Lieutenant Martin Transferred

Sunday, July 14, 1968

Sumo took the late convoy to Da Nang after church services and would return on Monday night.  The Steak BBQ was chaotic as always and had become more of a social event than a meal.  I retreated to the galley and helped maintain the chow line.  We cooked steaks on our flat grill for those not interested in using the charcoal BBQ outside.

Captain Robb came through the line and complained about never having sour cream for his baked potato.  I ignored his comments which seemed to provoke him into conversation.  He asked, “How was your stint in Thuong Duc?”   I answered, “It was a vacation, Sir . . . easy duty, just laying around in the sun.”  Robb knew the circumstances of why I was ordered to Thuong Duc. *  He seemed sympathetic to the unfairness of it and said, “Some things work out for the best.”

The insinuation of “things working out” was confusing to me, and his comment made no sense.  Hernandez, the battery clerk, overheard the exchange and said, “Lieutenant Martin was sent down.”  He was now the Officer in Charge of a provisionary battery of 155 guns in An Hoa.  “Tango Battery” was comprised of ARVN soldiers training to become artillery men, before moving on to their own commands.  It was an undesirable post with little or no interaction with Marines.

During college classes after returning from Vietnam, I learned about a new concept in business management, “The Peter Principal.”  It claimed that people in an organizational hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence.  Lieutenant Martin was the epitome of this satire which was later modified to become the “Dilbert Principal” of the cartoon strip, Dilbert.  The least competent employees are promoted to middle management to limit the amount of damage they could do.

*  See previous blog, “Troop Surge”  June 12, 1968

Next Edition:  Leggs’ R&R

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