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
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)
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)