Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reconnecting with the Moatengators

One of the very best assignments I had while in the Army was as a lieutenant in Panama where I served as the executive officer for an airborne infantry company.  The company was nicknamed the Moatengators, which apparently meant a bull alligator during mating season.  It was an apt nickname for a great unit, our slogan was “Gators want some meat!"  We even had several pet alligators (really caimans) in a small pool outside the company; they were fed the occasional stray cat or tree sloth and we even had them parachute with us (mouths taped shut).  Newly assigned soldiers were responsible for cleaning their pool.  It was the only airborne unit around and we wore that as a huge badge of honor compared to the rest of the units on the post.  They hated us but it made us better and the young soldiers that served in that unit were the best I ever served with.  They didn’t complain (too much) about the stifling conditions of operating in a jungle environment and the entire unit had great esprit de corps.  I was recently wandering around face book pages and found one dedicated to the Moatengators and found a picture of myself (with a much flatter stomach).  I was standing on the bar of a less than reputable establishment, which we used to dominate, in Panama City known as the Ovalo.  It was my going away party and all the paratroopers conducted a mock airplane exit off the bar.  As the guest of honor I was the jumpmaster (see below).  As I looked at some of the pictures of the former Moatengators as they appear now I can still see that glint in their eye and bravado that made them such a great team.  I can truly say that is was an honor to have served with these remarkable soldiers and it was terrific reconnecting with some of them through face book.  I had a lot of wonderful jobs in the Army but one of the ones I’m most proud of was having the Moatengators call me the “Airborne XO!”

The Ovalo!  That's Me in the Yellow Shirt on the Right
  
The Guy Holding my Right Arm is 1SG Rock (Really!) - One of Best Men I've Ever Known

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