Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Follow Me!

"Follow me!" was the motto of the Infantry School Officers’ Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia back in WWII. Right next door in Benning was the Harmony Church Area, where Basic Training was administered to raw recruits about to fill the non-commissioned ranks of the our outfit and many others. Among the hard-done-to recruits, the phrase “follow me” was treated with a lack of reverence which reflected the infantryman’s usual distain for officers.

Months after training ended, we were plugging along through the depths of Germany. We were going through a small city and came to a wide rail line consisting of about five or six tracks, side by side. When we tried to cross it, a sniper would fire down the length of the tracks. The company fired cover fire in the general direction of the sniper and one of our guys at a time dashed across the tracks to safety on the other side. He would then take up the cover fire from that side. This maneuver was slow but working great. (The sniper was a lousy shot.)

One of the final guys to go was Charlie and he got about half way when – he stopped still. We realized that his cartridge belt had slipped down to his ankles and had him hog tied. Advice was screamed from both sides of the tracks, “Unbuckle it! Drop it! Drop and crawl!” But Charlie continued to struggle with the darned belt. Finally, he got it back up to his waist. But instead of running, he stood there and calmly shouted,

“Follow Me … and I’ll lead you to Hell!”

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