Friday, November 28, 2008

Long Ago - But Memorable

December, 1945, and the war had been officially over since September: Christmas was a-coming. Company A was still sending patrols out to try to convince the Japanese hiding in the mountains behind Manila that the war was over. These forays could get dangerous when they weren’t believed that Japan had surrendered. But as Supply Sergeant, I happily didn’t have to go.

When it was announced that Episcopal services for the holidays would be held at another regiment several miles away, I decided to go to the Christmas Eve celebration. I used my job to get a spiffy new uniform and I found a native woman from the near-by village to iron the proper creases into it. I shined my shoes as they hadn’t been shined before. I even found some Vitalis in Manila to use on my wavy locks that evening. (Don’t laugh. That was pre-shiny scalp.) Oh, I was going to be the sharpest guy in the chapel.

We awoke on the day of Christmas Eve to pouring rain and it continued all day. But this did not deter my plan to be “Dapper Dan” of the 342nd. The transport truck backed up to each tent where someone had signed up to go. A quick dash and each of us was aboard. However, this extra maneuvering took time and we arrived late. The service had already started. The chapel was actually a large tent with open sides. The truck backed up to the tent where vanity was soon to take its revenge. As I jumped from our transportation, my heel caught on the tailgate and I went plop! – into a very deep mud puddle. My reflex reaction was to utter words spoken in infantry talk at the top of my lungs. Quite inappropriate for the time and place.

After the service, the priest laughed mightily as he looked at this mud encrusted GI. He forgave my language with a brief reprimand . (He, too, had been in the infantry for several rough years.)

Happy Holidays!


kenju said...

Somebody was trying to teach you a lesson about vanity, I think. LOL- it is a funny story!!

anita said...

lol. this is literally 'pride comes before a fall'...perhaps the word pride can be replaced by vanity for accuracy's sake!