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January 27 2009
Fred Bigham:

In Memorium: On Jan. 22, 2009, Fred Bigham would have been 90 years old. He tragically died in a training accident on his way to World War II.

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What the Captain Means...

article by kt

COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE is an Army school that has a one year requirement. It is mainly for potential commanders and is mostly on military tactics. Almost all the students go on to become Colonels and Generals and lead the Army.

During my time there, it was especially hard as Vietnam was in its last days. We were not even permitted to talk about Vietnam. Almost to a person, we had seen combat, some several times. Most of us had spilled blood in that very sorry war. We couldn't say how we really felt about Nam; if we had we would have surely been disciplined. It was hard.

Someone started circulating a cassette tape called WHAT THE CAPTAIN MEANS. This was in 75' and the internet was not yet reality. It was a spoof interview with an airforce pilot answering questions from a news reporter; the pilots answers were then interpreted as "What the Captain means."

The tape circulated among the students and we laughed and laughed. Over the years, I have tried to quote many of the comments in "What The Captain Means." but have been unsuccessful as one almost has to hear it. Now, thanks to some generous soul, it has been posted on YouTube. Thank you, thank you: What the Captain Means.

There is simply no way to convey what this spoof meant at that time. I laughed so hard, as did everyone and then one day we were sitting in the college auditorium(students called it the Big Bedroom) and suddenly "What The Captain Means" started playing over the public address system. It was hilarious and kind of became our theme.

It was a time of enormous grief as Vietnam fell. We realized that it had all been for nothing or at least that was the feeling. So, when we would see each other, someone would invariable say, What The Captain Means and it would take the edge off things.

There is much more to What the Captain Means than humor. The comments are subtle truth and they apply to the spin of war today just as they did in Vietnam. God help us.

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