Wednesday, September 29, 2010



this movie tells the story of two veteran Navy men, for some reason who find themselves in a transit barracks, between duty stations. One of their details or assignments, is to escort a young sailor who has been convicted of stealing money from the base commander's favorite charity to Portsmouth Naval Prison, where he will spend the next eight years at hard labor. The convict is a troubled youth who has never had a beer, or a friend or a woman in his short life. And by the time he gets out of the custody of the US Marines at PNP, if he survives at all, who knows what he will become. The veterans grow a soft spot for the young lad and decide to show him a good time before they drop him at the prison.
It's a great flick and it comes highly recommended by yours truly. There is plenty of  Navy slang, and the "F" BOMBS land with the same frequency that you'd expect from the boatswain's locker.

in 1986, I found myself between duty stations and assigned to the transit barracks in San Diego California. Maybe because of my physical size, or my intimidating attitude, or any combination thereof, I was assigned to the base holding cell. This is where sailors who have gone astray from the law were held temporarily before being assigned to the brig. Before they could be put in the brig, sailor in question needed to pass a physical, because brig duty is considered arduous duty.

One of my first assignments was to escort a young man who had been stopped by the police for speeding. When the police checked his identification, he came back as an AWOL from the Navy. 15 years prior to this day, he had jumped the fence in boot camp, just down the road at the recruit training center. Rather than return home, he started a new life in San Diego. He had a career, home, wife and three children. None of them knew anything about his past. Now he was in my custody and I was escorting him to get his physical. This is a Friday morning and nobody knew what was happening to him. His family had no idea where he was going. Inside the brig, detainees are only allowed to make phone calls on Monday morning. That meant this young man would spend the entire weekend in the brig and his family would have no notice of his situation. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth on biblical level as this young man beg for me to allow him to make a phone call. 

Unlike character played by Randy Quaid, this young man was a scheming conniving creep and I had no assurance that a phone call by him would not result in an escape attempt. And on the off chance that it played out as an escape, I would be charged with aiding and abetting in dereliction of duty. And that wasn't going to happen to me.

I have to admit that I have no idea what ever became of this guy or his family. Not because I don't care. But because that's the nature of the duty. You just don't get involved with people unnecessarily. In the military when members make friends with each other it is different then making friends in the civilian world. In the military there is a possibility that you may have to issue orders to your friends that may result in their death. Your civilian friends have the option of telling you the hose off. Your military friends have no such option. They are bound by honor and duty to follow your commands. I can't speak to what other people think about when they choose friends in the military. But the military friends I have, all received this level of consideration from me. The French call it "Esprit de Corps." The English call it "Comrades in Arms." And it's because of this bond that I don't run around calling everybody BRO. That is a title I reserved for less than a dozen men on this planet.


Heff said...

Jeez, how old would Randy Quaid have been in that movie, Twelve ???

You did the right thing. Real life often doesn't turn out like the movies.

Brittany Sommer said...

Amen! I just want to let you know that your faith in me really keeps me going. I truly appreciate the comments you leave for me. Thank you so much.

Red Shoes said...

You had a gut feeling and you went with it, Kurt... one never screws up when we listen to ourselves...

Well hardly ever...


Marnie said...

As everyone else has said, I'm glad you went with your gut. Something bad always happens when you go against it.

Betty Manousos said...

Great post!
I believe that everyone has to go with their gut. And you did the right thing, Kurt.

B:) Always

Wife of a Wounded Soldier said...

Glad to see you back! I've missed your comments!

Charlotte said...

Kurt, as usual another great post. Thanks for your service, insight, and friendship.