Wilma R. King
16” x 20” • Acrylics on Canvas
Inspired by the experiences of Wil Bosbyshell
The Mayor of Glenville
(or How I got the nick name Puke Boot)
by Wil Bosbyshell
I was a Captain in the Field Artillery assigned to Fort Stewart Georgia near Savannah. A new Lt Colonel had just taken command of the battalion while we were in the National Training Center at 29 Palms California. His name was Lt. Colonel Warner, and he was one of the great leaders I had the pleasure to serve under while I was in the US Army. Just like Captain Kirk did on the Enterprise when he began his command, Lt Col. Warner called each of his officers in for an interview to learn their capabilities or, in my case, weaknesses.
During our interview he asked where I was from. I told him that I was from Florida, but my family was from Savannah and that I would be buried in nearby Bonaventure Cemetery. I added that I had graduated from the University of Georgia that was about four hours away from Savannah.
When Lt. Colonel Warner heard this, he was excited. He said very few officers in our unit were from this area and that I was a native in his eyes. “Captain Bosbyshell, I have a job for you. You are going to be the liaison officer to the town of Glenville.” So that is how I became the Mayor of Glenville. I wasn’t really the mayor but that was one of the many nicknames my fellow officers and sergeants referred to me as. Officers called me that to my face, sergeants behind my back.
My job as liaison officer to Glenville involved going to various meetings of the Chamber of Commerce and responding to requests. If Glenville wanted a tank for the 4th of July parade; I oversaw getting it there from an armor unit. If a state Senator from the capital came to visit Glenville and they needed a color guard, I was in charge of arranging it. If an elementary school teacher needed a guest speaker from the military for career day, I was to find the right person. It was actually very fun.
One morning I received a call from the President of the Bank of Glenville. He was also the Scoutmaster of the Glenville Boy Scout troop. He asked if the boys could fly onto Fort Stewart shoot machine guns, drive tanks and generally play army for the day. This was a bold request! I had never heard of an outing like this before. I told him that it was probably a long shot, but I would ask the general.
In my job as the liaison to Glenville I reported directly to the general of the post. However, in observation of the chain of command, I went to see my boss Major Soltas and told him of the request from the Glenville bank president and scoutmaster. He broke into a chuckle, “Col Warner has to see this.” He and I walked to Lt. Col Warner’s office and told him of the request. Lt. Col Warner broke into hysterical laughter and said, “Lt. Bosbyshell, there is no way this is going to happen.” However, he said it was my job to forward Glenville’s request to the general. If the general wants to turn it down that would be his prerogative.
There was no email or internet, so I typed (on a typewriter) a quick memo to the general’s adjutant stating the outline of what the bank president had requested. I didn’t spend a lot of time on the memo, it was short, as I was sure it would be turned down.
To my surprise I got a response in about 45 minutes of my delivering the memo to the general. The adjutant called me to say that indeed The 24th Infantry Division would be glad to host the scout troop for a day of fun on Ft. Stewart.
Even in 1986, I was surprised. After 2001 and 9-11 this would have never been allowed. Unknown to me at the time, but later revealed in the local newspaper, a unit of Rangers had just destroyed a local drinking establishment (translation strip bar) and the general was looking for a positive PR win.
On the designated Saturday, I boarded a Chinook helicopter, took off from Pope Air Force Base and flew to Glennville. The Chinook helicopter landed in the bank parking lot which was surrounded by telephone and high-tension power lines. I couldn’t believe the accuracy of the landing. We lowered the ramp and the Boy Scouts piled in. We flew to Fort Stewart, landed in one of the training areas, and preceded with a full morning of excitement.
Each boy got to fire shotguns and some of the older boys were allowed to fire an M-16 rifle. I was unable to secure an actual M1 tank for them to fire or ride in, however I was able to secure a Sheraton light armored tank for them to drive around. Each boy was able to drive and ride in an M117 armored personnel carrier.
Halfway through the day, at lunch, is when we made the mistake. I have mentioned before in other stories that the protagonist makes a mistake and this what makes the story interesting.
In between firing the M60 machine gun and driving the Sheraton light tank we stopped and had lunch. Lunch consisted of the famous army MRE or “meal-ready to eat.” The boys loved the MREs. However as anyone who has been in the army and had an MRE knows, the meals in the MRE are a little … slick. They go down easy! For example one of the main meals is ham/turkey/meatloaf. What is that anyway? No one knows. The boys had a great time inhaling (without much chewing) the MREs and then we finished the range firing and driving around in the various vehicles.
The boys had fun, but the day was at an end. The Chinook helicopter arrived to take the Boy Scout troop back to Glenville. If you have not ridden in a Chinook helicopter, this helicopter has two propellers. One in the front and one in the back. It looks like it should not be able to fly. Riding in any helicopter has a strange sensation different from an airplane. However, riding in a helicopter with two rotors creates a very unusual set of movements. You have the normal side to side and up and down movements of any aircraft. In a Chinook you also have the strange forward and backwards movement caused by the rotor being in the front and the back.
We were in sight of the Bank of Glennville. Form my vantage point standing in the middle of the passenger bay, I could see the bank parking lot out of the window when the first boy puked his guts up.
Then in a truly Quentin Tarantino-esque cinematic display of synchronistic puking every boy puked the entirety of his stomach bazooka-like onto the floor. Standing in the middle of the boys getting ready to lower the tailgate of the helicopter, I was covered head to toe in puke
….especially my boots.
Proving that MREs come up as easily as they go down, the last boy finished puking his guts out all over my boots, the helicopter gently touched down and the boys ran out. Mission Accomplished!
The helicopter crew chief came back and exclaimed, with a string of multiple expletives, that I was going to “clean up all the puke”. I did, in fact, clean up all the puke on our return to the air force base. It was a lot of puke. Very chucky. Boys really do not chew their food thoroughly like they are supposed to. Not much digestion had occurred since lunch appeared.
The Air Force General called the Army general to complain about the treatment of his aircraft. The Bank President sent letters of thanks to both generals. The boys wrote letters of thanks for the fun they had. The rangers were forgiven for destroying the bar. I was awarded the Service Above Self award by the local Rotary Chapter. And my nickname in the artillery became Captain Puke Boot.