Years Ago, Even Generals Had a Sense of Humor

| January 15, 2013

Given all the “heavy” material on TAH the past day or two, I thought it might be time now for something completely different.  (And no, it’s not a story about “a man with three buttocks”.)

An earlier article on humorous military “gotchas” and the reader comments it generated seemed to be enjoyed by many.  Well, the other day I remembered a story from years ago – one which shows that back then, at least some Generals had a sense of humor. So I thought I’d share it with TAH’s readers.

Unlike the first article, I can’t personally vouch for the truth of the story that follows.  I didn’t witness the incident or see the documents allegedly involved. Since the individual said to be the central figure has passed away, I’ll also refrain from identifying him or the time frame.  But having been stationed at the same installation about the time this is alleged to have happened – and having met the GO who was allegedly involved, briefly, and heard him speak once or twice – I won’t dismiss it out of hand, either.

Botom line:  dunno for sure if the story is legit.  But it being true would not shock me.  This particular GO was quite a guy.

He was charismatic, energetic – and walked to the beat of a somewhat different drummer.  He was SF-qualified and had spent substantial time in SF units.  But in spite of that, he had been selected to wear stars. (I say “in spite of that” because years ago, “Big Army” had a pronounced bias against officers who spent too much time in Special Forces; it was unusual for any officer who spent very much time in the SF community to be selected for promotion to BG.)

He was sharp as a razor and didn’t suffer fools easily. But he also had a pretty good sense of humor, too.

His men loved him. He was one helluva leader.

He also reputedly expected documents coming to him for signature to be correct, with zero typos.  And therein begins the story I heard.

One of the soldiers in this General’s command had been selected to attend Army flight school. The General’s command was responsible for issuing the PCS orders sending the soldier to flight school.

For some reason, a copy of that soldier’s PCS orders went to the CG with something the CG had to sign.  (My guess would be as part of a PCS award “packet”, but I don’t recall the person relating the story to me mentioning the precise circumstances.)  And when the CG glanced at those orders, he noticed a typo on them.

It seems the name of the installation to which the soldier was being sent for flight school had been misspelled.  Army flight school is held at Fort Rucker, Alabama.  The orders did not read “Fort Rucker”.  One of the three “r’s” in “Fort Rucker” had been replaced with the letter “f”.  I’ll let you guess which of the three “r’s” it was.  (smile)

No one knew if that was an honest typo or a bored clerk-typist having some fun; either is plausible.  But it didn’t really matter.  Somehow, that typo made it through all the checks and reviews without being corrected. The orders had been issued.

The G1 apologized, and told the General he’d take care of it – that he’d get all copies of the originals pulled from files everywhere and replaced with one that had been corrected.  That way, the command (and the G1) wouldn’t be embarrassed.

What the CG allegedly did next was classic.  Supposedly, he told his G1 not to do that – but instead to fix things by issuing an amendment to the original orders.

I’m certainly not familiar with the mechanics of correcting orders in other services.  So for the benefit of those of you who may not be familiar with Army orders and how they get changed, I’ll explain in case it’s done differently in other services.

Army orders often need to be changed.  Unless it’s an extensive change, however, the order generally isn’t revoked and redone from scratch.  Minor changes are routinely made via issuing an amendment to the basic order.  Examples would be to change a reporting date to a school, to correct an error in accounting information, to fix a typo in a soldier’s name/MOS/SSN, or similar minor changes.

An amendment changing an Army order typically looks something like this:


Address of Issuing HQ

Office Symbol

Orders ###-####–A01                                                                     Date

Name/Rank/SSN/Unit/Other info regarding soldier concerned

So much of order ###-#### dated (date) is amended as indicated:

As reads:  (text being changed)

How changed:  (text replacing that being changed)

Signature block



An amendment thus explicitly identifies and highlights precisely what is being changed – for all to see.  Needless to say, the amendment in this case was . . . rather interesting reading.  (smile)

As I said earlier:  I didn’t personally see the paperwork and wasn’t present during the conversation, so I can’t say with certainty whether or not the above story is true.  If memory serves, the person who related the story to me claimed to have seen the documents himself.  Maybe the guy who told me this story was BSing me; maybe not.  But as I said:  having met that GO briefly and listened to him speak a time or two . . . well, IMO it would not be out of the question for him to have done something like that.

I’d like to think so, anyway.  Leadership needs to be able to laugh as well as direct and correct.

Now, if you’re thinking there’s absolutely no way such a mistake could possibly get “out of house” – well, you just might want to reconsider that opinion.  Why?  Take a look at the FOB shipping destination and place of performance specified in this government contract solicitation (at the end of first paragraph and near the end of the solicitation).  This was posted for worldwide release 4 months ago.

Maybe that same clerk typist is still out there, working for the Army – and still making mistakes periodically when typing “Fort Rucker”.  (smile)

Category: Pointless blather, Who knows

Comments (31)

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  1. Hack Stone says:

    Maybe Tranny Marine can serve out his/her time at an Army installation in Alabama.

  2. NHSparky says:

    Well, to be fair, R and F are close to each other on the keyboard.

    At least it wasn’t something that took a whole lot of intent, like sending someone to “Whorelando” or “Great Mistakes”.

