Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vietnam -- Remembering CSM Jones

First, off, I can honestly say CSM Jones was one of the most impressive CSMs I have ever met. 

Not only did he like to pull pranks on you, he was also very much a soldier's soldier. 

CSM Jones was also a very proud black man and pulled no punches at telling you exactly what was on his mind.

When Command Sergeant Major Jones, 4th Battalion, 77th Field Artillery called you into his office, you were either in trouble or there was something he wanted you to do for him. From the sound of his voice, this was one of those times when he had something he wanted me to do.

I walked into his office, "Yes, Sergeant Major?"

"Have a seat, Specialist Edwards," he said not looking up.

"You know, you look just like your father," he smiled.

"I get that a lot Sergeant Major," I confessed.

He laughed, then shook his head, "This is off the record and between you and I. The reason why I didn't tell you I knew your father was because I believe a soldier should fulfil his own destiny.
Besides, you are nothing like him.

"Your father used to run movie theaters. I knew him in Korea. He used to invite the Army and Navy teams to his theater before they played in Philadelphia."

"I smiled, " all of what he said was correct.

"You father also possessed a gift of charm and a radio DJ's voice. It got him in trouble. It was the first time he couldn't get himself out of trouble.

"To be perfectly blunt, your father was an egotistical lose cannon."

He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head and said, "Just went through your records. You, have proven time and time again that you are hell bent on total devotion to duty, your unit, the mission of this battalion and the US Army.

"Son, those are phrases that get put in for the Medal Of Honor.

"Unfortunately, only soldiers in infantry units can be awarded that honor. So, you'll be going home with just an ARCOM and Bronze Star but there is also nothing negative in your record.

"You're twice the soldier your father was. Stick to your guns. Believe and stay true to devotion to duty. That above all, wil take you places in this man's Army you not thought possible."

"Thank you, Sergeant Major," I said.

"This will be your last assignment for me and this battalion.

"We're going up to an orphanage in Hue. Take pictures and write a story when you have time. Grab a projector, a projector screen and some movies from Division Audio/Visual department. I know you can run a projector. You helped run your dad run his movie theaters."

He then went back into his CSM role. "Now, get the hell out of my office, " he said, "And tell Sergeant First Class Ford I'll see him now."

"Yes, Sergeant Major," I got up and saluted him.

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