Requiem For A Heavyweight: So Long Grumpy


Grumpy’s gone.

My friend Phil, aka Grumpy Elder, proprietor of Grumpy Opinions, father, veteran, patriot, blogger extrordinaire, and not grumpy at all, died yesterday morning.

I’ve become acquainted with many good people in cyberspace. Phil was one of ’em. Although I never met him personally, turned out we were brothers. We’d both spent time at Fort Jackson during the miserable winter of ’66 after the first large draft call for the Vietnam war. By telephone, we reminisced about Tent City, about meningitis outbreaks in the barracks, about cold, dead-of-night fire watches, and about those endless slogs up and down sandy Carolina tank trails. Later, we’d both shipped out to Germany and spent time wallowing in the mud during NATO training exercises at Grafenwohr. We’d shared so much, I felt as if I’d known the man for 50 years — besides, he liked my cartoons.

When we last spoke a few weeks ago, Phil never mentioned being in ill health. We rapped about Hillary’s e-mails, among other things, and how in our day, such egregious security violations as those committed by Missus C. would have, without much ado, landed the offender in a military dungeon somewhere. Phil told me one of his stories. I told him one of mine. He said I should do a post about it. So here it is:

In the winter of ’67, I was part of the communications section of a field artillery unit.  We were responsible for establishing encrypted com circuits between ourselves and headquarters during maneuvers, and for the receipt and decryption of classified and unclassified material both in the field and while ensconced on base.  That the army took this task seriously was evidenced by the fact that our personnel were authorized to carry loaded sidearms, rifles, and thermite grenades (to be used to melt down our equipment in case of any untenable situations).  Our field vehicle was a modified deuce and a half.  Our classified commo gear was packed inside in padded boxes, also classified (shape reveals function).  The interior of the van was classified. There was a lock on the inside and an Army Security Agency approved lock on the outside.  There was an authorized entry list.  Standing orders were to shoot anyone attempting to enter the van unless their name was on the list.  America didn’t kid around much in those days.

We played a lot of tag with the Soviets back then.  In the field, we often changed locations in order to elude any Russian spotters. After one such move, we pulled into a forest to bivouac, get the generators running and set up communications.  The ASA approved lock on the crypto van had frozen solid.  Since time was always of the essence, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a thaw.  I rustled up a bolt cutter and sheared that sucker off.   Once we’d run com wire into the van and hooked up the field phone, I contacted headquarters and requested a replacement. Our S2 (intelligence/security section), in it’s infinite wisdom, had not seen fit to outfit us with a spare.  Entered the call time and reason into my logbook.  Unpacked the com gear, established an encrypted circuit, and settled in.   Two days later, we received orders to move out.  The new lock had still not arrived, so I used my own combination lock to secure the van.  Back at the kaserne (barracks), I was summoned to the office of the S2 and informed that I was to be court-martialed for improper handling of classified material (negligence in securing the crypto van).  My lock, you see, had not been authorized for use by the security mavens at the ASA.  The notation in my logbook came to my rescue. Since the powers-that-be couldn’t court-martial me for their own incompetence, they decided to give me a commendation.  For displaying initiative. I don’t know what the moral of this little tale is, other than to always take notes, but Grumpy seemed to enjoy it.  I’m not sure that Hillary Clinton would.

I’m gonna miss Phil. A lot. Cyberspace is colder without him.  So is the real world.  Godspeed, my friend. I’ll see you when I see you.



About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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11 Responses to Requiem For A Heavyweight: So Long Grumpy

  1. bydesign001 says:

    A wonderful tribute, Bob, to our friend Phil. We will never forget our fellow patriot, blogger, American.

  2. Pingback: Requiem For A Heavyweight: So Long Grumpy | Grumpy Opinions

  3. Pingback: Requiem For A Heavyweight: So Long Grumpy | Viewpoints of a Sagitarrian

  4. USMC1949 says:

    Semper Fi! Phil…..

  5. RIP brother


    He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
    And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
    Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
    In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

    And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
    All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
    But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
    And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

    He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
    For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
    Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
    And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

    When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
    While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
    Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
    But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

    Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
    A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
    Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
    Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

    A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
    Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
    While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
    Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

    It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
    That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
    It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
    Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

    Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
    Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
    Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
    His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

    He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
    But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
    For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
    Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

    If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
    Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
    Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
    Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

  6. What a fine tribute, and how he would have loved hearing it. Without a doubt, cyberspace will be a colder place without this lovely man.

  7. He never complained.
    I will miss his so bad.
    I did ask him: How are you feeling? All he said was “I dont know”
    He was a BRAVE man who was not afraid of death

  8. Pingback: Our Friend, “Grumpy Elder” Has Passed Away. He Was A Vet & A Great Patriot | The Mad Jewess

  9. LadyRavenSDC says:

    Reblogged this on LadyRaven's Whisky In A Jar – OH! and commented:
    Bob – thank you, thank you, thank you for filling us in more on this man we knew and didn’t know. Somewhere, from up there, I know he is smiling at you.
    To – Plainol American – thank YOU for “Just A Common Soldier” – I have known a lot of them, and they each were anything but common men.
    To both of you – THANK YOU for your service to our country.

  10. Pingback: Another Old Soldier Fades From the Scene | Viewpoints of a Sagitarrian

  11. Pingback: Another Old Soldier Fades From the Scene | Grumpy Opinions

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