NOTE: after a half-century of specialization in military law, it turns out we have some war stories to tell.
Here are three:
An old timer from the Army Air Corps, the late revered Myron Birnbaum, once explained why the court-martial flyer was often called a “flimsy.” Seems that on the western frontier, there was at least one sergeant connected to each judge advocate office who could read and write proficiently. But that was not the end of that individual’s talents.
After carefully writing out the charges in a fine Copperplate hand with high-quality ink , the talented NCO would apply a few thin pieces of paper – a flimsy –on top of the Copperplate original. With a little bit of water and a sponge, a few added and hopefully legible copies of the original could be made. A far cry, of course, from modern technology and instant reproduction of legal papers.
Then there is the story of the captain of a large, American naval vessel, seeking to avoid a collision. He demanded that an approaching object change course. The individual at the other end impertinently advised the captain that he was the one who needed to change course. The Navy captain was having none of it. He warned that he and his flotilla could do serious damage to the disrespectful party. “Your call,” came the response, “but be warned — this is a lighthouse.”
How things have changed. When we entered the Air Force a half century ago, YOU could be discharged with less than an honorable discharge if you had a homosexual friend.