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Training Generals

A general rule of officers. The higher the rank the easier they were to work with. Lt's sucked. Generals were easy.

There is always the exception. Brigader General Marion Carl was the exception. Trouble was we didn't know it. I was the one to discover it.

Here's what happened.

We had some changes at the top of the roster. General Anderson became CG of the 2nd Air Wing. He replaced General Bowman. General Elwood moved up to Assistant Wing Commander. And General Marion Carl arrived to become Base Commander.

General Carl was the Marine's first Ace of WWII. He had 18.5 kills in WWII. He had two Navy Crosses. He had flown over 300 types of aircraft including heliocopters. He was just back from Vietnam where he had flown close-air-support for the Marines and had also flown heliocopter's into combat.

If I had known all this when this episode occured I might not have challenged the General.

He also considered himself an expert of everything. That's why he was the exception to the above rule.

Because there was only one, at the most 2, photographers at the ISO office certain reporters were checked out with the Mamiya C33 but none of them, including Bill Gregory, were allowed to photograph the Generals. Only SSgt Dave Deyerle and myself were to photograph any events involving the Generals.

This arrangement was really no problem since Generals, as a rule, were easy subjects. They let us photographers do our job. They took orders well. General Carl didn't.

Also Tweedledee and Tweedledumb were scared shitless of any General. They were always afraid I would screw up and get them in trouble. They had good cause when it came to General Carl and myself. We were both stubbron and neither one of us wanted to give way to the other.

I need to describe the General's office. The buildings at Cherry Point were built during WWII and they showed it. All the plumbing and electrial conduit was exposed. So there were pipes everywhere. The office was on the corner with windows on both exterior walls. The interior walls both had doors. To make matters worse there were photos on all four walls where there was room for them. My point is that it was very difficult to get a good photograph without pipes sticking out of heads. Or bodies being hallowed by sunlight pouring in through the windows. Or someone's head being framed by one of the pictures on the walls. To add to this difficulty you had very limited space to manuver and people don't all come in the same height. If you had a tall General, like General Carl, you had to make sure he didn't look like a gaint next to someone looking like a midget.

I had over a year experience working with General's Elwood, Anderson, and Bowman and I knew all the tricks. General Carl didn't.

Here's what happened.

The first time General Carl requested a photogrpher I was chosen. I actually dressed up so to not embarrass the ISO office. I'm waiting outside the Generl's office to be brought in photograph whatever it was I had to photograph. It was always some kind of group picture with someone getting some kind of presentation from the General.

I get called into the General's office and here's what happened. The General was arranging everyone the way he wanted them. And then he told me where I should stand to take the photo and told me when to take the photo. End result - the photo looked like shit. Pipes coming out of heads. The General towering over everyone else. We made prints for the participants but couldn't use it for release.

It didn't end there. Of course Tweedledee and Tweedledumb were upset. I told them what happened but they were convinced the General was going to crush them. He didn't.

You would think the General would get the picture (pun intended.) He didn't. For the next four trips to General Carl's office he would setup the picture and tell me where to stand and everytime it was terrible.

Tweedledee and Tweedledumb were just about ready for the padded cell. The more failures we had with the General more they would plead with me to get it right the next time. For 5 trips to General Carl's office he didn't get it right.

Finally on the sixth trip to the General's office he looked directly at me with a silly little grin and said, "PFC Krill we're ready for the photo. How do you want us?"

I wanted to shout, "All right!" But I knew that wouldn't be appropriate.

Instead I directed everyone to their proper places and when they were all ready took the picture. It was just fine.

From then on the General wasn't a problem. It was just a matter of training. [Next]