Every now and then I explore past blog entries that I had done, yes I do enjoy re-reading my old stuff. Some of my favorite re-reads were the posts where I described some of the lighter side of my Army service. It has occurred to me that I had not shared an Army story in some time and am therefore overdue.
For those who may not have read my earlier Army-Life posts, I spent the vast majority of my active duty time with 2nd Cavalry in southern Germany. I had also described in a previous story that the piece of equipment that was used for my tactical assignments was rarely deployed. So, without my personal “toy” to play with in the “field”, I became my lieutenant’s driver. As also had been explained in a previous story, my “LT” (who had earned himself the nick-name “Dangerous Doug” by his superiors) lived up to many of the expectations of military lieutenants and after an incident where we totaled out a VW Golf, it was made clear that I was not only his driver, but also his keeper. My mission, should I choose to accept it (like I had a choice) – keep him out of trouble.
Fast forward to a mission we did some time later. 2nd Cavalry was responsible for border operations along the southern edge of the American Sector, 11th Cavalry was responsible for the northern edge. Shortly after the Iron Curtain opened up, but while there was still an “East Germany”, we did a joint exercise with 11th Cav up in their sector.
In addition to being my LT’s driver for this exercise, I also took my turns on duty shifts. I think I had gone something like 36 hours without sleep between my normal army duties and being LT’s driver. The post commander ordered me to bed and he didn’t have to tell me twice.
I was awoke a few hours later by one of our unit’s MP’s (military policemen). I new most of our MP’s pretty well, but this was a new guy who had only been with our unit for about a week or so. I am woke up by someone asking if I am Sergeant Fischer. Needless to say I was not happy to be woken. 36 hours up, only 2 or 3 hours out, and now have this newbie private waking me up and I was going to rip him a new one.
Before I could build up my head of steam he stated, “Sergeant Fischer? Lieutenant ________ needs you.” Okay, so now I felt sorry for the guy, he is interrupting me because an officer told him to, and when you are the new kid on the block, an officer is a lot more intimidating than a sergeant – it doesn’t take long to learn it should be the other way around. Those who knew me knew that I was king of the one-liner, and also king of the quick come-back. (I still am and both continue to sometimes get me in trouble). So, being told that my LT needs me, my quick come back was “Why, what did he hit.”
The young MP responded, “Sergeant, how did you know?”
WHAT? – Okay, this kid has my attention. How dare he try to challenge me in the category of quick come backs. I am still trying to wake up and I am staring at him for what seams like 10-15 minutes, but I am sure it was only a second or two. In staring at him, I wasn’t looking at the face of someone who out-quipped the master. I was staring at someone who was amazed that I knew instantly why my lieutenant would need me. As that realization hit me, I was instantly awake and looked under my bunk, shoved my duffle bag to one side and NO KEY OR LOG BOOK to my HumVee. #@$!@!!!!
I am LIVID!! “PRIVATE, WHAT DID MY LIEUTENANT HIT!! WHERE DID HE GO!! WHERE IS MY HUMMER!!!”
He calms me down and I get dressed and go with him to the scene of the accident a few miles away. Apparently, LT was bored and wanted to see how things were going at one of the sites and he knew the person who told me to go to bed outranked him. So, he took the log book and keys and would handle this himself.
The accident happened at an intersection. It was raining pretty hard. When I got there, there was a German green & white police car with my LT in the back seat. There was an East German Trabant that looked like it exploded in the middle of the intersection (it doesn’t take much to look like one exploded, the things are literally made out of cardboard). And, there was what used to be a gorgeous red Audi backwards in the ditch with one side crushed in. And there was my Hummer, stopped at a stop sign with its flashers on. There appeared to be no damage to the Hummer other than some red paint along the back door.
As I get closer to the police car, I notice my LT in handcuffs. I explain to the German police officers that I am a translator and often work as a liason between the MP’s and the Polizei and am here to help. They were thankful to see me and asked me to get in the car. I had my LT explain to me the entire situation. They then asked the LT to leave the car and I got their permission to have him wait in the Hummer. He insisted on waiting outside the police car, in the pouring rain, still handcuffed. I was going to insist but then remembered I was running on zero sleep and he stole my Hummer… so if he wants to hang out in the rain, more power to him.
I then explained to the police officers his version of the events. The Audi was on the priority road and was going through the intersection. The Trabbie had run the stop-sign and hit the Audi, which then caromed into the Hummer stopped at the other stop sign before sliding off into the ditch. The police were relieved because that was the basic story they got from the Audi driver as well. The Trabant driver was refusing to speak to the police. My lieutenant, who had taken some German in college, thought this would be a good time to practice his language skills and based off of his description, he hit the Trabant into the Audi, basically taking blame for the accident.
We had the whole thing worked out in 3-4 minutes. However, one of the police officers noted that I didn’t speak German with an American accident, it was more of a northern accent and I explained that I had learned German when I was much younger living in Hamburg. One of the officers was from there and when he mentioned the words “Hummel Hummel”, I responded with “Mors Mors” (long story) – and it was like two long-lost brothers found each other. It turns out that he was from the part of town called Blankenese and I had lived in Klein Flottbeck so we were practically neighbors. After about 10 minutes, my LT knocked on the window. I told him things were fine, please wait in the Hummer where it was dry. He didn’t. Fine.
We talked for another 10 or 15 minutes before they took the handcuffs off my LT and released him and we went our separate ways.
However, just to freak out my LT, as we were parting ways, instead of the standard and formal “auf Wiedersehen” which would be a proper way to say good-bye to a police officer, I used a much more informal “Tschuess Du” which would normally be something you could be arrested for. (Unless you and the officer are “friends” – which a Hummel-Hummel-Mors-Mors thing can do.)
We got back, I went back to bed, and LT got his you-know-what chewed out.
Just another day in the Cavalry.