Part 8: Jump Week, Part 1

Jump Week, Part 1: In which the charismatic Captain Greene learns you can’t stop the mop

It was Monday morning of Jump Week, the week we’d all been waiting for. We stood in formation in the Charlie Company area, waiting to be marched down to the airfield to suit up, load planes, and fly out to the drop zone.

We stood there, waiting (you do a lot of that in the Army), not at attention just yet. To my left was the same senior NCO who’d always been there. To my right, at last a Lieutenant Doyle had settled in that spot. He turned to me then and said, “You know, I gotta tell you something. The first week? I knew for certain you weren’t going to make it.”

Nice. But not really unexpected. I have Kit bemoan this situation in The Boys’ Club:

The comments never stopped. Too dainty for serious field time, as one Huey pilot put it. Or worse, fragile, the overheard remark from her third year ROTC advisor.She stayed warm and dry in the fiercest of Germany’s downpours. Her feet never blistered in her boots. She could set up a tent and fieldstrip an M16. In the field, she carried her own weight.

And unless Kit did those things in front of someone, no one believed she could. Like Captain Riley.

But Lieutenant Doyle continued. “By the second week, I knew you were going to make it, but I didn’t think I would.”

I think that qualifies as an apology. I cast a look at the NCO next to me. He gave me a grin and winked.

Captain Greene emerged from his office to do what he did every morning: judge us. He took his time with it today, roaming the ranks, the crunch of his jump boots on gravel. Then he pulled the Charlie Company guidon from its resting spot and handed it to the guidon bearer.

We were judged worthy.

But wait! We didn’t want the guidon. We wanted our mop. Who started it, I couldn’t say. It just happened, quiet at first, then growing louder.

Can’t stop the mop. Can’t stop the mop. Can’t stop the mop.

I don’t know if Captain Greene actually cracked a smile. He was the sort who didn’t–ever. But the pleasure was there in his eyes. He loved it. The black hats loved it. And when we didn’t stop, he pulled another soldier from the ranks. On that day, we had two guidon bearers. One carried the Charlie Company guidon. The other carried the mop.

And when we marched down to the airfield that morning, we didn’t sing cadence. Instead, the entire way, we chanted:

Can’t stop the mop. Can’t stop the mop. Can’t stop the mop.

To be continued…

Part 9: Jump Week, Part 2

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