WO1's are known not to be to steady on there feet, and are often times intimated by those whose commission is that above a 2nd Lieutenant. I experienced this intimation when I first heard him coming. He was loud, demanding and with out reasoning power as he stormed through the door. He wore a gold leaf of a major, but acted like "King Kong" in every thing he did and said. I was soon to find out that he was the acting battalion commander of a unit of two people, myself and a private named Brodie. His wrath was soon dispensed to others as more unfortunate souls began to arrive, for that I will always be so ever grateful, and from that day on I tried to stay out of his line of sight.
The battalion commander soon arrived but that did not slow the major in the least as he was the "hatchet man" for a rather docile Ltc. Barnes. And the training commenced... Because I was kinda busy receiving supplies we did not have much contact with the major during these few months at Fort Sill, however one occasion stands out vividly. As a last going away event one of the batteries decided to have a small party and invite some "dancing girls", needless to say the major found out and invited himself to the "show". Before the party really got underway the major was threatening court martial to the whole unit and the girls departed in haste.
Shortly afterwards the major loaded the men on a ship to be transported to Vietnam and even there he was always on top of everything. The battalion had no rest, was doing PT on the ship everyday and all where running scared not from the ultimate assignment in Vietnam but from the major. He had several men in the brig while on ship and while there they were sustained on a a bread and water diet, and the major was always ready to pounce on anyone else that should "screw up". Upon arriving in Vietnam and then road marching to Dong Ha, the misery really began. Trenches were dug for temporary shelter from the incoming rockets, and each waking minute was spent in improving our defenses. There was not even enough time to write home as each time you picked up a pencil he was there. Heaven help you if you were caught without a full uniform too include flak jacket and steel pot no matter what activity you were occupied. If it was army issued and was part of the TO and E then you must have it, use it, and take care of it, and under no circumstances was it to be altered.
On one occasion we "borrowed" some 38's with shoulder holsters from the supply depot. We all knew that we could fire these weapons better than the authorized 45's. He got "wind" of it and I got another threat of a court martial if I did not return them to the depot. He could care less about the firing accuracy he was only interested in us having what the army authorized and we better learn how to use them. We did.
His only form of entertainment was when he would invite himself to our poker games, and it was he that always demanded that we play Indian, Spit in the Ocean, Red Eye, and all of those other games that he (and only he) would know the rules. When he had all of our money he would leave the "hooch" with some derogatory comment, not to go back to his hooch but to the perimeter to see that the guards were doing it "his way".
The duty roster required a Officer of the Day, and each had specific instructions to be out and about on the perimeter all night, and we were; but each bunker visited we were told that the major had just left. He never slept, ate, smiled, visit the latrine nor said a kind word, so of course the reader must ask. Why write about this no name major?
Well he really had a name. I gave it to him and was afraid to admit it until now. "Hurricane' was just what his name implied. He came in, never had a kind word, tore down everything that we had built, raised hell and then blew out, to return at the most unexpected time to start all over. He was the force that caused each of us to excel. We hated him when his sharp words and lack of compassion cut us deeply, but now as I write this I realize it was he that caused myself and most of the original compliment of men to come home safely.
Major Robert Kindt was a soldier's soldier, his love and compassion for the men who served under him was beyond measure. He led by example and would never order a man to do anything that he was not willing to do himself. His morals, integrity, sincerity and genuine concern for his fellow man was beyond reproach. His priorities were very simple, mission first, his men second and then his needs last.
>Now as we are both retired and relive some of these experiences I have seen him smile and even a tear or two as he remembers having to make some hard decisions when he knew the outcome could be a disaster. Only a month ago I got the nerve to call him Bill and when I did I think that is when I fully realized what a great soldier and gentleman he was , and is.
It is he that is spending his time and even his own money to insure that the men of the 8th Battalion 4th Arty have a reunion that is indicative of the proud men who served in the unit during the years fighting and yes even dying in a place called Vietnam.
Thank you LTC Robert Kindt from the bottom of my heart.