ECHO AND THE THOUGHT POLICE By Kim Hart, 4 RAR (CDO)
It was with dread that we lippy jubes learnt that we would be having chockos from 1 CDO attached for our deployment. Fortunately we discovered that some of them were good value.
Echo was born, raised and lived his entire life in Darlinghurst. He was always an odd fellow. However, one incident took the cake as far as weirdness is concerned.
It was about halfway through our tour and Echo had already taken to wearing nothing but an old plastic rice sack with arm holes cut into it when at the retrains station behind Balibo. This was his evening wear.
When we went back down the mountain to JPA, he found a new direction in which to take his odd-ball behaviour.
Echo constructed a crude helmet out of alfoil he had ‘borrowed’ on a hot box run. He wore this thing everywhere and even wrapped his sunglasses in foil, leaving only narrow slits for his eyes. As tends to happen on these tours, the top brass flew into town to make polite small talk with the hoi polloi. On our tour the top brass was Gen Cosgrove and boy, were we excited – not nearly as excited as when we heard that Sandra Sully was going to visit, which nearly drove the boys into a frenzy – but excited nonetheless. We dreamed about lying to the CDF about how great our issued boots were and what a non-jack champion our boss was.
So the big day arrived and Big Pete rolled into JPA. As Pl Sig (a position I gained when the previous sig told the moustachioed boss that he didn’t trust men with facial hair as they were hiding something), I prepared the out-of-date Nescafé with Brazilian sugar and Korean milk and the stale German biscuits and served it up to the boss, the OC, the CSM, the Sarge and of course Pete and his LT batboy. I then sat down at my desk at the other end of the room to continue work.
Shortly thereafter Echo popped in with his helmet on. “Hey, Harty have you finished with that book I lent you?” I handed him the book without really registering his get-up – so used to his Klingeresque escapades was I. He turned to leave and then paused, looked Cosgrove dead in the eye and said, while tapping his head, ”You’ll never steal my thoughts.”
He then left as though he hadn’t just done the strangest thing ever in the presence of a service chief.
Cosgrove looked at the boss and simply said, “Andy, I want to look over the platoon rest plan if you don’t mind.”