WHEN THINGS DON’T GO RIGHT
I’ve written several stories that deal with the importance of doing the right thing. This is particular important for those who are responsible for others. For example, when commanders are derelict in their dealings with subordinates there is always a price to pay.
Usually it is the subordinate who suffers the consequences. This time it was my family who suffered. I am going to tell a story that deals with such an event.
Deciding to reenlist was a big decision. I had been in the Army for about 2 1/2 years when my commander called me to his office and said if I would re-enlist I would be promoted to E-5 and be sent to Buren, Germany as part of a 6 man advance team for an Artillery Battery.
Families of team members would follow in 90 days. I responded by saying I would need to talk to Phyllis.
The commander gave me four hours to decide. I hurried home to talk with Phyllis. After I explained what I knew, I asked what she thought. Phyllis responded the way she did many times during our 22 years in the army. “Do what you think is best and I will follow you”. I loved her then as I do now for such devotion.
Until Phyllis and Rick joined me they planned to stay with her parents in Tulsa, OK.
Within three months, the officers’ wives and children had arrived in Buren. Later they were settled in one of approximately 40 bungalows the Artillery Commander had leased for married families of our unit.
However, I was not informed of this arrangement. I had talked to Phyllis several times (by mail) of my failure to find quarters. About that same time Phyllis went to Ft Sill to see what was being done. She talked to a friend, SP4 Bernard, who was in the main body and would be leaving shortly with his family en route to Buren.
Frank knew something was wrong because the officer’s families of the advance team had left much earlier. SP4 Bernard informed the Artillery Commander of our situation. According to Frank, the Colonial was livid and asked Phyllis to come to his office. He told her to go home and pack, she would be leaving as soon as he could arrange transportation. She left a few days later.
(Picture above shows Bungalows leased for Advance Party and Main Force Families)
The lesson I learned through this episode was this: There is one person responsible for my family. Me. I should have been more aggressive and made it my business to find out why officers were given exclusive attention. The commander knew that I had a family but he did not care for his troops and their familes. In today’s Army he would be penalized for such dereliction of duty.
From this point forward I would take personal responsibility to ensure that Army provision for military families are provided equitably to my family.