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As Halloween approaches, a ghost story of a wholly different kind

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 11:27 a.m. CDT

Over the course of the next couple of months, I’m pretty sure there will be several stories I’m going to share from my experiences in the Navy. Some are seasonal in nature.

Some just fit a season only if I’m lamely trying to be funny. Chalk this next story, the Legend of the Catch-Edge Ghost, up as the latter.

It took place during my boot camp experience. My company, C-017, was perhaps one of the worst that ever graduated from Recruit Training Command-Orlando.

Truly.

We were the first company in a decade — a decade — to completely fail an official inspection. That means more than a third of the 90 guys in the company failed.

Among them was a guy named Simpson from Arkansas. From the first day of boot camp, Simpson could not make his bed properly.

His problem was the catch-edge on the seam of his top sheet. Properly made, this catch-edge shouldn’t be visible (catch-edge down). Simpson always ended with it facing up.

During inspections, the guy who had the rack (that’s Navy slang for “bed” or “bunk”) above his was supposed to watch to make sure he did it right. On the day we failed inspection, this obviously didn’t happen.

So, once our company commanders sufficiently destroyed us physically for our failure, it became my responsibility as Company Yeoman to ensure Seaman Recruit Simpson was properly educated.

And, when he still couldn’t get it after six more tries, I made him run circles around the company as we marched that afternoon with his sheet over his head. Each time he passed me, he had to yell out, “Boo! I’m the Catch-Edge Ghost!”

The nickname stuck with him, even after he went to the fleet. And, when it was time for C-017 to be reinspected, Catch-Edge Ghost — who looked a little green in the gills — was sent to Sick Call.

I wasn’t taking any chances.

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading this in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

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