"Hand Grenade" Brown

by Richard Dieterle

"Hand Grenade" Brown was a Brother in the old airborne outfit which was being fazed out when I arrived in A Co. 1/8. I was once told that he had a reputation for being able to chuck a grenade farther than anyone in A co. This was never attributed to his athletic prowess, but to the agency of adrenaline. The "old timers" said that Hand Grenade Brown was so averse to fire fights that he was known to jump on resupply choppers (bringing in ammo) and ride them back to the rear in the middle of the fight.

Nevertheless, he was not entirely uncomfortable with hand grenades. Other people said that he derived his moniker from an annoying habit he had at the poker table. Now this was before Miss Manners had come to prominence, and it must be conceded at the outset that Pvt. Brown showed little inclination to master her subject. When things went bad for him in a rear echelon poker game, he would scoop up the pot and while the other players rose to protest, he would follow up with an inexcusable breach of etiquette: he would take out a hand grenade, pull the pin, and flip it on the "table" on his way out the exit. This was said to cause intense consternation among the guests, who without properly excusing themselves, followed Pvt. Brown's prudent exit. Our grenades then were extremely reliable, with a good three seconds of fuse time. Just the same, the last one out always had the justified sensation of having made a narrow escape. Hand Grenade Brown's ability to run in difficult situations distinguished him above and beyond the mundane performance of duty, and made him something of a legend in his own time.