Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sergeant Warmouth

Honest, that was his name. And without a doubt it fit his disposition and his matching scowl. He was what was known at the time as a World War II retread..having been called back to active duty when the Korean War broke out. He struck an imposing figure to a barely 17 year old boy - even in the sheltering darkness of 5 am formation roll-calls. That was back in 1951 at Congaree Air Base at Eastover, SC. Squinting at his clipboard with the help of a right-angled flashlight, he would begin his roll-call with "Agnell,Angell...Angenelli, where the hell are you?"

They were all me and I wanted so to remain invisible because Sgt Warmouth seemed to remember those whose names he had trouble with and would reward us by assigning us to one of the several undesirable daily duties such as KP or trash detail.

So I would always hasten to respond, once I was sure those folks were all me. His pronunciation of my name seemed to change with the day and with his disposition at the moment. He became quite ingenius at finding new variations on the pronunciation..and finally I decided I'd have to become less invisible and more instructive in how to pronounce my name correctly.

So after several mornings of responding to variations which never came out the same, I said , "Sgt. Warmouth, it's pronounced Annual - like Once a Year." I can't believe how this upstaged his morning ritual and he advised me and the group that I was whatever he called me and I better learn to respond to whatever name he used.

I was learning that KP could be quite enjoyable - especially on cold mornings and it was possible to get lots of extra milk . About that same time I decided I'd have to pick a name my friends could understand and try to stick to it. They were all having lots of fun with Agnelli, which I really didn't like . So I surveyed the variations and decided that AgNEEL was the best solution. Not quite like Annual but much closer to the way it looks phonetically.

So that's how David Agniel (actually pronounced An Yell as I later learned in France) became David AgNeel. In time Sgt Warmouth learned this as well and I was quite content working in the Supply Warehouse, removing cosmolene from carbines and machine guns mothballed after WW-2, and looking forward to weekends at the USO.

Funny how these thoughts stay with us after all these years. We look forward to seeing Kim at the Jacksonville Airport this evening and hearing about her visit. Weatherman is promising a great day with temps in the 70s. About time, too.

© 2004 David Agniel


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