NAVY on Guard Duty in Afghanistan

“CHANGING HEARTS AND MINDS”

by OPOVV, ©2019

(Apr. 7, 2019) — “Come to attention, soldier.”

“No can do, sir.”

“I gave you a direct order, soldier: I want you at attention and I want a hand salute.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Sir, but you’re still outside the perimeter: you have to say the correct words to enter the compound and then, and only then, can I acknowledge you. Now if the Captain would just…”

“Hold on, Nichols, I’ll take over. Sir, we’re NAVY, and even though this was an Army Post yesterday, today it’s NAVY; understand, Sir? You have to ask permission to come aboard.”

“What? Come aboard what? This is absurd.”

“Sir; military protocol and all, surely you can see the benefit of that. This may be terra firma, but if the Captain would just say, ‘Request permission to come aboard,’ then Nichols, the sentry here, will allow you to enter our base.”

“So I have to say, ‘Request permission to come aboard’ this piece of land, this Army outpost, or what?”

“Nichols will be forced to defend our base: he may, or may not, give a warning shot. Would you give a warning shot, sailor?”

“Actually I’m beginning to doubt it.”

“You mean you’d shoot me?”

“Sir, this is a worthless outpost in the middle of a worthless country. The only thing they have going is making morphine paste, so, yes, I think I’ll shoot you. I think I may want to wing you, you know, like in them cowboy movies, ‘I got winged’ and ‘I winged him.’ I like the sound of that, sir. Where would the Captain prefer to be winged?”

’Prefer to be winged?’ I don’t believe this; are you people all out of your minds? I’m the Captain of the guard and I’m making my rounds, and this post is on my list. Now, have I made myself clear?”

“Sir…”

“Nichols, I said I’d handle it. Sir, just say the magic words: ‘Respectfully request permission to come aboard,’ that’s all.”

“I don’t believe this. Where do you people come from? Who are you?”

“Sir, we’re NAVY sailors assigned to this godforsaken outpost, and as long as we’re here we’re going to go by the book. Now, just do us all a favor and request permission to come aboard, to enter.”

“Very well, sailor: ‘Request permission to come aboard.’”

“Permission granted. See, Sir, I’m at attention, and here’s my salute with my piece held vertical with the front sight at eye level.”

“Very well, sailor. Well, everything looks, what do you guys say, shipshape?’

“Aye-aye, Sir, that we do.”

“Very well, then, I’ll be back tomorrow night. Carry on.”

“Okay, looks like Nichols here won the bet: he made the Army guys request permission to come aboard. Cough it up. $200; not bad: so this outpost shall henceforth be known as the USS Nichols. That ‘winged’ part was pretty good.”

“I think that’s what swayed him.”

“A very entertaining way to waste time in the middle of nowhere, while we change hearts and minds.”

“Fat chance of that ever happening: if they change their minds they get killed, is what happens to them.”

“Let’s pay attention; we wouldn’t want any of these ragheads to count coup on us.”

“Aye-aye, Chief.”

FINI

Cherokee Morning Song”  (4:27)

OPOVV

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