“Sit Down, Candidate Parker, You’re Dead…”

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 1.39.39 PM

January and February on the Great Plains of Oklahoma are cold and harsh and the Winter Wind blows strong and hard with very little in her path but the shivering bodies of Officer Candidates. 

Dressed in long johns, and wearing two pair of socks inside our high, black tightly-laced boots, we sucked-in short, shallow breaths of cold air, then slowly exhaled onto the backs of our wrists. Swaddled, like big green babies in our army fatigues and field jackets (with liner), steel pots atop our wobbly-bobbling heads, an itchy wool scarf about each young neck, we stood, packed together like refugees, clutching our binoculars in our wool-lined, leather-gloved hands. We had come to this vast expanse, where once the buffalo roamed, not to kill any survivors among those few large, majestic beasts, but to become forward observers for the field artillery.

I had decided to become an officer, in part, out of a desire for self-preservation. I was under the mistaken impression that the odds of coming home alive, were I deployed to a war zone, would be somewhat increased were I to become an officer. When I shamefully confessed this to a veteran who had recently returned from Vietnam, I was quickly disabused of this notion. He told me that, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Forward observers had one of the highest casualty rates among our troops in the field. This made me feel somewhat better.

Although I didn’t know it yet, I would “die” that very day, killed by artillery fire, which I myself, had directed onto my own position.

 
 
“Sit Down, Candidate Parker, You’re Dead…”

January and February on the Great Plains of Oklahoma are cold and harsh and the Winter Wind blows strong and hard with very little in her path but the shivering bodies of Officer Candidates. 

Dressed in long johns, and wearing two pair of socks inside our high, black tightly-laced boots, we sucked-in short, shallow breaths of cold air, then slowly exhaled onto the backs of our wrists. Swaddled, like big green babies in our army fatigues and field jackets (with liner), steel pots atop our wobbly-bobbling heads, an itchy wool scarf about each young neck, we stood, packed together like refugees, clutching our binoculars in our wool-lined, leather-gloved hands. We had come to this vast expanse, where once the buffalo roamed, not to kill any survivors among those few large, majestic beasts, but to become forward observers for the field artillery.

I had decided to become an officer, in part, out of a desire for self-preservation. I was under the mistaken impression that the odds of coming home alive, were I deployed to a war zone, would be somewhat increased were I to become an officer. When I shamefully confessed this to a veteran who had recently returned from Vietnam, I was quickly disabused of this notion. He told me that, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Forward observers had one of the highest casualty rates among our troops in the field. This made me feel somewhat better.

Although I didn’t know it yet, I would “die” that very day, killed by artillery fire, which I myself, had directed onto my own position.

 
 

 

One thought on ““Sit Down, Candidate Parker, You’re Dead…””

  1. I’m enjoying your recollections of your earlier days and I am impressed by your memory. Everyone who is 40 years or older should write and or record their experiences, especially if you have kids. So glad I pushed my parents to record some stories when they were around.

    All the best Rick!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s