Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Tales of the old Army: Gorman on fighting & kissing at Ft. Benning, soldiers smoking dope during the Korean War, etc.

General Paul Gorman’s oral history is fun for several aspects, but especially for his unvarnished account of life in the old Army. First, there was the night he lay drunk in his bed in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters at Fort Benning, having been out boozing and punching a warrant officer in the mouth: I became ...

history.army.mil
history.army.mil
history.army.mil

General Paul Gorman's oral history is fun for several aspects, but especially for his unvarnished account of life in the old Army. First, there was the night he lay drunk in his bed in the Bachelor Officers' Quarters at Fort Benning, having been out boozing and punching a warrant officer in the mouth:

I became aware that there was loud talk out in the hall. It was the warrant officer with a bunch of his buddies. They were coming to find me to beat out my teeth. I can recall having enough presence of mind to roll out of bed and get under it. They came in. They were all drunk and they stumbled around the room. I obviously had been vomiting because they were appalled at the condition of the floor. They left. In their wake came a captain of the battalion. He found me under the bed, got me in bed, and cleaned up the room a little bit. Then the son-of-a-bitch tried to kiss me. I apparently decked him too.

Arriving at the Korean War front in 1952, Gorman was told by some soldiers that the company XO was soliciting bribes to give soldiers early slots for R&R leave in Japan. Gorman, a new lieutenant, went to the company commander, who was spending most of his time playing poker, and wasn't interested in pursuing the allegation. So Gorman took care of it himself.

General Paul Gorman’s oral history is fun for several aspects, but especially for his unvarnished account of life in the old Army. First, there was the night he lay drunk in his bed in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters at Fort Benning, having been out boozing and punching a warrant officer in the mouth:

I became aware that there was loud talk out in the hall. It was the warrant officer with a bunch of his buddies. They were coming to find me to beat out my teeth. I can recall having enough presence of mind to roll out of bed and get under it. They came in. They were all drunk and they stumbled around the room. I obviously had been vomiting because they were appalled at the condition of the floor. They left. In their wake came a captain of the battalion. He found me under the bed, got me in bed, and cleaned up the room a little bit. Then the son-of-a-bitch tried to kiss me. I apparently decked him too.

Arriving at the Korean War front in 1952, Gorman was told by some soldiers that the company XO was soliciting bribes to give soldiers early slots for R&R leave in Japan. Gorman, a new lieutenant, went to the company commander, who was spending most of his time playing poker, and wasn’t interested in pursuing the allegation. So Gorman took care of it himself.

He also says that during the Korean War, the 65th Infantry Regiment had a bunch of guys who regularly used marijuana. "Every night they sat back there, puffing away on these weeds." Gorman doesn’t mention it, but the 65th became notorious when many of its soldiers ran away from combat, resulting in 92 court martials, and eventually the relief of the regiment’s commander.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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