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Archive for November 3rd, 2008

M-O-U-S-E

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

This is one of those stories that no one actually believes could have happened, but it did.

I was stationed at Diogenes Station in Turkey for 17 months, spanning from February 1981 until July 1982, at which point I went to Ft. Dix, NJ to ETS.  I worked in the TCC, the Tele-Communication Center, or comm center for short.

When I arrived we used state of the art 1950 equipment for putting messages on paper tape which would then run through a reader and became some sort of code that could be transmitted via microwave equipment that had been installed in 1947.  No lie.

In a few months time we had state of the art 1981 computer equipment to send and receive message traffic.  It’s very primitive compared to what we all have today, but was very futuristic at that time.

I served under two different Sergeant First Classes, Vietnam era vets, that were incredible studs.  When they wore their ribbons, they had the ones that you literally had to kill for.

When they went back to the states we got white-boy Fat Albert.  He had made rank quickly in Vietnam too, but was frustrated because he hadn’t gotten promoted in about ten years and would be leaving the army at the end of his Turkish tour if he didn’t make rank.  He knew nothing of our computer equipment and refused to learn.  Did I mention that he was fat?  He wouldn’t pass today’s “tape-test” even if they could find a tape big enough to go around him.

He took a personal dislike to me and told me so.  He ended his “initial counseling session” with me by saying, “You came into this army an E-1 and I’m going to send you home an E-1.”

I was a brand new E-5, a Buck Sergeant, and had been working in a Staff Sergeant’s slot for about a year at that time, beginning when I was a Specialist.  I was always put on the night shift, which corresponded with the day shift in the USA, which meant we were always very busy with a high volume of message traffic coming in and going out.  From the time that Fat Albert took over I always got stuck with less than half the people I needed to run this shift, but we always got the work done and ended up being the envy of the day shift.  I had some really good guys working with me.  I also pissed off Fat Albert, because he truly wanted to write counseling statements on me in preparation for filing some sort of charges against me and taking my rank.

Just about every day Fat Albert would post his “Order of the Day” on the door between his office and our work area.  We would have to read them and then initial that we had done so.  Failure to do so would get you written up, except for that short, fat female Specialist with short hair that he had a crush on.

One day, after reading his stupid order, the usual rant about us needing to run the vacuum or empty the garbage like we always did, I read his signature block and realized that it was just about perfect if you added M-O-U-S-E.

My team was coming on and getting briefed by the other team, everyone was hustling and bustling around.  Fat Albert was waddling out to go drink his supper at the Sports Bar.

I walked over to a computer and typed out “M-O-U-S-E,” printed off a single copy and did not save anything to disk or tape.  I cut out the word, shredded the paper with the cut out hole in it and clear taped the M-O-U-S-E underneath Fat Albert’s signature block.  I wiped the tape with my sleeve just in case he had the MPs try to lift a print.  No one noticed a thing.

I then volunteered to burn the classified trash, which included the shredded paper I had just added.  Yep, I was paranoid, but I also knew he was out to get me.

The next day was my day off.  I was down at our private beach on the Black Sea when I was approached by a Specialist from the day shift.  She was off too, but had had to go into the comm center for some reason.  She said to me, “Don’t say anything because I don’t want to lie if I get questioned, but I know that you did it.”

I acted surprised but it didn’t fool her.  She told me that Fat Albert had turned purple and stood there screaming incoherently, barely able to shout out my name and the occasional f-bomb.  We laughed about his reaction and “wondered” how anyone could have done what they did.

For the next few months, until I ETS’d, I was a local celebrity among my peers.

Oh yeah, I was a Buck Sergeant when I ETS’d and I was given an Army Commendation Medal by the unit commander.  Go figure.

SFC Cole
NCOIC TCC
M-O-U-S-E