By Jack Mandaville I want to make a few of my...
Editor’s note: The following piece was submitted by a fan and friend of Ranger Up. If you have a story you would like to tell, email it to me at RURob@rangerup.com .
By RU Fan Chris
I received my recently ordered “Officer Wisdom” tee shirt, put it on, and turned on the news minutes later to find out that General Norman Schwarzkopf had died. He had been my brigade commander during the mid 1970s when I served as S2 of 3-39 Infantry, 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division just before he was promoted to Brigadier General and became the Assistant Division Commander of Operations.
On a quiet Saturday, I found out that one of my finest soldiers who was ETSing on Monday was getting effed out of receiving his well deserved ARCOM medal in front of our formed battalion on the coming Monday because G1 had sat on the paperwork. My Battalion Commander was away, my Brigade Commander was away and the FOD was a bureaucratic dink whose definition of “the field” was a piece of land on which farmers grew crops.
As I drove by Division Headquarters, I saw BG Schwarzkopf’s POV and instantaneously decided to bet my 1LT’s bar on my own personal “officer wisdom” decision. I walked into Headquarters and knocked on the General’s office door. He advised me to enter, to introduce myself and to tell him “my story” while standing at attention, adding that he was going to “throw my ass” out of his Army if he determined me to be full of s–t and wasting his time.
Standing motionless at attention, I gulped and told my story. Bottom line: one of my best soldiers was getting effed due to “ass dragging” at G1 and that I had decided to jump over three field grade officers in my chain of command due to the pressing need to give a fantastic 11B soldier the respect he deserved by allowing him to receive his ARCOM medal while he stood in a battalion formation near his infantry brothers.
The General listened quietly while I was standing at attention in front of his desk telling my story. When I finished, the General looked out his office window, picked up his phone, called the G1 at home and told him to have my soldier’s ARCOM medal and accompanying text on his desk within one hour.
Then he said, “Lieutenant, both your Battalion and Brigade commanders are going to s–t twinkies that you came to see me today. I will handle that. By the way, you may stay in my Army precisely because you decided that the welfare of one of your soldiers was more important than retaining your officer’s commission. Good job, son. Now, get out of my office.”
Two days later, without advance notice, the General arrived at our battalion formation to personally award the ARCOM medal to my soldier. The soldier and his brother infantrymen were thrilled. Both my Brigade Commander and Battalion Commander told me later that my audacious decision to jump the chain of command to protect the interests of an outstanding soldier was the type of action that separated our Army from all others. I wonder to this day what the General had said to them. I never found out and I never forgot the whole incredible experience. I pray that the General is now resting in peace that he so richly deserves.