Quote of the Day: “MEN CANNOT BE MANAGED TO THEIR DEATHS THEY MUST BE LEAD THERE.”
I feel so unneeded.
I was SUPPOSED to be part of a court martial this week. As a member of the standing board, I got called last week to show up in my Charlies starting today and sit on a court martial board as a member (like being a juror).
Last night, I touched up my Charlie uniform and since we just changed uniform seasons, my rank and ribbons were still on my Bravo (long sleeve) shirt. I carefully measured everything out and applied the ribbons above my right breast pocket.
While I was putting on the rank, I noticed that one of the little stars that denote subsequent awards of the same ribbon, was upside down. What caught my eye was that the 5-pointed star’s point was pointing down instead of up.
“How the hell did that happen?”
Luckily the ribbon was on the end so I just slid it off and put it back the correct way.
But then my eye caught another ribbon with the same problem.
You might be saying to yourself that I have a keen, eagle-eye for such details that’s impressive. Well, my keen eagle-eye had failed to notice that I had put the entire set of ribbons…. wait for it….. upside down.
And you’ve been in the Marine Corps HOW LONG, Captain?
But in the morning, I was glad to see my 14-pound weight loss had resulted in a better fitting, and looking, uniform.
I was ready for my duty and after getting dressed in my immaculate uniform, I dutifully went to the courtroom. I was about 15 minutes early so was the first to show up to the jury room so I sat down, opened my book, and waited for the others to arrive.
We were supposed to be there at 0945 so at 0949 when I was STILL the only member present, I decided to do some sleuthing. I went out and asked the Navy judge if I was early, late, or in the wrong place. He passed me off to a 1st Lieutenant who took me into the courtroom and we looked at the nameplates in the jury box. My name wasn’t on any of these, something I had noticed before I even talked to anyone.
It ends up that I was supposed to be at the other location they do courts martial (yes, that IS the plural) clear across the base. I silently cursed myself for not reading the email close enough. Damn.
Here’s where reading W.E.B. Griffin’s The Corps series had an effect of my military behavior. In the book, set in the 1940’s, Captains had very little qualms about ordering around a Lieutenant and I found myself looking at this Lieutenant I had just met and TOLD him to call over there and tell them I was on my way. The funny thing was that it wasn’t rude or anything but I had actually issued a direct order. Although it felt natural to do, I realized it was the first time in a long time that I actually ordered anyone to do anything. Yes, I’ve been stagnant here too long.
I rushed over to Lejeune Hall (the building shown at the beginning of Major Dad when they showed the headquarters building) and walked into a room full of people. I was relieved that only one of them outranked me and even he was a Navy doc so I did not have to suffer the ire of anyone. They hadn’t even begun anyway but it was not the greatest of first impressions.
There were some Captains, a First Sergeant, and a Master Sergeant (which told me the defendant was enlisted). There were a couple of Gunny’s and a couple of Staff Sergeants. In fact, there was way more than I knew they needed so some of us would be sent back, our services not needed.
When we were called into the court, we were read Â½ hour’s worth of boiler plated material about what was expected of us and then we read the charges against the accused. After some more reading of standard instructions, the question period started.
They asked us some general questions as a group and if we answered “yes” to any of them, it was annotated but not pursued right there. I raised my hand to the question about the accuracy of our information sheet because mine was 2 years old. Since then my children have aged two years and I had been on a couple of courts martial that weren’t indicated.
The other question I raised my hand to was if I knew one of the witnesses. It was a very common name and I knew someone with the same name so I raised my hand.
After the general questions were asked, they dismissed us to lunch. Half of us were to stick around while the other half ate and then when our individual interviews were done, we were then dismissed to be back at 1400.
When I was called in, they asked me about the information sheet and I told them what needed to be updated. No big deal.
When they told me that the witness I thought I might know was a retired Colonel, I chuckled and said that the man I knew could NOT have made Colonel. I didn’t say it but the man I knew was a Major and his reputation all but guaranteed that he would retire at that rank. If law had allowed, even lower.
The judge asked me to summarize the other two courts martial I was a part of and after I described the first one, he asked me what the outcome was. I told him the defendant was acquitted. The next question he asked was if the outcome of that trial would have any bearing on making a decision in this one. I, of course, said it wouldn’t.
We went through the same procedure for the second court martial except I indicated that one ended in a mistrial and the only other thing I was asked about was by the defense lawyer. He asked me about that second court martial and asked if I recognized him. I said I did, that he was the defense lawyer for that case.
I was told I could leave and it was just after 1130 which meant I had 2.5 hours before I went back. So I went to McDonalds and had a glut-fest before crawling up under my desk for a food-induced coma.
Just kidding, I was good. I went to the gym and knocked out an hour of cardio before going back to my office to cool off, eat my Smart One (mmmm, beef teryaki), change back over, and get some paperwork done.
When we all got back to the courtroom, they filed us all in to the jury box. The judge kept us all at attention and just started reading off names. Mine was about the third one called.
At this point, I felt like I was on American Idol because none of us knew if this was the “we need you” list or the “get the f%#^$ out of here and go back to work” list. Marine Corps courts martial can be very Klingon.
As they called the rest of the names, I was trying to figure out which list I was on and it was at this point that I realized I watch too much American Idol (defined as “any.”).
When he finished, the judge said “… you are hereby dismissed and may return to your workspace and carry out your normal duties.”
No, “Thanks for showing up, thanks for spending hours primping your uniform, getting an extra squared away haircut, moving around everything on your schedule to block out a week for this…” etc. In essence, just a “Go away.”
God I love the Corps!
What was worse was that I was supposed to attend a legal course this week that I had to cancel. Now with my looming Company Commandership, I could have really used the refresher course and there’s not another one before I detach.
So when I was dismissed, I almost didn’t sing my farewell song. They were lucky I was such a gracious loser or they would have missed out on my riveting rendition of “I Will Survive.” I don’t think the Lieutenant Colonel judge was feelin’ me, though.
It did occur to me not to tell anyone I was dismissed and just take the rest of the week off. But the “LCpl” moment passed and I remembered that I was a Captain. So I reprehended myself for even considering it and tried to not take it personally that my services weren’t needed.
Free Advice for Today: “Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.