Doc stood in the doorway of sick-bay when he saw the Humvee roll up tot the Commanders’ tent. There were two Marine Corps officers in the vehicle, one was driving and had the rank of Captain. The other, the passenger was a Lt. Colonel.
Both men got out and went inside the tent. The Captain had a wooden box in his hands that he had taken from the back of the Humvee.
Doc wasn’t curious about this activity as it happened several times a week. He continued to lean on the aluminum frame of sick-bay and sip at his luke warm coffee.
A couple minutes later he turned and went back inside to finish up the paper work from the mornings sick-call duties. There wasn’t much to do as not very many Marines lined up for sick-call.
“Hey, Doc,” came a voice from outside the tent. It was Staff Sergeant Murray. He was a munitions expert and was in the middle of his third enlistment.
“What?” Doc answered.
“Their handing out Good Conduct medals,” Murray replied.
Doc shook his head, before commenting, “So, I’m not entitled.” Then he asked, “You going to get one?”
“Yup,” said Murray. Then the slightly older man smiled.
Doc could see that the smile meant mischief. The Corpsman knew it was half-smiles and raised eyebrows that tended to get him and others in trouble. It was also the reason Doc wasn’t entitled to the medal.
“What?” Doc asked Murray.
“I dare you to go stand in line with everyone else when they start handing them out,” Murray said.
“No way!” Doc responded.
“Must be chicken-shit, huh?” Murray countered.
Doc looked at the sergeant, than took the bait. “No!” he shot back. Then he added, “Okay, I’ll do it and when I do you’ll own me a bottle of JD. Got it?”
“You’re on,” Murray said as he stepped out side the tent and disappeared out of sight.
Doc hurried to finish his paper work and get it properly filed. He thought about the bet and what a bottle of booze would do for the moral of his squad.
Minutes later he was back standing in the doorway of the sickbay. The two Marine officers came out of the C.O.’s tent and stood looking up and down the camp.
The announcement of a general formation had already been post a couple days before, so Doc knew when and where he was to be. He felt a slight wave of nervousness sweep over him and he chuckled at the thought of what he was about to do.
Just before noon, Marines started milling about in the common area of the camp. Doc went over and joined in until when formation was called. About 30 men lined up shoulder to shoulder. Doc took the position on the very end to the far left of the formation.
Within minutes the two Marine Corps officers were moving down the line, taking time to pin a medal on each Marine, shake hands in congratulations’ and then a salute. The Captain had the wooden box in his hands, open and exposing a mass of Good Conduct medals in it.
It took about fifteen minutes for the Colonel to get to Doc’s place in the line. He took a one of the medals from the box and pinned it above the Corpsman’s left breast pocket.
Then he shook his hand, stepped back and saluted Doc. He saluted back and that was the end of the ceremony.
Once the formation was dismissed, Doc returned to the sick-bay tent. A few minutes later Murray appeared in the doorway. He dug a bottle out of his pocket and set it on Doc’s desk.
“You got away with,” he said, adding, “I can’t believe it.”
Both men laughed as Doc picked up the bottle and dropped it in the bottom drawer of the desk, locking it up. He felt relaxed now that he was no longer being dared to do something stupid just for a bottle of Jack Daniel.