Detective John Kimball
Adding Tommy Batboy to the Ranger Up team has made a huge difference – he’s energetic, a natural salesman, has great stories, and works his ass off 24/7 to tell the world about Ranger Up. One of the unexpected things that has come out of the Tommy Batboy acquisition; however, is that I have realized that I am a giant dumbass. Now, this in itself was no surprise to me, but as I started telling him more stories about my military career, the depth and breadth of my dumbassery really came to light. As such, on occasion, I will tell a story from the Dumbass Chronicles.
The best job in the world to me, other than earning the right to be a platoon sergeant, is being a platoon leader. I was fortunate enough to get to hold that job twice for the better part of three years – a luxury few people get nowadays with the need to promote people to fill vacancies in the upper echelons – and I loved every freakin’ minute of it.
So there I was with my first platoon – sitting at our hardsite – a building that had been an embalming station 8 months previous, when my Commander rolled up in a HMMWV.
Me: Hey, sir – how goes it?
CO: Fine. I got good news for you!
Me: What’s that?
CO: The Battalion Commander wants you on his staff – you’re going to be the assistant S-4.
Me: Ehhh…that’s cool. CPT G (The S4) is a good dude. So, when does this happen? When we get back?
CO: No – in 4 days. You have to start doing the handover with LT Cherry today.
I felt like I had just gotten kicked in the nuts. Here we were, 3 months from the end of our deployment, our platoon was running smooth as shit, I had made huge strides toward closing the ethnic rift issue just enough that the two sides were meeting in the town council, and I was right in the middle of dealing with all kinds of complex problems involving NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the local economy, and quite frankly I didn’t want anyone else leading my guys in a dangerous environment, certainly not LT Cherry.
I’d solve this.
Me: Sir, you gotta be fuckin’ kidding me. Can I talk to the BC about this?
CO: He said you’d say that – and he already said ‘No’. He wants you to redeploy the battalion. Said you did a great job with that UMO shit on the way over.
UMO?!?!?! I started cursing UMO (Unit Movement Officer) training. I had been sent to a five day trip that amounted to me partying like crazy in Heidelberg every night while learning an extremely basic computer system by day, all the time wondering why no one else wanted this gig. Well, Nick – here’s why dumbass: in the Army, if you know anything about something and no one else does, you are the subject matter expert, and if you’re the SME and anything remotely involving that subject comes up, you’re on the hook. I was fucked. I tried one more desperate plea.
Me: Sir, we’re leaving soon. Can’t we work this out so that he takes over when we get back?
CO: No. The BC wants you in the four shop.
Me: Sir, I’ll do both jobs.
CO: Nick – you’re the new AS4 in four days. Get used to the idea. Train LT Cherry.
And with that he rolled out to visit his next hardsite.
Vengeance is a Childish Prank
A good officer would have accepted the fact that I had a good run as a platoon leader, a new guy was coming in who needed experience, and I had a new job to do that was essential to both the wartime mission and the redeployment. I on the other hand, with some of my other dumbass cohorts, found the worst pictures I could of every officer that could have remotely had any influence over the decision, including, among others, all the company commanders, the battalion commander, and the sergeant major, and posted them on www.amihotornot.com, which at the time was a new phenomenon.
They all, with the help of our photo selection, received “hot scores” ranging from a lowly 3.7 to a truly spectacular 1.1 (out of 10). I then printed hundreds of copies of these items (that’s right – I wasted taxpayer money) and posted them all over camp, as well as ensured that a copy of each man’s rating was sent to every hardsite in the task force.
Vengeance got Boring – I Needed a New Outlet
While embarrassing superior officers was fun for awhile, the novelty quickly wore off, and I had to focus my energy elsewhere. When I wasn’t supplying units with stuff, I was building an absurd entrance maze into the four shop with plywood and 2X4s (everyone hated it and it gave us like a full minute of warning as they weaved their way through the labyrinth so we could shut off minesweeper) or practicing knife throwing (we thought it was funny that in movies military guys always could throw knives from across the room and kill a man, so we bought throwing knives and practiced nonstop). Believe it or not, maze-building and knife-throwing do not fill a man’s day, so when we weren’t working, we surfed the newly burgeoning internet in a quest to find amusement.
That’s when Mac hit the motherload.
It was a balmy September morning when Mac emerged from the labyrinth and walked over to my desk. He immediately pushed me aside and typed in a website – some radio station.
