Another Florida Cracker Post

…has me dwelling on a particular one of the myriad strange co-incidences in my life. (Major Dad has learned not to question my witchy ways ~ he just shakes his head and says “How do you do it?”) She notes that quite a wonderful American died Friday. A real hero whose name we should all know, but don’t.

On March 16, 1968, Hugh Thompson stopped the My Lai massacre.

And that moment in time for me?

I was having dinner at ‘Hamburguesa’, in Old Town San Diego. I’d been TAD at the (now-defunct) Naval Training Center for instructor school and dragged my Squidette roommate (with her sailor classmates) out for a decent dinner. Barracks rats, the lot of them. Once through the Earth Burgers, bowling ball size margaritas and Negro Modelos, we’d leaned back for some grown-up conversation and stomach settling. Somehow the conversation swung around to the Army, then Army bases and, before I knew it, I was recounting my first visit to Fort Benning, GA.
Our Uncle Nat was an Army LtCol stationed there at the time and we were all loaded up in the Vista Cruiser to go see him. They lived (He, Aunt Dolly and the SIX micro units) in one of those beautiful, classic, colonnaded Southern-style Officer’s Quarters. It looked like a mansion to us. Never having been on anything remotely military in my memory, the sights and sounds were absolutely fascinating and magical. Especially the gauntlet we got to run every morning on our quest for donuts. A little non-descript building on our route was surrounded by crowds and microphones and TV cameras. And, if we timed it just wrong and got caught in the crush, we got to watch as Lt. William Calley and all his lawyers walked across the street and into the building. The whole show gave us (Me and Pat, a pair of 15 year olds) plenty to gawk at and the adults plenty to talk about. (Plus we’d check the broadcast that night to see if someone’s mug on their way for donuts had made the news shots of the crowds.) Surreal world, there in an Army household, archly conservative, terrified of Communists and Red Chinese, and all John Birch Society types. You can imagine whose side they were on.
As I’m talking, I noticed an older, very well dressed gentleman at the next table pretty plainly attuned to the discussion at ours. When I caught his eye, he excused himself to his companions and came over. He introduced himself (seemed to be a hugely pleasant fellow) and said, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I was so astonished to hear Lt. Calley’s name…and honestly surprised anyone would remember and talk about it now. I never thought about how it looked and I had to listen. You are so right in how you remember it ~ the crowds and those TV cameras. You probably saw me, you know. I was one of Lt. Calley’s lawyers.”

2 Responses to “Another Florida Cracker Post”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    What are you, some sort of nexus for bizarre coincidences? Have you ever sailed through the Bermuda Triangle?
    Cool story!
    PS: I’m amazed at one thing, that you actually admitted to having relatives in the US Army. Now I know how you got used to my trifling ways.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    But we’re estranged, Jeff.

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