“Where is LT Abbondanza? Is LT Abbondanza is this tent?”; bellowed MAJ True, a large and imposing 4th ID Viet Nam War veteran.
It was about 1 AM.
MAJ True’s tone was serious; this was not going to be a late night bullshit session.
My Ammunition Management Section was asleep in our GP Medium along with the Brigade’s Ammunition Handling Section; about 10 in all.
Section Sergeant SFC O’Grady[3rd ID Korean War Vet], sleeping by the tent’s entryway, was the first to wake and engaged the Major. I jumped from my sleeping bag as did the rest of the tent.
All eyes were focused on the Major.
Major True was out of character. I never saw him so serious and focused. He was usually a jovial man, easy to talk to and would readily provide advice and assistance.
Something bad happened which required immediate action.
“LT Abbondanza, was any ammunition issued today?”
“Sir, we just arrived at FT Drum…” before I was finished, MAJ True cut me off and asked again: “Was any ammunition issued today?” He was no nonsense and not looking for the long answer.
“No sir, no ammunition was issued today.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sir, ammunition is not going to be issued until Monday”, my Ammunition Warrant Officer, CW2 Humphrey added.
Despite the answer, MAJ True was not fully satisfied. There was something else going on.
A soldier in our Brigade committed suicide using a blank 5.56 mm round… details are not necessary.
This was my first soldier suicide.
During the late 1980’s, soldier suicide was not ‘main stream’. ’22 a day’ was not a known number but soldier suicide was.