Sun Mar 19, 2017, 06:32 PM

ACTUAL stories of Officers behaving badly

Dinner with the colonel

When I was an artillery battalion communications officer (platoon leader) in Vietnam, the unit had a habit of all the officers eating at the same table. I had no probem with that for breakfast and lunch. Supper was around 6 PM for both the enlisted men in one part of the dining hall and the officers at the officers table. But we had to wait for the battalion commander before we could eat. Virtually every night, he would not blow in until around 7 PM and there was a mandatory briefing with all the officers and NCOs at 7:30 PM in another building.

Hot supper was ready at 6 PM. The enlisted men began eating at 6 PM. We officers twiddled our thumbs sitting at the mess table waiting, waiting, waiting. By the time Mr. Big arrived, the food was cold. And we had to eat in a rush because of the briefing.

One night, I got fed up, called a Vietnamese waitress over and asked for my food around six. I did this in Vietnamese, to show respect for the local culture and to delay my superiors at the table knowing what I was up to. I told her what I wanted. She urged me to wait for fear the colonel would be displeased with me. I insisted. The other officers did not know what we were talking about, but probably figured out when my hot food arrived and I ate it.

Long after I finished and the others’ food was cold, His Nibs grandly swept in and the nightly squat and gobble of cold leftovers began as usual, except that I just sipped my water.

Thereafter, I ate supper at a tiny officers club across the base by myself. It was so tiny they only had two items on the menu: steak and fried chicken. So I would take some reading material and eat steak one night and fried chicken the next, every night. Very pleasant if not very varied. At 7:30 PM every night, I would be at the briefing with bells on to give my part of it and hear the others.

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