By Harvey Tobkes

Back in the days when I was watching a lot of TV, and following the progress of the war in Iraq, I had all my maps and positions of warships and other data at hand. I gave myself the honorary rank of colonel but in actual military service, I was a corporal. I did not join or enlist, I was drafted into the army in 1950, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and barely escaped going to Korea. Here’s what happened:

I was standing with 624 men in my group waiting to board a train for Camp Stoneman in California, and then trans shipment to Korea; a lieutenant appeared and made an announcement. He said, our unit was ordered to send exactly 600 men and we had 24 supernumeraries (extras just in case someone got sick or went AWOL). He told us, “I am going to call names starting from the back of the alphabet, so when you hear your name, step forward.” My name was about the 4th one called. I joyfully stepped forward and that night I went to a fancy Nashville, Tennessee, restaurant and asked the waiter, “What is your best steak?’ I said, “O.K. bring me the one better than that,” and later I called my mom and dad to tell them the good news. About 6 months later I was sent to Germany, but that was like a wonderful European vacation compared to the slaughter in Korea.

I often thought about it and guessed that the lieutenant probably had a last name like Zimmerman or Yablonski and was sympathetic to others who always suffered to be seated at the back of the class or placed at the end of the list.

By the way, Hitler and Napoleon were also corporals, but both made the same mistake; they invaded Russia, and the rest is history.

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