Time for a little Messages of mhere (that’s me – going 3rd person here, sorry) retrospective – post Desert Storm.
In 1992 hotshot82nd and mhere left Germany and returned stateside. Headed to Fort Leonard Wood, running a basic training company, was hotshot82nd’s assignment. mhere, being a mountain girl from northeast PA loved what is euphemistically referred to as “Fort Lost in the Woods”. Their 4 children loved it there too, The people in the Mid-West are the salt of the earth – friendly, warm, decent.
In 1994, hotshot82nd attended the Army’s Sergeants Major Academy. From there, in July 1994, he was assigned to a post I’ll hold off from naming, let’s call it a large infantry post. He kept telling mhere he was sick of the politics in the Army and had no desire to be a command sergeant major. So, he was assigned to being the brigade operations sergeant major, which was commanded by his Desert Storm battalion commander. In October it was back to Kuwait for a few months – Saddam’s Republican Guard was moving.
A change of command brought a new brigade commander, whom hotshot82nd loved working for – no-nonsense Cajun. Almost daily hotshot82nd told mhere amusing work stories about working for this commander.
As usual mhere got involved with family support activities and she began doing volunteer casework at the Red Cross, handling Red Cross messages. After Desert Storm, the Army had revamped “family support” activities and even while at Fort Leonard Wood, mhere experienced the “new leaders’ wives as family support team leaders” program – Army Family Team Building. The Army went from training commanders wives to wear their husband’s rank as part of the “command team”, to now it was Army “family” team building….
One day mhere received a phone call from a snotty captain’s wife, whose husband was the HHC, Brigade company commander’s wife. This young woman told mhere that the officers’ wives in the company decided they didn’t want to meet with the enlisted wives for company family support meetings. She said she decided she was splitting the group into enlisted and officer wives and she was going to run both groups. mhere started asking this woman questions, like how long have you been around the Army. This young woman (in the mold of americanrommel’s wife, queenoftherock) told mhere she met her husband by writing letters to him during Desert Storm. She also told mhere the Army trained her how to be a “leader’s wife”. mhere told her that there was no way an officer’s wife was going to run an enlisted wives group, just because all the officers’ wives didn’t want to meet with the enlisted wives.
A time trip back to Desert Storm:
mhere had plenty of experience with officers’ wives over her lifetime as a NCO’s wife and during Desert Storm – her husband’s brigade commander’s wife, queenoftherock, threatened mhere several times that she would have to report mhere to americanrommel and inform him that mhere wasn’t cooperating. This had left a very bad taste in mhere’s mouth – a twit, officer’s wife, who wanted to activate wives’ phone rosters to pass out bomb threat information…
There was also an emergency childcare situation where the queenoftherock’s FAC (Family Assistance Center) knew of a pregnant NCO wife’s need for emergency childcare, even before the soldiers’ left Germany, heading to Desert Storm. This NCO’s wife had asked everyone imaginable and could not find any wife willing to take on her several young children. The FAC did nothing, except blame the battalion commander’s wife for not doing “her job”, even though the staff at the FAC were PAID family support personnel (many drawing plenty of overtime pay during Desert Storm, mhere suspected) and the Army command had an obligation to make sure families were cared for in Germany – those family members were “command-sponsored”.
When that NCO’s wife went into labor in the middle of the night, she came to mhere’s door down the street. This was a very nice little section of a German village that the Army had leased quarters for officers and senior-enlisted families. Many of the officers’ wives were resentful that the Army “allowed” enlisted families to live in “their” neighborhood. One time mhere’s oldest daughter got into a fight with a bully at the spielplatz, so mhere went to that bully’s mother to discuss the matter. That officer’s wife was the “volunteer neighborhood mayor”. That lady, showed mhere the marks on her son from the fight and started ranting at mhere. She told mhere she didn’t know why the Army let people like mhere live in their neighborhood. mhere told that lady she should stop humiliating her son by pointing out he got beat in a fight by a girl and walked away. Her son had been picking on smaller kids at the spielplatz, when mhere’s oldest daughter stepped in and that boy was bigger than mhere’s daughter;-)
So, mhere arranged to get this pregnant NCO’s wife to the German hospital, where the Army had arranged for her to deliver her baby and mhere was left with this lady’s small children, along with her own 4 small children. mhere called the FAC in the morning and later in the day she called petitesouthernbelle, who besides being a battalion commander’s wife, was an elementary school teacher. mhere told the FAC she couldn’t keep all these kids, because she couldn’t even leave her house with all these kids. German hospitals keep mothers in the hospital longer than American hospitals. In the evening petitesouthernbelle came and took the oldest girl to her house, because she had that girl in her class at school (afterwards the mother told mhere that petitesouthernbelle had even bought her daughter new clothes).
The FAC arranged emergency childcare and informed mhere some lady was coming to pick up the children. The lady who arrived did not look familiar to mhere and she knew most of the people in the brigade. So, mhere asked this lady some questions, as she gave the lady the kids. The lady had said she was an American, but not connected to the Army and mhere wondered why the FAC would arrange for American family members to be put into the care of non-military families in Germany, especially in light of the elevated terrorism threat level. mhere called the FAC and asked if this woman’s background had been checked. The bitchy woman told mhere that the rear-detachment chaplain’s wife and the battalion executive officer’s wife (a first-rate flake, holy-roller, and long-time friend of queenoftherock and perpetual bad-mouther of petitesouthernbelle) knew this lady from their PWOC group (Protestant Women of the Chapel) on post. So, no one checked out this woman. mhere was so upset that no one checked out this woman, that she called the USAREUR IG’s office, and the guy said, it sounded mismanaged, but due to this being the first time the Army left family members in one overseas location and deployed the soldiers to another overseas theater, things were chaotic.
