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Richard Calmes | all galleries >> VIETNAM WAR 1968-1969 > Self Portrait
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Self Portrait

Self Portrait

A picture like this has a story and here it is:

I had been in Vietnam for 10 months. Most of our company personnel were “seasoned”. We had a professional work ethic and we got the job done whatever the task…but we also had a sense of humor and a bit of a don’t-give-a-damn attitude. One day we got a new company commander, a Captain. This was his first job in Vietnam. He immediately discovered that we did not have morning revelee formation and roll call. He was determined to reinstate that “fine military tradition”. The first day, 2 or 3 soldiers out of 30 showed up. Then he issued threats of Article 15 if we did not show up the next day.

So I came up with the idea of dressing the whole company as “Mousekateers”. I made these ears with cardboard and spring steel. It took 8 or 10 of us to come up with all of the words to the Mickey Mouse Club song. Next morning 6AM we ALL fell out and marched in formation to the roll call area singing the Mickey Mouse Club song, wearing the ears, underpants, no shirts, and flipflops.

The Captain had a stroke! He used a great deal of profanity and called us pretty much everything you could imagine. Word spread throughout the headquarters and by 10AM I was standing, heels locked, at attention in front of the Colonel and Sergeant Major. They ran the headquarters complex. I explained that we had never had a roll call in the whole time we had been in country and that everyone showed up for work on time and did their jobs well. And we thought it was pretty “Mickey Mouse” to have us fall out for a useless formation. They must have agreed.

The captain was transferred to one of our field units before the week was out. From then on that Company Commander slot was filled by Captains with only a few weeks left on their tours. We never had to fall out again.

I hesitated to post this shot with all of these serious shots of war…and especially to end this gallery with this totally out of character image. I mean no disrespect to those who have served, I honor all, but it is important to understand that I believe a sense of humor is a vital part of surviving war. So now you have the whole “picture”.

