On the other hand, no sooner the meeting was over, the NCOs and men, through grapevine, discovered good and bad news about 345. Good news was no grounding needed. Bad news, Rufus's letter to Army Veterinary Dept. However, they knew 345's days were numbered, so everybody tried to contribute to his cause. First thing they did was doubling 345's barley and dried alfalfa. Grooming was carried out with love, attention and care.
Finally, the letter came. Rufus was unhappy, because the instruction had specifically ruled out castration or extermination. Perhaps some generals used their influence, but the sale option left open. It was a relief to the battalion personnel, though losing 345 was inevitable. Ads were placed in local papers and public bulletin boards. Viewing hours and date was set on Sundays. A buyer applied. The purchaser examined 345. Found nothing wrong with him. When the farmer heard the true accounts behind the story, burst out laughing, saying, "Wish I could buy him his favorite mate as well."
When the buyer said, "Can I take him away?" he was told to contact the master sergeant. After his conversation with the master sergeant, the man said, "Sounds great to me. I'll be here next Sunday at 10:00 hours sharp."
All enlisted men canceled their Sunday's weekend leave. The fort was beaming with joy and delight. It sounded more like marriage or graduation ceremonies. Col. McCoy's had approved the farewell taking provided no Army resources or formal ceremony were used or held. However, wearing uniform was not prohibited. Of course, none of the officers and NCOs were required to participate, but duty sergeants were told to be present and make sure everything went on smoothly.
Committees were set up; a master of ceremony, chosen; tasks, divided and rehearsed. Anyone who could contribute registered. Some called home and asked their families to deliver some articles needed to carry out the friendly occasion.
Since it was weekend, off-duty men had no service function to carry out, so after getting up, they prepared themselves: shaved; dressed up. Men in charge of H-345 had already gone to the stable. The rest of the battalion lined up the path from the stable entrance to the fort gate.
(one more post)