Looking for a few good misters

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By Ken Begley


I’m a 37-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserve.

I still serve to this day.
I’ve held many jobs over the past decades but now I teach and recruit for the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
Last Saturday I was out recruiting at St. Catharine College’s Military Appreciation Day by manning a table with some recruiting giveaways, when I ran into one of the Army’s most mortal enemies walking freely about on that campus.
You know who I’m talking about.
It was a, dare I say the foul name in a family newspaper, Marine.
Actually, it was proud, retired Marine Peter Boone, who is now a manager at Toyotomi in Springfield.
Peter is living proof of the old saying “Once a Marine (with a big M), always a Marine.”
Actually, Peter was quite friendly and interested in how I identified potential officers and recruited them.
I told him “Well, first of all, everyone wants to be a part of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known and it makes recruiting a lot easier.”
Peter responded, “I know that, but we’re talking about the Army, not the Marines.”
I like a good jest as much as the next man, but Peter seemed genuinely confused as I rolled around on the floor laughing at that statement.
“Peter, Peter, quit it! You’re killing me! Give me a warning when you’re going to get a good one like that off in the future so I don’t die laughing! Ain’t the Marine Corps just part of the Navy anyway?”
“Nah, they just provide transportation.”
“Well, anyway, the second thing you have to do is match a prospective officer candidate with skills he already has to career fields in the army. A good match will get you a good ROTC Cadet every time.”
I decided to show Peter a good recruiter in action. Cindy told me that twelve young men from WCHS were competing in something called the “Washington County High School Junior Mister” contest.
Peter asked “What’s that?”
“I don’t know, but they’re high school seniors that demonstrate their talents and level of fitness during the program. When I’m through observing them, I’m going to find some fine new candidates for ROTC.”
We got to the high school gym and watched them go through some physical fitness routines first. They did some pushups, jumping jacks and then high kicks.  High kicks?!?
Peter looked on puzzled and said, “Does the army do high kicks in their physical fitness program?’
“No, but it could come in handy.”
“For officers?”
“Well, maybe not officers, but I can see from watching Brian Powers and Trae Abell that they would make excellent drill sergeants.”
“How so?”
“A good drill sergeant needs to know how to kick people in the tail, and one good kick like that would convince all the other guys to get to work.”
“True enough.”
We went on to watch Rogelio Garza come on stage with dark sunglasses and tapping a cane around on the floor. He made his way to a piano in the center of the stage. He kept raising his hands up trying to work up the crowd before he sat down at the piano. He played that piano with hands, legs and behind while lip syncing a Ray Charles song. Unfortunately, he had his back to the audience and was facing the curtain as he did all this.
“OK Begley, where would you put him?”
“Minefield detection team.”
“Hey, the guy looked blind up there.”
“I know, but tapping the ground with that cane will find a lot of mines fast. It’s better than plugging your ears with your fingers and stomping the ground with your feet like you Marines do.”
Later, we saw Taylor Wheatley come out on the stage with an umbrella and rain boots on.  He then began to sing “It’s Raining Men.” All the other guys would jump out and start gyrating to the song during the chorus, which seemed to excite the women greatly.
“What about this dude?”
“What about the gyrating guys?”
“No comment.”
Connor Riney came out dressed in a long tail tux and sat down at a piano where he played “Chop Sticks.”
“Don’t tell me.  Army band?”
“You’re getting good, Peter.  You too can be a recruiter.”
Marty Wabnitz came out and did a flag routine.
“Signal corps.”
Tyler Coulter looked like he was singing “Pocahontas,” but actually I believe I detected the voice of Lizzy Graves behind the stage curtain.  He was obviously using deception and attempting to cheat in the competition.
“Judge Advocate General‘s Corps (Army lawyer).”
Trae Abell did a dance routine with big, pink wings to the song “I Believe I Can Fly.”
“Borderline, but helicopter pilot.”
Matthew Goode did a cheer routine, in a cheerleader outfit, to the song “Micky.”
“Reject. Can’t place them all. We do have our limits.”
Anyway, I think I left Peter pretty darn impressed with my recruiting ability.
I know he left me in the parking lot.
One too many Marine jokes, I guess.
But, I’m used to it.
Cindy does it all the time.
 (Writer’s note.  My hat is off to the great comedy takeoff on the “Junior Miss Competition” done by Trae Abell, Payton Carrico, Tyler Coulter, Kyle Curtsinger, Rogelio Garza, Matthew Goode, Josh Jackson, Brian Powers, Connor Riney, Marty Wabnitz, Ken Weir, and Taylor Wheatley, who put on a great laugh fest for the town and in the process raised over $2,700 for the Relay For Life fight against cancer. The rest of the article where I was talking with Peter Boone is true except for the parts I made up, exaggerated, or lied about.  Hey Peter:  Semper Fi.)