…Rex’s school had an assembly. Quincy was in preschool, but the rest of us attended including Coach Jr and Karena’s parents (her dad is an Air Force vet; so is Karena and her brother).
Coach Jr was pretty good. He likes brass band type music (i’m not making this up) so he was pleased by the patriotic song selection.
We tried to spot Rex in the stands in the section marked “4th Grade” but failed. First we thought he might have been hiding from us but it seemed unlikely that he could keep slouched down behind someone else for an entire hour. Then both me and Karena’s dad spotted him, but on both occasions Karena informed us that no, that was a girl (the same girl both times btw). I speculated that maybe he was either in the nurse’s office or detention. It turned out that his class was just sitting down in front.
Besides looking for Rex and waving Coach Jr’s hands in time to marching music, the bulk of the assembly was spent waiting for this slideshow. Specifically waiting for our pictures to show up. We were told to send in a picture of ourselves in uniform.
Taken illegally by my battle buddy while the drill sergeants were with the rest of the guys at chow. We were supposed to be guarding the weapons, not posing with them IOT have pics to impress girls with. We weren’t even supposed to have a camera. BTW in the row of photos from home at the far right, third one from top is a guy in a dark shirt and a blonde in a white shirt. That’s me and Mary Beth (from letters from basic).
Anyway, the pictures came up, set to music. “LOOK THERE’S YOU, COACH.” “Haha, there you are, Karena!” “DAD, LOOK. IT’S YOU.” “Huh? What’s me?” “Up on the screen, sir.” “What?” “NEVER MIND” Then I pointed out the irony of coming here and waiting for these pictures to be on the screen for five seconds, when we owned the pictures and could see them any time we wanted, and Karena and I felt foolish.
Afterwards we could talk to Rex’s class if we wanted. We wanted so we headed down there. I am actually used to talking to kids about the Army and prepared for their zany questions. They did not disappoint. A tip for dealing with kids’ questions: If they ask something utterly incomprehensible, just answer a completely unrelated question.
Kid: Did you ever make like a launcher? For car or not?
Me: The weapon in the picture is an M240B. It weighs 27.6 pounds and can fire up to 950 rounds a minute.
Kids: [look satisfied]
Also if they ask you how many people you killed…
Me: I killed 1,981,487 people. I have the record. Once I killed a guy by spitting on him from a helicopter. Another time I killed two guys who were running away from me just by shouting at them. They were so scared that they died.
Kids: [look satisfied]
Other actual questions:
Kid: Did you carry a sniper?
I knew what he meant so I told him about a sniper in our unit instead of making fun of him.
Kid: Did you battle?
I love the video game/bey blade/pokemon verbiage but I also didn’t make fun of him.
Me: Yes, I was in Iraq. That was a war. A war is like, many battles.
I spoke for three sentences and answered about thirty questions. Two older vets showed up and since now there were four people waiting for their turn, I just said I was done.
Karena went next. She was not thrilled to follow me.
Karena: I WAS IN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE. WE HAD A LOT OF SECRETS THAT WERE TOP SECRET. I WORKED INSIDE A VAULT. INSIDE THE VAULT WAS ANOTHER VAULT WHERE WE PUT THE MOST VALUABLE SECRETS.
Kid: Did you jump out of airplanes too?
Karena: REX WAS BORN IN AN AIR FORCE HOSPITAL.
Rex: [looks proud]
Karena’s dad spoke next, then a guy who was in Vietnam on a submarine that had nuclear missiles on it. He was pretty interesting. I would have asked him questions myself if the kids didn’t have like fifty thousand which covered everything imaginable. Finally the last guy was a Nam vet too and worked at an ammo depot. He told about booby traps.
Teacher: Class, those are called IUDs. Can you repeat that?
Me (hurriedly): uh, actually, they call them IEDs now. Improvised Explosive Devices.
Teacher: Oh, right. What’s an IUD then…(turns red) I.E.D. class! I.E.D!
The guy talked about getting a week R&R in Hawaii after 6 months in Nam.
Kid: Did you see a volcano?
Vet: Oh sure, yeah, we saw the volcanoes.
[five minutes and sixteen questions later, same kid waving hand frantically]
Kid: DID IT ERUPT?