“By-Your-Leave”

Wednesday, June 5, 1968

Kilo battery was understaffed with commissioned officers.  Captain Cavagnol was in Thuong Duc as the CO of the four gun battery Kilo (-).  A young Lieutenant Grant was his XO.  1st Lieutenant Martin was the officer in charge of KY battery on Hill 65 and under a lot of stress from an investigation over the fire in a gun pit causing three WIA medevacs.

The convoy from Da Nang on Tuesday, June 4, brought 1st Lieutenant Westerfield, an experienced and much needed FDC officer.  Today’s convoy delivered 2nd Lieutenant Skoog to serve as the battery COMM officer.  His appearance was comical (an image of Dennis the Menace), a cartoon character wearing a “brown bar” on his collar.

In the mess hall Skoog made it through the chow line but didn’t know where to sit.  He was standing in the mess deck looking confused so I went to assist him, “Sir, By-Your-Leave,” and I motioned for him to follow me into the empty officers mess.  He thanked me, and as I was leaving, he said, “Sergeant, why did you say, by-your-leave”?  I answered, “Sir, it is a sign of respect when passing an officer from the rear.”  He commented, “I never know how to respond to that.”  I said, “Just acknowledge it, Sir.”  His eyes got big, as if he finally understood the protocol, “You mean like, YO?”  I laughed and said, “Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum.”  He liked this answer and said, “Aarrgh!  Leave Ye Be.”

Lieutenant Skoog restrained his authority.  He was a happy-go-lucky guy and tried his best to get along with everyone.  I appreciated his soft humor and attitude toward military protocol.  However, it was a dangerous path to go down, and I decided to be cautious regarding being too familiar with him.

Next Edition:  Texas Style Pinto Beans

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