    My favorite that I personally saw was a Squadron Engineering guidance package for something stupid. Usually the Eng/CO/Div O’s get to comment on it before it goes in the ENG Night Orders for us lowly peons to read and heed. Clear as day in blue ink (meaning CO’s color at that time) was the quote, “Another tree killed for nuclear power. -DPM”

    I still use that expression to this day. Far too much, sadly.

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Looks like we have another challenge. One typo or indefinite pronoun per player.

  4. Twist says:

    @3, If we add misspelling to that I would be out in the first round.

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    OK, you guys CANNOT beat what my mother did. I saw it for myself.

    My dear mother was the PR director for a large local hospital. One of her jobs was to put PR displays on bulletin boards for the enlightenment and edification of incoming visitors. This included using a lot of letters in very large type sizes, up to 12 inches in height.

    One spring afternoon, after classes were over, I went to pick me mother up at work. I asked the receptionist at the front desk to let Ma know I was there, and saw one of the displays she had put up. Naturally, I went and had a look. Then I had a second look. Then I nearly fell down laughing. There, in letters at least 9 inches high, were the following words on a very large banner, right across the top of the display:


    I saw it for myself. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

  6. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: Popular department, eh? (smile)

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    Hondo, you should have seen my mother’s face when I pointed it out to her.

  8. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I went fishing the other day and caught a huge, bigmouthed lass.

  9. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: I can imagine. But these 2 gaffes IMO are pretty close to as bad, if not worse:

    I think I’ll eat elsewhere, thanks. (smile)

  10. COB6 says:

    Believe it or not I actually have a funny story along these lines. Some Generals like to fill their HQ with guys with every frigging scary badge out there. I served for such a GO and was promptly assigned to HQ to be the Secretary of the General Staff (SGS); a job that I was wholly unqualified for.
    But smart people know their limitations and I knew that the acumen for correct spelling that I received from the Georgia Public School system would soon destroy my career. So, we essentially conducted a spelling bee for every E6 and below in the HQ. A female PFC from Dallas won handily.
    She was immediately reassigned to my office to do nothing but spell check every document that came through there.
    In no time I had the reputation of being a meticulous grammer/spelling Nazi. Some of the staff thought I being a dick but the Chief of Staff loved it.
    When I left that job, (the PFC had ets’d 2 weeks before) the staff gave me a farewell and the CG gave me an MSM.

    I thanked him graciously and mailed the medal set to a young lady in Dallas who saved me from myself 🙂

    Have no idea what she might be doing now but you can bet your ass that whatever it is is spelled correctly!

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    @9 – Words cannot describe my reaction to those signs.

  12. Hondo says:

    My reaction was nearly uncontrollable laughter.

    Leaving the letter “g” out of “angus” does make a difference there, doesn’t it? (smile)

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    You and me both. Best way to end the day.

  14. SGT Ted says:

    I bet those burgers are popular in San Francisco.

  15. DLM says:

    Called it ‘Fort MotherRucker’ when I was stationed there.

  16. Hondo says:

    DLM: I’ve heard a few Army Aviators refer to going there for advanced or other training as “going back to Mother Rucker”, too.

  17. Ex-PH2 says:

    I have seen the Navy’s various fleets referred to as navel fleets.

    I’ve also seen those big, juicy oranges referred to as naval oranges.

  18. AtDrum says:

    As one of those aviators, yes it is Mother Rucker to us. Held in high esteem. Where the pilot’s go to learn to fly and the crew go to learn to swim from a crash on play in the Hyperbaric chambers.

    Rarely we do squeeze the words together so it means the other way also…

  19. Ex-PH2 says:

    There is a restaurant south of me with the name Fuddpucker’s.

  20. Twist says:

    Just South of Fairbanks there is a restaurant named Skinny Dick’s.

    Just North from here up U.S. 31 is a restaurant/gas station that has a sign out front that says “eat here, get gas”.

  21. NHSparky says:

    Beaver, Colorado (technically Avon, CO)–there’s a liquor store just off I-70.

    Yes, it’s called Beaver Liquors. And of course, their customers come first.

  22. O-4E says:

    My favorite is the Master-Baiter bait shop in Wakefield, NH

  23. Hondo says:

    Years ago, in Jerome, AZ, there was a bed and breakfast called “Annie’s Ore House.”

    One of the times in my life I wished I had a camera handy was when we visited Jerome and my wife overheard two folks talking about that place. Let’s just say “ore” wasn’t what she heard – and that fact showed. (smile)

  24. Hondo says:

    And, of course, there’s this sign for the famous Austrian village. WARNING: possibly NSFW, definitely not safe for small children. Seriously.,_Austria

  25. NHSparky says:

    O-4E…just up the road from me.

  26. Hondo says:

    This site has a bunch of absolutely side-splitting road sign pictures:

  27. Ex-PH2 says:

    And the other towns in that region, including Wank. The citizens, of course, are Wankers.

  28. Hondo says:

    Big difference between those two, Ex-PH2.

    182km according to Google Maps.

    Yes, the double-entendre was intentional. (smile)

  29. Ex-PH2 says:

    I almost forgot about this one. It’s been a very long time, and I was maybe 4 years old.

    My dad was teaching at a college in Wichita, KS, so we had an apartment in a little town called Beaver Crossing, KS.

    To this day, I do not know why it was called Beaver Crossing, because it was smack dab in the middle of dusty plains and wheat fields, very few trees in sight anywhere.

  30. Ex-PH2 says:

    Sorry, that should be Nebraska, not Kansas. Like I said, I was 4.