Sitcom: Army orders: report Fort Lewis State of Washington United States Army base. Await further orders republic of South Vietnam station and destination.
Waiting is a part of the process when it comes to services in the United States Military. It’s good; it acts as a buffer zone for making sure you are in the right place for your next duty station. The interesting part of being a NCO is that wherever you go with new orders, the brass will always find something for you to be in charge of. For this NCO, as soon as I bunked up in the NCO billets, the first sergeant in charge detailed me for the management of the rec. room for the enlisted personnel who were also awaiting orders for their next assignment at Fort Lewis. For us civilians, that’s the place with a pool table, darts, games and just a place that you went without having to lie in your bunk thinking of what would be the next operational orders coming down for you.
In 1968, all the enlisted men were there awaiting orders for Republic South Vietnam. Things were in full bloom in the republic. These guys in the rec. room had no tolerance for being pushed or bossed around. They were what we call in the service, “in Boogie Land”—neither here nor there.
One of the wisest managements for me as a NCO was those two weeks in charge of the rec. room. As I waited for my orders, I would only react or say something when it was absolutely necessary. Like when there was a double down of egos and two of the enlisted men were ready to take it outside and rumble. I was very fortunate at those moments because I used a choice of good commanding words: “At ease soldiers. Let’s be calm. All of us are on the same side.”
The stripes on my arms seemed to demand respect because they listened—during tough times and good times.
New Orders: Report ASAP—Republic South Vietnam, proceed through Army channels and air flights leaving Fort Lewis Washington in the morning, 0400 hours.