Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
Back in Hell for a Hell of a Party
“One does not leave a convivial party before closing time.”.........Winston Churchill
I had no choice but to return to the battalion once my seven-day leave was over. At least I only had about ten or so days left in-country and in the Army. Once again, 1SG Corbett saved me from CPT Bannon’s wrath by telling me I didn’t need to show up for work anymore now that my tour was almost over. I don’t know what they did about a replacement for me and I didn’t care. I took 1SG Corbett at his word, never went back to the CP, and stayed as clear of CPT Bannon as possible.
The first sergeant was also a short-timer and would be leaving Vietnam sooner than I. He would beat me back to the World by a few days. The senior NCOs in the battalion decided to throw 1SG Corbett a going away party on the eve of his departure. The 1SG invited me to the party, but I was reluctant to go. I was only an E-5 and everyone else at the party would be E-7 and above, including CSM Ojeda and the battalion commander, LTC Burke. I finally agreed to attend because I could see that the 1SG was not going to take no for an answer. He said it was HIS party, he could invite whomever he wanted, and he wanted me at the party. I dreaded the thought of being there with CSM Ojeda and LTC Burke. I would try to blend in with the wall.
My memories of the party are hazy at best. I remember going to the senior NCO hooch for the party. I didn’t speak to anyone; rather, I politely acknowledged everyone with a nod, much like a serf would to his lord. There was a bar was set up in a corner, so I walked over and made myself a drink, even though I probably still had a detectable blood-alcohol level from Australia. But I had a feeling that I was going to need more than one drink to make it through the night.
I didn’t mingle with the other partygoers. Instead, I kept my own counsel, off to the side, yet near the bar. Nobody paid me much attention, which was fine with me. After I had a couple of drinks, an officer standing near me walked over to me and ordered a drink. I looked around to see who he was talking to and realized he was talking to me. He had assumed that I was tending bar for the party. Why else would an E-5 be there? Not wishing to rock the boat, I went over to the bar and made the drink for him. Before I could walk away from the bar, another officer walked over and ordered a drink. I figured, “What the hell,” appointed myself bartender, and mixed VERY strong drinks for everyone. I was also drinking my share.
After a couple of hours, everyone, including me, was roaring drunk. At some point, I walked outside for some fresh air and either passed out, fainted, or just fell asleep. All I remember is waking up to find myself lying on the ground. I don’t know what time it was or how long I had been out, but the party was still going strong, so I got up and went back in. I was just in time to see 1SG Corbett get right up in LTC Burke’s face. 1SG Corbett called the lieutenant colonel a sorry son-of-a-bitch plus a multitude of other names. The lieutenant colonel was too drunk to respond adequately or do anything at all about it, and everyone else in the hooch just stood and stared with their mouths hanging open. A few minutes later, the first sergeant came over to me and, in a moment of apparent lucidity, said, “Martin, you have to get me up early in the morning so I can catch a ride to the airport before the lieutenant colonel wakes up and remembers what happened.”
How I managed to get myself up only a couple of hours later and wake the first sergeant I don’t remember. However, he did make a clean get away and I never heard anything else about the incident.
Continued in Chapter 51, The Shit Hits the Fan….