Thursday, November 10, 2011

Colonel Roberts and the Funniest Joke I Know

A downtrodden pirate ship coasted into port, its crew heavy with disappointment and failure.
They had just mutinied against their third captain.  Their stores were empty and their prospects few.
Word had reached port of their plight however, and waiting for them was a new captain.
While they had been resigned to give up on their pirating careers, the sight of this new captain, standing square chinned and broad shouldered on the dock, gave them just enough hope to give it one more go.
They sailed with the tide and it wasn't long at all before they saw a warship on the horizon.
The crew prepared to raise the sails and flee, as that was what they had grown accustom to doing, but the new captain did not budge from his place on the forcastle.
"Bring me my red shirt," he bellowed.
Confused and frightened, the crew did as they were told and donning the red shirt, the captain sailed their ship directly at the warship, jumped aboard and slayed the enemy crew single-handedly.
The crew was ecstatic.  For the first time in years, their stores were full of treasure and they had cause to celebrate.
It wasn't long before the pirates came across a new foe and this time, two warships stood silhouetted
against the horizon.
Again the crew made ready to flee, but the captain stood immovable, "Bring me my read shirt!"
The crew obeyed and the captain sailed their ship between the two warships, swung to one, slayed the crew, swung to the other to the same result and both foes were vanquished, the booty beyond the pirates' greatest expectations.
As appreciative and awed as they were by their captain, curiousity eventually got the better of the pirate crew and they worked up the nerve to ask the captain the question that weighed heavily on their minds.
"Sir, what is the deal with the red shirt?"
The captain gave his crew a dashing smile, his eyes intense.  "When you fight as fiercely as I do," he replied coolly, "you are bound to get injured and I don't want my men to see me bleed."
His reputation was confirmed and the pirates left their captain in a state of reverent admiration.
It was days later when 5 warships came for retribution and this time the pirates did not hesitate.  They ran to the captain's cabin and fetched his red shirt.
The captain looked across the horizon at the 5 warships, standing as resolute as ever at his place on the forcastle.  With his shoulders broad and his chin lifted proudly he called out, "Bring me my brown pants."

This joke was told to me 11 years ago by Colonel Roberts while I was attending Officer Candidate School.  It has been my favorite ever since.  At the time he was a Major and the only active duty recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  See his citation below and remember tomorrow to honor our veterans.

Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Sp4), U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. Place and date: Thua Thien Province, Republic of Vietnam, July 11, 1969. Entered service at: Cincinnati, Ohio. Born: June 14, 1950, Middletown, Ohio.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Roberts distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman in Company B, during combat operations. Sgt. Roberts' platoon was maneuvering along a ridge to attack heavily fortified enemy bunker positions which had pinned down an adjoining friendly company. As the platoon approached the enemy positions, it was suddenly pinned down by heavy automatic weapon and grenade fire from camouflaged enemy fortifications atop the overlooking hill. Seeing his platoon immobilized and in danger of failing in its mission, Sgt. Roberts crawled rapidly toward the closest enemy bunker. With complete disregard for his safety, he leaped to his feet and charged the bunker, firing as he ran. Despite the intense enemy fire directed at him, Sgt. Roberts silenced the 2-man bunker. Without hesitation, Sgt. Roberts continued his 1-man assault on a second bunker. As he neared the second bunker, a burst of enemy fire knocked his rifle from his hands. Sgt. Roberts picked up a rifle dropped by a comrade and continued his assault, silencing the bunker. He continued his charge against a third bunker and destroyed it with well-thrown hand grenades. Although Sgt. Roberts was now cut off from his platoon, he continued his assault against a fourth enemy emplacement. He fought through a heavy hail of fire to join elements of the adjoining company which had been pinned down by the enemy fire. Although continually exposed to hostile fire, he assisted in moving wounded personnel from exposed positions on the hilltop to an evacuation area before returning to his unit. By his gallant and selfless actions, Sgt. Roberts contributed directly to saving the lives of his comrades and served as an inspiration to his fellow soldiers in the defeat of the enemy force. Sgt. Roberts' extraordinary heroism in action at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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