Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pratt Stories - Privy Trivia VI

Since this series has been so popular I thought I would add one on from 1945 on Okinawa. Again, not actually a privy story, but close. This is entitled "Colonel Rectum Gets It from Above" from my "Grandpa's Stories, an  Irreverent Memoir":
As the battle moved farther down the island and finally came to an end, 10th Army Headquaters started to get gussied up. Tents were floored, paths were graveled, latrines were civilized and showers were built. (it looked very much like the set for the TV show "MASH"). As with any Army headquarters there were lots of colonels and some generals and some of them were real jerks (there was also a covey of homosexual clerks but that's a story I'm not going to tell).
Showers were segregated; one for the enlisted men, one for junior officers and one for field grade officers (majors and above). There must have been one for generals but I never saw it (maybe each had his own). The path from the field grade officers' tents to their shower went right by the tent where I and some other Lieutenants lived. There was this Lt. Colonel whose name I don't remember but we called him Col. Asshole.  He would walk to the shower wearing only a towel but with his cap or helmet on showing his rank--I suppose to show that he was priveledged to use the field-grade shower----I never knew whether or not I should salute a half naked superior officer.
One day he had finished his shower and was on his way back to his tent when over the hill came a low-flying C-47 spraying for mosquitos. When he became aware of the plane he started sprinting for his tent (we observers were cheering for the plane). Sure enough, just before he reached shelter the plane roared overhead and he was caught in a fog of DDT mixed with kerosine. Much to his disgust and to our delight he had to parade back to the shower for a long session of soap and water decontamination.
An off-the-subject note: As I was thinking of this I was reminded of a semi-funny situation that took place on Okinawa. You young people may not realize it but the military used to be racially segregated. President Harry Truman integrated the military after the war which was really the beginning of the end of lawful segregation. The so-called "colored" soldiers were usually assigned to Engineer battalions or Quartermaster units or other outfits where hard labor was the main duty. For example, the dangerous jobs of loading and unloading munition ships or the tough jobs of building and maintaining roads were usually performed by colored troops. Half the ALCAN highway was built by them. Anyway, when Naha, the capitol and main port of Okinawa was captured, the Army promptly moved in colored engineer and port repair battalions to rehabilitate the port which had been bombed and shelled to smithereens. It was told that these troops convinced the dazed Okinawan survivors in the town, who had never seen black men before, that they were really trained American night-fighters. 

Emailed Sept. 14

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