Monday, March 30, 2020

‘You might have to slap me’

One summer at Fort Hood the company was getting ready for continuation of assembly area operations following supper when the company commander picked my platoon to conduct a squad-size night patrol. I assigned the patrol to my senior squad leader, Staff Sgt. Hipp.

When he returned from his briefing at the company command post, Sgt. Hipp advised me of the patrol route. He also said, “Captain Landers told me to make sure I talked to him when I got back.” Company officers slept in a Tent, General Purpose, Small near the CP track. Sgt. Hipp said, “He said he might be asleep, and I was to wake him up.”

“Okay,” I said.

Sgt. Hipp continued. “He said he was a heavy sleeper and I might have to slap him to wake him up. He said I was to wake him up, no matter what it took.”

I said, “Okay,” knowing I would never have given Sgt. Hipp “no matter what” latitude, unless: (1) the safety of soldiers was involved; (2) and we were in a place where pointy bullets were commonly flying around. That was not the situation in a training exercise.

Sgt. Hipp took his squad out just about dark and got back around midnight. He came to my armored personnel carrier and let me know he was back. He said he had not seen anything of importance. I said, “Okay,” and told him to get some sleep. Neither he nor I mentioned his informing the company commander.

Next morning, just after breakfast, Sgt. Hipp and my other two squad leaders were at my APC when the company commander walked up. We all saluted and said, “Good morning, Sir.”

Capt. Landers returned our salutes and said, “Good morning.” Then he looked at Sgt. Hipp. He said, “Did you try to wake me up last night?”

“Yes, Sir,” Sgt. Hipp replied. “I did just what you told me to do.”

The captain stood a little straighter and leaned his head forward. He said, “Did you slap me?”

“Yes, Sir,” Sgt. Hipp said. He had an almost grin on his face.

The captain said, “How hard did you slap me?”

My mind was saying, That’s a dumb question to ask, but before I could make a statement of interference, Sgt. Hipp slapped the captain. Hard. “’Bout like that, Sir.”

I stood there, thinking, “Holy cow.”

Capt. Landers didn’t say anything for a few seconds. He continued staring at Sgt. Hipp. Then he said, “Don’t ever do that again.” He walked away before any of us could salute. I guess he heard Sgt. Hipp’s “Yes, Sir.”

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