Your momma wears a mattress on her back……. An essay by William Marshall “

“Your momma wears a mattress on her back!”, yep, that’s what he said. I think he might have been looking at me. My First Sergeant, his name was Pascal Hilton. He was a tall and lean man with a chiseled face. He talked with a kind of forward lean in his words that just made you want to comply. I thought he was really old, but he was probably only about 38 years old. Of course, I was 19, so I guess he was almost twice my age. He was a leader. My leader. We were all in formation. He was screaming!

A thief will do that to you. Especially a thief in your Army unit. We have to live and die together. We could be off to war at any moment. We were in the 82nd Airborne Division we had a mission in life, we could be going to war at almost a moments notice. But, one of our own was stealing. As I stood there watching the father of my unit, its 1SG, basically attack one of its own members by talking about his momma. I was stunned.

I always wondered he expected to happen. Was the thief going to be so mad that he stormed the front and tried to beat up 1SG Hilton? Yeah, that would have been fun. Was he going to suddenly run away, and we would chase after him? Would he be so convicted that he broke down right there in formation, fell to his knees in prayers for redemption.

We eventually found the thief, he was the punk kid that was moved over from Delta Battery, he was new. He had a drug problem. He was gone with a quickness.

I was all grown up now, I guess. I called the unit to attention, “Your momma wears a mattress on her back!” I screamed. First Sergeant Marshall had a thief.

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