other sizes: small medium large original
Manley Mast 16-Mar-2017 02:11
Qunloi,comrades 68,69,70,contact me
Manley Mast 16-Mar-2017 02:08
Want to locate anyone in Qunloi ? 68,69,70,husband is getting where he will talk about what happened there,had good friends ,comrades,that he would like to contact,or hear from signal Corp Manley Mast,N.C.let us know.
Guest 28-May-2015 19:42
Humor is what gets one through the horrors of war. The story had me laughing.
PJ 12-Mar-2012 00:01
M I C (c yah real soon) K E Y (y becuz we like you) M O U S E!!!!!!!
C Ann How17-Apr-2010 18:20
Wonderful story and the image to go with... humor is a wonderful survival mechanism- enjoyed very much~
Swede 22-Aug-2009 04:03
lol, good one
Swede 22-Aug-2009 04:03
lol, good one
LOVEballet 20-May-2009 01:00
Guest 26-Feb-2009 06:36
we really needed something to smile at.......but you take the cake..........kudos...wonderful job....good luck and WELCOME HOME
Rosa 12-Aug-2008 04:32
u r the weirdest dude in this wide world
Debbi In California23-Dec-2007 14:51
You have a sense of humor in the most horrible place and circumstance. Kudos to you!
Joasia Poland 08-Jul-2007 10:25
Rescued by a sense of humour ..? :).. it is sad..
Korey Moore18-Jun-2007 23:31
When reading the story on the ears that put a smile on my face. Nice to see you can still have a sense of humor even in times like those. Again thanks for sharing this gallery it's awesome.
Gus Rosenfeld03-Jun-2007 03:19
Absolutely, one of my favorites. I'm no Darwin, but I can see the origins of the 'Musicians Behaving Badly' gallery right here. The story (below this image) is like a compact Tom Wolfe novel; an anecdote to the changing references and alternative actions over time with respect to the unwavering values of honor. And the ears? Well, let's just say they give me a whole fresh outlook on the idea of external flash ;-) g
Jim Kramer01-Jun-2007 15:19
great story - sounds like something you'd see on an episode of MASH!
Gayle P. Clement19-Feb-2007 01:15
I love seeing this and hearing you story. In times of stress laughter gives one strength I love this.
Reflections by Ruth18-Feb-2007 19:23
what a great picture of you :) you are right, a sense of humor will get us through many a hard times.
Glad you made it safely so we can now enjoy your extraodinary photography :)
Sheila16-Feb-2007 01:02
You have to have a sense of humour! This is an hilarious story. Could almost imagine Robin Williams taking your part in a film LOL!
Neil Hermansdorfer16-Feb-2007 01:01
That is a great representation of the way things were then. You had more cojones to pull that off than I would have had. Thanks for posting this. I didn't see this one the first time I went through your gallery.
A second vote.
Sergio Pessolano14-Feb-2007 11:41
Great image for a great story. Voted.
Dan Ng14-Feb-2007 08:20
Hilarious portrait...hope it brings back a few fond memories. Thanks for sharing. V.
Joanne Kamo14-Feb-2007 03:02
Thanks for sharing this story Richard. I'm glad you have a sense of humor. Memorable shot. V
Guest 13-Feb-2007 00:27
You're a braver man than me to post this photo of yourself! Actually, I'm glad you have a sense of humor and are willing to share it with us. Rodney
Kees Terberg13-Feb-2007 00:15
Hehehe, I don't think that you have changed a bit. Heya Mickey!
aLub@12-Feb-2007 17:14
Haha great shot Richard. You looked like my high school Math teacher tho.
Robyco12-Feb-2007 13:13
To make the story complete it fits perfect. This SP is great too and the story behind gives the right expression and in which context this picture should be seen. Big Vote
lorin niculae12-Feb-2007 08:32
very funny expression. I like the humanity of it, in such a war circumstance.
flowsnow12-Feb-2007 03:48
Nice shot Richard!
Bryan Ramsay11-Feb-2007 16:28
Your gallery should be lesson for every new graduate of the Academy and OCS! Great shot! Every time I come back to this gallery I take a little time to pause and reflect. Thanks for sharing. -BJ
Paradoxal Studio Classic11-Feb-2007 11:31
Ha ! Great !
Eric Carrère11-Feb-2007 08:14
Hé hé hé....Fantastic portrait Rchard...Nice to see you, V :o)
Michael11-Feb-2007 01:54
I don't know about today's army, but Mickey Mouse ran rampant thru the army during the mid 60's. I think old Mickey spent time attempting to command every company at one time or another. You bring back some memories.
Hodero11-Feb-2007 00:17
Great SP,and fantastic story Richard.
Thanks for sharing this special period with us.
Anna Pagnacco10-Feb-2007 23:41
You did it !!:-)...thank you for the story behind also.Anna
Fong Lam10-Feb-2007 23:20
Hi Richard, a funny but wonderful SP !!
Naomi Sheaffer10-Feb-2007 22:59
Great picture and story behind it. GMV
Dale John Larsen10-Feb-2007 22:50
Yep, that was Vietnam. Great story. Humor is always better than fragging.
Guest 10-Feb-2007 22:43
Thank you for sharing this story Richard. As Bill said, it is a Mash kind of story, but more importantly it is part of your story. Many thanks and hugs. Niki
CIS10-Feb-2007 21:59
Loved the photo and the story behind it! Bravo to all of you for carrying it off at such a time in life.
olivier bruning10-Feb-2007 21:29
Mickey Calmes Down! terriffic shot!
Martha Albuquerque10-Feb-2007 20:08
Haha, great SP, Richard! Thanks for sharing it. V
Enny10-Feb-2007 19:22
Hi Richard, you are gorgeous, are you married.
Sam_C10-Feb-2007 19:12
Wow Richard, that's a great image, and story!! You got a great sense of humor, as seen here, and I'm sure that was a big part of what got you through. Big Vote! :-)
Tom Beech10-Feb-2007 18:56
Thanks for a wonderful series of photos in this gallery, and I think this is a great way to close it out 8-)
sushislee10-Feb-2007 18:46
humor can sava life..:)
Francisco Figueras10-Feb-2007 18:40
wow! terrific!
BleuEvanescence10-Feb-2007 18:36
Richard...that is such a funny picture and i command you for showing it in the context you described, you want balance in your life and you are doing just fine. Your other galeries are also beautiful witness in that respect. :)
Paco López10-Feb-2007 18:31
Nice and funny Richard! You have a wonderful memories...! ¡V!
De'Carr Studio10-Feb-2007 18:25
The kind of humor one would see on the tv series..MASH..Lover the story!
Jola Dziubinska10-Feb-2007 17:53
Wonderful memories of human strenght and sense of humor even in the worst wartime situation. Thank you, Richard, for posting it.
firstbrook10-Feb-2007 17:29
Nice one Richard..;-)
Ray Rebortira10-Feb-2007 17:25
War is serious, war is absurd but if we can still laugh, then we have not surrendered our humanity. Thank you for making us laugh. Bravo!!!
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