Now that title was a little misleading but not all together untrue. There is a police chase involved but I have to tell you how it all began first.
I was trained as a Military Policeman at Fort Gordon, Georgia and assigned to my permanent duty station at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico as an enforcement officer. Since this was a top secret base everyone in the law enforcement field had to have a top secret clearance in order to enter restricted areas. You can’t be chasing a fugitive and then have to stop because you’re not allowed past a certain point.
Can you just hear, “Hey you, wait up there. I can’t chase you in there. Come back here.” The only reason the fugitive would have been caught at all would be because he was laughing too hard to run.
Anyway, while we were waiting for our clearances to arrive, we were assigned to other duties around the barracks and the immediate area in general. One of the choicer jobs would be helping the senior NCO’s (non-commissioned officers or sergeants, if-you-will) with off base projects. This often involved casual attire, relaxed work conditions and free beer.
One Saturday, four of us were requested to help SFC. White (SFC – sergeant first class) with just such an off base project that was to remain hush-hush. Two of us were to check out one pick-up truck each, fill it with gas and report to the first sergeants office for orders. This we did and then we found out what our hush-hush job was to be.
Sgt. White was moving his girl-friend from her single wide trailer on the southwest side to a real apartment in the northeast. A definite step in the right direction. The reason it was to be hush-hush is because we didn’t want Mrs. Sgt. White to find out. Not to mention it wasn’t quite kosher using military vehicles off base for civilian purposes. So many things could go wrong for so many reasons. And, of course, they did.
The day progressed normally and we got everything moved and Sgt. Whites girl-friend was quite happy. Sgt. White, I’m sure, got the better of the thank-yous but two cases of Coors wasn’t bad for five or six hours work.
Sgt. White told us to take our time getting back to the base but be careful because , after-all, we were MP’s and we were drinking. We all assured him that the vehicles and their occupants would get back to the base in one piece. We waved good by and took off into the sunset. Really, we were heading east but who’s keeping track.
We sat somewhere on the outskirts of town and consumed most of the beer. We were all getting hungry and three of the guys wanted to get back to base right away. I wanted to stop at McDonalds and get some cheeseburgers and a shake. Like I said, the sun was going down and sooner than not, it would be dark.
The three other guys went straight back to the base and, apparently, arrived without incident. I headed for the nearest McDonalds. I ordered two double cheeseburgers an order of fries and a vanilla shake to go. I then, proceeded back to the main gate and the barracks where I intended to eat my bounty.
The beer had started to kick into high gear and my decision making was taking a severe beating. Now, like I said, I was still waiting for my clearance so I could be added to the daily roster. This meant that I wasn’t recognizable by any of the gate guards or, except for the guys I arrived with, not many people at all. So, when I blew right through the main gate without stopping and just a wave from me as recognition, the response from the gate guard was immediate and quite understandable.
I told you that we had checked out two pick-up trucks from our motor pool but what I didn’t mention is that they were fully equipped Military Police vehicles as well. They both had fully functional Motorola radios, red lights and sirens. These were regular patrol vehicles used along with the squad cars there on base.
Being and MP and wanting to keep up on things, I had the Motorola turned on, the volume up and listening with great interest to what was going on. When I heard, over the radio, that there was an unauthorized person driving an MP vehicle right down Wyoming Blvd and that he had just run the main gate without stopping, I said to myself, “I’m on Wyoming and I just went trough that gate. That guy must be right in front of me.” So I did what any good MP would do, on duty or off. I turned on my red lights and siren and started to chase the culprit.
The gate guard got back on the radio and said, “You won’t have any trouble finding this guy. He’s wearing a bright yellow shirt.”
I”m thinking, “What an idiot. Why wear something bright if you’re going to try and steal an MP vehicle?”
The guard reported the vehicle approaching the cross street leading to the MP barracks so I figured he must have turned all ready because I couldn’t see him. I turned right to try and catch up to him when I saw every Military Police vehicle we had in a circular road block just ahead.
I’m thinking, “Well this guy ain’t goin’ nowhere now.”
As a pulled up and jumped out of the truck, I noticed all guns were pointed at me and I soon found myself face down on the road being handcuffed and stuffed in a patrol car.
“Why were they mad at me? I was only trying to help.” I thought.
It wasn’t until we arrived at the Provost Marshals Office that I found out that I was the one being chased. I was the idiot in the bright yellow shirt who had blown through the main gate. I was the one who was, sad to say, in hot pursuit of myself. Needless to say it took a while to live that one down.
