29 November 2009


In Master and Commander, when Captain Jack Aubrey, RN, is shown a model of a revolutionary new mode of framing a frigate (circa 1809), he remarks, “What a remarkable age in which we live!” In 2009, I think that thought frequently.

The blogosphere has allowed us to reach out to folks and reestablish contacts in all sorts of ways that were impossible just 20 years ago. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I made such a contact. Al Paglia, one of my TBS classmates, left a voice-mail message for me concerning a blog I wrote on 14 December 2008. In that blog, I mentioned an incident during our final Physical Readiness Test. A group of us helped a shipmate who was suffering from heat stroke finish the test. I named those I remembered: Pat Oates, Larry North, Tom Mahlum, Blackie Mohr “and several others.”

Pags sent me the following e-mail (which he cc’d to Tom Mahlum):

Hey Mac- hi Tom- upon reading Mac's blog I was impressed with his detailed description of our training, but now that I know that Mac was [later a TBS] instructor, I no longer marvel about his photographic memory. However the following quote requires modification, should you agree. It is as follows "I was running with Pat Oates, Larry North, Blackie Mohr, Tom Mahlum and a couple of others." As I read that I cried out "That was me, that was me!"

Shortly after the turn for home someone ran into trouble, possibly more than one. We took all of the gear to lighten his load- I recall Mahlum having someone's utility belt and possibly more. I know that I carried someone's rifle to a point where we had to return the gear to that Marine in order to comply with the rules that we all finish with our full complement of gear. I do remember someone having a hand on the rifle once it was re-slung over his shoulder in order to lighten the load. I knew then that those of us who gave up the idea of winning by a wide margin to help another Marine would never leave a Marine behind, no matter what the cost! I remember being comforted by that thought and being proud of being part of that.

Enjoy your families today- and as always, SEMPER FI!


So, for the record, Allan Paglia, attorney, warrior and shipmate, was right there with us.

But—to quote the late, great Paul Harvey, “Now for the rest of the story.”

Al Paglia was one of several lawyers in our Basic School class. It was 1968 and Congress was working on the Military Justice Act of 1968—the first major re-write of the Uniform Code of Military Justice since it was adopted in 1949. One of the major changes was to convert the system into one that was run by lawyers. Prior to that, courts-martial were staffed with non-lawyers. As a result, the Officer Selection Officers were actively recruiting attorneys.

But, until the Act was passed and signed into law, there were no guarantees. When our Military Occupational Specialties were announced, the Act having not yet been completed, all of the attorneys in our class were designated as 0301 (basic infantry officer). Several of the attorneys suddenly discovered that they had strong religious scruples against getting killed—er, that is, against war -- and declared that they were conscientious objectors.

But not our Pags. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Ah, what the hell. I came this far with you guys. Might as well go all the way.” And that is why I love him!

While we were on leave en route to Vietnam, the Act was signed and his orders were modified to send him to Naval Justice School and Camp Lejeune. It took him another year of hard work to get orders to Vietnam, but he was finally successful. The man is, after all, a warrior!

Glad to finally get that one right.

© 2010 Michael R. McCarty. All rights reserved.

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