When The Old DI Emerged

As a life-long believer in personal responsibility, decided that even as a field grade officer that if I was going to get kilt in a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident), it was going to be because of something I did (or failed to do?) and not the fault of a Lance Corporal who was still using zit cream as after-shave. In other words, if I was in a Marine Corps vehicle, tactical or non-tactical, the Major was going to be driving. This occasionally caused some consternation among my brother officers, who would have questions like “how do you get the vehicle washed (or fueled, or ???)”… you know, that is sort of manual labor, which in garrison, is somehow deemed not fitting for officers… and somehow, the critics never quite made the connection between the fact that they had driven themselves into work that day… probably in a car that they had hand-waxed in the driveway of their quarters the preceding weekend… at any rate, at the Stumps in the mid-70’s, duty occasionally called somewhere off base, which meant a vehicle from the Commercial Motor Pool (10th Street, still there last time I flew Google Earth over the base)… The C-Pool had quite a mixture of civilian vehicles (including the CG’s sedan)… pickups, flat bed cargo trucks, cattle cars, MP vehicles (Plymouth Belvederes… four-door sedans, with a 318 Mopar)… and for some odd reason, exactly one Ford… a two-door small sedan, Marine Corps green on bottom, white on top… can’t say for sure but it was either a Pinto or a Maverick… and usually available, as it was just not cool for trips off base, when you could reserve a sedan, sit in the back and look important while PFC Johnny 35XX drove. It was my first choice every time, for trips to Pendleton, LA, the San Bernardino County prison (to deliver pothead/dopers BCD papers… always timed to be there at lunch in the guards’ mess… prison guards eat well… very well… and they like Marines… “what would you like, sir? T-bone be OK?, how would you like that? etc.”)… and the reason for the Pinto/Maverick? It’s a long way from the Stumps to anywhere… and this was the ONLY vehicle in the C-Pool that had a radio… AM only, to be sure, but a radio nonetheless. At the time, the radio was a ‘delete option’ meaning that if the buyer didn’t specify “no radio”… the car came with one.

Used to eat lunch with the C-Pool Maintenance Officer… good bud, since we were both in the grease monkey/machine side of things, and he was a CWO-3 with 30 years or so. This particular day, Valentine (that was his first name, middle name “Patsy”, from NY, every bit of “four foot, fourteen” tall, and this day he was obviously pizzed… When I asked him who had pee’d in his Wheaties, he told me that he had just put some brand new sedans in service, and the MP’s had been running some sort of scenario where they bailed out of the car, crouched behind the front fender, and shot at a bad guy target… and they had put three .45 cal rounds into the hood of one of his brand new sedans.

Speaking of MP’s… as the Equipment Allowance Pool honcho, I finagled permanent dispatch of the one International Harvester Travelall in the C-pool, with which I roamed the desert, keeping an eye on our loaner equipment, dealing with whatever came up, and would leave the EAP pool around sunrise with a tool box, a few common parts (e.g. point sets for M-151 jeeps) and a five-gallon can of water. The Travelall was stick shift, four-wheel drive, roomy, and would go about anywhere. It did, however, have one not so good characteristic… at low speeds, or at a stop sign, it would vapor lock. This was one of the reasons for the water can… water run on the steel fuel line that ran up the front of the block would cure the vapor lock, and off we’d go… again. It had been a long day, and for whatever reason, I had come downhill on 10th street, stopping at Del Valle Road… where ol’ Betsy decided to vapor lock. The water can was near empty, and as I was blocking traffic (if there was any…) I got out, and by myself, pushed the thing around the corner and onto the shoulder. There was a water point for filling water buffaloes maybe 75 yards or so up the hill, so can in hand, off I trudged. As I trudged back through the sand with 45 pounds or so of water can in one hand, I observed that one of the Provost Marshall’s finest, in his compulsion to protect and serve, had noted my errant vehicle, apparently abandoned along the road, with the hood up, and a door open… then he saw me… in utilities, carrying a can for reasons unfathomable to him, and looking my way, gave the ‘come here’ gesture with the crooking of his forefinger… as only an imperious badge-heavy wanna-be prick can. As I arrived at his position (still on the blacktop, lest he get dust on his spit-shine), he somehow perceived that this elderly (40) person, wearing green cammies, had, of all things, an oak leaf on each collar. His attitude changed, fairly quickly, when the old DI emerged, with ‘get your f-ckin’ heels together, now, Schmuckatelli!… we then had a gentlemanly discussion about his position in the world, the niceties of generally treating others with respect, etc. He must have brought the contact up at the end of his shift, because I got a phone call from the Assistant PMO the next day… MP’s have a tough job… and sometimes they make it tougher than it has to be… and before all you LEOs get on my case, please be advised that I work with our local SO’s nearly every day… usually by getting traffic off their backs while they work MVA’s… Firefighters do stuff besides cats in trees… and we got radios…


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