Appraisement & Restitution…. #94 (the 60’s)

With the passing months, the day of appraisement approaching,  Willson was called to report to  the DB’s Judge Advocates office.  The staff officer informing him that the Military Appeals Court in Washington DC had reviewed his case and had determined that the sentencing instructions given to the  Court Martial Panel was in error,  the results of his Court Martial have been set aside and he is to be restored to active duty with all back pay benefits, Gary was stunned.

The Officer detailing,  he would be assigned to a retraining group for six weeks, reintroduced to a missile battalion, but because of his record would no longer retain his M O S having lost his secret security clearance, his service time would be extended as there was no credit for absence or incarceration time-served,  and his military record would reflect his past activities.

Gary having totally forgotten,   the Court of Appeals automatic review of his Court Martial and a return to duty was the furthest thing in his mind.  It wasn’t that he wanted to continue,  although in some respect he would miss his repertoire with the band and his recent discovered musical arrangement infrastructure.  He discovered a total lack of enthusiasm to return to military life,  especially after eight months of incarceration, it would be like a continuation of punishment


ary seeking Sgt. Demand’s help in seeing if it would be possible to speak to someone from the Judge Advocates Office concerning his return to duty.  At the Judge Advocates office,  questioning the representative about the possibility of a discharge,  the JAG officer informing him that his record reflected no justification for a discharge, then interposing something that almost sounded intentional that raised a flag, adding,  unless one was subject to a judicial process for an infraction during his retraining.

The move from the Castle didn’t entitle far to go, the training unit was located in the 3 storied MP Headquarters Building directly across the street from the west wall and Building 362 of the Disciplinary Barracks.  His introduction was reminiscent of the past, much like basic training, the groups billets was a second floor bunk lined bay, the participants standing at attention as a SFC informed them of their good fortune and the opportunity to return to duty,  then discharging  the pleasantries,  bellowing the ‘what not’s’  of discipline that would be instilled during their stay, including not to converse with anyone but those in this unit.  During the first nights  evening mess, Gary recognizing some the MP cadre as Castle guards, including Sergeants Demands well liked assistant Corporal Jim,  Gary acknowledging his hello with a nod,   saying Hi.  Upon returning upstairs to the bay, he found the SFC waiting for him, lambasting him for breaking the rules on his first day,  speaking to someone in the mess hall,  then listing the removal of future privileges as punishment.

That night in bed found Gary struggling with his conscious, whether to even attempt to travel down this once traveled road again,  there has to be another way.  Returning from the mess hall that first morning, the group once again standing at the foot of their beds awaiting inspection from the duty NCO, all the beds properly dressed and displayed save one.  The NCO halting at Gary’s bed, questioning him why the bed wasn’t made, instructing him to make his bed,  then asking “ are you refusing to make your bed?”   Gary breaking his silence with one word. “yes”.   It was repeated three times, “Willson I’m giving you a direct order to make your bed”,  Gary refusing to comply.  The sergeant escorting his charge down the hall to the duty officer, giving an explanation, the Lieutenant looking somewhat perplexed having never experienced something of this order before.

The officer reiterating,  that by his noncompliance of a direct order,  charges could be filed and he could be returned to the DB to await court martial proceedings.  Gary having made his decision, finally making a statement  “I would rather be there, than here.”  His restoration to duty preparation having lasted less than 24 hours,  handcuffed and escorted to the DB’s  basement solitary confinement.  His stay was short lived,  the second day being transferred back into population to a cell on the ground floor  of the 4th wing cell block,  being assigned as a minimum security custodian,  responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the 8 tier edifice.

The justice system at Fort Leavenworth moved swiftly, a special court-martial was convened in less than 30 days, unlike the large hearing room with a convening judge and six man panel board for a General Court Martial, the Special Court Martial was held in JAG office almost like an informal hearing with a presiding officer and a three officer panel.  Gary agreeing to answer questions about his infraction and able to  summarized that it would be best that he would be separated from the service.  The sentencing was delayed, Gary being interviewed several time, given a battery of test, including physiological and a IQ test.  Once again ordered to report to the JAG office, the staff member conferring the intrinsic results of his Special Court-martial,  in brief it gave notice that Pvt. Gary Willson would be issued a 257A General Discharge Under Honorable Condition and separated from the service on August 29th.

The day of restitution having arrived,  but for some reason its reception was without fanfare, there was no feeling of contentment, a cloud of solitude engulfed Gary as he made  the rounds picking up his fitted summer weight  ‘jody suit’, white shirt,  tie, and new shoes.  Boarding a jeep at the gate, his only possession being a small satchel containing what few personal item he had,  questioning the driver why he was being handcuffed as they were going to the Post Out processing center, the driver saying one word, regulations.


A glance back at  The Castle,  knowing the catharsis effect it had on those lives  it appraised, but also knowing that it would take time to adjust to his departure from the confines of regiment, and obtain an exit to ambiguity.

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