3/12th Cavalry, 1973 - 1976
September 1975, the 3/12th CAV is going thru an I.G. inspection. As you remember this is like the final exam for a unit on how prepared they are to do their jobs. This inspection can make or break unit commanders, so everybody was “into” the effort. The I.G. inspector doesn’t check everybody on how well they did everything, but they do check everybody on now well they do on one of there jobs. Bravo troop was chosen to show how well they can perform on move-out alerts. Now no troop in the CAV had there own Redeye section, the Redeye section was operated out of HHT (Headquarter Troop). This is normally a maintenance unit of the CAV to keep the vehicles of the troop operational, but because Redeye was a small group (a team was a team chief and gunner only) assigned to provide air defense for the unit, if something happened to any of its members or equipment the unit won’t have any A.D.A. But in a “pool” in HHT, if something happened to one team another team could be assigned to do the job for the unit. Redeye was the only combat section in HHT!
I was assigned to “help” Bravo troop thru their I.G.! I was the T.C. and Sp/4 Jim Douthit was my gunner. Early the next day we headed out with Bravo Troop to their assigned alert area. Now normally Redeye is the “orphaned child” on these things. Company commanders have lots to do on alerts and having to deal with 2 guys in the Redeye team is last on his list. Redeye was normally positioned on the outside of the unit area, between the enemy and the unit so we can fire at the low flying aircraft as they pass to attack the unit. But not being assigned a location we end up setting up in the woods, in middle of this alert area.
We sit there for about and hour, trying to “look” busy guess we didn’t do a good job at this because an E6 with white engineers tape on his hat and arm band (indicating he was on the I.G.’s grading staff) comes up to us and in a quite voice asked “who are you guys”? I explain that we are Bravo troop’s Redeye attachment. He has a clip board and is going down a list, I guess to see if we are listed and that we are here. After a few moment in the same common voice says ”50 yards to your front you see artillery burst dispensing gas!” So immediately Jim and I grab our gas masks and do the exercise. But in an equally claim voice I “yell” GAS! *G* with Jim following suit. The E6 looks up at us for a moment and says “don’t you think you should tell anybody else”? this take me by surprise, to date when tested it was normally a one on one, so after a moments surprise we both start yelling (thru our gas masks) real loud now, and everybody is diving to get their gas masks on! At this time the E6 walks away and I’m thinking that’s it for me, I’ve done my $0.02 worth! *G* (Little did I know!)
About 20 minutes later here comes the E6 again with 2 LTCs, one is my Squadron Commander and the other is the lead grader on the I.G. staff! I jump up to attention and statue (first time with both a helmet and gas mask on!) *G* Then the grading LTC starts asking me questions. I’m doing my best, and doing pretty good at it too, but trying to give answers that are more then yes or no soon got difficult with this gas mask on! I’d get a short sentence out then I’d have to stop and take a long gulp of air and start again. And this Grader wouldn’t go away, and he knew a lot about Redeye, so was directing his question in that direction, requiring longer and longer answers from me! It soon got to the point I was rocking back and forth trying to breathe then spit out the answers! *L* Must have looked funny from a distance! When it ended everybody was all smiles and they walked away which made me happy so I could sit down and catch my breath!
Next day I had my guys out cleaning up our regular “area of responsibility” (around the flag pole at the front gate) when the Squadron Commander and the Bravo Troop CO came walking by I had heard that Bravo Troop had passed the I.G., but only by the skin on their teeth. I saluted and they continued on a few yards, then the LTC came to a dead stop, turned around and come back with Bravo troop CO in tow. He tells me “Nice job yesterday Sgt. Layport, keep up the good work!”
I was kinda of feeling my oats so I pipe up, “Redeye is always glad to “carry” Bravo troop thru their I.G. Sir!” Instantly the Bravo troop CO has a livid look on his face and it is directed to me! The only thing that saved me was the smirk on the Squadron Commander's face! This is one of the few times I felt like I had any power in the Army! *G*