- THE NEXT JOHN WAYNE - NOT!
It was very late, perhaps 2:30 in the morning, and I was driving to the barracks. I had entered the post at Huachuca City and had several miles of desert to cross. In the middle of it there was an intersection with stop signs, possibly a four-way stop, but I don't remember. In any case, this really was desert, and you could see a lit match from a mile away. There were no headlights anywhere in sight, and my stop at the intersection was a "Hollywood stop," a matter of slowing down to two or three miles per hour and rolling through the intersection, then accelerating without ever coming to a complete stop.
Incredibly, astonishingly, a Military Police cruiser lit me up as soon as I crossed the intersection. At this hour? In the middle of the Goddamn desert?
I stopped the car, grabbed my registration, and got out, fishing for my license. A brandy new Second Lieutenant with a mile long flashlight got out of the cruiser and swaggered - actually swaggered - toward me as if he were John Wayne.
Lieutenant: "Where'dja getcher license, Hollywood?"
Donnie: "No sir. Is that where you get your dialogue?"
Behind him two enlisted MPs exited the cruiser, one of them holding his palms outward as if to say, "Sorry. We tried to talk him out of it."
Lieutenant: "Don't get smart with me, Sergeant."
Donnie: "Lieutenant, let's do a deal. You treat me with respect and I'll treat you with respect."
I was a Staff Sergeant with nearly ten years of service, my previous assignment having been Vietnam, and I was not going to take that crap from any 21 year old whose total experience consisted of ninety days in an Officer Candidate School, and especially not from one whose idea of military heroics was hiding behind desert brush at 2:30 in the morning to catch someone blowing off a stop sign, and then trying to bully him.
He wrote me up in silence and we parted. I got a demerit on my post driving record, which was of no consequence as I was only weeks away from leaving the Army.
- YOU CAN CATCH MORE FLIES WITH HONEY . . . .
I had about eight months left in the Army and wanted to buy a new car. I went to the post Credit Union, informed them that I intended to leave the Army soon, and asked if that would create a problem regarding an automobile loan. I was told that it would not as long as my payment record was good at the time of my discharge.
I bought the car, financing it through that credit union and left the Army eight months later, as announced. First however, there was the matter of clearance. Standard then (and perhaps now) was for someone being reassigned to another organization or being discharged to be given a set of "clearance papers" along with copies of the orders transferring or discharging the member at some point in the near future. These clearance papers consisted of the identification of various departments, sections, etc., which might have a vested interest in knowing that the member was leaving, such as Supply, Medical Records, yada yada yada, and yes, the post Credit Union.
As an NCO I could initial most of these myself, simply representing that I had cleared the various areas. Several, however, were more sensitive, and had to be initialed by someone in each area. One of these was the Credit Union. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Credit Union to be greeted by hostility and threats from two people, a clerk of some kind and a brand new Credit Union Manager. What did I think I was doing, getting out of the Army while owing them money? We can prevent your discharge until you pay this loan off. (There's a bluff if ever there was one.)
I found the woman I had talked to and asked her to join the conversation. I asked her if she recalled telling me that as long as I had made my payments I would have no problem with the Credit Union regarding being discharged during the period of my loan. She did, and what's more she said that she told me that because it is the Credit Union's policy. That deflated my two antagonists and I was on my way after giving them the address of my intended new residence.
But this really rankled, and for several months I made no payments, waiting for the first correspondence from this manager/moron. It came, and in keeping with his style it contained more threats - they would "keep track of me," they would "harrass (sic) me," etc.
I replied, reminding him of his previous attempt to bully me and of the Credit Union's commitment that my impending discharge would have no effect on my loan, would create no problem. I requested (umm, well, to be fair, perhaps I demanded) an explanation.
Several weeks went by and I received a letter from his boss, saying that I had made my point, that he regretted any inconvenience, and that he would be grateful if I were to make my monthly payments.
And I did, beginning with a lump sum for the several months that I had skipped.