Copyright 2002.  R. E. Sullivan, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be copied, faxed, electronically transmitted, or in any other manner duplicated without express written permission of the author.  piedpiper6@gmail.com

 

 

Abstract:  Quantico has long been the place where the Marine Corps schools its officers.  Essentially, the base exists for the support of that rather important function.  In my day, Colonels/Lieutenants Colonel attended "Senior School; Captains/Majors "Junior School; and Second Lieutenants "Basic School."  Each lasted nine full months in other than wartime.  There were many other shorter schools for officers there as well, such as for Communication Officers and Ordnance Officers.  These were some twenty-five weeks in length.  Unless you were in the service, it is doubtful that you know how much time that professional officers spend in school.  Except for attending Basic and Junior Schools, all my "casual" time at Quantico saw me assigned some function having to do with the military police.  That's what I want to tell you about.

 

MARINE CORPS SCHOOLS

Quantico, Virginia

 

All of you old timers will recall that when you reported to Quantico for duty, you passed through the main gate, hung a right turn toward the town of Quantico, and then made a quick left which put you in a parking lot in front of a low, and very long building, maybe 150' or so.  A sign said "1016" and it was the first building built there when the station was activated just before US entry into WW I.  It became the first Post Headquarters, and would remain so for many years.  By the time I first saw it, the only thing that held it up was force of habit, and the coats of paint and wax that had been put on it over the years. 

 

I first laid eyes on old 1016 in September 1948, when I returned to the US from Tsingtao, China, a brand new Second Lieutenant. I reported to the Officer of The Day, who wore a sword as part of the uniform of the day, that I was "Reporting aboard for duty, Sir."  Of course I was sent to Brown Field, the Marine Corps airfield just east of the Main Base, which is where the Marine Corps trained its Second Lieutenants at that time.  Basic School had one connection with the Provost Office.  That was that the School provided Commanders of the Guard, who were second in command of that day's guard behind the Officer of the Day.

 

On the day you stood Commander of the Guard, you reported to the OOD, who armed you with an M1911A1 .45 Cal., Semi-Automatic Pistol.  And that's where the fun started.   Most of the 2d Johns in School hardly knew one end from the other of a .45.  And in going through the loading and unloading drill, accidental discharges occurred at the rate of about one a week.  It was not at all uncommon to pass by Building 1016 and see a workman repairing yet another hole in the roof over the OOD's office.  The roof itself had so many patches on it you could barely tell what the original roof had looked like.  That would be my first brush with the Provost Office and Building 1016.  I'd spend many months there later. 

 

The Second Lieutenant who ventilated the roof was in all cases given a Letter of Admonition.  Remember, this was under the old Articles for the Government of the Navy, better known as "Rocks and Shoals."  Why you ask?  Because the first words were these:  "Whomsoever shall suffer his vessel to be stranded on a rock or a shoal shall be punished as a General Courts Martial shall direct."  The Uniform Code of Military Justice was still three years off, and to my mind, much inferior to "Rocks and Shoals."  I'll explain why one of these days.

 

 

Following Basic School I reported to Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, and was assigned to the Recon Company, Headquarters Battalion, 1stMarDiv.  Had lots of adventures, and if you've read my sub story, you know what I mean.  A year later I was on my way to Korea with D/2/5 1stProvMarBrigade, and had another set of adventures, some of them painful.  I left Korea after the Reservoir Campaign in December 1950, on what was called "The Three Purple Heart Dodge."  That was the first rotation program set up for Korea.  My orders said that I was to report to 100 Harrison Street in San Francisco.  At that point Headquarters Marine Corps was to be notified as to my choice of duty station, and I was to stand by in Frisco until my orders arrived.  So, knowing that I required additional hospitalization, I chose Great Lakes Training Base.  They had a good hospital there, and I'd be a South Shore Train ride away from my wife and family.  Came my orders, and instead of Great Lakes I was assigned to Marine Barracks, Shumaker, Arkansas.  It was such a letdown that I didn't really enjoy my leave nor did I make any attempt to find out where Shumaker, Arkansas was.  With about four days to go I figured I better do some booscouting and look up that damned place.  It didn't exist.  No such place on any map.  My Dad worked for the railroad, and the closest thing he could find was something called "Shumaker Siding."  This was about 100 miles south of Little Rock and close to the town of Camden.  So I headed south in our 1949 '76 Oldsmobile, without of course my wife and child, because I knew better than to think they'd have quarters for a second john.  About fifty miles south of Little Rock I began stopping at gas stations to see if anyone had ever heard of Shumaker.  Of course not.  Then about 75 miles south of Little Rock I stopped and asked someone if they had ever heard of the place.  Well, yeah.  It was somewhere over near Smackover.  So I tooled down the road toward Camden, and when I was about six miles north of the town…. there he was, a Marine in greens.  Pulled over and asked him where he was stationed, and sure enough…. ordered him into the car, and he directed me east off the main road and four miles later, there I was at the main gate.  There were no signs indicating there was anything back there at all.  So I reported to the Navy Officer of the Day, who told me that they were expecting me, but there had been a screw up and the housing office hadn't dropped off the keys to my quarters (Quarters?) but he'd bunk me temporarily for the night and I'd get into my quarters in the morning.  Well, Marine Barracks duty exceeded all of my wildest dreams.  I flew the family down the following day, picked them up in Little Rock, and began my two-year tour of duty in a Marine Barracks.  Not.  A month after I arrived we learned that the National Fireworks Corporation (honest to God, that was the name) was going to take over production from the Navy in October and also provide the security.  So the Marines were out of a job.  About two months prior to the decommissioning of the Marine Barracks I received orders to Quantico, Virginia.

