May 17th...”SHARE ANOTHER MILITARY MEMORY INVOLVING A WAR THAT HAPPENED DURING YOUR CHILDHOOD OR YOUTH?”
“Sargent Trash” was what the men under his command called him, but it was in no way a derogatory or punitive title. In reality, Lowell Hasart was the antithesis of that title in that his men loved him as a wise and savvy Sargent as they lived together within the terror-infested jungles of Vietnam. Besides, in his own words to me later in life he said, “If you spell my last name backwards, it kinda resembles the word, “trash”, so it stuck as a nickname.” Trash Hasart 😉
I had the great pleasure to know Lowell Hasart during my years at the Battle Ground School District as a Head Custodian. Having retired from the Army at that point, Lowell was now a member of the School District Facilities Maintenance team. In our many conversations over the years, Lowell shared how he used as much humor and laughter as he could to offset the madness of the war around them, there in Vietnam, and to break the tension of his young enlisted troopers as they all tried to survive yet another day in that war-torn distant land.
For instance, on the terror side of the spectrum, Lowell shared of how the enemy Viet Cong soldiers were moving in to overrun his base camp one day. Lowell saw his soldiers “freezing up” by what they saw. The North Vietnamese had forced a group of young children to walk in front of their battle line and were using them as a human shield to get closer to the American camp to overrun and kill Sargent Hasart and his company of soldiers. “Trash” knew that if he didn’t do something, and QUICK, they’d all be dead. Lowell jumped up to a machine gun nest and bumped the young soldier to one side. Grabbing the 50 caliber machine gun, Lowell did his best to aim above the children’s heads (so as not to harm them) and let go a long burst of gun fire. Well, naturally, the kids dropped flat to the ground, and now the G.I.’s around Lowell could be comfortable to now engage the enemy in a fire fight to hold their position.
In his years with our school district, I observed that Lowell Hasart was like a brother from another mother when it came to looking like and even acting like our own dad (who was many years his senior). When it came to teasing, pranks and just enjoying life, Lowell and my dad seemed to have been pressed out of the same mold. “Trash” was one of those dear soldiers who survived the rigors of combat in Vietnam, and came home to continue life with his beloved wife, Bernie. Not only did he survive Vietnam, but went on to complete his full 20 years with the United States Army and took his retirement from that branch of military service.
On a lighter vein of daily military life in Vietnam, Lowell shared with me that in order to relieve some of the intense mental strain in between battles, he and his men would tell jokes or play pranks on one another to lighten the mood of everyone.
One of those pranks was a true classic, as far as I was concerned. At a base camp in the jungle, one of the soldier’s latrines (also known as a potty/restroom/poopoo palace, etc.) was built over a stream that meandered through that camp. A number of “stalls” were lined up in a row over that stream for fellow soldiers to “do their duty” into the water below and allow the stream to float the “goo” away, hopefully.
Being the major prankster that he was, Lowell rigged up a small floating “barge”, so to speak, and anchored a tall candle to that tiny “barge/boat”. I guess you could say it could be called a “Yacht Of YOWSA!!!!”. Once the latrine stalls had been filled with G.I.s with their britches down, “Trash” lit that tall candle and sent the “Yacht Of YOWSA” down the stream as it floated underneath the latrine where the guys were sitting on the “john”. The HOT candle was at just the right height to give each guy a “hot seat” as it floated beneath their gravity laden cheeky “orbs”.
In succession, you could hear each of those guys let out a VERY LOUD expletive (bad word) as their gluteus maximus, and other private protuberances, got “lit up” from below. Of course, all those “ground pounders” (soldiers) on the outside of the latrines, including Lowell, were howling with laughter at the hot prank that had just occurred.
Another funny incident that occurred later in Lowell’s military life was when he and his wife were stationed in the country of Turkey. Mrs. Bernie Hasart had washed some of Lowell’s underwear, among other items, and had hung them up on the clothesline that was in their front yard next to the street where they lived. Back home, in Washington State, this was just a commonplace function of everyday life. But NOT in Turkey. Lowell was out in the front yard that day with his wife when many of the local Turkish men walking by started to shake his hand, pat him on the back and seemed to be congratulating Lowell about something in their native language. He and Bernie just kinda looked at each other and wondered how come all the fuss, ya? Later, someone came walking by their house that spoke a fair amount of English, so Lowell inquired as to why the men of the area were treating him with congratulatory gestures. It turned out, that in Turkey, if you had a “lovey dovey” evening with your wife the night before, she would wash and display your undies the next morning as a means of bragging about her lover husband. With a giggling smile, Lowell told me that Bernie was mortified over this embarrassing situation!!! She was SHOCKED about what she had been conveying to the local populace, and that from that day on, while still stationed in Turkey, she dried all their laundry INSIDE the house!! 😉
Military life CAN have its lighter moments………so says this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.