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Monday, 12 July 2010

Naval Academy Procedures

By Walt Grant

In the spring of 1953, Able Company, on the Kimpo Peninsula about 30 miles north of Seoul, got a new lieutenant named Alan. He was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and he made sure we all knew it. Of course, we were all far too crude and ignorant to realize how fortunate we were to have a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in our midst, but Lieutenant Alan did his best to see that we were properly deferential.

Each day, one of the company officers had the duty which involved, among many other chores, checking every sentry post at least once during every four-hour watch. After dark, we generally gave each sentry a quiet warning (a scuff of a foot or a quiet cough) to forewarn him that we were checking his post. No need to get shot by a nervous Marine.

After Alan's first night duty, however, he informed us that the proper way to check a sentry's post was to lie in wait, surprise the sentry and then reprimand the man for not being more alert. Good theory, perhaps, but somewhat impractical if the surprised sentry simply shot at the officer of the watch.

The next time Alan had the duty, Harley, our company exec, warned Robb about using his surprise tactics and took particular care to inform Alan that Manolo would be one of the sentries on the twelve-to-four watch that night.

Manolo was a native of the Philippines and looked to be about 15 years old. Actually, he was about 25 and had grown up with a weapon in his hand fighting the Japanese army with a band of guerrillas during WWII. Manolo could move like a ghost. No duty officer ever found Manolo; Manolo found us.

About 2:30AM, we were awakened by a quiet scratch on the entrance to our tent. Manolo told us he had captured a prisoner. We brought Manolo and his prisoner in and identified a very pale and unusually quiet Lieutenant Alan, formerly of the United States Naval Academy. Harley complimented Manolo, set his mind at ease and sent him back to his post.

Then he asked Lieutenant Alan how this had all come to pass. Alan told his story:

Shortly after 1AM, he had quietly left the tent and found a place where he could lie among some small scrub bushes in the sentry area that Manolo was assigned to patrol. He had waited long and quietly but had seen no signs of a sentry properly walking a post. In fact, he had finally decided that the sentry was goofing off or even, perhaps, asleep.

Alan started to get up but somebody landed on his back, put a knife to his throat and whispered in his ear, "Who goes there?"

He had explained that he was Lieutenant Alan. Manolo had not previously met Alan and was not about to be put off that easily by a person acting so suspiciously on his duty post.

After being disarmed and interrogated, while lying face down on the ground with a Filipino guerrilla on his back and a knife at his throat, Alan was finally able to persuade Manolo to take him to the company CP so that someone could identify him. Manolo cocked his M-1 rifle, allowed Alan to slowly rise and then marched him at gunpoint to our tent.

I think that from then on Lieutenant Alan whistled Dixie when he was out checking the sentries, even though that was not exactly how they do it at the United States Naval Academy.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Live and learn,
but while on duty,
learn fast or die eh?
Enjoyable reading.
Thank you for a
morning smile.

What a great story! My favorite line, of course, was:
We brought Manolo and his prisoner in and identified a very pale and unusually quiet Lieutenant Alan, formerly of the United States Naval Academy.

Military service spawned many good stories. This is among the best I've heard.

That's really funny. I guess Lt. Alan learned that on the job training beats the classroom every time.

Isn't it funny how often life experiences beat "book-larnin'"? I had a 40-year career as a folksinger, much of it for children. I chuckled when people would say "I think I'll just learn some kids' songs, and advertise for children's concerts--that's where the market is." I'd say to myself--"yeah, you do that! And after they eat you alive, you might want to be a parent for a few years, or try it out on the neighbors' kids a few times when they are wanting to go swimming, or engage the kids at the playground, or go listen to and watch a lot of kids'performers and teachers---Nothing is as good as practical experience, i.e. boot camp.

Hmmmm, well, first of all, he didn't learn that at the Naval Academy. He learned it in Basic School "after" the USNA which is run by the Marines then and now.
Those lowest in their Academy class went to the Marines. Academy officers were the best Naval Officers produced then and now. Ask any ex-sailor. Get over it Marine. Your story is suspect.

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