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Patriotic Article
By Van E. Harl

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Lockers For Everything
(March 25, 2010)

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March 8, 2010 -- “Dad, have you seen my baseball glove?” And the Navy Master Chief's replied, “Look in the glove locker filed under G.”

“Mom, I can't find my history book.

”Your father put it in the book locker filed under B."

“Dad, can I use the car tonight?"


Van E. Harl
Van E. Harl

“Yes, but if you put a scratch on it, you will find your butt in the hurt locker filed under H."

I knew what a hurt locker was way back in grade school. It was a small place I was going to be confined to if I really screwed up, and it was going to be very painful. (The Navy has lockers for everything.)

Now in my father's defense, I was never really sent to a hurt locker, but I understood that they were out there and could be used at anytime, should I step too far over the line

I remember hearing a story about a sailor going missing onboard an aircraft carrier. It was presumed he was murdered, stuffed in an old upright locker and shoved over the side with a number of large items that were disposed of at sea. I asked my dad if something like that could happen. He advised me that yes, stuff like that happens at sea, and the alleged incident was a good example of a permanent hurt locker, in this case literally.

In my Navy family household we did not go up the stairs. We ascended or descended the ladder. When I was caught putting my dirty hands or feet on the walls, I was accused of messing up the bulkhead. I did not walk down the hallway to my bedroom. I went through the passageway. We did not have bathrooms in our Navy home. We had “heads.” I did not have a closet in my bedroom. I had a locker. Of course I did not really have a bedroom, I had a berthing area. Mom cooked breakfast in the galley, and when it was my turn to do the dishes, I had mess duty.

Because of my young life as a Navy dependent, I spoke Navy better than most of the new recruit graduates from the Navy's boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base, my dad's last assignment. To this day in my home, if you really have to go to the bathroom it is referred to as “hitting the head.” Even though we are now an Air Force family and the Air Force does not have “heads,” they have latrines.

"Hurt Locker" the movie just won the Academy Award for best picture and best director. It is about an Army EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) unit in Iraq. Their mission is to deactivate explosives that are found, in most cases put in place by the bad guys who want to kill Americans. The majority of American troops are killed or injured by explosive devices set up to be command detonated as our military members travel pass the hidden death.

In the case of the movie, the hurt locker is the immediate area around the explosive device that the EOD troop has to work in. It is up close and personal and it will truly hurt (really bad); if you get it wrong and the munitions explode. Like the alleged dead sailor on the aircraft carrier, the EOD tech becomes entombed in a permanent hurt-locker death.

If you saw the Academy Awards, you saw the "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow win two awards. Most people were not watching Barbara Streisand, who was standing next to Kathryn Bigelow, but I was. Streisand's face was most telling when Bigelow, not only once, but twice, thanked the American men and women in uniform who serve to protect this country. I would suggest Barbara's liberal feelings were telling on her face, but that may have just been the old veteran coming out in me.

I do remember when I was attending Army Infantry School; we had a number of young fresh out of the Army Military Academy lieutenants in my class who had concentration issues. Four years of being locked up at West Point had some members of my class acting like they just got out of jail. One day an enlisted Ranger instructor had enough and started chewing out some students. I still remember his words, “You alpha hotels (cleaned it up a little) are going to wind up in a plastic hurt locker permanently if you don't learn this stuff right.” Body bags are made of plastic, and nobody gets out of them alive.

By Van E. Harl
Copyright 2010

About Author:
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret., was a career police officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Major Harl is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School, the Air Force Squadron Officer School and the Air Command and Staff College. After retiring from the Air Force he was a state police officer in Nevada.

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