Some people were taking the job of soldiering a bit casually on Dec. 6, 1941, says a Washougal veteran of World War II.
It took one day to change everything.
“In the peacetime Army, a lot of guys just took off,” . . . Officially, they were absent without leave — AWOL — Hamley said, but nobody seemed to be too bothered by it.
“One noncommissioned officer had been gone for seven years,” Hamley said. “But during a war, AWOL is desertion.”
When the NCO reported back to Fort Lewis, he was court-martialed and acquitted.
The noncommissioned officer testified in his own defense, and apparently made a quite a compelling argument.
As the defendant explained it, he had been hauled in front of his commanding officer for some infraction or another.
The officer chewed out the soldier. Then, the NCO testified, the officer told him:
“Get your tail out of here. I never want to see you again.”
So apparently this was an “authorized absence.”