CONGRATULATIONS!!   (yeah....right!)

You'll never guess where the promotion orders showed up!

In order to tell this story properly,  I need to put a few "Army facts" on the table that pertain to the early sixties.

The officer promotion guidelines in effect at that time stated that you must serve eighteen (18) months as a Second Lieutenant before you were eligible for promotion to First Lieutenant.  Then, in or around 1964, the US Army was very concerned that it was losing a large percentage of its college-trained ROTC graduates.  {Vietnam was not an issue at this time.}  So they conducted a survey to determine the reasons why this was occurring.  Of course, they uncovered some obvious ones like "more money in my career field" and "too many regulations and regimented thinking". reason given caught their eye...and it was one they could actually fix!  Second Lieutenants were very tired of being Second Lieutenants for eighteen months before getting that first promotion...and likely their ONLY promotion before the typical 2-year contract was up.  In essence, you enjoyed the delightful step up to "First Looie" for a grand total of six months.   Whoop-dee-doo!

Well, the change was made to twelve (12) months to make "First Looie".  Don't know what happened to the young officer retention rates, but I am here to tell you that it had a fantastic effect on the morale of new Second Lieutenants who only had to wait a year before that first "promo".  Second Lieutenants or "butter bars" were the butt of many jokes.  Even the Ft Sill Instructor Faculty got into the act.  There were these two Majors (brothers named "Moon") who incorporated insults into their Ft Sill Basic Officers Course lecture scripts to humiliate the Second Lieutenant students.   It went something like this:  cue the sound effect of a loud fart.  One of the Moon brothers says: "Second Lieutenant Who?"   Ha-ha.  Funnee.  It is to laugh.  I wanted to kick both of them in their gonads and make them first chair Vienna Boys Choir  for (a) being crappy instructors, and (b) their exceptionally poor taste.

As it turns out, I was stationed at Ft Bliss as a Second Lieutenant with the BCT Brigade as that virginal year was coming to an end. was a source of great joy and happiness for ALL the Second Lieutenants stationed at Ft Bliss because many of them arrived around the same time and their "waiting year" was coming to a close.   This meant promotion party after promotion party after promotion party at the Ft Bliss Officers Open Mess.  {This Officers Club thus had an interesting acronym "FBOOM"!}  All my former Second Lieutenant buddies were now getting that promotion to "First Looie".  Consequently, I had to shell out...and shell out some more to pay for the party and the promotion gift.  Back then the Second Lieutenant's salary was $222 per month.  After you paid your BOQ fees, dry cleaning bills, incidentals and food, you were broke, man!  It seems like there were promotion parties every weekend because it was that time.  (I was so excited one time that I showed up at the O-Club in my "blues" and totally forgot the shoulderboards.  Back then, the O-Club hired reliable NCOs to serve as bartenders.  This one kindly leaned over and said, "Lieutenant...your uniform is missing something." Talk about embarrassed!  Had to run back to the "Q" and put them on.  Fortunately, it was just a few blocks away.) was time to celebrate!  Your turn was coming...just wait!  Yeah, wait.  And wait.  Did I say "wait"?   Yeah, keep waiting.

What happened was that my orders to Nam came down in July, 1966.  I had to "clear post" and move on.  Are you familiar with the Latin term "persona non grata"?  It's a diplomatic term that means "you aren't welcome here" anymore.   Well, in my case, the US Army had its own Latin term that went something like "persona non exista", which is military jargon for "you don't exist" anymore.   God only knows who held all my mail during the interim, but I never got my orders promoting me to "First Looie".

I arrived in Vietnam in November, 1966, still wearing those demeaning "butter bars" although I had passed that fateful "one year" of waiting.  After all the in-processing, I am informed there is some mail waiting for me.  I get to the field post office and receive a handful of dusty, dirty bent-up envelopes.   Most of it was junk mail that sat for God-knows-how-long at God-only-knows-where.  After tossing the trash mail, I spot a letter from the Department of the Army.   My orders!  I was finally made a "First Looie".

Congratulations?  Yeah, right.  No party, no friends, no gifts, and no one gives a damn.

That's okay...go ahead and laugh!  It still pisses me off!

Lt Dennis Dauphin