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Archive for September 16th, 2008

Lightbulb Theft

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

My father told me this story when I was 15 in an effort to dispel the notion that Green Berets have no sense of humor.  I pass it on now because he is no longer here to do it himself, and it’s a story that should definitely be passed around.

When Dad was in Vietnam, there was a rash of light bulb thefts on base.  Every time the light bulbs would be replaced, they would be stolen just as fast.  Eventually, the CO caught on to what was happening, and decided that the joke was over.  He assembled everyone together and told them that if even ONE more light bulb disappeared, the off-base passes of everyone on base would be revoked, and nobody would be allowed into the base beyond assigned personnel.  Word had begun to circle the base that some of the lieutenants had taken the light bulbs in an effort to frame some of the sergeants (my father included) that they didn’t like, and soon the words were backed up by evidence.  The next day, a few more light bulbs went missing, and true to his word, the CO revoked the passes and pissed off everyone not involved with the theft.

Dad and his barracks-mates were naturally upset about these events, but decided that instead of going to the CO immediately and telling him what they knew about the lieutenants, they would wait patiently for an opportunity to reward them in their own special way.

About a week later, when everyone had been couped up and pissed off long enough, my father’s friend Lee discovered that some of the lieutenants involved with the thefts had been sneaking some of the local women of ill-repute into their barracks for the past few nights.  And that was when they saw their opportunity to get back their passes and the lieutenants.

Dad went to the CO, hat in hand, and told him that while he didn’t want to stir up trouble, but he felt that he should know that there were some non-assigned personnel on base, and he might want to look for them in the barracks, and proceeded to give his CO the barrack numbers of the lieutenants.  The CO’s eyes bugged and he stormed out of the office. Dad met Lee outside the CO’s office, and together they walked over to the comm office and were informed by their buddy working the switchboards that a call had just come in from one of the lieutenants that had been sold out.  Apparently, this Lieutenant wasn’t too happy about being caught, and was trying to warn his buddies in the next barracks over that the CO was on the warpath.  Dad grinned.  Lee grinned.  The switchboard guy hung up on the lieutenant and didn’t connect any calls to or from the barracks under inspection.

The passes were returned the next day, and that group of lieutenants never hassled my dad and his friends again.