”
“Kovac said for me to tell you that 2 cases of whiskey were on their way to you, just do your job I’ll take care of your boss he and I are classmates”
“Is there a problem here sergeant major,” Colonel Holmes said as he walked up the Range master.
“Oh no Sir, I was asking the Captain, if this was a double or a single shoot for the day”
“Let’s get on with the show.” Holmes and Snow walked to the range tower and climbed to the first platform.
Curries men lined up and on the range the range master did his thing they fired one clip from the standing position, one clip from the kneeling position, and the last 8 shot clip from the prone position. The men cleared their weapons, formed up, and began their run, this time the company was setting the pace, and Currie had to catch up. Holmes and Snow had the range master bring up all the targets and had them scored. They all scored in the expert marksman class. “These scores are outstanding,” Holmes said.
Currie adjusted to the pace his men were setting he was along for the ride he knew his men were going to show the brass what they were all about come hell or high water.
Currie led the company to the cut off, they charged down the leaf covered bank and plunged knee deep into the tepid swamp water the men spread out, dodging cypress knees and stumps the water was thick with algae and swamp slime the men wailed like banshee’s sloshing their way to dry land a little more than 3 miles away. Currie joined his men and was the last to plunge into the muck, but he was soon on his way to the front of the pact of men. Doc Wisecarver and his corpsmen trailed behind unit picking up the walking wounded and the fallen
As men tripped and fell or plunged head first into the swamp, their buddies slowed down just long enough to help them back to their feet and urged them on.
When the first man hit dry land, he stopped and began to count those that emerged from the swamp he counted until an officer or the First Sergeant arrived and took over the count.
The company as strung out as it was, was beginning began to reform their ranks on the side of the road every man from Currie down to the lowliest private was wet from head to toe with foul smelling swamp water. Wisecarver finally emerged with four men the company count was complete Currie called for the company to resume its run.
“Hey, has anybody seen the Majors, where in the hell are, they.”
Major Boyd and Major Moore had disappeared somewhere in the swamp.
“Kovac take a squad and find the Majors.”
“Yes, Sir Captain, 3rd squad on me, let’s go find the Majors, Kovac took the squad and headed back into the swamp.
The Company cheered they had lost the majors
Kovac had found the Majors, about ½ miles from the road heading deeper into the swamp. Major Moore had sprained his ankle and Major Boyd was worn out. Kovac had his men make stretchers out of their M-1’s and ground covers, they carried both the majors out to the road Kovac left 2 men with them, and the rest returned with Kovac to the firing range.
Currie and his men arrived back at the range 2 hours and 12 minutes after they had begun their run, they had run 12 miles 3 of which were in the swamp Kovac joined the company at the rifle range. They took they place on the firing line and fired their three clips. Curries men all of them wet, muddy, disheveled, all fired as good after the run as they did before they started.
“Captain Currie Sir, the men thought that a romp through the obstacle course might put a cherry on top of this party.”
“Hell Top, we have a cherry on the top, hell we have the whole fucking cake.”
Colonel Snow and Col Holmes were waiting at the company, when Able Company arrived.
Currie brought the men to a halt and hand them dress themselves he ordered them to rest. “Good Job men, I’m proud of every one of you, you have done a terrific job, but our day isn’t over, now get cleaned up Mr. Meyers they are all yours.
Currie left the area and returned to his office where he found Colonels Snow and Holmes. “Currie you have proved what you stated in your fitness reports it is simply too good to be true; however, whichever way you were to slice the pie you would come up with the same conclusion.”
“Colonel Snow, how are the majors?”
“We dropped the Majors off at the hospital, Moore had a sprained ankle, and Major Boyd had rolled in poison oak, ivy, or something like that, they will survive.”
“As long as they will be ok that’s all that is important.”
“I want you to come to Regiment and take over training I want you to pass along your way of training to the regiment.”
Currie sat back on his desk and lit a camel.” I’ve been a captain for 6 months; I’ve put my heart and soul, into training my men. I want to thank you Sir, but I couldn’t desert my men, I would feel like a traitor not only to my men but also to myself. And feeling that way I would be of little value to you.”
