Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Biloxi Blues Part II (a small párt of Jewish history) Much Delayed .Pretty sure Sergeant Greenwald tried to kill me.

Almost two years ago I put up a post called My Biloxi Blues and Ours.  I had said that I would pick up the story later but I never did. Then an odd thing happened. I am in a remote place in Venezuelan Andes Mountains and what do you know but I got to see a video of an old movie I had not  seen in years, namely Alice´s Restaurant. I went to sleep soon afterwards and had a dream that I was back in Fort Jackson, South Carolina in my old Basic Training Company E 6 2.

I wrote that my Basic Training was much tougher than the kid named Eugene in the movie had a Drill Sergeant with a Jewish Problem and so did I.

Howard Levy.had just been sentenced or was on trial around the time that I got to Fort Jackson. My Drill Sergeant was one  Norman Greenwald, often drumk and surly in the presence of his men, one very bitter man indeed, who had reputedly grown up in a Chicago orphanage and who had held the rank of Sergeant First Class, on the cusp of getting promoted to Master Sergeant when he got arrested by Military Police as a result of a brawl in the Non Commissioned Officer Club bar  And so seven stripes that were about to become eight stripes became six stripes instead,´Putting yourself in Staff Sergeant Norman Greenwald´s shoes you might be very unhappy to have private Eugene Weixel in your platoon.

I am writing now because I reaslize that it doesn´t matter if you think I am nuts. istolrThis is a small part of history, American history, and American Jewish history.I wrote about some of the petty things Greenwald did against me but held back on what I am writing here. Even after 47 years I wouldn´t lightly say this: Greenwald certainly wanted me dead as he would want any Viet Cong dead. Had I not shouted on the streets of New York: One side´s right, one side´s wrong.  Viet Cong. So arranging that my gas mask to be used for the poison gas live drill be filled with water might have come naturally to him. It came naturally to someone. And so it was, Lucky to be alive.

M17 Gas Mask Fitting and Drill 1961 US Army Training Film 10min

Yeah, but there was more: We ran the much of the obstacle course carrying our rifles with bayonets affixed. And it was not about teamwork either. And we were definitely moving faster than these movie soldiers were.

I was at the end of the column and following Greenwald´s instructions I had my rifle and bayonet ass backwards. See 1:14. That is where the Field First Sergean, a chubby mustachioed Black man whose job was to oversee the entire exercise, caught up with Greenwald and me and stopped me from turning myself into a sish kebab.