Monday, May 15, 2006

Army Hi-jinks

The standard organizational chart for an infantry company in WWII called for two "messengers" (MOS 527, I believe, if my memory is still on track.) Jack Moffett and I got the two openings in our company way back when we finished basic training. We carried and cared for the company radios, we were responsible for communications, literally "ran" messages, and when otherwise not occupied acted as bodyguards for the company HQ and the company commander. In training in the States we had frequent idle times. Times when we could get in trouble.

In Louisiana we lived in "6-man huts". Their doors had basic door latches. There was an inmovable handle and a thumb latch that extended through the door and hooked on the inside. Pressing the thumb hold down, raised the latch up on the inside and unhooked the door. Everyone has seen them. They are used on gates, shed doors, etc., to this day.

Jack and I extended the bolt that held the handle through to the inside. We insulated the latch from the handle with electrician's tape. We wired together four walkie-talkie 104 volt batteries so that we had 416 volts available. Then we wired one contact to the thumb latch and the other to the handle via the bolt thru the door. Anyone trying to open the door was treated to a very substanial shock. It tossed some on their backside.

This was a fairly successful prank until an officer decided he had business inside our hut. When he recovered, he came looking for us and threatened all sorts of revenge. But he let us off on the condition that we "equip" his 2-man hut the same way. His roomie then appointed us his #1 enemies and vowed our early demise. We gave up the electrician trade.

Combat was less fun. Jack was shot in the butt and came home early. His replacement died outside Ingostadt. I got hit in the back by a tank and still hurt.

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