Sunday, May 29, 2011

Schuyler B. Haynes

So many fond memories. The order of them has muddled over the years.

We discussed the deep philosophical topics such as Marvel versus DC comics and their universes. In the end, we both agreed that Batman and Wolverine kicked butt and should team up.

When he found I had an interest in Rugby, he let me know he had just finished a tour on the Fort Lewis team that had won the all-Army competition. So, he taught me how to play.

He always picked his feet up as he walked, like he was marching in as part of the Old Guard at Arlington.

In Panama, he was there to commiserate the seemingly childish pranks the other guys played on each other to blow off steam. Then he calmed me down after I had to rescue the same refugee from killing himself for the third time in a week.

When Matt and I "gothed-up" to hit the underground sub-culture clubs in Seattle, he made the small-minded Soldiers think twice about their pre-judgments. Then again, Matt is huge guy. We almost got Schuyler to go with us once. Instead, we all ended up at Cheers West drinking Guinness, except for Matt, who didn't drink. That worked out as Matt served as the perfect DD. Matt and I did get Schuyler to go with us to another hidden haunt called "The Owl and Thistle". Schuyler loved the place with it's Scottish theme decked out in Rugby memorabilia. It became a Saturday afternoon routine.

When Schuyler moved to Alaska, I was the only one in the unit he kept in contact with. We sent postcards back and forth for years until in 1998 I ended up back in Germany. We lost contact somehow. I think the digital age had caught up with us and we never got the chance to exchange email addresses.

After our tour to Panama, I had come to a decision to re-enlist in the Army for another hitch. I decided to give MI a try. I made a stink that I would do those 3 years and be done, head off to law school. He chuckled and said "Nah, you're gonna love MI and fit in with those geeks. You'll be a lifer".

That theme seemed to wiggle its way into our discussions for years, even in those postcards. On the day of my re-up, he was the re-enlistment NCO for the company. When he walked up to give me the handshake and traditional shot in the arm for being a jackass and signing those papers the subject came up for debate for the final time. "Tell you what, Lifer, I have a bet for you. Whichever of us gets out last will buy the one who gets out first a scotch after he retires".

"Bet," I responded, "I'll meet you here in Seattle to collect".

"And don't try to go all Jew-boy on me and buy cheap, blended swill either".

Our letters and postcards always contained the post-script "who's buying that scotch?"

On November 15th 2006, the fucker beat me out of the service. He and his crew were killed by an IED in Baqubah, Iraq. It wasn't until May 2007 that I learned of his death through reading the Doonesbury tribute to the OIF KIA. I didn't believe it. I looked everywhere to see if it was some other SFC Schuyler Haynes. When I saw the picture on his obituary and tribute, there was no more doubt.

I will spend my last day in uniform on 10 June 2011. I will officially retire on 1 August 2011 after 24 years doing the job we both loved for the country we both loved more.

I owe him that scotch. I'd rather he be here to collect it.
Keep Up the Fire, Fucker.