Hail to the Chief (Not)

For those of you who have not read my book (shame on you; don’t know what you are missing), here is a peak at a small part of one chapters. After posting MSgt George Roof’s great commentary and recap of our illustrious past presidents beginning with LBJ, I could not help but think of my memories up close and personal with his first stalwart, LBJ. So for those of you who have chosen to not read my book, here is a small taste of chapter 30. Understand that I do not like to use “Marine talk” here on my blog or in my book, but in this case it is necessary to appreciate the scene. Enjoy. XX

~ 30 ~

Hail to the Chief

Every Marine remembers his first good ass chewing for a variety of reasons. My first as an officer occurred shortly after I had been commissioned and is remembered for who the “chewer” was. I recall quite clearly that I was at Camp David with my platoon and the president was to arrive for the weekend. The weather was bad, so all morning the plans fluctuated between flying the president to the camp, flying him to the LZ in Thurmont, or driving him up from the White House in Washington.

Since the camp sits on a mountaintop, it is fogged in at times. In these instances, the LZ down near Thurmont is often used and the chief executive is then driven up the mountain from there. On one particular day, it was on again – off again in attempting to fly the president and his party to Camp David. Finally, after numerous changes in the mode of transportation, his support personnel loaded the baggage into vehicles and began the hour and a half drive up the mountain. Meanwhile the heavy rains ceased and the fog lifted; the president and his guest, a visiting head of state, were flown straight to the camp.

I was turning over security responsibilities to the secret service when Major Baker walked by and said he would wait for me up ahead. When I finished, I joined him. As he and I were walking past Aspen on our way to the Ship’s Office suddenly the front door of the president’s cabin burst open and out came the “Boss,” President Lyndon B. Johnson. He shouted, “Hold up there!” He bolted over to us—we both saluted. The president began ranting and raving about being “surrounded by incompetent assholes.” He went on and on, cursing up a storm.

Unbeknown to me, Major Baker had terminated his salute. The president was standing between us directing his remarks at us both. Finally, after a barrage of curse words, he leaned over, looked me right in the eyes, and said, “Put your fucking hand down.” I terminated my salute.

He ended with a comment that burned into my psyche and to this very day has never left it: “If you assholes don’t get your fucking act together soon, I’ll send you all to Vietnam.” He then stormed off toward the house. I stood there with clinched fists, jaws so tight I couldn’t speak. Major Baker, obviously accustomed to this sort of abuse, laughed and said: “I wonder what we didn’t do this time?” At the Ship’s Office, we discovered the baggage had not yet arrived since it was coming by car. The president, apparently, was embarrassed that his guest could not change into more comfortable clothes.

There’s more, but you’ll have to get the book. To do so look to the left and you’ll see “Buy The Book,” click on it,  fill it out, I will get the email, and contact you personally.

Please leave a comment on this post or on any subject; all are appreciated. Thank you and Semper Fi, Jim