Smitty’s Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

In the event that you missed the previous post, Cpl. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter.

At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors.  Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard.  Hope you stick around to see how he does.

*****          *****          *****

Guard Duty (con’t)

As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard.  You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.

As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just four hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home.  Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out.  Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you.  Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.

 You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow.  Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form.  Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette. 

 Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know?  You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag.  I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act.  You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.

Damn but the time sure does drag along.  Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off.  Oh!  Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help.  Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk.  Ho-hum, lets see now.  What will I do tomorrow on my time off?  This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know.  You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep. 

 Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.

Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway?  Swear.  Brother how you are swearing and cursing now.  Oh!  Oh!  There’s a light coming your way — the relief.  “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”

“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours.  Take it easy, it ain’t too bad.  Goodnite.”  —  And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.

Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did.  Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.

Love,  Everett

 

#####################################################################################

Military Humor – 

WWI soldiers had their brand of humor too for guard duty.

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their break to stand guard.

 

 

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bond – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, 187th RCT, Colonel (Ret.)

Cornelius Cunningham – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. 27th Division

Teddy Drapper Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 5th Marine Div.

Stuart Haw Jr. – St. Louis, MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Div., Military Police

Charles Quarles – Hockessin, DE; US Navy, WWII, electronic tech’s mate

Edward Rowny (100) – Baltimore, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO/Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad., Lt.General (Ret.), Presidential adviser

Nola ‘Paddy’ Scott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 621, WWII

Wilburn Timmons – Jonesboro, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Voyzey – AUS; RA Army # 2137680, Vietnam, KIA

George B Willis Sr. – Leupp, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 2nd Marine Division

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 21, 2017, in Letters home, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 143 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I feel like the guards in the cartoons. I’m in South Carolina with snow! Granted it was only 2 inches, nothing close to what I had in Pittsburgh or northern Georgia. ~ Connie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh! The tedium! Smitty’s descriptions are great- Thanks for sharing this bit of family history!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Niets erger dan dat je ogen toevallen als je echt wakker moet blijven.Wat moeten die soldaten eenzaam geweest zijn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just wondering, a cellular phone may have distracted guard duty but would have aided in staying awake.😢

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! Lighting up on guard duty – and at the front too. Sorry bud, if I was your OiC, you would have ended up in the stockade.

    During OCT, (officer cadet training) I was the night officer at the Police Academy. Most officers were known to take a nap and it wasn’t much of a night duty for them. But I was all fired up and did the rounds.

    Came upon a 2-man guard at one of the more remote posts. Young guys, no older than me. Their faces were as white as newly laundered sheets. They had seen an apparition. A woman who appeared to them and then disappeared. Both of them have had the vision on separate occasions that night.

    In the morning, I mentioned it to the Sergeant-at-Arms, an old timer. He was quite nonchalant.

    ‘Oh, that was Lucy,’ he said. ‘And trust me, you don’t want to put it in the log.’

    Yes, they even had a name for her.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Merry Christmas…hope it’s happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. GP, Boy can I identify with Cpl Smith’s letter to Mom about guard duty in a combat zone! It’s amazing what it does when you have experienced something similar!!! And I see you are keeping up the pace with all your posts listed here. May God bless you & your family this Christmas & all through the New Year 2018!!! And thanks for the “likes” on my posts!!! Phil

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeez, Philip, it is very easy to like your posts! I am amazed at your creativity – actually jealous might be a more honest way to put it. Having this letter to relate to – how accurate would you rate it?
      May you and yours have a holiday of your dreams, dear friend.

      Like

      • GP, You are too kind re my post topics. I would say the same for all you post here & doing so for so long on topic! …while I bounce all over the place….by choice on my part. I would say the Cpl Smith is a bit too lost between his ears in his own head & trying to entertain the reader. You’re on guard duty in a combat zone day dreaming about tomorrow’s chow? I don’t think so. The cigarette bit… now that’s so accurate & typical, as well as being relieved, & looking for some sleep!!! Oh, &, I should explain, my guard duty in Vietnam was really as CQ, in doors in an office waiting for calls from the airport. A ring on the phone & off I was in the dark of night, 17 miles each way, to the airport in an army pickup truck to pickup a new in-country arrival. All you could think about was a Viet Cong sapper/gorilla hiding off the road, no street lights, taking a pot shot at you & it was over. –Nothing ever happened….just like Cpl Smith’s head! Ha! — Merriest to you, GP! Phil

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Merry Christmas GP – hope it’s wonderful and the New Year is terrific! Thank you for your posts, and sharing your dads letter. I don’t know how we can ever thank those that help us stay safe enough… Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for the link added to your post. This is a great story, glad you decided to make it a post!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Three is Company | Written Words Never Die

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