The Professionals in the Army

I am an army brat, but for just a couple of years. My father automatically was made Captain when he joined the army at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, since he had just graduated from Dental School.  He and a few others of his comrades; a doctor, obstetrician, cardiologist, optician and my father were part of the army as officers.

Since they were all fresh from their universities and novices in actual practical experience, they basically learned their art on the soldiers while giving medical care.  Even the officers’ families were subjected to each others trainee experience.  My mother would tell me how I being the first born not only in our family but among the entire group; I was probably the first birth for the obstetrician outside of the hospital school.  He had decided my mother needed assistance by using forceps; but as much as his skills might have been up to the task, his bedside manners were below professional level.  As I was born, my mother heard the doctor muttering, “Oops” as I was born.  I hope it didn’t have anything to do with my appearance which seemed to catch everyone by surprise.  Most of them (including the doctor) hadn’t had much experience with newborns and didn’t expect to see a non-Gerber type baby face.

The doctor/officer group was not expected to go through the regular training as the rest of the army, but they did have some duties.  They were expected to be called upon in the army’s ceremonial marches and show up in formal wear for official officers’ parties. Yet these demands proved difficult for these graduates with many letters following their names.

Maybe it was from the lack of training, but I believe it was just not in the nature of any of these men. They were the disgrace of the troop when it came to marching.  Most of them may have been able to tell the difference between a molecular nanotechnology and mechanosynthesis system, but they could not remember their right from left nor were able to coordinate with each other, much less than the rest of the troop.  As they were given orders, “Right…right…right, left, right.  About face.”  At which point they would be the only group facing the wrong way and not even all of them. Clumsy would be beginning of defining the experience.

They were all newlyweds, carrying huge debts from their universities, thus none of them had extra cash.  Not one of them wanted to spend their wages on the proper uniform and a peaked cap expected to be worn at the official army parties.  So they joined together, to buy one suit and cap for all.  Their plan was each one would wear the uniform to the party, salute the higher officer and then quickly leave so the next one in line would be able to get dressed and repeat the performance. The only problem was; they all might have had similar backgrounds, education, and desire but they did not all have the same build!

One guy was particularly tall, another heavy, a third short, another officer was really skinny and still, another was normal size but had a large head. How they had planned to get dressed all in the same uniform was a mystery, at least to the men.  That is where the wives stepped in.  As each of the officer/doctors got dressed the wives folded, sewed, pinned or tied the uniform to fit each man.  And they got away with the antic or perhaps the army just had pity on these non-professional army types since they had chosen a different profession to serve the people.



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