Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The most dangerous thing in the world

...Is a Second Lieutenant with a map.

received a few emails asking "Tom, you said you were in the service. Do you have any funny military stories?"

I'm glad you asked.

Unfortunately, I can't tell a lot of them, but I can do this:

Once upon a time there was a group of US Army soldiers in Central America. It was around 1987. These brave soldiers were there on orders to train the Contra guerrillas fighting the Sandanistas.

One day they were sent out on patrol from one country into another country they really shouldn't have been in in the first place, and this country bordered on yet another country that they REALLY shouldn't be in.

This patrol was led by a brand-new Second Lieutenant fresh out of OCS, and being new, thought he knew everything there was about leading a patrol through the jungle. Second in command was a sergeant from Philadelphia who was twenty years old and was growing a little tired of the bullshit, but knew his job.

At noon on this beautiful day in the tropical paradise of Central America, they stopped for a break. An overwatch was sent out but the sergeant was feeling a little uneasy. Something just didn't feel right. He walked over to where the Lieutenant was studying the map.

"How's it going LT?" The sergeant asked.

"Ok sergeant. I think we're about five clicks from this town here." He said, pointing to a spot on the map.

"Really? Hey, you over there. Bring me the GPS..." He called to another soldier carrying the new toy the Army was just starting to issue the troops.

The sergeant didn't really trust the new device and relied more on his instincts, map and compass, but had even less faith in this new Lieutenant's sense of direction.

The sergeant turned on the device and checked the numbers. His face grew pale. He asked to see the map the lieutenant had clutched in his sweaty paws. He checked the numbers again, checking and double checking the map. He looked around for some landmarks, but could see none since that particular area of jungle was quite thick.

He looked ashen-faced to the lieutenant... "International Incident" flashed through his mind.

"Eh, LT, you and General 'Black Jack' Pershing have something in common now..."

"What are you talking about sergeant?"

"We've just invaded Mexico."

"That can't be, sergeant!"

"Sir, you have just led the first armed foray into Mexico since 1916. I for one do not want to spend any time in a Mexican jail and I don't think the men would think that would be a really good idea either."

"That just can't be!"

"Well it is sir, take a look for yourself." Handing over the GPS. "We're ten kilometers inside Mexico."

The Lieutenant's face grew paper thin as he checked the numbers with the map.

"We've got to get out of here, sergeant!" Stating the obvious.

"No shit, dickead..." The sargeant thought.

The sergeant pulled in the overwatch, issued new orders and let the men and the baffled Lieutenant south out of Mexico, avoiding an embarrassing situation for the United States.

shortly after this the sergeant was honorably discharged.

The Lieutenant stayed in, and I believe he's a senior advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon now.

The moral of the story?

There is no moral. Lieutenants are fucking stupid.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden


joeauto said...

Stumbled on your blog today and just have to comment on this one.

You know, the war against the Contras was fought in Honduras and Nicaragua. Our troops were based in Honduras. If one was in either of those two countries and strayed across a border, depending on what part of the country they were in, they could be in the other one, or even El Salvador, Costa Rica or Guatemala, as well as Belize. But they ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT FIND THEMSELVES IN MEXICO, which doesn't even border either of the countries. Also, virtually all of the war against the Contras was fought in the mountains of Honduras and Nicaragua, about as different a terrain than "jungle" as can be found. It's kind of like saying you were in the woods in Washington state and "accidentally" strayed into Alaska. Personally, it's a great story...but I think that's all it is...a story.

Ranger Tom said...

Haven't you every heard the old saying of the difference between a fairy tale and an old army story?

A fairy tale starts out "Once upon a time" and an old army story starts "I shit you not..."

Take it with a grain of salt that it was written with.