FWT Homepage Translator

Sunday, November 11, 2007

After Action Report

Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

Yesterday, I marched in the parade with veterans of the First Signal Brigade.

You should have seen the reaction when I first arrived at the hotel, and climbed out of the taxicab!

I had dressed up in my kilt and plaid, with full-sized medals fastened to my tunic, and carrying my cromach (a long, stout wooden hiking stick).

A whole bunch of folks took my picture, over and over and over!

Several of the folks wanted to have their picture taken with me.

Wearing the kilt also generated comments and questions about Scotland and Scottish heritage.

I loved the comments from the wee little tykes along the route.

One of the wee ones says, "See? I told you men can wear skirts and fight!"

Another wee one asked, "Daddy, why is that man wearing a skirt?"

Of course, everybody is wondering what is worn beneath the kilt?

So, of course, I told them.

"This is a kilt - - - if I wore anything underneath, it would be a skirt."

Fortunately, in spite of the weatherman's predictions, it did NOT rain on our parade.

But, it was quite chilly, with an overcast sky.

The most difficult part of the parade was standing around for hours and hours, waiting for it to start.

Before leaving the
Soldiers' Home, I had taken a double dose of medication to suppress pain and relax my muscles.

So, I was very thirsty, and there was nothing to drink.

I had brought some chewing gum for just that purpose, but forgot I had brought it, so I never took out a stick or two to moisten my mouth.

There were portable toilets available, but I never saw one, so I just had to hold it in - - - for hours!

At one point, as we stood around waiting, a gal began singing the National Anthem.

Of course, we all did "Present Arms!", as I kept wondering, "Where's the flag? What are we saluting?"

At the conclusion of the National Anthem, we returned to "Order Arms!", and the announcer informed us that it was just a sound check.

There were a lot of interesting entries in the parade.

I saw three other men wearing kilts.

I went to talk with them, but lost them in the crowd.

I also saw lots of guys from the 101st Airborne Division, another unit I served with in Viet Nam, but I only talked with a few of them, and none that I met were from the local chapter.

There were a whole bunch of American Indians from the
Navajo Nation.

There were lots of motorcycles, some Army deuce and half trucks, and even an Air Force Security Police dog, plus plenty of high school marching bands.

Eventually, we began marching, straggling along and milling about, not looking very military at all.

But, that's because every one of us had gotten old, and many were impaired by injuries.

The remarkable thing is that not one person fell out of the march.

As we turned onto Constitution Avenue, we were met by the folks from
Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, waving protest signs and jeering at us.

As I understand it, they say God is punishing America, because of homosexuality, and that's why our soldiers are dying.

The irony is that the very folks the
Westboro Baptist Church were yelling at, the American war veterans, probably agreed with them, and were ardently opposed to homosexuality.

Anyway, we kept on marching, and did an "Eyes Right!" at the reviewing stand.

We probably marched a little over a mile, and our buses were waiting for us.

I was glad to get back on that bus and sit down!

Boy, did I hurt, and was I ever tired!

Still, I enjoyed the day and the company.

There were a lot of activities and shows still going on, but I was bushed, and only wanted to get back to my room at the Soldiers' Home.

I bought a nice souvenir polo shirt and baseball cap, each of them black and emblazoned with the insignia of the
First Signal Brigade, and the words, "Phu Lam Signal Bn", and "Viet Nam 62 - 72".

Even though lots and lots of folks took my picture, I don't have any copies.

That also happened last year, on
National Tartan Day, when I wore my brand new kilt for the very first time, with all my full-sized medals on my jacket.

I think I'm going to order some business cards, so when folks take my picture, I can give them a card, and they can send me a copy of the picture.

I reckon wearing a kilt and a bunch of medals is photogenic, and does cause quite a stir.

But, I've told the other guys there ain't nothing that looks more military than wearing a Highland kilt.

Today, we residents at the
Soldiers' Home are getting a free meal in our mess hall.

(In case you don't get my sense of humor, I'm making a joke!)


I just now got a phone call!

I'm going to have a visitor this evening!

One of the members of an Internet forum, the International War Veterans' Poetry Archives, plans to stop here and see me.

So, I reckon I'd better spruce myself up, and put on a coat and tie.

Thank you.

John Robert "SAIGON" Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

No comments: