I arrived back at the Air Base in Weisbaden to find we were in temporary housing. Our old decrepit barracks was being gutted then rehabbed. My roommates, while I was on leave, had picked me to share a room with them. Frank, Jimmy and I shared an old large mailroom next to the Commanders office. It was affectionately referred to as “the mailroom” by everyone on base. There seemed to be a lot of newbies around the barracks now also. After the war, most officers returned to their mother units. However, most of the enlisted personnel remained on with the 12th Evac.. The Army was going to convert the 12th Evacuation Hospital into 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. I didn’t know exactly what that meant for me or my friends, however I didn’t really care. At this point, if me and my friends were to be redeployed to anywhere on the planet I would go. I didn’t care what war we would head to as long as we were all together.
At the same time, the Armed Forces of the United States were downsizing. The Army was forcing people out of the service due to weight regulations (overweight), P.T. regulations (failure to pass the Physical Fitness Test) and offering “Early Outs” to newer soldiers who didn’t wish to complete their contracts. There were plenty of N.C.O.’s who were being forced out “all of a sudden”. If they hadn’t been promoted for a while and didn’t have any records stating they were working towards promotion it seemed as if the Army had no use for them any longer.
I didn’t put much thought into anything other than the well being of my buddies. Frank, Jimmy and I were loving our new room. It was big enough to decorate like a real apartment. On one half of the room we had our bunks with wall lockers. The “military” side of the room. The other half had a large T.V., a large expensive stereo with surround sound, some chairs and an oversized couch. We had a refrigerator full of beer and stuff to eat. We had visitors almost every day and night. We had no real responsibilities other than reporting to formations for head count and doing P.T.. Life was good.
We never spoke of combat. As far as I was concerned, it was something we all did together and got through together. There was no need to talk about it at all.
There were plenty of new young privates fresh out of medic school. I often wondered how they viewed us and the closeness we all shared. I remember doing my best to welcome new soldiers, however, with no equipment, vehicles or supplies there wasn’t much to discuss. The ones who didn’t ask questions usually got to hang out with us. Too many questions made us all …. feel. Feeling and remembering didn’t interest me at all. It didn’t seem to interest anyone else either.
My buddy Bob returned to “Gay Moose”. Regardless of having a different schedule during the day, Bob was a regular in the mailroom. I saw him everyday. He found a German bar he liked to go off post in Weisbaden called Pupash. He told me Pupash translated into English as “Fart Ass”. Bob always found the strangest places and weirdest people. They were drawn to him like flies. The bisexual girlfriends were back in his life also. He never introduced me to them nor had I any interest in meeting them. He liked them and he always returned from a night out with them very happy. His happiness was good enough for me. His stories of what they would do together were stuff of legend. We would go to Pupash, drink German beer and I would listen to his stories about his bisexual girlfriends for hours and hours. I just couldn’t imagine ever leaving Germany again. It had become my home.
One night when I returned from Pupash with Bob I passed out on my rack with my boots on. Some nights we would get too drunk to even remember how we got home. I woke up in the morning with a beautiful blonde woman sleeping next to me. I panicked. She had her clothes on and was breathing so I knew I wasn’t in any real trouble. Out of curiosity I poked her to see if she was real. She opened her eyes, kissed me on the cheek and left the room. As soon as she left my roommates jumped off their racks and began the 100 questions.
I had no answers. I didn’t even know who she was. I thought it was kind of funny actually, at first, and both Jimmy and Frank started teasing me like this happened every day to me or something. The truth was after going home on leave I was extremely scared of being intimate with women. I made a mess of my life back in the States in only 30 days. Whomever this woman was she was beautiful enough to have at least one man connected to her in some way. Most likely there would be several. I didn’t think this was as funny as my roommates found it to be after a while.
The next morning she was there again. This time she had her arms and legs wrapped around me in some sort of death snuggle. She smelled really nice but I pretended to be asleep when she gave me a kiss on the cheek and left. Her exit drew more teasing from my roommates. I was going to have to find out who the hell this woman was before I woke up with a pistol in my face attached to the hand of some jealous man looking for her.
The following morning was Monday. We reported to P.T. as usual. After breakfast in the chow hall I checked my room for the blonde before I got dressed. She was no where to be seen. I reported to formation as normal and noticed my platoon sergeant and squad leader talking and staring at me. I knew I was caught. I didn’t even do anything however I just knew somehow I was in trouble. I tried to not make eye contact with anyone who outranked me before the commander called us to the position of attention. I was successful.
The commander yelled out, “PFC Landry report to the commander”.
On reflex I took a step back from my squad, performed a crisp “left face” and walked with a purpose directly in front of our Commanding Officer. I rendered a sharp and crisp hand salute shouting, “PFC Landry reporting as ordered sir”. He made me do an about face to face the entire Hospital.
He informed me that because of “commendable and outstanding service rendered during Operation Desert Sheild/Storm” I was no longer barred from reenlistment and I was being promoted to Specialist (E-4) affective immediately.
As he took off my old rank and pinned on my new rank I saw the blonde smiling at me. She was a new medic fresh out of medic school.
Her name was Annetta.