 

On reporting I was assigned as Commanding Officer of the Guard Company.  This was a huge company of over 500 men, that provided not only all the security from gates to motor patrols for the 70,000 acre reservation, but the fire protection as well, and had a hundred man Brig Platoon too.  The Provost Marshal was a Lieutenant Colonel named John P. Leonard who was a stickler of the first water.  I've known him to take the Provost Sergeant Major and tour the barber shops on the base, writing up Marines who were waiting for haircuts.  When they protested, he'd tell them that they should have had a haircut 48 hours ago, and by not doing so had violated regulations.  Whatever, Leonard took a shine to me and decided that I should join him in the Provost Office, still in Building 1016 as the OinC of the Investigations Section, the Base Traffic Officer, and the Platoon Commander of the Provost Platoon of some 250 Marines.  In addition I was one of four officers who was certified to stand OOD watches by the then LtGen Lem Shepherd Commandant, Marine Corps Schools.  This meant one on and three off.  The day that you were on if you logged two hours of sack time you were damned lucky.  It was not a happy place to pull duty.  Every senior officer on the base was anxious to hang the scalp of an MP officer on his belt because old John P. was one of the reasons that there are more horse's asses in the world than there are horses.  But there were some good things too.  Our Provost Sergeant Major was George Balkow, who had been 1st Sgt of A/1/5 in the Brigade in Korea.  There was a Soldier.  And the Gunnery Sergeant of the Provost Platoon was TSgt Robert Cornelly.  Cornelly had a Silver and a couple of Bronzes from WW II.  He was a machine gunner, and had been in John Basilone's platoon on the canal.  And of course the battalion boss was Chesty Puller.  Then in Korea Bob ran the machine guns in E/2/1, again under Puller as his regimental commander.  In that process he picked up another couple of gongs.  We hadn't known each other before, but in a week we were as thick as thieves.  He was one of a very few enlisted men who I ever called by his first name, although I was never anything but "Captain" to him.  He was the stoutest of swords and I can't say enough good things about him.

 

We had the usual things happen at Quantico that happen on any large base.  That is murders, rapes, suicides, assaults, thefts,  grinding auto accidents, homosexual activities, etc.  In the case of any crime that might be judged a felony we had to notify the NIS (Naval Investigating Service).  The latter was a pain in the neck.  They'd ignore just about anything but rapes and homosexual activity.  They'd be on those like a duck on a June bug.   

 

 

But one of the stranger things that happened on that tour involved a suicide that was so carefully planned that it amounted to pre-meditated murder.  Most suicides appear to be "spur of the moment events."  Few are.  What Psychologists call "suicidal ideation" is present for days, or sometimes months or years.  Tell you a secret.  The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory when my wife and I practiced psychology, consisted of 560 questions.  The first was:  "Do you like to read Popular Mechanics."  You may ask what that has to do with "crazy," and the only thing I can tell you is that question, along with the other 559 questions, produces a profile that is startlingly accurate in detecting aberrant thought patterns as well as possible psychosis.  Persons who take the test are told that their individual answers to questions will not be checked.  But I assure you that the two questions that bear on suicidal ideation are always checked.  You not infrequently see that Psychologists or Psychiatrists are sued.  The vast majority of these cases come from sexual contact with clients/patients.  The others usually come when a Mental Health Professional misses clues as to suicidal ideation.  And that's the reason you carry malpractice insurance. 

 

We had one female dependent of a Marine who lived off-base who went to a local gun dealer, and purchased a .38 cal revolver.  There was a three day waiting period in Virginia at that time, and at the end of that three days the woman went back to the gun store, picked up the weapon she had already paid for, proceeded to her home, and immediately committed suicide.   

