Young Lieutenants Part 2

Some lessons are learned the hard way. If you are a young Lt, your enthusiasm can earn you a flaming you hadn’t even anticipated.

There was the time one of our platoon commanders, Lt Y we will call him, had  an MRAP slide into a canal.  This happened to us a time or two and illustrates the dangers of driving 5 ton up armored vehicles on soft dirt roads along rivers and other bodies of water.  The soft earth would begin to crumble under the weight and the vehicle would slowly, tortuously, begin to slide into the drink. Nothing short of a vehicle designed to tow a tank would be capable of dragging it out.

In the meantime, the Regimental Combat Team (RCT) commander, a colonel, was visiting our OP. He visited us regularly and by now had enough confidence in our company he mostly hung out and smoked cigars. Puffing contentedly, he lounged near the front of our COC, lord of all he surveyed.

Lt Y, returned to the OP to report the current situation to our company commander. As he came rolling in, our young Lt spied the RCT commander and gave him the proper greeting of the day. The Colonel remarked: “How’s it going Lieutenant?” Most of us get this is just a pleasantry and understand the next logical step is to break contact and leave the Colonel to his cigar. Lt Y took this as some kind of invitation and proceeded to spill the entire days events. Happily Lt Y went on his merry way to the COC. The Colonel finished his cigar and headed back to the FOB where with much mirth, he began badgering our battalion commander about the MRAP in the drink. As our battalion commander had not yet heard about it he was somewhat wroth.

Water isn’t the only thing headed down hill. As my company commander and I castigated the Lt for spilling his guts to the RCT commander he lamented: “But I was told when I see a senior officer I should greet him!”

“Yes sir, you say hello, he says hello, then you get the hell out of there. You don’t blab to the RCT commander you’ve been careening his MRAPS into the canal like a dune buggy!”    

After this incident, Lt Y was banned from speaking to any officers above the rank of captain. Whenever the RCT commander was in route, Lt Y was to make himself scarce.

All in all, not a major incident in the grand scheme of things. Still, this provided an abundance of low hanging fruit in the weeks to come.

“Sir, what happened last time you spoke out of turn? Hmmm?”

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

/ / / /


  1. ASM,
    We had something we called “90 mile an hour tape”. (Green duct tape for civilians). If we had some knuckelhead who couldn’t shut up, we’d get the roll out. Several times I had a CO who told me to rap up a new LT and get him/ her to shut up.
    As a good NCO, I always followed orders issued from a higher authority that I felt were legal.

  2. It’s not easy be a young officer, is it? Lots of responsibility and so little knowledge or experience. Thank goodness you Sgt. types (regular Sarges, First Sarges, Sgt. Majors, etc.) are there to whip them into shape.

  3. Just the thought of having to break in a new Lt. is nearly enough to make me sick.

    And, of course, when I was in, you’d rotate back from an employment completely exhausted and burned out and BAM! New Lt. arrives full of piss and vinegar. And between fulfilling his own dreams of creating the best Platoon ever, and doing all he could to make sure the CO knew he was the best new Lt. in the Battalion… Yeah, between all of that, you knew you were in for some serious BS.

  4. 1. Could be describing me.
    2. Into unit rotation, arrive at Pendleton, out to the field for the first training since Camp Fuji -and that wasn’t much.
    3. Come in from the field on Friday morning. Meet a strange LTCOL in battalion HQ hallway. Announces himself as the new BN CO and wants to know who I am, and once that is established, what I’ve been up to.
    4. Tell him we’ve been working on fire team and squad tactics.
    5. He nods and we go about our business.
    6. Next thing, am ordered to report to the BN XO with my company commander.
    7. The worthy major is extremely pissed. Seems, the other rifle company CO’s told the new BN CO they’d been working on movement to contact and night attacks and other very sophisticated company level ops that require a considerable amount of skill to execute.
    8. To the new boss, we’re either retards or the other guys are blowing smoke.
    9. My big mouth cost a couple guys quite a bit -and didn’t help me much either.
    10. Was ordered to not talk to any officers outside the chain of command and to consider him my reporting senior.
    11. Would have been better off face-planting on a cinderblock wall.
    12. All I can say is look what happened to 2/9 on Kohtang Island. That’s what happens when you’ve got the name but not much game.
    13. Still famous for running my mouth inappropriately -which is why you’re reading me here and not in the Gazette.
    V/R JWest

  5. My assignments as an Lt came with Chief Warrant Officers, ostensibly the platoon or detachment technical experts, but leadership coaches par excellence. They made it clear that my primary duty was to keep all other officers away from my people. When I made Captain I was priveleged to have a CWO with 33 years in (he was also a reserve 0-6). He cut me some slack, but by then I knew to clear my interactions with higher through him first.

  6. Mid 60’s, Army, Germany it was always humorous to watch and listen to the new Lts inspecting guard mount. There was always a few of us that wanted supernumerary; the competition was fierce. They would ask the dumbest and lamest questions. Then they would run out of questions.

  7. How do you clean up the mess when one has blown half a cup of coffee through your nose? Reminds me of An Ensign, Line Division Officer walking back to the Ready Room about 2300 hrs and met the Admiral in the O-3 passageway. We chatted for a few minutes about the paucity of flight time (Carter era) and I naively sauntered away. 10 minutes later.. me, the CO and XO where having an up close and personal chat with CAG. After that I could only visit the Line Shack after 1800 if the Chief escorted me to/from the Ready Room.

  8. Yesterday, I was with young Grasshopper, an assistant I’ve hired to help me with a project I’ve picked up. We were talking about how one of my responsibilities is to keep big companies I work with from associating with unscrupulous non profits with less than stellar financials. I do this by just steering them away, but not really telling them the reasons. Intrigue needn’t be started. “Why can’t you just be honest and tell them everything?” she asked. I sighed at young Grasshopper. She has much to learn.

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