Colonel Ben, Harlen and Me
by George Chevalier

In my days at BHS it was,or so it seemed, that the A and B students all sat in the front rows of our classes and we of lesser achievement occupied the seats in the rear. We snearingly referred to them as AK's and duly noted that their hands would go up first and fast when Teach asked a question.

One of my classmates was Harlan and he sat in the front row and I bemoaned the fact that Harlan was again a classmate in recruit training at Howard Field during the big one. Harlan was also assigned to the same squadron with me and to further irritate he didn't live in the barracks with the rest of us. Oh No! Harlan had an older sister married to a young officer and Harlan had permission to live up in quarters with them.

Now Harlan loved to call your work station and pretending to be an officer he would have you Yes Siring all over the place before finally laughing and telling you who it was. This led to the incident where I nearly went to the stockade at Empire.

I was pulling night time Fireguard in the OPS office of my hanger one night and had just fallen asleep on the cot they provided when my phone rang and a voice said "This is Col. Ben, what time is it? The clock was on the far side of the room in the dark along with the light switch. I stumbled in the dark over to the light switch banging my toes, shins,and knees until I was nearly crippled. As I threw on the light it hit me, HARLAN, I recognized the voice. Dashing back to the phone I blued the air with profanity as I picked up the phone and the voice said "what's your name". I answered 'Chevalier and what is yours". The voice replied , "You have mine soldier".

Promising myself to punch Harlan when next I saw him I climbed back into the cot. But sleep was not to be for Jeep lights came from all directions and MP's streamed through the doors. The MP Lt. had me braced while he called someone one the phone and began answering questions. The first must have been "Is he drunk"? and they had been sniff testing me so that answer was a no. The next had to do with my mental health and that answer was "He seems normal". The last question was "what is his explanation"? I explained to the Lt. who relayed that to the real Col. Ben my story of Harlan's pranks.

It ended with me having to report to the guardhouse when I came off duty in the morning and they transported me to 6th AF Headquarters, where I reported in front of Col. Ben. I gave him my explanation not mentioning Harlan by name only that it was a BHS classmate. The Col. sternly advised me to never assume a military phone call was anything but what was being stated. As he dismissed me he smiled and said "Son I may be an SOB but one doesn't like being told to their face that he is one.

For awhile I had a certain amount of notoriety as being the only one in the squadron to call a Col. such and get away with it. For the rest of the war Harlan avoided me and for that I am glad. Harlan is no longer with us and I'm glad that a few years ago at a class reunion I made my peace with him and buried the animosity I had harbored for so long.

George C.