My adventure for the evening wasn’t over just yet though. I still had to get myself out of hot water with the enforcement officer Lt. Darnell. He was kind of a namby-pamby type of guy and all the regular MP’s that had been around for a while called him Linda. This was after the very attractive dark-haired actress from the 1940’s Linda Darnell. He didn’t appreciate it at all.
Anyway, the only thing I could say was that my use of the vehicle was authorized by the first sergeant. I couldn’t say why I was using it or where I had been using it or anything about anything. Very hush-hush, remember?
I told Lt. Darnell that he should call first sergeant Wilson if he needed clarification.
Lt. Darnell got this smug look on his face and said, “You really want me to call the first sergeant at this hour? Is that what you WANT me to do Binkley?”
I said, “I really wish you would sir.” “By-the-way, they took my cheeseburgers when they brought me in sir.”
He said, “Never mind the cheeseburgers. Those are the least of your problems.” “Now about that truck Binkley.”
“Sir, I said, You’re going to have to call the first sergeant.”
He looked at me puzzled but then said, “All right, I’ll call first sergeant Wilson but he’s not going to be happy about having to come down here this late at night.”
“No sir, I don’t expect he will be.”
It took first sergeant Wilson and Sgt. White about half an hour to get over to the Provost Marshals Office and into the back office where I was being detained and still in cuffs, by-the-way.
Just a little clarification about rank in the army or any branch of the service for that matter. A sergeant is, technically, out-ranked by an officer. Any officer. And, for the most part, this works out well most of the time. That is until push comes to shove and then all bets are off. When a first sergeant says jump, most 2nd and 1st lieutenants will only ask, “How high sergeant?” and then start jumping until the sergeant decides to answer. You will find this also holds true with a lot of Captains as well.
A first sergeant doesn’t become a first sergeant without years of experience and training you can only get with time. This is why they are so valuable and are listened to religiously.
When first sergeant Wilson and Sgt. White came through the door to the office, Lt. Darnell still had that smug look on his face. That soon disappeared when Sgt. Wilson said, “What the hell is the meaning of this Darnell?” “What’s so God damn important to get me out this time of night?”
Darnell, pardon the phrase but, he didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. He thought I was going to be the one in trouble but it didn’t seem to be working out quite that way. Darnell started to explain what was going on. About me drinking and driving a military vehicle with emergency equipment going. Being involved in a pursuit even if I was just pursuing myself. Unauthorized use of an MP vehicle, etc., etc., etc.
I saw Sgt. White lean over and whisper something to the first sergeant and they both kind of stifled a smile when Sgt. Wilson bellowed, “Darnell, get those cuffs off that soldier and do it now.”
All I could do is sit there with this sheepish look on my face. I didn’t know whether the next shoe to drop would be on me or whether Darnell would get that one too.
Sgt. Wilson kind of growled at Lt. Darnell and put his hand on my shoulder. He said, “Are you all right? You’re not hurt or anything?”
I assured him I was fine but I was hungry. He laughed and said that the mess hall wouldn’t be open for several hours yet. I told him that I had stopped at McDonald’s to get cheeseburgers , fries and a vanilla shake.
He looked at me and asked, “And you’re still hungry?”
I told him that when I was arrested, Lt. Darnell confiscated my food and I hadn’t seen it since.
The Sgt. looked at Darnell and said, “Go get this man his food and by God it had better all be there.”
Darnell swallowed hard and started to send someone else after the McDonald’s bag when Sgt. Wilson looked at Darnell and said, “I told you to get it. Didn’t I?”
Lt. Darnell never said a word. He simply walked out of the office and returned with my food which he placed on the desk next to me.
“Now, said the first sergeant, after Binkley here has finished his food and when he is ready to be transported, YOU, Mr. Darnell, will give him a ride back to the barracks. You will see he gets to his room and is made comfortable for the night. You will then make sure he is not on any duty roster for tomorrow and that he is not disturbed. Is that clear?”
“Yes first sergeant. But what about the charges?”
“What charges, lieutenant?, he growled, Just what charges are you referring to?”
I never heard anything more about the incident that memorable night in 1967. Mrs. Sgt. White remained blissfully unaware of her husbands shenanigans and, Lt. Darnell and I, well let’s just say, I never made it onto his Christmas card list.
Well, that’s the way it happened oh so many years ago or, that’s the way I remember it. Take your pick.
Don’t wait for Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day to thank a veteran for his or her service. Show you care for them as much as they showed they cared for you.
Have a great day and a wonderful New Year!!