Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fort Wadsworth Tales IV- As General Eisenhower merited a 21 gun salute in New York City that honor fell to the transients of Fort Wadsworth. Oh and Colonel Italianname did not like black people

Carmen Jones,...

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Carmen Jones, Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, 1954
When Fort Wadsworth was assigned to mount the 21 gun salute for General Eisenhower there was one artilleryman on the post, a black Master Sergeant. There were some Howitzers stored in the base as well as blank training shells, made of wax. We brought the big guns down to the Harbor, almost directly under the Verrazano Narrows bridge and under this man's guidance we became adequate gunners ho would mount New York's sendoff to Ike.

Colonel Italianname attended the final rehearsal which he supervised over the Sergeant. The Colonel would drop a coin and a howitzer would be fired, in time to his inner rhythmic clock. At the end of the rehearsal there were twenty one coins on the ground, We soldiers were standing there, probably at attention, I'm not that clear on this ancient memory, when the Colonel yelled at the Master Sergeant, in front o us low ranking troops words to the effect of "well. pick them up! " in full eye glare at the sergeant and pointing to the coins. This was the second time I had been witness  to the Colonel dressing down and humiliating a black soldier of some rank in front of white low ranking troops. There was a black captain stationed at the base. I'd see him from time to time and I never knew what his job was at the fort. One day as I came in to my office area from morning formation I saw Italianname shouting and gesticulating wildly at this captain with some of the transients already standing there too.

As the colonel; was dressing down the sergeant over the coins I broke ranks and started to pick the coins up as I could not stand watching this gross indecency any longer. No one ever said a word to me as I gathered the coins in my palms and presented them to Italianname.

The twenty one gun salute went well, so I guess I became an artilleryman at Fort Wadswprth.

Next episode I will tell you what I did about these poor boys being shipped from Vietnam combat to the forrest along the East German frontier, shipped so that they not infect new recruits with their rebellious and hostile attitudes.