Introductory Note: If you are confused by the setting or the nature of this post, you might look here for an introduction and explanation.)
The tale begins at Sector Control North, where the commander of the company in sector and his bobos keep tabs on the Jacobin marching societies that are the individual squads of six men, two sergeants and a staff sergeant squad leader on the OPs. Compared to an OP, a sector control is a pretty cosmopolitan place, with Dutch communications troopers, American grunts, support and supply types, Egyptian liason and interpreter bodies as well as the occasional passersby from the host nations and the vest-pcket-UN that is the MFO: Aussies, Kiwis, Columbian infantrymen, Fijian grunts and French pilots.
Into this mix strides, or rather, lumbers, our hero: Doc Nelscott. Doc Nelscott is a sergeant, specifically a staff sergeant (E-6) assigned to the battalion aid station. Doc is a gangly countryman with the big, angular head and the hands of a farmer, a shambling, uniformed reminder of the how low the bar was set for promotion during the VOLAR years of the 1970’s. He's a nice, simple man, the possessor of an extremely goofy laugh and a happy, friendly personality.[Note: this is NOT our hero. But let's let it stand in for him, shall we?]
Unfortunately, Doc is also dumber than a bag of hammers. Industrial grade dumb. A goober at the professional level, while kind and sweet-tempered, he is aggressively, cluelessly dopey. He is unable to keep out of anything and will stick his head in everywhere and anywhere, immediately laying down a furious barrage of inane chatter and moronic questions that eventually put even the kindest of well-wishers to flight.
The Battalion Aid Station can’t stand him. They have taken advantage of the shortage of field medics to station him up at Sector Control North, as far physically from the BAS at South Base as possible without violating several international accords and catapulting him into Israel proper.
Here he has taken to pestering the Dutch commo guys, whose neverending job it is to try and keep the radios – FM, AM, UHF, microwave – up and running 24/7. It’s an impossible job, and that’s without the huge goober face of Doc Nelscott exploding into the commo shack at 5am, with a thundering “Hi Hi Hideho, Dutchies!! Guten Morgen!!” The Dutch have tried to explain that “Guten Morgen” is German, not Dutch, but Doc Nelscott is impervious to correction. He is slowly and certainly driving them individually and collectively mad.
One thing you quickly adjusted to in the Sinai was the constant arrival of “distinguished visitors”. The peaceful vistas, summery climate and proximity to the civilized watering holes of the eastern Med made the MFO a favorite junket of uniformed and civilian gatecrashers of all sorts. This week the big excitement was for the Dutch, whose most senior enlisted man, the Sergeant Major of the Dutch Army, was visiting all his MPs and commo types throughout the area. As is always the case, this entails a clothed orgy of scrubbing, painting, sweeping, hiding, arranging and memorizing, as everything not strictly military is hastily stuffed into a locker or into a bag buried in the wadi. Uniforms are ironed, boots shined.
And into this organized chaos emerges Doc Nelscott like a dimwitted Lord of Luna, bawling cheerfully to his Dutch “friends” and asking more off-the-wall questions. He is even MORE underfoot than ever, even more maddening. In this case, he is pestering his Dutch “friends” to teach him how to say “Welcome to Sector Control, Sergeant Major!” In Dutch.
I know not what fiend prompted Sergeant Ten Boom to send him to Korporaal der 1e klasse Osterhuis, the section wise guy. But send he did, and the corporal taught Doc Nelscott a useful phrase. Doc was seen wandering all about the SC that morning, mumbling the phrase over and over.
So. Picture the scene, if you will: another sunny MFO afternoon. The trailers are scrubbed to a fine metallic sheen, all available rocks painted orange and white and arranged in a zen-like military order. The flags are waving, the troops are waiting in decorative ranks and, like a great aluminum Zeus arriving to fecundate some fortunate Leda in the compound below, the white-painted MFO Huey arrives bearing the Distinguished Visitor And Party.The Dutch SMA is the usual grizzled character, his bootstrappers and dogrobbers are fewer than his American equivalent would require, and he gets down to business with soldierly dispatch. He greets all his fellow Dutchmen first, inquiring about needs and wants, homes and families as appropriate. He then strides down the ranks of the Americans, Italians, Kiwis and whatever other polyglot ash and trash has drifted in for the occasion. He stops for his moment in front of Doc Nelscott, who salutes with a vigor that wrings his entire body, shoots out a hand and announces loudly:
“Ik heb een ontzettend dikke ochtend lul”
Now I don’t speak Dutch. No, really, I don’t. But later I was told by one of the commo guys that this is some sort of slang term indicating that you have a really outstanding morning erection. A “piss-hard”, “morning wood” or, in Britian, “standing for the Queen”. It’s not a particularly rude phrase, but not one you normally spring on perfect strangers, either.
The Dutch SMA twitches and turns slightly to Sergeant Ten Boom. It is their misfortune that Korporal Osterhuis is standing in the front rank right behind them and hisses several sentences in Dutch, to the effect that; sorry we didn’t warn you, smage, but the big Yank is a huge homo, he’s come on to everyone on post, you need to watch your ass.
The Distinguished Visitor’s smile congeals to a grin frightful to behold. He hurries on as Doc Nelscott smiles and nods, looking after him with a benevolent possessiveness that clearly tightenes something in the Dutchman’s posterior.
Poor Doc Nelscott, thinking he’s made a new friend, keeps trying to follow and speak to the Dutch Sergeant Major, who, when sighting the big American, turns to put his backside to the wall and scuttles towards the nearest exit at a pace almost too rapid for dignity. Doc, not understanding why his new pal doesn’t want to chat, scuttles after, and the entire thing degenerates quickly from comedy to farce, with the Sergeant Major loping out to the helicopter with the briefest of salutes to a utterly gobsmacked Captain Mattes, practically winding the engine up himself to get aloft. The little scene only lacks his aides clinging to the helicopter skids to be the Return of the Rump Rangers of Lam Son 719. Oh, dear.
Poor Doc Nelscott. He is so very sad that his new friend hadn’t wanted to stay and chat. He so wanted to learn more about Dutchland.
Sergeant Ten Boom comments that he can learn ALL about Dutchland from his new VERY BESTEST best friend, Korporal Osterhuis.
And the sun goes down over the mountains to the west.