Do You Know Who I Am?
By Roy Oswick….
How many times have we all suffered it?. You know, the ‘do you know who I am’ situation.
During my military career I was often confronted with such comments, usually whilst carrying out ceremonial duties where entrance was strictly controlled and was usually invitation only, or at least ticket only.
This story relates to a true incident to which I was witness. At the time I was the platoon commander of the British Royal Military Police contingent of an elite group of troops titled ‘Ace Mobile Forces Land’. This was a group of brigade strength comprising troops from all NATO countries. The role of AMFL was to act as first response to any international military situation, and especially to any threat posed by the USSR, since at the time the cold war was in full swing, and should any threat occur it was expected that it would come from the Soviet Bloc.
In order to be ready to respond, AMFL held major exercises on the most northern and southern flanks of NATO, Norway (in winter) and Turkey/Greece (in summer).
These exercises took place several times a year and in order to spread the responsibilities of command equally, each time AMFL deployed the commander was selected from a different nation. This worked quite well as it provided each of the nationalities an opportunity to experience different command techniques.
My story relates to two ‘do you know who I am’ situations, each with a different outcome, involving military policemen who were under my direct command.
We were due to deploy to Norway for a 6 month exercise in winter conditions and as was usual the British contingent of AMFL held a 7 day mini exercise in the UK before deployment.
At the end of the exercise the brigade commander held a cocktail party in the field to which only his personal guests were invited. I, as the platoon commander of the British AMFL Military Police contingent, was responsible for ensuring that only invited guests were allowed entry to the party.
I briefed my men and deployed them at strategic points, in particular at the entrance to the function, where my two most experienced military policemen were posted with instructions to allow only those on the guest list to enter on production of military identification cards.
Towards the end of the evening a very senior officer arrived demanding to be allowed to go into the function. At first my two NCOs’ refused because the officer did not have his military identification card with him, however he played the ‘don’t you know who I am’ card? and because my men knew he was the brigade intelligence officer!!! and, his name was on the list, they allowed him to enter.
This was to prove their undoing as the officer lost no time in reporting them to our own officer commanding because they had allowed him to enter without producing his military identification card.
This left our officer commanding with no choice other than to have the senior of the two NCOs’ charged and as a result the NCO was punished with one month’s stoppage of pay, about £200 at that time.
A short while later the AMFL were deployed to Norway for the usual winter warfare exercise. And we joined up with military police from all the other NATO countries to form a combined military police unit. At the end of the exercise there was the usual end of exercise party for the senior officers, and again I was tasked with the security of the event. I had the same British military policemen and deployed them accordingly assisted by a group of American MP’s
By chance the same NCO that had been punished in the UK was detailed to control entry to this party along with one of our American policemen.
About an hour after the function began I had a call from the AMFL duty officer complaining that one of my men was refusing entry to the party to a very senior American officer. I decided to visit and assess the problem.
Upon my arrival I saw the British military policeman in obvious confrontation with a very senior and highly decorated, very irate American officer. The American MP was at a loss as to what to do.
As I approached I heard the officer say to my NCO very loudly and very angrily
“Corporal, do you know who i am?”
My corporal snapped to attention and replied.
“No sir, i do not know who you are, and as you do not have any means of identity i am not permitted to allow you to enter “
“Well son let me tell you that I am General John J. Earnest of the United States Army”
Turning to the US MP he then said.”Tell this limey fool who I am and to let me in”
The response was not what the officer expected as the US MP clearly enjoying the situation said
“Sorry sir, this guy is in charge of this post and he outranks me”
At this the general turned on his heel and stormed off.
The two military policemen then had a discussion and I heard the British MP say.
“I guess you could say that is a case of ‘The importance of being earnest’!!!!
All I know is that he is not worth another month’s pay”
I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and made a discreet but swift exit.
The tale had a pleasant ending however, because on return to the UK our officer commanding received a letter from the US Army general, apologising for his behaviour and commending the British MP for standing his ground and not being browbeaten into giving way. He suggested that the military policeman concerned should be congratulated and if possible in some way rewarded.
Our officer commanding was pleased to do so and as well as congratulating the policeman, reinstated the loss of pay that he had previously awarded.
Finally, in memory of those who also served 🙂 🙂 😉 To read other stories of those who served, do join me on my website by clicking here