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A Quartering Wind

by Hap Rocketto

I was desperate to get out of the infantry. It is not that I ever been to the field in the ten years I was a member of “The Queen of Battle.” I had been attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry in Middletown, Connecticut-the famous “Middletown Charlie for administrative purposes and then detached to the Connecticut Army National Guard’s Rifle Team. I only saw the inside of the redbrick armory and its rickety leaky drill shed on the rare occasion when I needed a piece of worn equipment replaced or the even more infrequent full company muster.

When the old Adjutant General, the long time patron of the Connecticut Guard shooting program, retired his successor was less avuncular to what was jealously perceived by many other Guardsmen as the privileged and pampered prime donne marksmen. The new AG would allow us to continue to march as before but we would now have to also drill regularly with our assigned units and could no longer shoot on drill status.

I was willing to so this but I wanted to do so in a unit closer than the 90 minute drive to Middletown. I fished around and found that the Connecticut Aviation Classification Activity Repair Depot (AVCRAD) (1109th) in Groton, just 30 minutes from home, had openings. I called for an interview and soon found myself sitting in the august presence of Sergeant Major Al Deschamps. With some apparent misgiving the genial short stocky balding soldier mulled over the fact that I had no schooling in any of the aviation unit’s technical specialties and wanted to transfer in grade. Little did I know he was setting me up for he secretly coveted winning the state small unit shooting championship and wanted me, and a few more of my desperate comrades, in the AVCRAD .

Looking at the unit’s manning board he said “I see no vacancies on our Table of Distribution and Allowances that fit your qualifications.” Springing the trap he commented, “All I have is a slot for a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare NCO. You wouldn’t know anything about chemistry, would you?”

Grasping at the proffered straw I blurted out, “I teach it at the high school level.”

“You will have to go to a state Military Occupation Skill (MOS) school to earn the MOS but you can do that in lieu of drill” he magnanimously offered. We shook hands and I was free of field gear, Meal, Ready to Eat-three lies in one phrase, and a 90 minute commute.

A month later I sat in a classroom listing to an instructor drone on about the scintillating subject of smoke operations. My mind was a million miles away when the word “wind” broke through my reverie.

Category: Hap's Corner

About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. He was the 2002 Intermediate Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion, the 2012 Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion a member of the 2007 and 2012 National Four Position Indoor Championship team, coach and captain of the US Drew Cup Team, and adjutant of the United States 2009 Roberts and 2013 Pershing Teams. Rocketto is very active in coaching juniors. He is, along with his brother Steve, a cofounder of the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s website, and most recently, the apogee of his literary career, pronematch.com.

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