 

There was also a TSgt who had taken a Thursday afternoon off.  He had then gone to the hardware store and purchased some fifty feet of  ½ " line, and a knife to cut the line.  He then proceeded to a secluded bluff overlooking Aquia Creek some 500' from where the Creek joined the Potomac River.  The bluff was some 30 feet high.  Sometime late Thursday afternoon the TSgt had carefully measured out just the right length of rope so that when he tied it to a convenient limb of a tree, and his neck, his feet would dangle some 10 feet from the ground.  He measured just the right length of rope, cut it, and coiled the remaining rope neatly and placed it at the foot of the tree, with the knife on top.  Then he tied one end to the tree, and the other to his neck, and sometime Thursday evening leapt to his death.  He was a 200 pound man, and the ½" line all but decapitated him.  Came the dawn, and maybe at 7:30 A.M. or so along comes a native of the area on a path that ran at the foot of the bluff.  Feeling the urge, he stopped to urinate, and while in that process glanced up…. and there were two shoes dangling in the air.  Two hours later he ended up in the Provost Office to make a statement, still shaken to the gills.  And as Bob Cornelly pointed out to me, he still hadn't zipped up his pants. 

 

Then there was the time that a very excited lady and her two daughters appeared in the OOD's office at about 2:00 in the afternoon of a Saturday.  They reported that they had been accosted by a "weiner waver" just before they left the reservation on Fuller Rod at Triangle, VA.  They had a good description, and we got it out to our road patrols.  Sure enough, fifteen minutes later one of my road patrols in the Guadalcanal Area (what we called the base west of Highway 1) stopped a car with a possible perp who fit the descriptions exactly.  The lady and her two girls were still writing statements, and I asked them to stay while we brought the suspect in and ran a line up.  TSgt Bob Cornelly, my Provost Sergeant, had been hanging around the guardhouse since noon dressed in civvies with a shirt that looked much like what the perp had been described as wearing.  So by the time we got the suspect in, my investigators had rounded up three Marine "volunteers" in Quantico to be a part of a line up.  Our SOP was to have five people in the line up, and we inveighed upon Bob to be the fifth.  Well, you know the rest of that story.  Bob was positively fingered by all three witnesses as the perp, and was never able to live it down the rest of his life.  And of course, he blamed me.

 

LtGen Lemuel C. Shepherd had been the Commandant Marine Corps Schools until 1 January 1953, when he swapped jobs with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates.  Cates could not retire since the Korean Conflict was going on, so he came down to Quantico, and went from four to three stars in the process.  Cates is known for uttering the words that have turned into one of the favorite Marine Corps quotations of all times.  He was a 1stLt at the time in the shattered trenches of Belleau Wood during WW I, and sent a field dispatch to his higher headquarters that read something like this:  "There is no one on my left, and only a few on my right.  I've rounded up about 40 Marines, some from my company, some from others.  I will hold."  So LtGen Cates reported to Quantico for duty, but not through the Provost Marshal's Office this time.  Rank Doth Have Its Privileges. 

 

Whatever, in the summer of 1953 General Cates and wife, in their privately owned vehicle were driving on Fuller Road toward Triangle, VA on a Saturday afternoon when he noted a vehicle being driven erratically just in front of him.  There was a very bad horseshoe curve about halfway from the Main Gate to Triangle, and the vehicle in question just barely made it around safely.  In its erratic course, the vehicle had swerved from the road onto the grass on a number of occasions.  Since you left Base jurisdiction at Quantico, Cates pulled around the vehicle a hundred yards from the Triangle intersection, and motioned the driver to stop.   So the vehicle pulled over, and Cates got out and hardly needed to identify himself to the TSgt driving the vehicle.  The Sergeant appeared totally sober, and later passed a field sobriety test.  On the other hand being arrested by a LtGen and former Commandant must have been a sobering experience indeed.  A few minutes later one of our Road Patrols pulled up and asked if he could be of assistance.  By that time Cates had placed the Marine under arrest.  Cates told my MP that he was to take the TSgt in custody and proceed to the OOD, telling the latter that it was Cates' desire to have the TSgt put into the brig.  Cates would then take care of the miscreant when he returned from Washington Monday morning.  Well, I as OOD was in a dilemma.  NCOs simply were not put in the brig at the time unless there was a major crime alleged, and driving on the grass was not one of them.  I could not sign confinement orders without express permission of the School's Chief of Staff.  I sent the TSgt under guard to the Naval Hospital in Quantico, and called my boss, the Provost Marshal, and explained the circumstances.  My boss in turn called the Chief of Staff, and the Chief authorized confinement in the brig of the TSgt.  And Cates did not forget.  At 0800 Monday morning the TSgt was standing outside Cates' office.  He was then ushered in and stood tall in front of Cates' desk, and got the ass chewing of his life.  One thing about Marine Officers, regardless of rank, they don't forget how to chew ass.  The TSgt was then dismissed, there was no offense report, and the incident subsided into history.  Until now, of course.