“I know you can order me and if ordered I will comply, but I beg the Colonel to remember his first command and how special that first command was to him and give me the same opportunity as you had sir,”
“This is my first command and I have been looking forward to this since the Academy.”
“Captain Currie you are right, your first command is special, and I will allow you to have it for a while, and when I need you more than Able Company does. I will have you transferred.”
“Fair enough Sir, Thank you.” I have had my training program integrated into the Standard Company training SOP. It augments the training it’s not a completely new form of training, a lot depends on the officers and NCO’s that use it. If the troops do good reward them, if they don’t do good don’t reward them. I don’t punish for not doing well I just don’t reward them. Simply put sir, I dangle the carrot, if they do good, I let them catch the carrot.”
Gleason stuck his head in the door “Coffee sirs,” Currie motioned him to come in. Gleason walked in carrying a makeshift tray; with 3 cups, some canned milk, and sugar, the cups were filled almost to the brim with coffee. Gleason passed the tray in front of each man starting with Colonel Holmes then Snow and finally Currie. He left as quietly as his wet soggy uniform and sloshing boots would allow.
“That man came in and made coffee for you, before he changed out of his wet uniform, or stored his gear,” Colonel Holmes shook his head, “That’s what I call devotion. How do you do it Currie what’s your secret?”
Currie sipped his coffee, “Lucky I guess.”
The secret was no big secret he put his men first, he took care of them he cared about them. He showed his devotion to his men he wore it on his lapel like a badge of honor.
The Colonels finished their coffee “you won’t mind if I send some people over once in a while to watch and learn.”
“No Sir I would not mind at all it would be my pleasure, to show off the company to one and all.”
The Colonels left, Currie picked up his weapon and walked to the arms room he began to clean his rifle the troops that were sitting around began to gather around him like flies drawn to a pile of manure.
“You ask him.”
“No, you ask him.”
“Sarge ask him how we did.”
The men drew tighter and tighter around Currie
“Excuse me Captain, how did we do? Did we do ok? I mean did we pass?” Private Sims asked.
Currie without looking up from cleaning his rifle gave the ok sign, then the thumbs up sign, Currie looked up from what he was doing and said, “good Job Men get your gear stored, change your clothes and take the day off you have deserved it. You blew them out of the saddle today with your performance.”
Currie heard it from Jack that in late August early September, they were going to have maneuvers at Fort Bragg. Troops from Ft Jackson would be the aggressor force and Fort Bragg would defend. Billy called his dad and asked him if he could get him some aerial reconnaissance photos of Fort Bragg and the reservation. Colonel Currie said he would get the photos and deliver them to Billy as soon as he could.
The Maps and photos that Able Company would be studying for the next 2 months would give them the edge by the time the maneuvers rolled around his men would know Bragg like the backs of their hands. Currie didn’t let on to the men where the upcoming maneuvers would take place, he didn’t want to tip his hand of have to explain where the up to date Aerial reconnaissance photos came from.
The last passages of autumn were gone the maneuvers, the maneuvers were a dismal failure the aggressor force was poorly coordinated there attacks were sloppy they attached a superior force head on they never sent out patrols they never tried to capture and interrogate the defenders all in all it was a great success for the 82 AA Division. The division crawled back to Jackson with their tails between their legs. Curries Company did better than expected but he was limited to what he could do.
Currie thought, “What are we going to defend when the war comes, Myrtle Beach? No, this war will be fought in Europe. We will be the aggressor. Currie thought about the way Germany had taken the Low Countries and France with their Blitzkrieg, we would have to do the same thing, but we are going to have to do it a whole lot better than they did when they took it. The Germans would be entrenched and hold the high ground.”
Currie would have to hone his men a little more, they could out run any company on base outshoot any company at Jackson, or Bragg they knew hand-to-hand combat and their skills with the knife they were all damn good even with all of training the running the preparation, Currie still felt something was askew something was missing. He lay down on his bed and pillowed his head in his hands and soon sleep over took him he slept restlessly tossing and turning, he awoke and watched the sun crawl up over the horizon, and shine through his window and paint his walls with an rosy orange glow.. Billy rolled out of the bed, sat there, and smoked a cigarette then dressed; he made his way downstairs and stepped out into the cold morning air.
