W E B Griffin – Corp 06 – Close Combat

“Not me,” Pick said. “Johnny Reb here-”

“Screw you, Pick,” Dunn interrupted.

“-gets the Navy Cross at half past three from Frank Knox. And at half past five, Easterbrook gets the Bronze Star from a general named Stewart at Eighth and I.”

“Oh,” Fowler said.

He doesn’t know he’s being decorated. Was that intentional, or a foul-up? Should I tell him?

“Can I see you a minute, Uncle Dick?” Pick asked.

“Certainly. You want to come next door?”

Pickering followed through the door connecting the two apartments, then closed it after him.

“What’s that fellow… Dunn, you said?”

“Dunn,” Pick confirmed.

“… done to earn the Navy Cross?”

“He shot down ten Japanese aircraft. Three at Midway, seven on the ‘Canal.”

“And how many have you shot down?” Fowler asked softly.


“Doesn’t that make you an ace?”

“I have always been an ace,” Pick said.

“There are those who are saying that air power saved Guadalcanal,” Fowler said.

“Has it been saved?”

“It’s not over. But the Japanese apparently took their best shot, and it wasn’t good enough.”

“I hadn’t heard,” Pick said.

“I should have thought you’d be fascinated to hear the news from there.”

Pick ignored the question. “If anybody saved the ‘Canal-if, in fact, it has been saved-it was the Marine with a rifle in his hand who saved it.”

“That’s pretty modest of you, isn’t it?”

“No. That’s the way it is. I have a hard time looking a rifle platoon leader in the eye; it makes me feel like a feather merchant.”

“I’m sure he feels the same way about you,” Fowler said, then changed the subject. “What did you want to ask me, Pick?”

“I need some influence. I need an air priority for Dunn-he lives near Mobile, Alabama-to get him from there to Los Angeles on November 5. And the same thing for the Easterbunny. He lives near Jefferson City, Missouri, wherever the hell that is.”

” ‘The Easterbunny’? Why do you call him that?”

“What else would you call a nineteen-year-old who blushes and whose name is Easterbrook?”

“But those were officer’s uniforms the bellman carried in there. He’s only nineteen and he’s an officer?”

“He’s been an officer for maybe three days. I need an air priority for him from here to Jefferson City, leaving as soon as possible after five-thirty today, and then from there to Los Angeles.”

“Call my office, they’ll arrange it. I’ll tell them to expect the call.”

“Thank you.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll probably stay here. Mother’s in Honolulu. God only knows where The General is, and I’m sure I’m beginning to get on Grandpa’s nerves living in his apartment.”

“You better not let him hear you say that,” Fowler said, chuckling. “Your father-the-general is in Brisbane. The President sent him there.”

“To do what?”

“I’m sorry, Pick, I can’t tell you; that’s privileged.”

Pick shrugged.

“Well, if you stick around here, we’ll have dinner,” Fowler said.

“Love to. Thanks for the help.”

“I’m invited to that awards ceremony in Knox’s office, Pick. You want to ride over with me?”

“Fine, thank you.”

“I’ll pick you up at quarter to three,” Fowler said. “Now let me make some telephone calls.”

The first call the Senator made was to his office, to tell his administrative assistant that Young Pickering would be calling. The second was to the Hon. Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy.

The Director of Marine Corps Public Relations was also on the phone to Secretary Knox’s office that afternoon. It was quite easy for Captain David Haughton, USN, Secretary Knox’s administrative assistant, to clarify for him the confusion about which Marine officers were to be decorated and by whom. The Secretary desired to make the presentations to all three officers personally.

And it turned out to be just as easy for the Director of Public Affairs, USMC, to carry out the Secretary’s desires in regard to this ceremony. The President’s presentation of the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Thomas M. “Machine Gun” McCoy was scheduled for 1100 the next day. General Stewart had already laid on a dry run for the still and motion picture photographers and the sound team who’d be recording that event. And now, instead of practicing with Marines playing the roles of the people involved, those technicians would simply go to the Secretary of the Navy’s office today. Two birds with one stone. General Stewart was pleased with himself.

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