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“Happy Birthday, Gilbert – My Aide-de-camp !”

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Happy Birthday, Gilbert –  My Aide-de-Camp !

Gilbert Roa, my nephew, an education major at Leyte Normal University. In the background is a swinging bridge in a nearby barangay. Gilbert is the type person, you want by your side when you cross those swinging bridges of Life.
June 12, 2012, Republic of the Philippines Independence Day is also Gilbert Roa’s 18th Birthday. My nephew, Gilbert, exhibits the qualities a person usually finds in a military aide-de-camp assigned to a general or admiral. Canon EOS 40 D Photo by Samuel E, Warren Jr.

By Samuel E. Warren Jr.

World history from the Roman General Julius Caesar to United States Army General Herbert Norman”Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf , who, served as Commander of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf War of 1991 and Commander of U.S. Central Command, always records the battles, honors, achievements of the great military leaders, who have made a definite difference in global civilizations and history.

While history is quick to record the names and deeds of the great generals and admirals, who changed the world, sometimes one of the people closest to the great men or women go completely unnoticed by history.

Sometimes a diligent search of military history might reveal the name of the person, but more likely, you will have to find someone on active duty or a veteran, who served at headquarters to learn the name of the individual.

In the prehistoric global civilization of humankind, before the Internet and cell phones, general officers and navy flag officers had a special individual assigned to them: The Aide-de-Camp.

The United States Armed Forces like many nations armed forces base their traditions, ceremonies and

Gilbert Roa, at this point, in his life, plans to become a teacher. He is a student at Leyte Normal University in Tacloban City. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

rituals on the lessons of history, so while the French, Russian or British military may not use the same words for the position – there is a very good chance that their generals and admiral still rely on a certain individual to accomplish some task on their behalf

The unsung “Aide-de-camp” to, my knowledge, has never had books written about them, Hollywood movies made of their life stories or even an exhibit in a museum, but, the aide-de-camp was an indispensable person to a general or admiral because while the senior military officer was engaged in official duties like planning how to use thousands of men and resources from combat boots to tanks to win a battle or the overall strategy to win a war; it was the aide-de-camp, who handled mundane tasks for the general.

While United States Army General Dwight David Eisenhower is meeting with Allied generals and admirals to plan the D-Day Invasion, you can bet the general’s aide-de-camp was the one worrying about the date to pay the general’s utility bills and phone bills back home in the States and worrying about if the protocol officer at the next base, the general is scheduled to visit has made all the arrangements for the general to present medals to the men and women to be honored.

No doubt, United States Army General William Childs Westmoreland, in command of United States military operations in the Vietnam War, was dedicated to trying to convince President Lyndon Baines Johnson to send military forces into Cambodia and Laos to close the Vietnamese supply line of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In the course of official duties, communication with the President of the United States of America was an absolute necessity. General Westmoreland had to have daily communications with army commanders in the field, air force commanders on the bases, naval and marine corps commanders afloat or on a base. And, then, of course, in a democracy, a general and admiral have to be ready to answers questions from senators, congressmen, and the international news media. If there are any hours left at the end of the day, that time is called: sleep.

Thus, an aide-de-camp for General Westmoreland would have had to take care of the mundane tasks of life like making sure the general’s uniforms gets to and from the cleaners. And, if the general is to meet with the president, senator, congressman or another commander, then, the collar brass, insignias, name tag, stars on the uniform, and “the fruit salad”, i.e. the ribbons have to be in arranged in order on the dress uniform. If the uniform of the day is “fatigues,” then, the aide-de-camp would be the one to make sure that all the crest patches are current and not showing any signs of age or wear.

The military aide-de-camp in the United States Armed Forces was usually a junior officer from 1st lieutenant to major.

In a nutshell, the aide-de-camp’s mission was simple – “take care of the boss”- which meant the general or admiral’s day would not be wasted.

In the civilian world, businessmen, politicians, and some leaders have the secretary to rely on, but the aide-de-camp didn’t clock out at 4 p.m., and go home. In recent years the civilian world leaders have adopted the aide-de-camp position to positions like “personal assistants.”

But, there is one area between an “aide-de-camp” and a “personal assistant” that will probably always be different and that is esprit de corps and loyalty. Military people understand the value and the integrity of those concepts as a way of life. In the civilian world, the idea of “loyalty” usually translates to some boss getting a lawyer and having an employee sign a “nondisclosure agreement.”

Of course, as a sergeant on active duty, I would work with various senior officers’ aide-de-camps, but I would never have one of my own.

The nice thing about retirement is sometimes Life allows you to enjoy your fantasies in the Real World.

The Birthday Cake was baked by the Twilight Bakery in Tanauan. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Upon returning to the Republic of the Philippines, I needed an individual that I could trust to help me in day to day matters – my own “aide-de-camp.”

My nephew, Gilbert Roa, a student at Leyte Normal University is my aide-de-camp. Whenever I need the answer to a question or want to understand the proper way of doing something the way it is done in the Philippines, my nephew – “Gilbert is The Man With The Plan.”

Today, June 12, 2012 is Independence Day in the Republic of the Philippines and also the birthday of my nephew, Gilbert.

Happy Birthday, Gilbert !

Tito Sam

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2 Responses

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  1. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..extra wait

    sitios web

    June 14, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    • Rutana,

      Thank you for the compliment. It should be obvious I love history, American history, military history and world history. My nephew, Gilbert, is one of those rare people you meet in life, who truly are deserving of the accolades heaped upon them. I appreciate your feedback and hope you will visit my blog again soon.

      Sam

      samwarren55

      June 15, 2012 at 8:13 AM


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