By summers end in 1967 we had trained three more groups of snipers. I had been promoted to sergeant in April, and the extra stripe helped my credibility with the Force Recon Marines. They were a salty bunch.
Our First Sergeant was retiring and three of our marksmanship coaches’ enlistments were up so we planned a party. It was a Friday afternoon, and we arranged the party in the Pitts (impact area). The menu included hamburgers, hot dogs, various pot luck dishes and of course beer. Captain Flowers gave a good speech and praised us for all our hard work. Then he announced his transfer to Quantico. I was a little downcast. He and his wife had attended our wedding, and we had formed a bond through all the matches and training. I had gone from PFC to Sergeant under his command. He had earned a Silver Star in Vietnam as a Platoon Leader, and I looked up to him and his leadership style. I would miss him.
Sergeant Del Rio played a 12-string guitar and he started strumming and singing “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers. We all sang the chorus, substituting “Captain” for Counting. It was hilarious.
Captain Flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all
Playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty one
Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do
Sudden realization . . . I had served 28 of my 40 months in the Marines on the El Toro rifle range. With the First Sergeants retirement, I would have the longest tenure on the range. I was promoted to “NCO in charge” of the pistol range.
Next edition: A ghost from the past.