 

For the next vignette we must get slightly involved in legal matters.  Most of you know that hearsay evidence from a witness is properly objectionable, and will not be let into evidence by the presiding officer of the court.  Most of you don't know that there are two exceptions to the "Hearsay Rule."  One is the "Dying Declaration."  Let me give you an example.  Let's assume that someone has been shot and mortally wounded.  He/she awakens in the Emergency Room, and knows that he/she is dying.  They call over the nurse and tell her something like, "I know I'm dying, but I want the police to know that Pete shot me."  Then the person dies.  The nurse may go into court and testify to what the dying person told her, and that statement is admitted in evidence as proof of Pete's guilt.  Now if the person who was shot lives, then the statement was obviously not a dying declaration, and cannot be introduced as evidence in court.

 

The other exception to the hearsay rule is what is called "Res Gestae."  The latter is an involuntary verbal utterance caused by a circumstance that is truly exceptional.  Now let's switch to the Enlisted Men's Club at Quantico on a Saturday night in 1952.  On such nights it was routine for some four busloads of young lovelies to come down from the male-short capital of the US, Washington, D.C.  This was for the purpose of providing dancing and chatting companions for our young male Marines.  The MPs kept a sharp watch on all this, to assure that the situation continued seemly.  Part of this watch was to have a MP Investigator patrol the very large parking lot just west of the EM Club.  On one of his rounds on one of those Saturday nights, our investigator heard noises emanating from the rear seat of a car parked there.  Then he heard a verbal utterance that sounded something like this:  "Oh, HOTDOG!  Give it to me baby." Well, let me tell you, our investigator, who was a man of the world, was immediately convinced that if he broke up whatever was going on in that back seat that he would not be interrupting a church service.  So he did, at first ordering the two miscreants out of the back seat, and then, thinking better of his order, telling them to get dressed first.  Well, you know what happened.  The female immediately cried rape, and an investigation ensued.  The Marine of course, was confined pending results of the investigation, and the little "Dolly" from Washington proceeded back to her base where she hired a lawyer.  When the investigation was completed, and forwarded to the Post Legal Officer, the latter called me and told me that he wanted to discuss the case.  He and his staff had determined that the overheard remark:  "HOTDOG!  Give it to me baby" negated any chance of conviction of rape.  Consequently the case should be dismissed and the accused Marine be released from the Brig, and charged with being out of uniform.  The Post Legal Officer then called the young lady's lawyer, and that was the last we heard of that case.

 

Can't leave this without repeating the story, maybe apocryphal, although terribly British, that I heard years ago in a classroom at Quantico.  Seems that prior to WW II a British Major stationed in Bombay, India, was apprehended while chasing a totally unclothed lady through the crowded salon of one of Bombay's poshest hotels.  The Major was declared innocent of all charges of "Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman" by the Courts Martial that he appeared before.  Seems that his lawyer had found an obscure regulation in the statues to the effect that:  "An officer may adopt any mode of dress in accordance with the sport he is participating in."   

 

My tour at Quantico lasted from October of 1951 to January 1953.  My monitor, Major Sam Jaskilka, our beloved "Captain Sam" who commanded E/2/5 during some very distressful times in Korea, decided that assignment to MP duty was hurting my career, so he ordered me to Inspector-Instructor Duty.  Unlike all other services at the time, the Marine Corps designated a Regular Officer to train and ride herd on Reserve units.  Now that was pretty good, but the clincher was that I was assigned to my and my good-wife's hometown, Gary, Indiana.  (Knock that off.  I know most of you broke into song at the name of the city.)  Whatever, it was a delightful two years and eight months, then back out to Japan and places west and south for fourteen months where I commanded B/1/3 and learned to fly the HRS-3 with HMR 163 during various adventures.   Then to MCAS El Toro as an Aviation (Navy) Supply Officer, and when I made Major in 1957, a return to my beloved helicopters as Group Supply Officer of MAG 36.  We were stationed at the LTA (Lighter Than Air) Base at Santa Ana.  The Base had been built to handle Navy dirigibles, but since the Navy was flat out of those critters, it had been turned over to the Marine Corps for use.  Marvelous place for helicopters, and we had some 120 aircraft of some ten types in the Group.  The dirigible hangars were so huge that they created their own weather.  Most unusual.   

