Saturday, April 16, 2011

That's one way to get ahead...

Libya's Muammar al-Qadhafi (pick your own transliteration) has been in the news quite a bit lately: Here he is (in a very restrained powder-blue uniform) celebrating the 40th anniversary of the coup d'etat that brought him to power...

...which reminds me of a story.

One of my military science instructors was a salty, very senior NCO I'll call "SGM Carter" (not his real name). Carter was a Green Beret who had made many HALO drops and had been awarded the Purple Heart numerous times in Vietnam. He also had extensive experience working with military units from other countries, and one day he happened to mention that among the foreign soldiers he had trained was a young Libyan named Muammar al-Qadhafi. So I asked him, somewhat impertinently, "Sergeant Major, this guy is a dictator. He could be General Qadhafi, or Generalissimo Qadhafi, or Field Marshal Qadhafi...why Colonel Qadhafi?"

Carter growled back at me: "Colonel's a pretty healthy promotion, considering he was a goddamned staff sergeant when he took over the country."

[Other sources have him as a captain at the time of the coup, but it's still a good story.]

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