The Company Mascot Pt I

It pains me to say this, but the year 2000 (Y2K!) was twenty years ago. I guess it shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise, but it feels strange someone to think about.

Anyway, it was in 2000 that I took command of my infantry company in the early spring over in the Republic of Korea. Back then before “The Long War” began, Korea was known as “Freedom’s Frontier” and it was the last place left in the Army where the old Cold War antagonisms still existed, and where we were still on a war-time posture. Back then we had division-level alerts at least once a month, and the boys were ready to go.

Lots of things were different back then, and one of them was the practice of companies maintaining their very own mascots. These were almost always dogs, and since we were in Korea, well… the dogs were of the Korean variety. Which meant they were usually scrappy little mongrels without an ounce of elegance to them. The chin-do was a nice breed, but still quite small for American standards.

My company had this little shitweasel of a dog name “Spaz” and not to put too fine a point on it, I hated the damned thing. It was spoiled rotten from the CQ feeding it Anthony’s pizza and Popeyes chicken, and it just wasn’t friendly, interesting or cool in any way. To this day I am not sure why this creature was ever chosen to represent an infantry company stationed near the Korean DMZ on “Freedom’s Frontier,” manned with some of the finest trained killers the republic could assemble… but it was.

About a week into my command we were sent up north to stay a place called “Warrior Base,” whereupon we conducted all sorts of high-speed training. Live fires, force-on-force, you name it we were doing it. And that little shit Spaz stayed back home at Camp Hovey.

After three weeks of that, we rolled back to the installation, did a quick recovery and 48 hours later we were out the gate again, catching up with the rest of the battalion while they were getting ready to start a sustainment gunnery in some garbage-dump/shithole called Chipori. When I got the company road-marched out there we were met at the entrance to the training area by the Battalion Operations Officer (S-3) in his humvee, sporting a big shit-eating grin. He escorted us in to the training area and pointed out where to set up my company Assembly Area.

Where he was pointing was right next to where this old Korean woman had already set up a tent next to her Bongo truck loaded full of supplies. It was our “Field Mom” and her chimney pipe sticking out of her tent was already smoking from the food she was preparing inside. As we rolled up in our Bradley Fighting Vehicles there was “Ma” standing out there with her short, black, permed hair; her eyeglasses with the chain around the back of her neck, and her apron… waving us into our Assembly Area with a dish rag in hand.

She was our welcoming committee and she was open for business.

To be continued…

Published by Shane Gries

World-travelling adventurer with a dry wit and a taste for single malt whisky. Spent my entire adult life in uniform and most of that as an infantryman--with all the accompanying ailments one would expect from such a lifestyle. Looking forward to the day when I can dedicate myself to writing full time, cutting firewood, and pursuing the elusive white tail.

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