 

My tour was up in December, and I had been ordered to the Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston, Ontario.  Then something happened, and those orders were cancelled and I was ordered to Quantico "under instruction" in the next Junior School that would begin in September of 1959.  So, in January 1959 I reported back to Building 1016, for the third time.  And who is the Provost Sergeant Major?  None other than Sergeant Major Robert Cornelly.  Old Home Week!  He brought me into the Provost Marshal's Office. There sat a pudgy  Major who had been in grade ten years, and whom I had known before in Japan when he was XO of 1/3.  I had no use for him.  So while I had a cup of coffee with the Provost Marshal, Bob Cornelly does a disappearing act and it was easy to understand why he had been passed over for promotion so many times.  I finally left 1016 for the Post Headquarters, and reported to Major Dan Mills, another old friend from China days.  Dan kind of grinned, knowing what was coming, and said the Chief of Staff, Colonel Ormond Simpson wanted to speak to me.  Hell, I was hoping to mark time doing studies down in the Landing Force Development Center or in some other plumb job until September and Junior School.  I had never met Colonel Simpson before, and he asked me to sit down, and then said that he understood that I had done duty in the Provost Marshal's office before.  (That GD Cornelly!  I'd strangle him the next time I saw him.  Now I knew where he'd gone when I'd been having coffee with the Major Crud.)  I begged, pleaded, whined, all to no avail.  I claimed I'd spent my time in that lousy place, and it wasn't fair that I had to return.  Colonel Simpson smiled a beatific smile, and told me that he knew I was going to enjoy my assignment as AsstProvMarshal to that complete cull that sat in the big office.  (MGen Simpson, then the G-1 of the Marine Corps, would be senior member of the LtsCol promotion board, in 1963, the year I came up.  The procedure is to take the jackets of all the officers being considered and deal them out like a deck of cards to the officers of the board.  That officer then becomes your "Briefing Officer" and presents your career and a recommendation to the board.  To say that his opinion of you as a Marine is important is a masterpiece of understatement.  General Simpson got my jacket, I learned much later, so he was my Briefing Officer.  The Marine Corps is a damned small place indeed, especially when you get up toward the peak in the pyramid.)

 

(This story really doesn't belong here, but I'm going to tell it anyway.  It's too good to pass up.  When John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, he remarked when he passed the four-hour mark in space that he wished someone would notify the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  That way he could get his flight pay for the month.  I've talked before about a MSgt Rodgers, who worked with me and the Status of Forces Officer WO Joe Kennedy, making the graphics for my briefings and contingency plans.  Rodgers heard Glenn's remark, and made up a "Certification of Flight Pay" for presentation to LtCol Glenn.  He did this, as he did most things, on his own with no prompting.  This was a large device, something like 3.5' wide by 5' long.  My boss and I were so impressed that we had Rodgers bring it down to CMC's Military Secretary, Col Jim Appleyard, and he later showed it to the Commandant.  The latter, too, was impressed and sent Rodgers a note of thanks.  General Green was like that.  Whatever, a couple of weeks later Glenn paid a courtesy call on the CMC, and Rodger's certificate was presented to him.  I'll bet he still has it.  When Glenn came out of CMC's office he asked who had initiated the "Flight Skins" certificate and was told that MSgt Rodgers in the Marine Corps Command Center was the originator.  The next thing I knew I heard from the Watch Officer that LtCol Glenn was in the entrance way to the Command Center and wanted entrance to thank Rodgers for his work.  Glenn was not on our visitor's list, so I quickly made a one-time exception, and he was escorted in to our space where he very graciously said "Thank You" to Rodgers.  Rodgers, about whom I will say more later, never turned a hair.)

 

(One more Glenn story.  After it appeared that John would not get another ride into space because of inner ear problems, he decided that he would retire from the Marine Corps and go to work for NASA.  At the same time John was in the promotion zone for Colonel.  Also in that zone was my old friend and godfather of our first child, LtCol Kenny Houghton, who would later retire as a MGen.  John was scheduled to retire after the promotion list came out, so his record would go before the board.  Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Glenn had written a letter to the Secretary of the Navy requesting that he not be considered for promotion.  He knew that only 40% of the LtsCol considered in any one given year would make it, and that if he took up a boat space, that someone else who richly deserved promotion wouldn't make it.  I'd see Kenny in briefings and other places during the time the Board was meeting. Each time he'd grab me by the arm absolutely wild-eyed and say something like this:  "Sully, I can see it now.  The Board is meeting and the Senior Member announces that there is just one more slot open.  Then he says:  "Who should we promote?  Astronaut John Glenn or Kenny Houghton, who no one has ever heard of.  I ain't gonna make it Sully, I just know it.  I ain't gonna make it."  Well, Kenny would have made it regardless.  But for that year the Secretary of the Navy did something extremely unusual.  He authorized the promotion of one more Colonel than initially announced.  And that, of course, belonged to John Glenn, so that it would not deprive anyone else of promotion.  This was a magnificent way to solve the problem.)

