I was over at my father's place today because my sister drove up from Merced which is about 114 miles south. Can't recall the last time I was with my sister at my father's but had to be going on 10 years. So I arrive and my sister makes me a sandwich and the three of us sit down at the table and things start to go back in time. His grade school, my sister's grade school dealings with nuns, his cars over the years ( I bought his last one last week) and then we hit his service. He had three short stories that none of us have ever heard and for 91 his memory is very good.

First story starts out about a Captain Black. He was regular Army, a West Point graduate, and had been a Captain for five years now. First learned of him when in Texas training. After Texas he left for New Guinea where their battalion was split up. Apparently the Captain was adjutant to the Colonel. After New Guinea they were shipped to Hollandia for R&R before Leyte. So now my Dad is on Leyte and they have chow set up a little bit inland. As per my father the officers would go to the head of the line while everyone else was behind. They see Capt. Black walk up and get in line at the back. They were puzzled by this right up to when the Captain said out loud would you gentlemen up front care to join me in the line. My father assumes they are all gentlemen because they all turn around to look and then all trudge back to where the Captain is. Those officers didn't like the Captain but all the privates thought this is a pretty nice officer.

Now still on Leyte one day a Lt. comes up to them and says it might be a good idea to build a bridge across this creek or whatever it was. All the soldiers moan. LT. says those palm trees would be good and so they start cutting. My father is in water up to their chest along with all the other little creatures found in water on Leyte. They are dropping in the logs and they disappear below the surface. Eventually enough get in to create a solid bottom. The Lt. complains that they are not moving fast enough just as Capt. Black walks up. Hearing that the Captain suggests the Lt. get in the water and show the men how to do it. One leads by example and not by command. Now the Lt. moans and gets in the water at which point the soldiers slow down to keep him in the water as long as possible.

Apparently the Lieutenants were a problem in this battalion. There were three that my father said were real jerks. Because of issues the Lieutenants called a meeting of themselves in a large tent. While in there two shots rang out and went through the top of the tent. Everybody piled out of the tent thinking it was Japanese. No, it had to be a private or town who fired the shots. They were never discovered but the Colonel addressed the whole battalion. In his address he said he would court martial and shoot anyone who disrupts the smooth running of this battalion. My father said after that the battalion had never ran smoother.

Now my father is in Japan and it is April 1946 and it is his turn to go home. Him and another Staff Sergeant have to go down to the depot to check in and it is where Eight Army HQ is in one of the few brick buildings that is still standing. He said there were two elevators so it must have been three floors at least. We were talking about good tasting water from Hetch Hetchy which brought this story up. So he tells about lister bags filled with water and chlorine creating some of the worst tasting water there is. So in the lobby of this building is a large lister bag with many nipples to draw water form. He takes a cup, along with Zack, and turns to him and says "this water tastes like shit". A fellow in fatigues says "yes it does Sergeant" and my father looks up and the fellow says "it does taste like shit". The smiling fellow was Gen. Eichelberger surrounded by non-smiling aides. My father says to the General "I would have thought you have your own water, Sir?" The General asks " do you think I walk on water?" My father replies "if I were a three star General I would hope I could walk on water as well as you do, Sir". The General responds " I can see why you are a Staff Sergeant". Meanwhile Zack is shitting in his pants. My father was the consummate salesman who knew how to smooze one when needed.