As the operations officer of the world’s finest warship, I had a number of fine young officers working for me. One of whom was an unusually fetching lass who – prior to completing her degree and intelligence officer school – had taken a rather non-traditional route to commission as an aromatherapeutic massage technician. Late one night at the end of a seemingly endless number of days at sea I was sitting alone in my office hoping to noodle through the immensity of all that we were trying to accomplish when I looked up to see her standing at the door, having something or other official to report. I took her report, asked in an off-hand way how she was bearing up in her first deployment and – duties official and formulaic completed – looked back to my desk at the egregious load of 3M documentation requiring my review and signature, and myself an FA-18 pilot for heaven’s sake.
A moment or two passed and I looked up again to see the young lady – she really was very pretty – still casually standing there, her head laying on an arm propped on the door frame in such a carefully calculated pose as made evident the graceful line of her neck as it joined her shoulder, as well as the non-naval curvatures of her frame. The moment stretched nearly as much as her protesting blue coveralls, and her penetratingly blue eyes looked into my own with a half-smile playing on her lips.
I blinked twice while my mind raced quickly through various courses of action, most of which were swiftly rejected as much for mere survival as for any conscience thought of duty or even morality, before finally asking in my most neutrally official tone of voice, “Was there something else?”
That challenging half smile was replaced by a frown, a different kind of light came into her eyes and she replied, “No, sir,” before spinning on her heel and striding out of the office, leaving me feeling both sadly older and wistfully wiser.
Now, all sailor men have hearts of oak, but while some of us are hoary, stout and old, others are yet saplings, liable to sway in a stiff breeze. And of saplings we had no few, to such an extent that a few months later, the ship’s senior intelligence officer had the sad duty to inform me that our graceful young lieutenant junior grade was with child. The actual fracking war being but a few weeks away, this news was both unwelcome and untimely, and it fell to me to inform the carrier’s commanding officer that unless certain provisions were made the ship would soon have its very own “son of a gun.” Or daughter, maybe. Depending on the breaks.
The Old Man was driving himself to the brink nearly of exhaustion ensuring that his old ship would complete her assigned duties with honor, and I did not relish adding to his burdens. “Skipper, I’ve got some bad news.”
“What is it,” he asked tiredly.
“LTJG ——– is pregnant.”
With a shocked look, he asked further, “Are you the father?”
“No, of course not!” I replied with as much heat and indignation as I could in good conscience muster. Which, truth be told, was no very great quantity. Being as much conscious of relief as otherwise, and the awareness of having averted catastrophe by margins whose width or narrowness did not bear scrupulous contemplation. Which we had been at sea a very long time, and I wasn’t so old or wise as all that.
Walking back down the many ladders to my office, I had a few thoughtful moments to consider the CO’s second question, wondering whether it reflected some hidden opinion on my character, before cutting us both a break: The loss of one lieutenant junior grade was certainly unfortunate, but really “bad news” would have been the loss of the ship’s operations officer right before the war kicked off.
A US Army general in northern Iraq has defended his decision to add pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could face court martial.
It is current army policy to send pregnant soldiers home, but Maj Gen Anthony Cucolo told the BBC he was losing people with critical skills…
It is the first time the US Army has made pregnancy a punishable offence…
“I’ve got a mission to do, I’m given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them.”
“So I’m going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone,” he said.
A two star general officer is as much – if not more – above my retired pay grade as I was above that libidinous LTJG. But he reports to a four star, who reports to the president and Congress, and it will be interesting to see where this policy goes.
Update: This story is certainly making the rounds, as evinced in this blog post by the noted military authority “Shakesville.” In comments we are described as “ultra right-wing”.
Geez, you wonder where they lump Beck and Limbaugh.
Update 2: Never mind -
An Army general in Iraq backed away from his threat today to court martial female soldiers who get pregnant.
“I see absolutely no circumstance where I would punish a female soldier by court martial for a violation … none,” Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III wrote to ABC News in an exclusive statement. ” I fully intend to handle these cases through lesser disciplinary action.”
I blame Bush.