Mac: Dude, check this shit out.
Me: What is it?
Mac: These guys prank call people and use celebrity movie clips to talk to people – like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Al Pacino.
At first the idea just seemed dumb. Who the hell would fall for that? I was soooooo wrong. Listening to person after person try to have an intelligent conversation with Aaaaanald was absolutely priceless.
Me: Mac, this is awesome. Greeeaaat find.
Mac: I know, right?
Me: Yeah – these are priceless. Wish we could do this.
Mac: Nick, we can. I already tested it.
Introducing Detective John Kimball
Mac was now the executive officer for Charlie Company and as such, he had access to multiple computers. He had spent a few hours searching for Schwarzenegger sound bites and downloaded them onto a computer locked away in a small room big enough to fit three chairs. He had about 12 downloaded quotes, including key ones like “I’m Detective John Kimball!” a la Kindergarten Cop, “I’m a police officer”, “Yeah”, “I’ll be back”, “Who is your daddy and what does he do”, and my personal favorite “Put my hand through your stomach! Tear out your goddamn spine!”
So with our twelve quotes in hand, we practiced how a conversation would play out and decided to test it on the Charlie Company CQ. We would alternate between him talking and rapidly trying to find an appropriate answer from our small stable of quotes. It worked, sort of, but we sucked at it so it took Arnold like 30 seconds to answer between each comment he made to us. Finally, he was like, “Hey is this you, LT? You guys fucking around again?” Arnold quickly gave him the “Put my hand through your stomach! Tear out your goddamn spine!” quote and we hung up.
We were deflated, but we’re not quitters either. We knew there was work to be done if we were going to be good at this.
Over the next few days, not unlike the nasty disgusting caterpillar, we cocooned ourselves into Mac’s hovel with nothing but combos, ramen, and the occasional trip to the 24 hour DEFAC to sustain us. We developed a three man process that required two phones spliced together – one with the end of the phone taped to the computer speaker and the other on speaker phone.
One man would record the conversation and hang up, one man would spot the expected next needed quote, and the other man physically clicked the quote. When we finally emerged, we were a beautiful Arnold Schwarzenegger spewing butterfly. About 50 trials with various CQs had us ready for prime time – we knew what they were going to say before they did.
In the process, we also found a “special” CQ. We’ll call him Specialist Bag-o-Donuts. He was as country as country can be, and we’re pretty sure he had never heard of a computer, because no matter how many times we called him, he never realized he was hearing the same quotes. He truly thought some Austrian dude was just tormenting him.
Here’s our first conversation with him:
SPC BoD: Charlie Company, Specialist Bag-o-Donuts speaking.
SPC: Who is this?
A: I’m detective John Kimball!
A: I’m a cop you idiot!
SPC: Ok, sir. How can I help you?
A: I’m going to ask you a few questions, and I want to have them answered immediately!
SPC: Ummm…I think I should get the CO
A: I’m going to ask you a few questions, and I want to have them answered immediately!
SPC: You just said that, sir.
SPC: Well, ok.
A: Who is your daddy and what does he do?
A: Who is your daddy and what does he do?
SPC: None of your damn business.
SPC: Why do you keep saying that?
A: Yeah. Now we’re going to do something extremely fun.
SPC: What’s that?
A: Kiss me.
A: Kiss me.
A: You son of a bitch!
SPC: You’re the son of a bitch.
A: Yeah. Put my hand through your stomach, tear out your goddamn spine!
We waited five minutes and called him again. He got so fired up, he started invoking every god you can think of to do horrible things to poor Arnold, so we had no choice but to walk down to the engineers’ area, pull down their CQ schedule and call him every single time he was on.
We Needed More
Now, there is no question that torturing an engineer specialist is a great time, but that wasn’t our goal. We had to move up the food chain.
And we did.
First, the Commanders. Too easy. One of them actually took notes and logged a call from a Detective John Kimball, who he just assumed was some sort of actual authority figure.
Next came the CSM. He instantly knew it was bullshit, but got so pissed off that someone was trying to mess with him that he dropped the most unholy, but beautifully crafted and interwoven series of expletives that we had ever heard. There are two types of men in this world that can swear and make it a thing of pure beauty – the British and old school NCOs – and the CSM was on that night. Poor Arnold cried himself to sleep.
Next came the BC – our task force commander. For those of you that have never served in the military, this is the level where our stupidity begins to escalate to absurd proportions. This guy is a Lieutenant Colonel and has a hell of a lot of power to make our lives miserable. We knew we were playing with fire, and we did it anyway.
