The Wet Naked Man

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Particularly in a military environment, the shower is for getting clean,
not socializing. Unsplash photo—photographer One Beauty.

Private Daniels was just not cut out to be a soldier. A wheeled vehicle mechanic, she was forever in trouble. She stole money from her roommate and then attacked the young lady with a shoe brush for reporting her. At the time of this incident she was already being put out of the Army for writing bad checks.

Private Daniels’ boyfriend was a local civilian whom she had met in a bar. I have no idea what he did or where he came from. She had invited him up to her room in the barracks, and he was stupid enough to accept.

CW2 Johansen was one of my Warrant Officers. A former NCO before attending the Warrant Officer course and flight training, Bill was an old school soldier. This fateful evening he was the Battalion Staff Duty Officer. Part of his responsibility involved circling through the barracks, the hangars and the motor pools to ensure everything was quiet and secure. Most officers, myself included, did a fairly cursory job of this. We weren’t at war, and the possibility that the Russians might try to infiltrate our truck park seemed low. Not so Bill Johansen. He checked everything quite thoroughly.

It was wintertime and well below freezing. Bill linked up with the CQ (Charge of Quarters) of the female barracks for a quick walk-through. (Barracks were segregated by gender back then.) The CQ was a junior enlisted soldier whose duty it was to mind the front desk to the barracks all night. As it was a female-only facility, the CQ served as Bill’s escort as he did his walk-through. On the second floor, as they strolled past the communal latrine, they heard jungle noises.

Bill dispatched the CQ to investigate. The CQ duly reported that Private Daniels and her boyfriend were enjoying a cozy shower together. Bill Johansen was having none of that.

Bill was a pretty intimidating guy. He snatched up Private Daniels’ terrified boyfriend and frog marched him, dripping and naked, down to the CQ desk. The poor kid asked if he could go back to Private Daniels’ room to retrieve his clothes, but Bill refused. He felt this to be a teachable moment.

It’s all fun and games until you’re running wet and naked through the snow.
Unsplash photo—photographer Abdullah Ali.

The boyfriend was soaking wet. Bill had the CQ fetch whatever clothing was available in the latrine for the guy to use to cover himself. The CQ returned with Private Daniels’ see-through pink negligee.

Imagine if you will a 19-year-old wet, terrified man shivering in an office wearing nothing but a woman’s sexy transparent nightgown. With this as a foundation, Bill went to work. He started the conversation by postulating how long he thought the kid would go to jail for molesting government property.

Bill explained that Private Daniels belonged to the government, and that the penalties for illicit showering with GIs were severe. By the time he got done the unfortunate young man was expecting fifteen to twenty years hard labor at Fort Leavenworth. At that critical moment Bill placed a phone call. When he returned to the holding area the damp naked man was nowhere to be found.

The kid had crawled out the window. It was 26 degrees out, and Private Daniels’ date was both soaked and barefoot. Additionally, ours was an absolutely enormous Army post. It was literally miles to the nearest gate. Bill sighed and rang up the MPs. He asked them to be on the lookout for a desperate, shivering, wet naked man trying to escape and evade off post. They dispatched a squad car and found the poor miserable guy in short order.

The MPs gave the kid a ride to his apartment off post and donated an Army blanket to the cause. Though I can’t be sure, I rather suspect the sordid events of the evening put a damper on the blossoming relationship between Private Daniels and her now exceptionally clean boyfriend.

Bill briefed me up on the situation the following day. I didn’t have the heart to castigate Private Daniels. She was already well on her way to becoming a civilian. Sharing a communal shower with a civilian in the female barracks wasn’t going to substantially accelerate that process.

I don’t know exactly what I expected work to be like when I chose to become an Army officer. I hoped for travel and adventure, to be sure, but I never expected stuff like that. As for Bill Johansen, he felt good about himself. He could rest easy in the knowledge that absolutely all of the Battalion property was indeed secure.

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