 

So I reported back to LtCol Grey, who commanded Service Battalion, the parent unit of the Guard Company that I had commanded back in 1951/1952.  And of course the Provost Marshal Platoon was a part of the Guard Company.  On departing LtCol Grey's office he told me that he would be accepting "callers" that evening, which is Marine Corps talk for saying:  "I expect you and your wife to make a courtesy call on me and my wife at 5:00 this afternoon."  So we dug out our embossed calling cards.  (Yes, protocol dictated that calling cards be embossed, and even how many cards were left in the silver dish.  This number depended on the number of adults in the household.)  The latter were to be placed discretely on a silver dish on a table next to the front door.  At 5:00 sharp I punched the doorbell.  We were in civvies as were our host and hostess.   Protocol dictated that the callers (Mary Jane and I) were to have one drink and generally as I recall, "spend the time it would take to smoke a cigarette" before departing.  Protocol also dictated that we refuse a second drink no matter how hard pressed by our hosts.  We entered my Commanding Officer's  quarters in Whiskey Gulch, the antique officer's quarters area built in the 1920s.  Had just been seated and the good Colonel was mixing drinks when the doorbell rang.  I could see the door from where I was sitting, and when the Colonel opened it I could see a very grim faced SgtMaj Bob Cornelly standing there.  He asked to speak to me, and we stepped outside the door.  He told me that there had been a double homicide in Quarters H, in the officers brick apartments up on the hill behind Whiskey Gulch.  I stepped back inside, excused myself, asked my wife to please take our car and find her way home, and got in the MP truck (Marines didn't have sedans back in those days).  Bob drove me up the hill.  There were MPs guarding the "crime scene"  and we proceeded to Quarters H6 at the third floor. 

 

We entered a large living room where a number of Marine Officers, mostly Majors were seated or talking in whispered tones, passed through the dining room, and entered the back bedroom.  On the bed were the corpses of a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.  They had been dressed in their Sunday best, and a rosary had been positioned so that both children had it in their hands.  I quickly learned that so far as we knew then, the children had been drowned after lunch, dressed, and laid out waiting for their father to find them when he returned at 4:30 that afternoon from his studies at Junior School.  And that was what happened.  The mother was under the care of a Navy physician and psychiatrist in the front bedroom, and would shortly be transported to the Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD and placed on the Psychiatric Ward.  She had told investigators that she had to drown the children to protect them from the FBI and CIA who were spying on the family and were going to torture and mutilate the children prior to killing them. She knew because she could hear "them" talking about the family in voices emanating from the radiators. 

 

Now, you're thinking Andrea Yates, and post-partum depression.  And of course you're wrong.  Ten years later when studying psychology I would begin to understand what I had witnessed on that sad afternoon so many years ago.  The mother was of course, in psychological terms, a flaming 8-6 (on the MMPI) or in other words, a Paranoid Schizophrenic.   She was a danger to herself and anyone around her.  She could no longer determine what was fact and what was fiction.  Often Schizophrenics are called "split personalities."  Not at all.  What they're split from is reality, and they create a world of their own.  These are not "Multiple Personalities" which is quite a different proposition.  And here is the important part.  They are not responsible for their own actions because not only can they not tell right from wrong, but also even if they could, they cannot adhere to the right.  That's an important definition to keep in mind every time a case such as Andrea Yates comes along.

 

In this case the Naval Investigating Service took it over.  The case never went to a Grand Jury.  Instead the mother was hospitalized and treated.  And that much I know.  What is scuttlebutt is that the Major stayed married to this lady, and on her release had three more children by her.  If the latter is true, that they produced more children it was not a smart move.  There is an inheritability factor of about 60% with Schizophrenia.

 

Now then, why was such an outcome not reached in the Andrea Yates case?  In my opinion because of public hysteria, which spread to the prosecutor's office, caused by the shock of thinking that any mother could serially drown five of her children in the most obscene way possible.  The shock and hysteria are understandable.  What is not understandable is that no state official came forward to enter a caveat to my second sentence above.  And that is that the disclaimer has to be that no mother "in her right mind" could have drowned her children.  Andrea, I believe, does not meet the test of sanity because, although she knew right from wrong, she was not able to resist the demons shouting in her ear and thus was not psychologically capable of  "adhering to the right."  I can hear some of you saying now that I'm just a typical liberal softie who doesn't want to punish an obvious wrongdoer.  Well, maybe.  But this I'll tell you.  No one ever accused me of being soft.  But I have been educated in craziness and given expert testimony many times in various state and federal courts as to who is crazy and who is not. 

 

We had in the Marine Corps in the 40s an aviation Colonel who answered to the title of "Loopy Loomis." Loopy had been hospitalized at one time in the Bethesda Naval Hospital for treatment in the psychiatric ward.  Even after release he would do such things as fly an airplane to Washington, D.C. from Cherry Point, to R(emain) O(ver) N(night) for the weekend, then ride the train home.  On Monday morning the flight line officer would be counting his birds and come up with one missing.  That was the aircraft that Loopy had checked out.  So they'd fly a pilot up to Washington and pick it up.  I'm told, because I never met the man, that prominently displayed on his office wall was his discharge from St. Elizabeth's which declared him to be of sound mind and body.  The story goes that when he became involved in a heated conversation with anyone he'd point to his discharge and proclaim:  "See that?  This says I'm sane.  Do you have a document that says you're sane?"  Case closed.  End of argument.  And, come to think on it gentle reader, do you have a document testifying to your saneness?  (VBG)  

 

Psychology Joke.  "A Neurotic Builds Castles In The Air, A Psychotic Moves In, And A Psychologist Collects The Rent."

