P.F.C. Giles walked into HQ and asked if he could talk to the Colonel. Giles had the day off because he had just finished a field op with one of the line companies. He was a telegraph operator and from what I heard, he was a good one. I didn’t know much else about him. I remember a while back he was on a battalion jump with me. That was his cherry jump. That’s what they call the first jump after the five jumps in jump school. It is the first jump you make fully equipped and have to exit with a crowd. He had made another jump on that field op.
When I asked him what he wanted to see the Old Man about. He said,softly, that it was personal.
His talk with the Colonel took about a half hour and when he walked out of HQ he told Sgt Major Simpson and me the Colonel wanted to see us.
‘Close the door,’ the Old Man said, when we walked in, ‘And what I tell you will go no further. Understood?’
‘Yes, Sir.’ He motioned us to sit down.
“Sgt Major, I want you to see Giles gets to Repo Depot as soon as he gets packed. And then do what you when somebody is discharged. And Corporal, make out the necessary forms for a Medical Discharge.’
‘What’s should I put down as the reason?’ I asked.
‘Didn’t look sick to me,’ Sgt Simpson observed.
The Old Man held up a finger. ‘Hold off on the reason for now. I got to touch base with a friend in Division Personnel. I don’t want that kid demonized with a Dishonorable or a Mental discharge’, he said angrily. He stared at the door and then added in a calm voice, ‘That lad has a lot of backbone. A lot of balls. He is a brave lad. A brave lad.’
Neither Simpson or I said anything.
‘To tell his CO what he told me…He risked a lot. Risked getting ridiculed by some of the men. Risked getting beat up. Risked getting a Dishonorable Discharge. Maybe even stockade time.’
We waited as the Colonel lit a cigarette. I know Simpson was an anxious for the Old Man to tell us what he was talking about. as I was.
‘Took a brave lad to stand right there and tell me he is a homosexual…’
‘He’s a que…’ Simpson blurted out.
‘Let’s use the term “gay”, sergeant.’ the colonel interrupted, ‘It sounds better.’
‘Excuse me, Sir,’ Simpson apologized. ‘It just surprised me. He sure don’t look like a… gay.’
‘I won’t ask you, sergeant, just what a gay is suppose to look like.’
The Sergeant Major it would be best to keep still.
‘The lad just stood there and told me he was homosexual. Flat out told me he was gay.
‘He said he had hoped somehow being in the Army would put his feelings on the back burner, but he said that isn’t the case. He wants out. He know just by admitting his homosexuality will get him kicked out. He said at least in civilian life there are some people who understand.’
‘Like his family,’ I said.
The Old Man shook his head no. He told why Giles said he joined up and volunteered airborne in the first place. Seems like his father rode him pretty hard when he learned his son was gay. There’s another son and he’s in the 101st Airborne and the father always threw that in Giles’ face.’
‘Guess he showed the old bastard,’ Sgt Simpson said. ‘He got the balls to jump just like his brother.’ Then he asked,’ Is the brother gay too?’
‘I don’t know, sergeant,’ the Colonel answered. ‘Probably not.’
Then the Colonel held up his finger again. ‘You just gave me an idea, Sergeant,’ he said. ‘There’s just the two boys in the family and the other one just re-upped for another six. Giles mentioned his father has arthritis and is worried he won’t be able to work much longer. Don, forget the Medical Discharge. We’ll make it a Hardship Discharge instead. Be better for him.’
‘Too bad we have to lose a man like Giles,’ The Old Man said as Simpson and I stood up. ‘Took a brave lad to do what he did today. The Army can always use a brave lad like him.’
‘Maybe some day, Sir,’ I said, ‘The Army won’t kick out brave lads on account of them being gay.’ And we the office.
Simpson pulled me in his office and closed the door. ‘You don’t really think they will ever let homosexuals in the Army just like any body else.’
‘When you joined up did you ever think you’d be in the same outfit as blacks?’
‘No, but…Simpson stammered. ‘I mean…Could you serve with somebody you know is a homosexual?’
‘Well,’ I answered, ‘It’s like old Sergeant Estes said when he let me buy him a beer, ”Never held it against you for being a Yankee.I found out I can get along with just about any body…even a Yankee. Unless he of course he would to marry my sister.”
Master Sergeant Simpson frowned and shook his head. ‘You know, Don, sometimes, you just don’t make any sense at all.’
It took a long time after my saying some day they might not discriminate against gays
But not in my wildest dream I never imagined women would be jumping out of planes
and serving right along side men
in the 82nd
And that’s a wrap for the day after the US Supreme Court ruled that
Equal Employment Rights
apply also to
STAY SAFE: And let’s hope today’s discovery of a common steroid might be the cure for the Virus