It's time to finish my second court martial story...
This is the second and last of my bailiff stories - there is another court martial story. In that one I was a spectator. A kid in my shop in Korea was court-martialed for black marketing. The whole shop turned out to root for...
I'll tell that story some other time. For now let's get back to the tale of the Lieutenant Colonel who committed various and sundry sordid acts, crimes against Nature and other dastardly deeds of which I shall not speak. (I won't say allegedly, because he was found guilty ya know. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.)
Once again, I will remind you that you are under oath...
Nope. Sorry. All this court martial stuff is taking me back in time. Not to the court martial mind you, but to the dozens of episodes of Law and Order I have watched while deployed to a hotel on travel for a couple of years. And again, I digress...
As I mentioned yesterday, I had a rather grand old time at that court martial. The accused, not so much.
It was our custom (those of us laboring for the government) to gather in the courtroom at the lunch hour for to eat our sandwiches and read our newspapers. I'm not sure where the defense went off to, here maybe?
|Classic Image of a JAG Officer|
(At least back in my day..)
Now in that courtroom, at lunchtime, typically OB and I would sit in the jury box and eat our lunches. (Oops, an acronym, OB = Other Bailiff.) The prosecution team would eat lunch at their table and the Judge would dine at his bench. It was all very relaxed and collegial.
As the professional (American) football season was approaching in those days (I do believe the trial was in August, just before training camp opened) OB and I would often speak of tales of the gridiron and the prospects for the coming season. I should note here that OB was, like the Judge, a Texan. With all that entails.
OB started to sing the praises of the Cowboys of Dallas and their quarterback Aikman of Troy (back before he was a famous TV guy). I was nay-saying his prognostications of forthcoming Dallas wonderfulness at every turn.
But then, OB announced that the 1996 Dallas Cowboys were perhaps the finest team to ever walk the face of the Earth. Well, I did not stand for that...
"Objection! The Cowboys are not going anywhere this season." I stated, somewhat forcefully. And then we all heard, from the bench...
"OVER-RULED!" Said the Judge from On High. (Who I will remind you, again, hailed from the Lone Star State.)
"But Your Honor," I cried.
"I've made my ruling Master Sergeant. Take your seat."
Mind you, the Judge continued to read his newspaper throughout this exchange. Never blinked an eye, just swiftly and surely shot down my protests of Dallas Cowboy greatness. (While they did make the play-offs that year, they were eliminated in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Just wanted to make that point. Your Honor.)
So that's how the days went.
Blah, blah, blah testimony.
Blah, blah, blah evidence.
Et cetera, et cetera. (Actually it was far more exciting than I let on. Mind you it was no Air Show with the Thunderbirds, but it was interesting.)
|More exciting than a court martial. A lot more...|
Another fun thing I got to do was supervise all the colonels went they went out for a cigarette. (As I was, in those days, a smoker. A habit I am still free of. I'm sure Tuna continues to monitor that situation.)
Remember the crusty old LtCol F-4 pilot I mentioned the other day? He and I would tell
But eventually the trial began to wind down as both sides rested their cases. All the evidence had been presented. All the witnesses had been heard. It was time for me to take the jury panel back to the Fortress of Solitude, for on the morrow they would deliberate and render their verdict on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
|The jury's hotel. A reasonable facsimile thereof...|
Verdict day dawned, it was a rather hushed and solemn buckle of colonels I collected at the hotel. (That's a term we coined at SAC Headquarters for any grouping of three or more colonels. Herd of buffalo, flock of geese, buckle of colonels. FYI.)
These guys knew that they would be sitting in judgement on one of their own. Guilty the fellow might be, but he still wore the same uniform we did and had sworn the oath. Sitting in judgement on a fellow airman is not an easy thing.
When we arrived at the courtroom, I noticed a small olive-drab station wagon of the type our Security Police drove at Geilenkirchen. I didn't think much of it until I saw SSgt Wiggum (not his real name) standing in the JAG's office, just off the courtroom.
|Not SSgt Wiggum. I don't think they're even related.|
Especially seeing as how Chief Wiggum is a fictional character.
"So Wiggie, what are you doing here?" I asked.
He explained that it was required by regulation to have a vehicle and two (armed) Security Policeman available at sentencing. For if the defendant was found guilty, after sentence was pronounced, the defendant would immediately be taken to a confinement facility, there to await transport to Leavenworth. (That USDB thing we mentioned yesterday.)
Yup, he would not pass go, he would not collect $200. Justice would be sure, justice would be swift.
At this point in my conversation with
Immediately OB and I sang out "a three hour tour" from the Gilligan's Island theme song. That little olive-drab station wagon was immediately christened The Minnow, Wiggie was now The Skipper and his Senior Airman (E-4) sidekick was now, you guessed it Gilligan. Much to his chagrin.
Word of this did get to the Judge and the Prosecutors. To their (discrete) amusement I might add.
So the jury deliberated, the defendant was found guilty by a jury of his peers. Mitigating evidence was offered and considered and in the end, the defendant was sentenced to six months hard labor at the United States Disciplinary Barracks (Leavenworth) and dismissal from the United States Air Force. Not exactly an honorable end to his career!
The Judge called me over and said (ISYK) "Sarge, go get The Skipper and Gilligan to collect their prisoner."
I did. The former defendant, now "prisoner", was handcuffed, loaded into The Minnow and was hauled off to Bitburg. To begin his sentence. His case was appealed, numerous rumors abounded amongst the troops that he had been restored to his rank and was back on active duty. All stuff and nonsense.
The prisoner did appeal his conviction but the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces heard the appeal and upheld his conviction and sentence.
Me, I went back to being a standard issue Master Sergeant, one (1) each, retiring three years later. After a long and honorable career. I did get to collect $200. Didn't even need a "Get out of jail free" card.
|Had one, didn't need it...|
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
*BIT = Built In Test