 

Among my duties as Assistant Provost Marshal was to hold Traffic Court.  This usually took fifteen minutes a day, and amounted to taking away or restricting base driving privileges.  I didn't have the power to fine anyone, although in a serious enough case or a repeated minor offender could cause an offense report to be forwarded to the miscreant's Commanding Officer that put the matter under the UCMJ.   I could also call in a Federal Marshal to handle the case in a situation where there was a civilian over whom I had no jurisdiction, and who was uncooperative.  Whatever, 99.9% of the cases that appeared before me were open and shut.  Then one day I noticed a near mob standing in the waiting room of the Pass Clerk's office for Traffic Court and wondered what the hell was going on.  I asked SgtMaj Cornelly, and he grinned and told me I'd find out in due time.  So came the last case for the day that had to do with a car that we had impounded the week before.  The charges were illegal entry of an unregistered vehicle onto base property.  Sufficient numbers of people were brought into my small office to provide a mob scene for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." So each of these eleven people, male and female, told what his part in this nefarious business had been, usually something to do with using the vehicle with or without the written permission, running out of gas, or out of luck, or running out of something or other.  After swimming with great difficulty through the eleven witnesses and their horrific stories I turned to the twelfth witness, the alleged owner of the vehicle.  This was a little guy, a civilian, who had stood listening to the same stories I had.  So I turned to him, pointed my finger at him, and asked:  "And what is your name?"  The reply:  "Charley Brown, sir."  I'm a real fan of Peanuts and all of his cartoon characters, and I thought to myself, that after all those stories the owner of the vehicle had to be named Charley Brown.  What other name could he have possibly had but Charley Brown?  Whatever, I cracked up, ordered the car released to the owner with due warnings never to permit that vehicle back on the base before being duly registered, and dismissed the rest of the case.

 

In September of 1959 I left the Provost Marshal's Office and attended Junior School for the next nine months.  Enjoyed the school and learned a great deal that stood me in good stead later.  I had orders to report to George Washington University for the 1960-1961 school year, which meant that from the early June graduation from Junior School until school began at George Washington in September I had to have a job of some kind.  And you've guessed it.  Right back in the Provost Marshal's Office to spend another thankfully uneventful three months.

 

One more Quantico story.  When I returned from Viet Nam in January 1967, and due to retire on March 30th, the Commanding Officer of the Service Battalion was in the hospital, and expected to remain there for several weeks.  So the Commandant, Marine Corps Schools appointed me as Acting Commanding Officer, Service Battalion, with additional duties as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Brig, and Senior Officer of a General Courts Martial.  It was the last job that provided a story, which defense counsels, should heed.

 

This was before the day when some lawyer sat in the room and ran the court.  The Senior Member's word was law.  If he were smart, he'd listen to his assigned Law Officer who sat in a sort of cage on the left side of the courtroom.  But in the end, it was the Senior Member who decided on what evidence came in and what was excluded, etc.  We were convened to hear the case of a Captain, a student in the Communications Officer's School, who was charged with stealing exam questions from the files of instructors at the school.  A Duty NCO logged Visitors to the building in and out.  The case as presented was a simple one.  A Corporal duty NCO at the school had found the accused Captain in a space that was out of bounds for students, and going through 3x5 cards in a file on the desk of one of the instructors.  He positively identified the Captain as having been the person that he saw in that space.  The Captain had a regular two- celled flashlight and was copying down the questions when challenged.  At that point the Captain left the room and the building without logging out, as orders required him to do.  All of the students in the schools had safes in which to put their classified materials for obvious reasons.  These materials were not allowed to leave the building, so to study them the students were allowed access to the building by the duty NCO who kept a log of comings and goings.  Visitors were logged in and out.  The young Corporal was a good witness and told the story that I gave you before without embellishment.  The Captain too was a good witness and testified that at no time had he gone near the restricted area on the top floor of the school.  He pointed out that the Corporal had testified that he had not turned the overhead lights on in the space and questioned the Corporal's identification of him as the culprit.  There were several students in the building studying, but the Captain was the only one who had left the building without properly logging out.  Then the Captain testified that his family, consisting of a wife and two children, owned only one flashlight, and that was a four celled contraption the size of a small baseball bat that had attached to it a device that made clown faces on the wall.  This flashlight was used exclusively in his children's bedroom.  Next for the defense came the Captain's wife, with Defense Exhibit A, the flashlight.  This was a device at least two and a half feet in length with sort of a rubber device on the front part that produced the clown pictures on the wall.  The wife testified, as had the Captain, that was the only flashlight the family owned.  I believe that the essentials of the case, as presented to the Court were as above.