Luckily, nothing bad happened, but because mhere called the IG, the officers’ wives jumped into action bringing meals to this NCO’s wife, even though they had never spoken to her before mhere’s call to the IG. The volunteer mayor had been informed about this NCO wife’s emergency childcare needs long before this NCO’s wife went into labor. That rear-detachment chaplain’s wife and her husband (who had time to hang around at home a lot while the rest of the brigade was off fighting) also knew about this NCO’s wife need for emergency childcare when she had her baby. mhere had personally told both of them several times about this NCO’s wife problem, as they lived across the street from mhere, and that rear-detachment chaplain never walked around the corner to talk to this NCO’s wife. mhere had asked that NCO’s wife if they had come to talk to her and the wife said only petitesouthernbelle had talked to her and told her she was still asking around. In the end – the queenoftherock bad-mouthed petitesouthernbelle for not doing “her job”.
For many months mhere debated submitting a formal IG complaint about this situation, which could have ended badly. mhere remembered other terrorist attacks in Europe directed against the American military. Another neighbor of mhere’s was a general’s secretary and she was married to another first sergeant in hotshot82nd’s battalion. This neighbor mentioned in every other breath that she was the daughter of a colonel, but she was always agitating stuff among NCO wives against the queenoftherock and petitesouthernbelle.
mhere had seen how petitesouthernbelle just quietly tried to help wherever she could with family support activities and she also made the effort to meet enlisted wives. She came up to mhere wherever she saw her on post and talked to her and she treated all of the enlisted wives like this. The queenoftherock sure seemed to despise petitesouthernbelle though, because she bad-mouthed her many times to mhere, but mhere refused to play along.
This neighbor kept egging mhere on to file an IG complaint, even offered to make copies of paperwork at her work – she told mhere this was an approved government use of a copier, when mhere asked her if that’s legal. Finally, mhere gave her many papers to make copies of, but in the end mhere decided NOT to file an IG complaint. mhere had written some personal letters to hotshot82nd’s company commander, cptsilverstar, to keep him informed of the family support issues, as he had informed mhere that she needed to clear everything with him before they deployed. She never received any response from him.
When the soldiers returned to Germany, the brigade had a family picnic, which hotshot82nd, mhere and their children attended – americanrommel and queenoftherock walked past them and the queen said derisively, “Hello, Sue!” and they walked by. But americanrommel gave mhere such a look of loathing and hate, that she was actually frightened.
Back to the mid 90s:
With this newly trained officer’s wife situation, mhere decided to go to the family support office on post to find out what the Army’s official guidance was on family support groups. This lady explained all the new rules to mhere and as the conversation moved about mhere mentioned she had known petitesouthenbelle, whose husband had just finished his brigade command here. This paid staff lady, told mhere that she heard petitesouthernbelle didn’t do much to help families during Desert Storm. She told mhere that she was good friends with queenoftherock and she started asking mhere all sorts of questions. First off mhere told this lady that petitesouthernbelle had done a lot to help families during Desert Storm. This lady informed mhere that her brother was somebody high up in DA family support stuff and about all the issues from family support during Desert Storm led to a lot of changes and then she looked piercingly at mhere and she said, “some wife’s letters from Desert Storm” caused quite a stir.
Then mhere began to wonder if cptsilverstar or petitesouthernbelle’s husband had submitted her letters with their after action reports. The letters to cptsilverstar that mhere sent to the desert from Germany were not written like formal reports – they were mhere’s usual unparalleled snarky commentary.
mhere had already talked to the first sergeant’s wife to rally her to take charge of the enlisted company family support group. mhere went to that one meeting, but after that she decided to just let it go and she was very upset about the conversation with that paid family support lady. One day mhere called the brigade commander’s wife and she told her why she had been upset with that company commander’s wife talking down to enlisted wives, but she also told her that she didn’t want any problems with americanrommel or queenoftherock. mhere knew they had powerful friends all over the Army and that look americanrommel gave her years before had scared her.
As time went by, mhere noticed that no matter how nice she was to other E-9 wives and officers’ wives – she got the cold shoulder. So, she stopped going to these meetings, but continued volunteering at the Red Cross. Even more disturbing to mhere was the first time she met hotshot82nd’s new brigade commander, the Cajun, whom he liked working for so much, mhere had walked into brigade headquarters to talk to hotshot82nd and the new brigade commander came up to hotshot82nd and asked him something and as they headed toward hotshot82nd’s office, hotshot82nd had quickly said, “this is my wife, Sir” before he turned to walk down the hallway and mhere said, “Hello.” That brigade commander gave mhere a look of absolute loathing and turned his back on her and followed hotshot82nd down the hallway. mhere never stepped foot inside that brigade headquarters again.
A year or so later, this Cajun brigade commander came into the Red Cross office and mhere greeted him and said, “Good morning, Sir.” He gave her a look of absolute loathing again and turned and walked away, without saying a word to her.
So, even before mhere began posting comments on the Excite politics message boards in 1998, she had learned about character assassinations and whispering campaigns to destroy her reputation. In 1998, hotshot82nd decided to put in his retirement paperwork and mhere was looking forward to being away from the politics of the Army “leadership”.