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November 10, 2012

Funny military memories

(Continued)

John Cowan of Hobart

I would like to tell you about a story that my brother Bill West told me. Bill graduated from Schenevus Central School and joined the U.S. Marines after school. He was sent to Parris Island. Arriving at night by bus, the new men were lined up in a long line. An officer walked down the line checking every man. After passing my brother, he backed up and looked straight into my brother’s eyes. He said to Bill, “What’s your name?” My brother told him it was Bill West. “Bill West, did I see you smiling?” My brother said, “yes.” “And Bill West, what’s so funny?” “You are wearing a funny hat!” “Oh, you think my hat is funny. Bill West, if I ever see you smiling again, I will pull every pearly white out of your mouth.” My brother told me, “I really believe he would have done it!”

Herb West of Jefferson

 It was a Saturday morning barracks inspection in Fort Monmouth, N.J., in the winter of 1943. The weather outside was frigid. Someone had mopped the steps leading to the entrance. I was a squad leader on the second floor. As the C.O. and first sergeant came up the steps, they slipped and fell through the door. From my vantage point at the head of the stairs I shouted ATTENTION! As I stepped back, my belt engaged a fire extinguisher hanging thereupon. It fell to the floor. Someone hasted to pick it up and in doing so activated the chemicals contained there in. He then started down the stairs to meet and greet the hapless inspectors. I am almost certain there was the sound of restrained laughter from my squad. Oddly enough, I do not recall that our barracks failed inspection or that we were restricted to quarters for the remainder of the weekend. Clearly the episode could have been a natural for Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, or the Marx Brothers.

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