It seems appropriate to begin this part of the "Army I Knew" series on Hallowe'en. Because it was thirty years ago this week that then-Doc Lawes and about 10,000 other Yanks got dressed up like soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and went looking to play tricks and - hopefully - get treats on a hitherto-little-known flyspeck in the southeastern Caribbean in the delightfully named "Operation Urgent Fury".
This farrago was touted as the official announcement of the Rebirth of the U.S. Military supposedly through the good offices of President Ronald Reagan after having spent the previous decade all hungdown and brung-down because of Vietnam and hippies or something.
Looking back both the military part of the business as well as the public fuss and nonsense that surrounded it seem more than a little quaint, even embarrassing.
The United States has since spent the better part of a decade with its soldiers, ships, and aircraft fighting somewhere, everywhere, and these little wars have become a sort of background noise in American public life. It seems difficult to remember a time when a mere couple of thousand troopers descending on a backwater island was shattering front-page news, when the idea of U.S. soldiers actually shooting live joes at someone was shocking...but there it was.
I don't know if we were simpler then, or whether we're just more jaded and cynical today.
We were certainly more innocent, many of us who walked the roads and trails of the Spice Island back in October and November of 1983. I know that at least I was. I cannot tell the story of the whole of that time and place, but I can tell mine, and I will.