A Stodghill Says So blog:
My good buddy Fleming got me into a lot of trouble at Camp Polk way back in 1952. There was the day a foreign officer was trying to teach us something about the M1 rifle and kept repeating, "Put your tum on the stock." He meant thumb, of course.
So Fleming, grinning, poked me with his elbow while saying, "Remember, Stodgy, put your tum on the stock." I started laughing - I mean who wouldn't? - so a sergeant said, "Something funny, soldier? Stand up and share it with the rest of us."
I dared not tell the truth so it took some quick thinking to dream up another cause for my hilarity.
Then there was the day a sergeant was giving a lesson on how to use the bayonet. I nudged Fleming and whispered, "He's doing it wrong. I could take the rifle away from him."
Fleming started giggling and then laughed aloud. The sergeant halted his demonstration. "Something funny, soldier? Stand up and share it with the rest of us."
So Fleming stood up and pointed down to me. "He says you're doing it wrong and he could take the rifle away from you."
The sergeant wasn't amused. With a few expletives deleted he said, "Is that right? Well get your sorry ass up here and show me just how you'd do that."
I got to my feet, murmuring, "I'll get you for this Fleming." When I climbed up on the platform the sergeant, a man I had never seen previously, was waiting with fire in his eyes. When he dropped to a semi-crouch ready to begin his long thrust, there wasn't the slightest doubt he intended to skewer me on the bayonet.
I was right, though, or I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. As he thrust, I parried. A second later the sergeant was on his knees and the rifle was in my hands. The man, humiliated in front of a hundred snickering soldiers, was livid. Before handing the rifle back to him I checked to be certain there wasn't a round in the chamber because murder was on his mind. In the months ahead I kept a wary eye peeled if there was a chance he might be in the vicinity.
As for Fleming, what could I say? He just laughed about it. "I knew you could do it, Stodgy," he said. All I could do was hope he really meant that.
Then there was the day Fleming and I went into town to buy Ping Pong equipment for the company day room with money contributed by the rest of the men. Or the time he ordered high-powered fireworks and had them shipped to my address in case of trouble, but those are other stories.