 

So the summations from the prosecution and defense came along.  The prosecution reviewed the case and the testimony of his sole prosecution witness pointing out that the essential elements of guilt had been met on every occasion.  Then the Defense Counsel got up to give his summary.  This was one of those newly minted Majors right out of Law School who the Marine Corps and other services must employ to meet the requirements stipulated by the UCMJ.  In his review of the testimony, the Major waved the clown flashlight at us again and again.  But the last words of his summary are what sunk the Captain's ship, and of the many stupid things I've seen lawyers do in a courtroom, this took the cake.  The Major looked up at the Court and said:  "Gentlemen.  This case really comes down to just one thing.  Whose word are you going to take?  A Captain's or a Corporal's?"  Had he had something more than a few months service the Defense Council  would have noticed a similarity among the ribbons worn by every member.  We all wore the ribbon indicating the award of the Good Conduct Medal, indicating that every one of us had likely been a Corporal at one time ourselves.

 

The Court adjourned to a conference room and I asked if anyone wanted to discuss the case.  No one had anything to offer.  I asked if they were ready to take a ballot.  They indicated they were.  The Junior Officer, a Captain tallied the ballots.  All were for conviction.  We only needed 2/3, but there was not one dissenter.  We adjourned for lunch, then returned to the courtroom and announced that we had reached a verdict, and handed it to the Law Officer who read it.  Matters in mitigation and extenuation were then offered.  The usual stuff.  Fitness reports, testimony and statements from previous commanding officers and so forth were presented.  So we adjourned again to sentence.  That process would take us some six hours.  If there was no discussion before, now everyone seemed to have a different idea.  We could have done anything but given a death sentence.  This person was convicted of violating Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  He could be punished as a Court Martial might direct.  We could cause him to lose his seniority as a Captain, we could order total forfeiture of pay and allowances, or we could sentence him to life imprisonment, or to a lesser term.  In the event of a former officer confined, this case is peculiar indeed.  By that I mean when an enlisted man of any rank is sentenced by a General Courts Martial, the first thing that happens is that he is reduced to the lowest rank of his service.  Not an officer.  An officer becomes a civilian, and loses his status as a member of the military.  Therefore when the prisoners are lined up at Portsmouth or Leavenworth former officers are at the extreme left of the line.  They're civilians, and outranked by those reduced to Private or whatever.

 

Members of Courts Martial aren't dumb.  They know the trial record, findings and sentence are reviewed by the Base Law Officer acting as the agent for the Immediate Superior in Charge (IS&C), in this case the Commandant, Marine Corps Schools.  And they know that the sentence of a Court is almost always reduced.  How to get around having our sentence messed with by someone  who didn't know the case?

 

I proposed a straight kick.  We had unanimous agreement that this person should not remain in the Corps.

If we sentenced to a kick, (OD=Officer Dismissal), hard time, or to a reduction of pay or rank the OD and hard time could be rescinded.  This would leave the reduction of pay or rank, but none of us believed that this person should be wearing the G&A (Globe and Anchor) as an officer of the Corps.  So we finally agreed unanimously that a straight OD should be handed down.  The IS&C could still dismiss the sentence should he want to.   But he had to make the decision:  Should this person be permitted to remain in our beloved Corps or not? 

 

Bet you think I'm going to tell you what the IS&C did.  The truth is, I don't know.  I was retired with a parade and the award of various gongs that had caught up with me from Viet Nam, none of them meaning a damned thing to me then or now.  Guess I got the "A" package, but they would have looked silly on my pajamas.  Besides that, I never wear the damned things.  Pajamas I mean.  I could have made a phone call a month later and found out what the IS&C did, but was much too busy. 

 

I had begun moonlighting at George Washington since early January teaching evening classes on and off campus.  I was carrying three large (100+ students) survey course sessions as a Lecturer in U. S. History.   (A Lecturer is an academic rank, but in the educational hierarchy has something less status than that of the building janitor.)

 

Oh, yeah.  I mentioned Good Conduct Medals before.   You've seen pictures of them being awarded, or maybe acquired a gong or two your own self.  The pictures always look so solemn, as though taken in the anteroom of a funeral home.  Not like the pictures of my guys when I pinned the badge on them.  They always had the widest possible grins on their faces.  As I'd lean over to pin on the badge I'd whisper:  "Congratulations on your three years of undetected crime."   And that was what brought the grin.  "Keep Warm, Semper Fidelis, Sully