He warmed up slowly and ran at a moderate pace he passed all the sleeping companies and the darkened buildings, he ran and ran, he ran farther today than he had run in a long time he returned to the BOQ when the church bells were calling their flocks to service. Currie took a long hot shower then dressed he walked to the O-Club. Still he felt he was overlooking something.
Currie tossed the nickel into the tin cup, snatched the paper from a stack on the coat room counter and walked down the hall way to the dining room he looked around just a few tables were occupied mostly by junior officers and their families who came for breakfast before heading off to church. Each battalion area had a church each regimental area had a church there were churches from one end of the base to the other. Currie visited a church when the battalion commander requested his presents. Currie took a seat at a table where he had the best view of the flag officers’ section and the front door. The black waiter dressed in his whites came by the table with a carafe of coffee, cream and, sugar.
“Will there be anything else Captain, will you be staying for lunch sir.”
“Coffee for now will be all but come back when the lunch menu is up.”
“Yes Sir, the black man said walking away.
“Ah, there you are we were looking for you earlier, now here you are.”
“Good morning gentlemen please join me.” He said to the four men standing at his table they were all classmates of his from the point they had been having Sunday lunch together for 6 months.
“Didn’t I see you out running this morning about 0700,” Sam said.
“Yea that was me, I run every morning you guys know that. But how often do you run out in front of a car and are almost hit. I blew my horn at you, you never even looked up and after I damn near hit you. You kept right on running; you must have been deep in thought about something. Had you been anyone else I would have chased you down and hauled your ashes to the brig.”
“I’m sorry Sam I didn’t see you; I had a lot on my mind lately. I can’t put my finger on it, but something is askew, something’s not right I can feel it in my bones.”
All you feel in your bones is this damp cold air, I feel it too it penetrates you right to the bone thank god for aspirin.”
Aspirin my ass, thank god for a bottle of scotch,” Martin said holding up his silver flask with the gold top, “a present from my dad,” he proudly said.
The five men talked of this and that they talked of war it seemed the four-talked Billy sat mute, filling his cup with coffee time after time.
The waiter brought the menus and dropped them off at the table.
“I have the Buffet, Billy said, over the conversations of the others
“The Buffet will be ready in just a few minutes,” the waiter said and set another carafe of coffee on the table.
“Thanks Levi,” Currie said.
Currie and the others ate lunch and around 1300 Currie stood, “I have to be getting over to the Company; there are some things I have to put in order before tomorrow.”
Currie stopped at the cashier’s desk there were several officer and waiters gathered around his desk behind it was a radio it was blaring the Sunday news, Pearl Harbor in Hawaii had been bombed several ships have been sunk, and there are hundreds of casualties. We repeat at 8 o’clock Hawaiian time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor they have sunk several ships and there are several hundred casualties. Stay tuned for further information.
A senior officer stood in front of the dining hall and told everyone to return to their units and await further orders.
Currie stood there and his heart sunk in his chest what he had been training his men for had come to fruition he was on the eve of a world war he couldn’t believe it was the Japanese who would have started it he thought it would be the Germans to start this party. It didn’t matter now, nothing mattered now, the war had begun and as Col Wilson had predicted be December, they would be tits deep in war.
Currie left the O-club at a trot and headed directly toward the Company area. When he entered the day room the radio was blaring men were running around orders were given and countermanded within minutes of each other.
“Atten-Hut,” Currie yelled and then yelled it again. The men stopped and looked at Currie “I want you to listen and listen very close to me the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it’s in the Pacific 3000 miles from California and we are another 3000 miles from California that’s 6000 miles. The Japanese are not going to be bombing or invading Jackson anytime soon. So, calm down, if you do anything get your gear together, we will probably be packed onto a train and they will take us west to California or Oregon so just get prepared to move on a minute’s order.”
“Gleason Coffee and the rest of you get this mess cleaned up. Cotton began calling those on leave, and I want everybody here as soon as possible. Get a list to the police and have them try to find them and get them back here.
The Company began to calm down, there was a tension among them like electricity they were charged and ready to go all they needed was the word.