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December 28, 2005

The militaria of Argghhh!

The Budget of Argghhh! currently not supporting acquisition of chemical-powered armaments, I have been indulging other tastes in adding to the Character of Castle Argghhh! - and with a Castle Blogmeet on the horizon, some thought to making that experience apropos to the place we have collectively built. Though, sadly, the Great Chandeliers of Argghhh! will have to remain a metaphysical construct, absent someone wanting to spend the dough to build an artifact in the Bailey that we could suspend a chandelier from... and then build the chandelier...

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Where was I? Oh, yeah - *stuff*. As long-time readers know from previous posts, I like to find the little things of a soldier's life, like this schnapps glass, or this helmet, for example. I sometimes take it to extremes, too - I like dolls (flesh and blood, or plastic).

Anyway, one of the things I remember from my days as the Fire Direction Officer of Bravo, 1/22 FA, was the joy of being the Supply Officer. That is said with tongue firmly in cheek, though being SO made life as a Battery Commander simpler - I already knew how to prevent/make-up shortages and account for it all without going to jail/writing a check - and when your Battery is the size of a small battalion (350+ peak strength in garrison, close to 600 in the field when all the attachments showed up) such skillz are needful if you don't want an ugly time at your change-of-command inventory. I was short two sheets, which I made good by saving the bacon of the Target Acquisition Battery commander... I left command with no Reports of Survey, no Cash Collection Vouchers.

One of the interesting bits of kit that company-sized units used to have was the Officer's Mess Kit, a holdover from a different time in the U.S. Army. A fascinating bit of kit - it held place settings for 8 - serving platters, coffee cups, dinner and salad plates, bowls, salt and pepper shakers, etc. All in a nice fitted box. In WWII they were enameled steel, starting around the Korean War they shifted to aluminum. Sometime in the late 80's, they disappeared off of the MTOEs (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment) that lay out a unit's mission, organization, and allowable property. They were intended for use when deployed units went into semi-permanent bivouac - when engaged in mobile ops *everybody* ate out of a mess kit or box, on top of the jeep hood, or wherever else you could find a flat, semi-level surface - unless you were wolfing it down before the rain washed it all away...

As the Supply Officer of a firing battery, it was just something else to inventory and try to keep people from stealing the flatware and coffee cups from. As a Battery Commander, I only used it for fun - whenever we were deployed, such as for REFORGER, the NTC, etc, I would use it whenever the Commanding General came to visit - set for him, the DIVARTY Commander, and the S3 (more if the visit called for it) in the D/A Commander's tent, set on a red tablecloth - with candles. Hey - we're the Artillery, dammit - we lend dignity to what is otherwise a vulgar brawl...

So - at the Castle Blogmeet - expect the Officer's Mess Kit vice paper plates.