Lt. Native-American-from-Alaska

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

  • Luke 7:1-10

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

  • Acts 10:1-8

The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. …

  • Acts 10:24-38

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

  • Acte 10:44-48

In the title of this post, you can see the insanity of political correctness.  My sergeants in my platoon nicknamed me, “Lt. Eskimo.”  They had to do something that combatted my “niceness.”

Note the photograph above.  I was the only one not to get the memo.  Every officer in the battalion was instructed not to smile, but only I smiled.  Only I showed teeth.  Everyone else had a stern look, at best looking like they just ate something that did not agree with them, at worst looking like they had just eaten the last photographer and do not tell me to smile or I will eat you!  No, I had to smile, the only one, and a toothy smile at that.

I was a stickler for the “rules.”  One of those rules came down from Washington, DC regarding when to switch from summer uniform to winter uniform, and then back again in the Spring.  The summer uniform was the olive drab (OD) fatigues with the sleeves rolled up.  The winter uniform allowed you to roll down and button the sleeves, and as weather permitted, use a field jacket or a parka.  You could even use the fur rimmed parka hood on the field jacket, interchangeable.

The problem with this rule is that Washington, DC is fairly warm compared to Germany.  With Germany so far north, about equal to Hudson Bay in northern Canada, the nights were extremely long.  Early morning formations in September and October were long before the sun came up in the coldest part of most days, well below freezing temperatures.  Winter was not until mid-November or even the first of December, according to the decision makers in Washington, DC.

So, for morning formation, my platoon had their sleeves rolled down and wearing their field jackets.  And before they were called to attention, they danced around and rubbed their arms, as if they were freezing.

I wore my sleeves rolled up and no additional covering, per the orders from Washington, DC.  My platoon sergeant would chastise the men for being “out of” uniform.  He would say that their platoon leader was wearing the proper uniform.  Then he would ask me how I did it.

“It’s a case of mind over matter, sergeant!”  I would reply.

Then my platoon sergeant would tell the men, “And you know what that means, don’t you?  I don’t mind.  And you don’t matter!!”

After the first sergeant brought us to attention and barked at everyone, the company commander would say things that were encouraging (my first company commander) or made no sense and rather inane (my next company commander).  The men would then be dismissed to go to the dining facility (we rarely said ‘mess hall’ – the food was occasionally excellent, with huge unicorn ice sculptures and such – I developed a taste for creamed beef on toast, known as SOS, “something” on a shingle), but usually skipping breakfast, I went to my office and tried to mate with the radiator.  It went beyond hugging the thing in order to thaw my body out, but the men never saw that.

I say men in that Engineers were a combat branch and at the time that I served, there was only one female officer in our battalion, in a support role.  Otherwise, women could not serve in our unit at that time.  There was one female enlisted person, the battalion’s photographer.

With this reputation of being impervious to cold weather, my sergeants dreamed up the nickname of “Lt. Eskimo.”  New recruits to the platoon were told that Lt. Eskimo had a cold, cold heart.  That way, they would listen to me in the vein of the Roman Centurion in the Scripture above, until they found out that I was “nice.”

Hey, occasionally I could bark out orders and they would not laugh!!!  I was effective as a leader!!  Sometimes.

Really, those men that responded to my niceness would give their life for me.  I once picked up one of my best troops from the drunk tank.  He had already sobered up, because I enjoyed making them stew and I could care less if the military police actually had to do their jobs at night.  When I picked him up, he sat in my backseat of my old Japanese-made sedan.  I said, “Specialist, of all they guys in the platoon, I never expected you would disappoint me.”  He asked, “Disappoint you?  No, sir.  It won’t ever happen again!” I then heard soft weeping behind me.  And it did not ever happen again.  “Nice” can work if they know I meant business.  The country boys and Vietnam Vets worked hard.  The city boys worked hard at avoiding any work at all, for the most part.  And that might have been with or without me being “nice.”

But all “fun” comes to an end.  This “fun” ended on the Eve of Native American Appreciation Day.  Unknown to anyone at our military company, word had gotten to the battalion admin group about my nickname and they thought it “fun” to change my ethnic status to Eskimo.  Only problem, this was an official document that I had to review once each year to ensure accuracy.  That review was not yet due.  The first time anyone knew what battalion admin had done was when the Lt. Colonel got a list of the people who were authorized to take the day off the next day.

I was the next to know when he appeared at my worksite and showed me the form that had been modified without my knowledge.  The LTC said, “Are you aware, Lieutenant, that I grew up in Alaska, graduated from the University of Alaska and I have many friends of whom are Eskimos, and which you are NOT?!  This is a serious breach, and it will be fixed today!!!”  I said, “Yes, sir.”  I took all the heat, but the sergeants that had started the ruse heard me getting cussed out.  I spent the rest of the day getting the admin guy to correct what he already knew was a joke.  Odd, a little over a year later, I became his supervisor.  It wasn’t pretty, although I never brought up the incident.

And don’t worry about me and the LTC.  Soon after the incident, I became the comic relief for his wife’s song and dance group, and he was the saxophone player.  Other than me not being able to dance, we became friends – out of uniform.

So, Lt. Native-American-from-Alaska never caught on and I had to learn how to bark out tough orders, like I meant it.

But I wonder if the Roman Legions had an occasional Centurion who was … a nice guy.  The Bible never said what happened to Cornelius after he accepted Jesus as his Savior, but he had already been a nice guy to the Jews in his area.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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