FN Herstal

What Do You Bet He’s A Lieutenant?

OSS Detachment 202 radio crew with hand-crank generator and hash pipe. China, 1944.

20 Responses to “What Do You Bet He’s A Lieutenant?”

  1. SWB says:

    That’s actually a Kirsten brand tobacco pipe.

    • AbnMedOps says:

      That’s why I read SSD – the incredible amount of reader expertise! If the old “Machine Gun News” magazine was still published, you might have qualified for their coveted “Reasonably Knowledgeable Individual (RKI)” certificate!

  2. TominVA says:

    Was wondering what made it a hash pipe. Looks like SWB is right.


  3. Stefan S. says:

    As long as they didn’t give him a compass or a map.

    • W2S says:

      Who would give that to a lieutenant?!…..

      • SSD says:

        Every SFOD-A in history until XOs were switched to Warrant Officers.

        • Terry Baldwin says:

          Ah, that old chestnut. I will certainly agree that a lot of officers struggle with land navigation. Still, the joke implies that NCOs are somehow naturally better at it then that fresh lieutenant. If you have ever run a land navigation course you know that it not necessarily true at all. The fact is that lots of leaders, of all ranks, suck at land navigation. Pot meet kettle.

          Historical note. Until WWII, it was only the officers that had maps and compasses. Modern, dispersed, and dynamic operations required land navigation skills and tools to be distributed throughout the ranks for the first time.

          I have been told that it was tradition in the British Military that a newly commissioned lieutenant or ensign would be presented a high quality compass as a symbol of his office. However, that instrument was not given to him just so that he could find his way across unfamiliar terrain. Rather, it was also a metaphor for the responsibility he was assuming and the need for a strong moral compass as he discharged his duties.


          • Joe says:

            I would also add that the young lieutenants are struggling with land navigation because they’re doing it…the critics and E-3’s usually are not.

          • W2S says:

            1. Dude, it was a stupid jab/joke
            2. It’s “than” not “then” when comparing something.
            3. NCOs are very often better; however, it’s not natural, it’s because that’s what we do as NCOs – we’re instructors. Gotta know it, to teach it. I’ve run several LandNav courses and officers and enlisted do well – it’s a perishable skill though.
            4. I think the stereotype joke is still around because there’s a bit of truth to it, but it’s not fact or a law, so pour yourself a glass of whiskey and relax.

            • Terry Baldwin says:


              I appreciate your calming words. I, for one, feel more relaxed already. Thanks.


              • W2S says:

                Attention to detail. Whiskey (not my words) = relax.

                • Terry Baldwin says:


                  Yes, the internet does not transmit nuance very well. You seemed to have missed my good natured sarcasm in that last comment. Sometimes I relax with whiskey…sometimes I just relax. Sometimes I just drink whiskey because I like it with a good cigar. YMMV

                  I can also understand how you read my first comment and thought I was agitated about the subject in some way. That was not the case. My feelings were not hurt. I was just joining the conversation by providing a different perspective.

                  I stand by my observation that a lot of leaders, NCOs and Officers, can get just as lost as that proverbial 2LT.


                  • W2S says:

                    I apologize. I am an ass. Maybe I should relax on my whiskey consumption

                    • Terry Baldwin says:


                      I never thought that. I appreciate the apology, but absolutely none is necessary as far as I am concerned. The relationship between a man and his whiskey is deeply personal so I will leave that judgement to you. For myself, all this talk about it has made me thirsty. Cheers!

                      VR TLB

                    • W2S says:


          • Mike L says:

            Terry, really appreciate you sharing that bit of history. I feel like that’s a tradition (presentation of a high quality compass) we should bring back and spread.

          • Stefan S. says:

            I counter with Lt Sobel from Band of Brothers.