Monday, August 14, 2017

Once more.......With Feeling!

So, this morning is Opening Convocation.  All the employees will be in the HS Auditorium, the band will play, the choir will sing, the NJROTC cadets will present Colors, the Ath-A-Letes will stand around looking cool.  All the teachers will ooh and aah about all the pagentry.  This year, instead of paying somebody 5 Grand to give a boring keynote speech, one of the HS teachers was dragooned into giving a boring keynote speech.  The President of the school board will say how glad she is that everyone is well rested and ready to be back at work after a well earned vacation.

All happy, happy, glad, glad.

The five members of my team will be installing computers, rearranging furniture and connecting up projectors, printers, document cameras thankfully missing all that folderol with permission from the Superintendent, because "why aren't you ready yet?"  "Those sure are pretty waxed floors aren't they?"

In any case.....

This reminds me (of course) of events at the start of another school year.  That school year took place late in the term of Reagan's VP.  I'd just completed my tour at Kadena and been selected to attend ARRRMEEE Training Sir! at Ft Leavenworth KS.

 Once more with Feeling!

We were supposed to report to the Air Force Det at 0800 Monday morning in June (about 6 weeks before Uncle Saddam decided to take a vacay in Kuwait).  Coming from Kadena, and not having time to find housing or such, I arrived the Friday before.
Besides the Prison, Ft Leavenworth also houses Field Grade Officer Professional Education.  There were times I think I'd have preferred to be in prison. Source

Walked into the Det and presented my paperwork to the Sergeant and noticed one of my upperclassmen from ROTC there.  Walked over and said hello, chatted with him about the school and what to expect, where to look for housing, what to do or not do over the weekend (stay away from the bars downtown, with 5 prisons in town, let's just say the opportunity for bad things to occur was high).  The usual stuff.  He then introduced me to the Colonel in charge of the Air Force Cadre who took me into his office and chatted with me about flying the Eagle (he had also) and who I knew, the usual stuff.

He then said, "juvat, I've got something I want you to do for me."

.....Oh, no!....

"You see, we've had a bit of a tradition here at CGSC between the three "guest" services here.  Since we all have our students arrive in June for Army Kindergarten, we've traditionally organized a picnic and softball tournament towards the end of July to celebrate the completion thereof."

"So, the Air Force, Navy and Marines organize a team and we play a tournament for bragging rights.  The Navy doesn't send many folks here, so they're not really contenders.  The Marines.......They've won virtually every time.  There's some behind the scenes betting between the Detachment Commanders and I don't want to buy the Marines any more beer."

"So....I want you to field a team and beat the Marines this year.  You can have all the practice time you want, after duty hours.  Any questions?"

No pressure there.

"No sir."

Monday arrives, me having spent the weekend reading "Coaching Softball to save your career....For Dummies".  I get up in front of the class of, I think, 50 Air Force people, primarily guys, but a few women.  After introducing my self and explaining that the Honor of the USAF was at stake, I passed around a sign up sheet asking them if they were interested in playing, any experience they had at playing and which position they liked to play.

The meeting continues as the paper circulates around the room arriving back at my seat after a bit.

I scan through the list fearing the worst.  I mean we're playing softball, not golf! (I wanted to get that in, before any of you hecklers started.)

Every once in a while, and just once in a while, you can fall into a bucket of you know what and come out smelling like a rose.

I had one guy who'd played semi-pro ball between College and joining the AF,  3 guys who'd played college ball.  One guy who was played HS softball as a pitcher, and a few others that had played on organizational teams.  

I also had a bunch of folks who just wanted to play, for the fun of it.

Feeling very relieved, I realized that with Honor at stake, there would be some devilry afoot.  

Sure enough, as I went to reserve practice time on the softball field, I noticed the Marines had reserved the first available time every day.  

So, they'd be there as we showed up and could watch us. Finding our strengths and weaknesses.

I scheduled  the field right after them and showed up with the guys who "just wanted to play".  Organized them into two teams and we had a "Practice".  Had some beers, cooked some burgers and dogs, played a little softball and had some fun.  After a short while, the Marines left laughing and High Fiving.

Shortly thereafter the "team" arrived, the "just players" settled into the bleachers and watched.  I, being the astute Coach that I am, asked the semipro what he thought we needed to practice today.  


"Ok Guys, today we're going to take batting practice."

This went on for a couple of weeks.

Finally it's the big day.  

The Navy couldn't field a team (I think they only had 5 or 6 students.), so the "tournament" consists of a single, "winner take all" game between the Marines and the flyboys.

The Colonel reminds me what's at stake as we arrive at the field and the Marines are out in their gold t-shirts with red gym shorts, doing PT to warm up.

I bring out the "just want to play" squad and do a little fielding practice and such.

It's time.

The Marines are up first.

We send in the "team".  Puzzlement appears on the faces of the folks in Red and Gold, but the catcalling is still going on.

First pitch.

Line drive to second base, snagged, thrown to first.  Not even close. 1 down.

Second pitch, swing and a miss. Third, same. Fourth, two down.

Fifth pitch, a long fly ball to center field. Diving catch, and we're at bat.

7 runs later,  we're back in the field

3 up, 3 down.

The Marine Colonel looks like he's going to blow a gasket. His face is as red as his shorts.

It's now 15-0 at the bottom of the 4th and the Marines have put only one person on base and he was caught in a double play.

At the end of the 7th, it's 21-0 and I ask my Colonel if he wants to put in the "just players"

"Heck no, juvat!  He's run up the score both times we've played.  I'm loving this!"

