KP and Duty

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The Washington Post

March 22, 1999

While in 1943 I shared the unhappy Army experience of picking up cigarette butts, pulling KP, scrubbing floors and other “pleasant” GI assignments described by Richard Cohen in his Feb. 18 op-ed column {“Binding Us Tighter”}, I now realize that these chores produced positive results including discipline, the ability to obey orders and respect for Army regulations.

Mr. Cohen’s mention of “abuse from morons with stripes” makes no sense. The “morons with stripes” were corporals, buck sergeants, staff sergeants, first sergeants, tech sergeants and sergeant majors — noncommissioned officers who had to relay orders received from commissioned officers. The Army could not function with only privates, in the same manner that a corporation cannot function without section supervisors, department managers, etc.

When my Army unit arrived in Europe in 1945 and went into action, we realized that in order to survive, we had to follow orders from the “morons with stripes.” Without discipline and law and order, the United States might not have emerged the victor in World War II.



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