Point Of No Return
Things were starting to escalate. They were lined up in front of her, with stern expressions on their faces.
They stood completely still. What started out as intrigue and surprise quickly turned into visible discomfort. However, there was no turning back now.
Margaret Willis, a 52-year-old woman, was fully aware of the pros and cons of being married to a man in the military. She was not like any ordinary wife, she was the wife of a respectable officer which was a pretty big deal.
Margaret tried to maintain the respect and poise of an officer’s wife at all times. She simply did not know where this distinction ended, which was unfortunate for her.
It Had Its Perks
Being married to an officer was not without its privileges. One of the said privileges was that their family was granted the ability to live on the military base.
Corporal Thomas West was a non-commissioned officer, but where he lacked rank, he made up with the discipline and drive. Meeting Margaret Willis demonstrated exactly how far he was prepared to go to carry out orders.
Things were quite extreme at the Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). The winters were cold and ruthless, lasting up to six months and it was clear that this environment had no place for weakness.
Being assigned to gate duty in sub-zero conditions entailed additional responsibilities. When Corporal West first met Margaret Willis on this deployment, he faced fresh challenges.
A Small Community
The soldiers who lived in JBER were a close-knit community, and they made Margaret Willis feel like she belonged. She was married to their superior, and she deserved nothing but respect.
She married her husband long before the majority of soldiers enlisted in the army, but Corporal West did not agree with her reasoning. He believed that respect should be earned.
A Big Man
Corporal West, who had initially been assigned to gate duty in the winter of 2019, stood watch with dignity and obedience. West was a towering figure, standing 6 feet tall and built like a machine.
When Margaret arrived at the entrance on his first day, he was taken aback by her demeanor and expectations.
West permitted Margaret through because she had an officer sticker on her ostentatious SUV, assuming she was a friend or relative of an officer. That day, the bitter winter was stinging, and West had been guarding the gate all morning, needless to say, he was not in the mood for theatrics.
Instead of continuing on, Margaret came to a halt, rolled down her window, and focused a deadly gaze on West.
There Was No Officer Present
Having dressed in black, wearing dark glasses, and having a pompous attitude, Margaret demanded to know why she no longer received salutations as a wife of an officer.
The officer badge, according to West, signified one’s rank, not their vehicle. He couldn’t salute because there was no officer present. Margaret was furious now, and she marched straight to the administration building with one goal in mind.
The next day, West and his squad were summoned by the commanders, who informed them that saluting cars with an officer’s sticker was now necessary, regardless of whether there’s an officer present or not.
West, enraged by the injustice, determined to avenge Margaret. He didn’t worry about the dangers because this was now an issue of pride.
West had an unauthorized meeting with his unit to create a strategy for demonstrating to Margaret why ranks were so important to them.
It began with tiny annoyances: guys leaving their stations and wandering around the parking areas, saluting for seemingly inconsequential reasons. When people started noticing, it was time to get his revenge.
It Was Time For The Next Step
As Margaret got into her car the following week, she found herself suddenly surrounded by West and his men.
The men all wore icy expressions on their faces and refused to move an inch. With his crew cut, hardened jawline, and intense expression, West looked the most menacing.
Orders Were Orders
Margaret’s entitlement soon abandoned her, an expression of fear as she jumped out and ran off towards the barracks.
Returning with an officer who demanded answers. They explained—discipline codes stated an officer’s salute must be returned before being dropped. They were, therefore, duty-bound to wait for the car sticker to salute them back before they could leave.
She Wasn’t Letting It Go
The look on Margaret Willis’s face as the officer at her side struggled to suppress a grin at the mens’ explanation was priceless. They felt that their interpretation of the rules was logical.
Margaret obviously did not. Once again, she marched off towards the administration office—only this time she returned with her husband.
A Harsh Lesson
As Colonel Willis approached the lot, his expression was imposing. In full regalia, the men immediately saluted him and he duly returned it—a little stiffly.
Margaret wore a look of bemusement as her husband demanded answers. Explaining again, Colonel Willis turned to his wife after. The look on his face wiped the smug grin off her face.
Rules Were Rules
The entire saga caused quite a stir around the base. Now, the top brass saw sense and sided with Corporal West and his unit.
Margaret Willis still resided on the base with her husband. Only these days, she could be spotted driving her own car—a little hatchback as humble as her attitude now.