But nothing happened. He spent most of the call trying to figure out why a detective was calling him and then finally realized it was someone fucking with him and said, “Fucking assholes” as he chuckled to himself and hung up.
We giggled like schoolgirls and, as we had yet to learn a lesson, kept calling other people – at one point we had even called the BRIGADE TASK FORCE COMMANDER – essentially the guy that was running the entire sector for miles, and we remained untouchable…until that fateful day.
Never Underestimate the Power of Stupidity
Detective Kimball was feeling saucy one morning and decided to drop the Task Force TOC a call (the TOC is essentially the command center). The call was picked up by Captain Flatline. Captain Flatline was a brilliant man if you were asking trivia or wanted someone to take a standardized test. However, when it came to things that involved the application of common sense or the translation of sarcasm, Captain Flatline was a rock. Why is this noteworthy, you ask?
We messed with Flatline for the better part of 20 minutes. Unlike most people, who figured it out and hung up or stayed on to amuse themselves, Flatline continued to ask probing questions – you know – in the hopes that Kimball would break and give away his location. Finally, we got bored, hit him with the standard “Put my hand through your stomach, tear out your goddamn spine” line and went on our way.
It was about an hour later that I heard a little buzz going on among the military intelligence folks. Apparently, a report had just come over the SIPRNet that there was a strong belief that terrorists had infiltrated our network. Mac and I were intrigued, so we sought a couple of the folks we knew up there and tried to get some more information.
That’s when the world came crashing down.
Our friend showed us the following report:
“At 10:08 this morning, we received a phone call at the task force TOC by a man claiming to be a Detective John Kimball. Kimball tried to portray himself as an American, but he had a distinct accent that seemed to be of either Austrian, Jamaican, or British West Indes descent. He began the conversation rather pleasantly, but he had a broad emotional range and often seemed to fly into a rage. He peppered me with questions about the work my father did and when I refused to answer, he grew very upset, at one point threatening, I believe, to tear out my spine. Finally, in what seemed like frustration, he hung up. For him to have made this call, he must be either inside our base perimeter, or has tapped into it. In either case, I believe this is a significant security threat.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, the guy tasked with thinking like the enemy – our S2 – had misinterpreted loosely strewn together Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes to be a terrorist threat, and had spun up the entire Task Force and Brigade Task Force TOC about it. That of course, was hilarious.
Furthermore, he somehow felt that Austrian, Jamaican, and West Indes accents actually sound alike.
On the other hand; however, there was at least a 25% chance that we were going to end up in jail. That was somewhat less funny.
Mac, Adam (our third conspirator), and I were racking our brains trying to find a way to unfuck this, but we couldn’t. We had no choice but to come clean – as much as we were idiots, we weren’t soulless ones – we weren’t going to let them waste resources on a wild goose chase when they could be used to find actual bad guys. This one was gonna hurt. I suddenly had a flashback of ALL the senior officers we had fucked with and then I remembered the CSM saying something about a combination of sodomy, pain, and hell, and the quality of my day dropped measurably.
I was trudging my way towards the Brigade TOC when I saw one of my friends – a female lieutenant that ultimately would marry one of my best friends – smiling at me with a shit-eating grin on her face.
Me: Hey Sarah.
Sarah: You guys are idiots.
Me: You already know?
Sarah: John Kimball? Yeah.
Sarah: One of the captains was about to hand the G2 the report about Kimball and I happened to look at it, and I thought, “That’s from Kindergarten Cop…” Then I thought, that must be from those infantry jackasses. I couldn’t get a hold of you, so I called Jim and he confirmed that it was you guys. I told the G2 that it was just a joke and he should drop it. He asked me if I was sure, and I played him one of the recordings on the net, and he laughed his ass off. You guys are good to go.
Me: Sarah, you are the shit.
Sarah: Yes, I know that.
So, after dodging yet another bullet and thanking Sarah profusely, I found myself walking back to Mac’s room wondering why God had stepped in and saved us in this instance. Maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf. Maybe it was time to grow up.
I walked in and explained to Mac and Adam what had just gone down.
We agreed that we had just lucked out in the best way possible.
But five minutes later, we agreed it was 1900. Specialist Bag-o-Donuts had just made it to the desk.
It was time for Detective Kimball to make a call.
Copyright of Nick