So it came to pass that not only was I living the relatively cushy life of mech infantry trooper, I was actually assigned to Brigade Headquarters as the driver for the brigade’s XO. I was about as far to the rear as you could get and still expect to get dust on your boots when you went to the field (but none of that icky mud, thankyouverymuch!).
And I still loved coffee. And not only that, I had a very nice Chevy Blazer that I only occasionally had to share with my boss, the wonderful LTC Oz. Now, LTC Oz was a good man-smart, tough, personable and likeable, and a born teacher and motivator. But he almost died a horrible death one day. Because he took my coffee.
One of the brighter things I did when I was assigned to brigade was to run to the Post Exchange to buy a thermos. And not just any thermos. I bought the biggest, baddest, toughest stainless steel Stanley thermos I could find. This thing was the M-1 tanks of thermoses (thermii? thermos’?) And as a part of my personal checklist before going out the gate of the motor pool, I would fill the thermos with boiling water for a half hour or so to pre-heat it, then empty it, and fill it with scalding hot coffee. And then I would crank down the lid as tight as I could, and store the thermos wrapped in warm cloth in my center console. That thermos would keep the coffee fresh and hot. While everyone else in headquarters was drinking the tepid crap left over from dinner, I could pop that thing open after two days in the field and have a nice, hot fresh cup of coffee. If I was careful, it would keep coffee hot for up to 3 days.
Now, LTC Oz, as I’ve mentioned, was a good man. And my real job, more so than just driving the truck, was to take care of him, and relieve him of distractions that kept him from focusing on his duties to the brigade. I wasn’t his servant, or his batman (I don’t care who you are, I’m not shining your boots, or cleaning your weapon), but I did attend to housekeeping chores for him, such as putting up and taking down his tent, making sure he got meals (if he didn’t have time to run through the chow line, I’d eat, then go through again and grab him a plate), and making sure he had all the little things like maps, mapboards, pens, and radio frequency/call sign cheat-sheets. I’d make sure the truck was set up just the way he liked it for when we’d roll out on inspection tours every morning. And since he was a good man, and a good officer, I enjoyed performing my duties to the best of my ability.
But I made a small error one day. I left my thermos on top of the center console of the truck. LTC Oz, seeing a nice big thermos, managed to convince himself I was in a generous, sharing mood. So while I was freezing my tuchus off taking down his tent and packing up his baggage, I thought he was off doing all the high-speed officer stuff he did (you know, making Captains on the brigade staff miserable and talking on the radio or phone). Instead, that son of a
bitch gun was sitting in the truck drinking the rest of my coffee.
I’d been anticipating a nice hot cup of coffee all morning. I was madder than a wet hen when I got back and found a nice warm officer and a cold empty thermos.
I may have said some intemperate things. What’s the statute of limitations for UCMJ infractions?