The game ends 28-0.  The Marine Colonel pays the AF Colonel the case of beer that was the bet and stomps off the field.

Best Miller Light I've ever tasted!

Many of my best brain cells were spent in this building.  Sometimes, I hear them in the night calling too me! Source
Off Topic, Sarge had asked me (well... my wife) for a little help for a friend.  In so doing, we ran across this video.

Laughed til I cried.


  1. A team of airmen beats a team of Marines in an athletic endeavor, that doesn't happen a lot.

    I'm sure that's not a story those Marines share with others.

    1. Actually, my counterpart on the Marine side (the guy that got told by his Colonel that the Pride of the Marine Corps rode on the outcome of this game) was part of my SAMS staff group the following year and we got to be good friends. Later while I was at CINCPAC and went TDY to 3MEF, he was there. I don't recall what his position was in the MEF, but he was part of the Planning Cell for the JTF that I ran. We were talking about deception, both doing it to the bad guy and watching out for it from him. He used this story (or his version of it) as a good example.

    2. Hhmm, this is sort of like Operation Bolo. They think they're going up against 105s, actually they're Phantoms. Essentially, you Robin Olds-ed them.

    3. I had completed my flying career and I had decided early on that should it ever be for "realsies", I wasn't going to be chivalrous. I wasn't going to wrap a challenge up around a wrench, fly over the bad guy's airfield and drop it, then wait for him to come up and get ready. If I got 5 kills with their gear down in the landing pattern, that would be just fine with me. So, yeah, I had read about Operation Bolo, and yeah, I did want them to think we'd be a pushover. All's fair in Love and War and....Softball.

  2. I knew it! You flyboys are all a bunch of dirty, rotten, thieving, cheating scoundrels! And I loved this story! LOL :D

    1. Yes well....Get 'em looking one way, then smack 'em from the other. It was fun. As I mentioned above, the other coach and I got to be pretty good friends (after his Colonel calmed down).

  3. I spent the final days of my Army career assigned to the Flight Detachment at Ft Leavenworth. One of the most beautifully maintained posts in the Army..."Thank you" to the detainees of the Military Disciplinary Barracks!! Story I was told was that General George Armstrong Custer departed Leavenworth on his infamous trek to Little Big Horn, shouting over his shoulder, "Don't change ANYthing until I get back"....
    ...And they haven't.....

    1. I think I heard that same story, and yes, it was a very well maintained post. I especially enjoyed watching the formation lawn mowing team in action. The Thunderbirds could learn a few things from them.

  4. But as members of the US Armed Forces, aren't you all on the same "TEAM?"

    Why no I never served, why do you ask?

    Great story!

    1. Yes, but friendly competition strengthens those bonds. (and I know you were being facetious)

  5. Replies
    1. It's not the beer, it's the conditions that brought about the drinking thereof.

  6. I wonder if the Navy had simply decided that their free time was better spent in pursuit of members of the opposite sex, and the consumption of adult beverages!

    Great post and a perfect example of the two snowball trick.

    1. That's one possible reason, a more likely one is that the Navy didn't think that educating it's officers in corps level planning in the European theater was all that important. I seem to recall that their weren't any Line Officers from the Navy there, only logistics folks, which would make some sense.

  7. My Navy experiences remind me that the best Softball players were mostly E-6 and E-7 atta hed to schools commands, supply centers, and types commands.
    My ship had a team, but there were really only three or four 'real' players, the rest were of the beer league variety.
    At one point we had a pretty good pitcher, a First Class Signalman.
    We were in Hong Kong when he suddenly got orders to CruDesPac.
    Softball season was starting and they needed a pitcher.

    1. My current boss served a tour in the AF as enlisted. When I asked him what he did he said "Softball". Not sure what his AFSC was, but apparently he played softball.

  8. I remember 2011 like yesterday. I moved from San Diego to Ohio and across the street the children played baseball for the local HS and I learned for the very first time of the Mercy Rule. I cannot remember it now but it ran something like if one team is up by more than 10 runs in the 7th, Mercy falls and all go home without drawing out the agony of defeet. yes yes, I know.

    1. When the kids were in school, I learned the benefit of that rule. Parents get to actually go home at a reasonable hour.

  9. They have the mercy rule in little league in Santa Cruz. Not so much in Gainsville.

  10. LOL, good for y'all! We DID beat the Jarheads a few times, much to their dismay... They usually field teams that are pretty much at the semi-pro level on most bases... sigh

    1. Yeah, I'm glad I didn't have to coach the team the next year. Used up most of my sorcery by that time.

  11. Me thinks you had read Sun Tzu by that time! Outstanding story! I can picture the apoplexy of the full bird, red face, spittle, frothing and bulging eyes and neck veins!

    1. Thanks. Sun Tzu was the second year though. The Colonel was Peeved!

  12. Thanks for the post. At the usual standard. The videos are especially good.

    Paul L. Quaned

    1. Thanks Paul. I thought the Bill Engvall one was hilarious, I would have loved to have given him that ride.

  13. That's a great story. Show 'em what they expect to see. Works almost every time.

    Had a lot of fun on the naval softball fields.

    1. Thanks,
      Yeah, softball the way the "just players" play it is a lot more fun than the other way.

  14. Hey Juvat;

    LOLROFLMAO, I loved that AF/Marine story, now that was practiced deception and very well done, and bet the beer tasted good also. And the Bill Engvall video was very good.

    1. Thanks, Yeah he described flying and pulling 9g's pretty accurately, even as a pilot, it hurts a bit. And if you don't do it right, it can hurt A LOT! As I found out.


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