The Misadventures Of "Wild Will" Wilson
My Best Friend
William Wilson, or Wild Will as I came to know him, was my best friend during my Marine Corps days. We met while undergoing our advanced military occupational specialty training at the Broadcasting and Journalism school at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis. The Corps had selected us to become combat correspondents, or photojournalists as civilians would call it.
Everybody had nicknamed this character “Wild Will” because it fit him like a glove. Will, was of above average height, blonde haired, blue eyed and muscularly built. He was a powerhouse of energy and girls were immediately attracted to him. Unfortunately for them, he was already married.
I say his nickname fit him well because it described him to a T. No matter what the situation he was up and ready for it. Whether it was physical competition or a foolish dare, he accepted the challenge. If not for this one flaw he would’ve made a good big brother to me. However, his proclivity for being a dare devil would’ve gotten him into big trouble on many occasions had it not for me playing big brother to him. But, there were a few times he did come to my rescue.
I’m of short stature, 5’4” to be exact. This caused a lot of bigger Marines to think they could bully me around without consequence. Most of the time I had no problems defending myself, but in the military there are certain times when violent retribution is not the best solution. One instance would be if you were on duty. Such was the case shortly after being promoted to corporal. That made me low NCO on the totem pole and therefore subject to being assigned temporary extra duty as sergeant of the guard. Naturally, they did.
I Heard A Disturbance
Late one evening while answering phone calls, I heard a disturbance coming from the guards’ sleeping quarters. I proceeded to investigate. Apparently a few of my off duty guards had returned from a night on the town and had gotten roaring drunk. One large Marine was swinging from a light fixture and doing his best Tarzan impersonation. When he saw me he dropped to the ground and hollered “Who are you looking at?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but attacked me instead. I was knocked down from the unexpected assault. Then he began kicking me. Fortunately, the bulky uniform coat I was wearing prevented any serious damage other than a few bruises. And just as unexpectedly as his attack, he ceased, got in his bunk and passed out.
Other guards already in bed issued a few obscene comments concerning their friends’ stupidity. Because as a NCO I could have had him immediately arrested and incarcerated. I quietly left the room without a word considering what I should do. Arresting the man would ruin any chance of future promotion. He was drunk, which technically was no excuse. I was a newly promoted NCO and therefore had little experience dealing with this type of situation. I should have had him arrested, but I didn’t. He would probably wake up and not remember the incident anyway. That would also be a better time to discuss it with him.
However, I never did, but I did discuss it with Wild Will. We were both promoted at the same time coincidently. He figured something ought to be done to make sure he never bothered me again. So, he was going to teach him a lesson.
A few nights later, Will and I were walking up to the guard house as the Marine in question was coming out. When we were inside, Will asked if that was the guy who attacked me. I replied it was and he ran out after him. However, the man had made a hasty getaway, realizing I had big friends too. The man later apologized to me and wondered why I hadn’t had him thrown in the “Brig”. I told him I didn’t want to ruin his career and was giving him another chance. We became friends.
Wild Will, however, wasn’t always so noble. Many were the times I kept him out of serious trouble. These were days I drank heavily, as did Will. The big difference was he got loud, boisterous and sometimes mean when he drank. I didn’t.
Late one evening, after getting soused and closing the bar, we left. I was intent on going back to our barracks. Will had different ideas. He was going to find another watering hole. I tried to tell him the bars were all closed but he didn’t want to hear that. While we were walking or, staggering rather, down the street, we passed a plastic covered; neon lit advertising sign which Will promptly put his fist through. I looked around to see if anyone had seen the act. The area seemed devoid of people, except for a cab which I immediately hailed. I forced Will inside despite his noisy objections.
On another evening we got loaded and again closed the bar. This time Will thought it would be great fun to climb up on the roofs and peek into windows. A lot of store owners lived above their shops in that area. Against my better judgment he continued with the folly. When he looked through his first window he was confronted by an ear piercing scream issued by a woman in the midst of changing clothes. Will figured it best to vacate the premises at that point. So, jumping to a lower level he grabbed hold of a narrow water pipe on which he attempted to swing to the ground on. The pipe refused to cooperate and broke in half spewing water over him and flooding the street.
Will picked himself up and ran from the crime scene… with me in close pursuit. Unfortunately, the store owner rushed out the store entrance and spied us. It was unfortunate because he was someone we knew. And I was the only one he got a good look at.
Consequently the tale was reported to our senior NCO, who the store owner also knew and I was dragged to the carpet for disciplinary measures. I decided not to implicate Will in the matter. There was no sense in both of us getting in trouble. I was restricted to the base for a month and had to pay damages for the water pipe. Will did reimburse me for that.
Over the years Wild Will and I have lost track of each other. The last I heard he was in Brownsville, TX and had left the Marine Corps. Sometimes I wonder what profession he ended up doing in civilian life. A plumber perhaps?