To our readers who are attempting for a career in Special Operations, you’ll meet all kinds of interesting people everywhere you go. Some societies are eclectic, like our own. Others are very regimented, but one thing that will never change, no matter where you travel are kids.
As Americans we have a built-in affinity for kids, we love kids, and will stop most anything we’re doing and talk to or help kids out. Of course, our enemies know this and they can and have used kids against us at times. But it doesn’t change our outlook on kids and hopefully, it never will. But kids are universally funny and can also be of great assistance in local areas as well.
There was a television show hosted by Art Linkletter from 1952-69, called House Party and every show, he’d air a segment called “Kids say the Darndest Things.” And here are a few funny anecdotes from back in the day that some of you may enjoy.
Recently we posted a piece and mentioned our team from 3/7th SFG getting tasked with fixing a school during our Christmas “break” in training while in the country of Bolivia. While we working on renovating the school, the parents in the town, volunteered to help out with the labor. This one young couple were both helping out at the school and had two very young kids a boy and a girl. And somehow both got attached to me. Of course, as most of the locals in the town were of the Aymara Indian descent, they’re rather vertically challenged. We must have seemed like giants to them.
They would follow me around everywhere and if I sat down, both of them would climb in my lap. Every morning the little dude would wait and soon as he would see me, he’d snap to attention and give me a salute. Of course, the guys on the team thought that was funny. “Hey Chief, how much are you paying that kid, to salute you?” or the better one was, “we had to travel 4000 miles for Chief to find someone to salute him.”
The parents would bring their lunches with them and all four would take a break together around noon. The teachers at the school always put something together for the A-Team every day and it was always good. One day, I asked the parents to take the kids inside to eat with us. The three of us shared a chair and once the school teachers saw the kids, we had a junk food lunch, with too many sweets and soda. The little boy looked at me and said, “Do you eat like this every day? I want to have lunch with you from now on…”
Just a few years ago, I was working on a personal security mission that traveled to several countries in the Middle East. We had a few weeks where our clients were visiting Egypt. It was a fascinating place, somewhere that had been on my personal bucket list and despite working, I was happy to see much of what I dreamed about seeing back as a kid.
We went to visit a place in the center of Cairo where kids went to school and worked alongside adults for part of the day. As we gathered outside and were preparing to shuffle everyone inside, a group of street urchins, about 10 in all and very young approached. The oldest and the leader of the crew couldn’t have been more than 10, the rest were younger, with the youngest probably only about five.
By the way, he was dressed, the leader of the kids pegged my partner as an Englishman. And he sidled up to him and spoke pretty decent English, much better than my few words of Arabic. He said, “excuse me, sir, could I please have a cigarette?” My bud Tom didn’t say a word but just shook his head. The kid nonplussed said, “God save the Queen.”
Now as for myself, this kid had me pegged right off as an American. Maybe it was the ballcap. But his entire schtick was different. “Hey Joe, you give me a Marlboro eh?” When I told him that I don’t smoke, either the answer shocked him that some people don’t smoke or he didn’t believe me. But his answer was completely different.
“Yes…well f**k George Buuush then!” he said. I laughed and told him he wasn’t President anymore and that Obama was. “Hey Joe, f**k him too!” Cracking up, I gave him a dollar and they scattered.
But perhaps the best one on how kids are so in tune with things going on locally happened in Panama. One night we were waiting to get picked by two helicopters on a small landing zone. It was pitch dark and we moved into the small clearing waiting for the choppers to come in.
Out of nowhere come two kids on ancient bikes with the old wicker baskets on the handlebars, circa 1950s style. They had ice cold Cokes inside and were hawking them for a quarter.
We shushed them out of there as it was dangerous for the kids with choppers coming in. So, the first chopper comes in, and we load and take off. We fly for about 10-15 minutes, do a false insertion and then land at another LZ. We move to the edge of the jungle and waited for the second to come in.
A few seconds later we heard that familiar swooshing sound and the same two kids, all out of breath, and sweating comes tearing into the LZ from the dirt road. They asked in Spanish if we wanted a Coke now. Sure thing kid. What the hell.
We did get some good intel from young kids at times in Bolivia that told us where drug labs were and sometimes where people were stashing the precursor chemicals but those were rare. In Robin Sage, the kids who worked for the SF auxiliary in the Uwharrie National Forest were already pros at drawing maps and detailing where the “enemy” positions were. The enemy troops, in this case, were 82nd Airborne troops and the kids would wander up under the guise of saying hello and being in awe of the troops and come back and drew detailed sketches of their positions and were their crew-served weapons were.
So for you young guys coming into the pipeline, don’t discount kids for their intelligence value, both for you and against you. But like we said at the outset, they’re the same everywhere and they do say the darndest stuff.
Photo: US Army
Originally published on Special Operations.com