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November 10, 2012

Funny military memories


The division was a strategic division in the later 1950s and involved in constant field training exercises. On one exercise, five troopers were killed and about 140 injured in a parachute drop. I was a member of the Military Honor Guard United and at the ceremony played taps. Westmoreland came over to me after the ceremony and said “Sergeant, I’ve heard taps played all over the world. The way you played it today was marvelous and moved me deeply.” I was pleased. 

About three weeks later we were having an indoor training session. At these sessions instead of someone shouting “ATTENTION” to start the activity, a bugler would play a simple four-note bugle call. Westmorland and his aide were standing about five feet from me and the aid said. “OK, Sergeant, let’s get this show on the road. “ I proceeded to play the bugle call and MISSED two of the four notes. Westmorland looked over at me, smiled and said, “Sergeant, you sure as hell play taps better than that call,” and started down the aisle to the stage area. I was surprised he remembered me, and happy he had a sense of humor.

Richard Picolla

of Oneonta

@Body Copy Ragged:It was about 8 a.m., the sun was already coming up in the sky, and the crew of the USS Grasp, a salvage ship, was in Manila Bay in the Philippines getting ready for the job that had to be done this day. It was early 1946 and by now the war was over, but not our job. 

I was part of the crew of about 30 men, consisting of both officers and enlisted men. I was the radio operator aboard this ship. Manila Bay was full of sunken ships of all kinds and it was up to the U.S. Navy to clear these ships from the bay. Our job that day was to tow a wreck (that’s what they call the ships that are sunk in the bay) out to sea and to sink it again. Before long we were under way to the wreck that we had to tow out to sea. The Navy salvage crew had been working on this wreck for some time, and it was ready to be moved. They have to patch up the holes and pump out the water from the wreck so it can come up out of the water high enough to clear the bottom of the bay so it can be towed safely out to sea. 

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