Friday, August 13, 2010

Duty Officer ~ Opportunity to show mercy

"For the one who has shown no mercy will be judged without mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment."

James 2:13

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
Matthew 5:7

I have been shown more mercy in my life than I probably deserve. I have a tall tale or two I could tell where I probably would have lost my opportunity to go to Army Flight School if I had not been shown mercy. Because of the mercy I have been shown, I am inclined to show others mercy when I am able and when they will allow it.

This is the story of a young black soldier named Henry that served in my unit in Korea. I was the duty officer one night when I was called to the front gate. Korea had and maybe still does a curfew where the streets shut down at midnight. Only Military Police patrols are allowed out after that. Sometimes drunks do not necessarily like complying with a curfew and other inconveniences that may seem unreasonable to those who can't understand or refuse to accept the reason for them whether justified or not.

It was either midnight or very close to it when I was summoned to the camp's front gate because of a ruckus one of the drunks that didn't want to call it quits for the night was causing. When I arrived at the gate I found the source of the ruckus to be the young soldier mentioned above. I made several attempts to reason with him telling him that party time was over and it was time to put a cap on it and go to bed. Every attempt to extend mercy was met with loud, obnoxious, and disrespectful protests about how he was ready to continue partying, and no one was going to stop him. I did my best to show this young soldier mercy that he wanted no part of. I finally just shook my head and wrote him up when it became obvious that all attempts were fruitless. After he was wrote up, the guards were able to escort him to the stockade where he could sober up and cool off. His fate was now out of my hands. I had no idea what else would result from his obstinacy.

Besides getting to sober up in the stockade Henry was placed on restriction. I was surprised by the length of restriction he received. My turn at duty officer rolled around again, and Henry was still on restriction from the previous incident involving me. Basically, he was not allowed to leave the compound. All of the officers in the unit took a turn at duty officer. Since we were an aviation unit there were plenty of officers, so duty officer didn't roll around that much.

Henry approached me. He was very polite. He even told be that he understood why I wrote him up. Others had told him I had done my best to try to give him a break that he wouldn't take. The length of Henry's restriction presented him with another problem. He had a korean girlfriend in the ville that had some of his possessions at her place. He was afraid that he would lose them if she moved on since he had not showed up in such a long time. Henry asked me if I could give him permission to leave the compound and go fetch his stuff.

This request was outside the realm of my authority. I told Henry, "I don't have the authority to allow you to do that, but I can take you to the company commander and let you personally ask him if it is okay." Henry didn't want to do that. He then asked me what would happen if he snuck out in the back of a deuce and a half. A deuce and a half is a standard sized military truck commonly used for a variety of purposes. I told Henry that if he didn't get caught then I guess nothing. He thought about that and said, "Okay" as he left.

I then called the front gate and told John Wayne, this was the nick name for a particularly large korean guard, to make sure he carefully checked every truck that left the compound. After calling John Wayne, I got myself a chair and placed it outside at the corner of one of the officer's BOQ where I had a good view of the front gate so I could comfortably sit back and watch the show.

Well, it wasn't long before a deuce and a half pulled up to the gate. John Wayne bee-bopped around to the back of the truck and lifted the flap and peeked in. There was Henry. I could see the surprised on John Wayne's face as he ordered Henry out of the truck. When I was called up there I told Henry the offer to personally ask the company commander still stood. He was now ready, so I took him to the Major. The Major said, "He can go and get his stuff as long as you escort him Robert".

So, Henry and I had our little ville excursion. It was uneventful.

OUCH! This wasn't uneventful! (This was a link to a helicopter crash of a botched loop where the pilot crashed and burned literally. I removed it because the page had sneaky links to inappropriate videos. Don't ask.)

As a pilot I am sometimes asked to do things I shouldn't. If you looked at the video, I have no personal desire to do any flying like that. Why do it other than just to show off? If I have a genuine operational necessity, then I'm all for doing something I have the ability to do, but I have learned that IF something is going to go wrong, it will most likely go wrong when you are doing something you have no business doing. Yeah I have gotten away with stuff I probably shouldn't have done, but I've learned to ask myself a good question to gauge whether or not I should do something requested. So what's the question?

"If I do this, how would I like to be sitting across the table from someone explaining why I did it?"

If the answer is "I wouldn't", then I don't!

Not everyone is inclined to show mercy in this day and age. As I have gotten older I try hard not to put myself in a position where I might need it because of doing something something I probably shouldn't have done. I know of a couple of stories where the individuals involved deserved to be shown a little more mercy than they received. Both were innocent in their assumptions, but those with authority over them viewed it otherwise fair or not. Neither did those in authority show any mercy. It is getting tough out there.

Be careful!



Evan said...

Thanks for the thought provoking story! I have enjoyed many of your posts, thank you for sharing! I particularly liked the one about your introduction to surveying as I am working towards a surveying license.

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