I want to talk to an adult……. An essay by William Marshall

He screamed, it was almost at the top of his lungs. “I want to talk to an adult.” There really wasn’t anyone else around. I mean people were here, and there. But I was kinda the guy. I was the adult. But it didn’t make sense to him. And I get it. He was a LTC in the Army. He was the new, already in service, done in the seat BN CDR for . His rank was all over his collar as he screamed at me. My SGT rank just withered and almost fell off as he berated me. “I want to talk to an adult,” his voice still echos

I did not qualify as an adult. I cried for hours it seems right after this event. While he was talking to the commander. I walked around the new school, around the new C-130s that had just been delivered. All out by the far tower that we never went to. I cried and cried and cried. I just wanted to do the right thing. Its about safety right? Right? The tears just flowed………….

He was scared. He was. I was there, I watched it. I made sure of it. I would have over ruled his grader if it weren’t obvious. I told his grader that in advance. His grader graded. I said nothing, but he was scared yesterday, he was scared today. 

We didn’t see scared students much, but he can’t be a JM. Not yet.

That didn’t matter now, with him, in this huge empty room. The phone clerks who were detailed scurried quick when he walked in. They already knew. He screamed. You can’t fail me. You can’t fail me. I was at attention.

Sir, I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to say sir. Right her on the checklist, you displayed fear and/or panic in the paratroop door. You did that sir. You did that.

“No I didn’t. I jumped. I went out. I followed procedure.”, he was adamant.

Sir, I agree, you did exit the aircraft properly and while the green light was on. But sir, honestly, I can’t certify you as a Jumpmaster. I just can’t. This isn’t a paper stamp school. There is no such thing as a Jumpmaster that didn’t earn his wings. It doesn’t exist sir. And it sure doesn’t exist while I’m here.

Somehow I was able to continue.

Sir, I’m just who I am. And I get exactly who you are. You are important. You are smart. You have been selected to lead a big force in our army. My own Bn Commander just went through here a couple of classes ago. He did a great job and learned and earned his wings.

I got on this aircraft today with you. I don’t know if you noticed or not but I saw what you did on the aircraft. How you handled yourself. I was not your grader. No sir. Your grader reported, on his own, that you missed the lead down lock which is a minor deficiency. The other thing is that you displayed fear or panic in the paratroop door. This sir, is a major deficiency. Now, as you know, sir, this can be very subjective, I did not do the grading. Your grader failed you. But I watched you.

Sir, you have just gotten into the division, you have the minimum number of jumps required to be here. You have only jumped from an aircraft 13 times counting yesterday’s, I checked your log. I get that you might need practice. You were scared up there. I’m not sure if you remember, really, but I do this a lot. I fly in and jump out of airplanes, you were scared and you were not leading up there, you were confused. Unfortunately, this is a second time failure and so we must get you a new class date to restart. That’s the rules.

He let me finish, I was getting him a re entry slip. He was calm for a minute, but as I handed him the slip, he lost it again. “I want to see an adult.” About the time, my CPT Walked in.

Dan was gone, he had blown out his knee. I was the Deputy Committee Chief, Deputy Dog. Its another story about how we ran things and rank around there but I was in charge. I left immediately and made a million laps out there. Big old alligator tears. Hats, you know where I’m talking, around the towers.

When I made it back to the office, sometime later, CPT Baker said all was handled, you did the right thing.

The next day, there were stars up in that place. 1 Star General and this Bn Cdr making formal apology to all of us in the big classroom. Agreeing, they don’t want no fake Jumpmasters. 

Thanks Leadership for upholding that standard, and thank you Bn Cdr for your apology. I was the adult! and we have an awesome Army! 

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