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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Special military skills

Memorial day got me thinking of things military. During my firefighting days I worked with a lot of military veterans. Many went through the horrors of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. You've probably heard a lot of stories like that over the past weekend.

This is a different type of war story. I'm not going to use the guy's real name so let's call him Mario. Mario was a pudgy kid who got drafted. The army had a very simple way of dealing with a fat kid. They reduced his rations and ran him through basic twice. He came out a lean mean fighting machine.

Mario wanted to be paratrooper. He trained hard. Soon, however, he was separated from the rest of his unit because he had a special skill that was in short supply. The guy could type. Over and over again he put in for combat duty and was denied. Finally an officer pulled his aside and explained that he would never see combat.

“I can get cannon fodder anywhere, good typists are in short supply.”

He spent his tour basically working a 9 to 5 job in the states. The unit he was pulled out of? Almost 100% casualties. Mario didn't like to talk about it.

Being able to type may have saved the guy's life.



  1. I have a friend that could type. His service in Vietnam was spent in Saigon.

    Still, his stories of the time are eerie. Even in the "safety" of the city, the horror of war surrounded him daily.

    1. There was no truly safe place "in country."

  2. I can type, but it never saved my life that I know of. I am sure he doesn't like to talk about it. He lost a lot of buddies.

  3. On that subject, There was a Vet named Ed, before WW2 he was a photographer, during the war in the pacific, Ed was assigned to the army air corps as a photographer taking Aeriel photo's all over the pacific. Notably he helped map the "hump" in Burma. He passed away about 15 years ago, and I still miss him showing me his pictures and his B-17 stories. I was proud to present a detailed model of his own aircraft some years before he passed. I was told it was among his favorite possessions.
    I knew another WW2 vet in Europe, whose duties as a truck mechanic kept the war effort going. Unsung heroes those two. Would have been a waste of potential to have them pulling triggers.

    1. There's more to war than the tip of the spear.