“B” is for “Best Man”
Here's a story for you. Let’s go back a number of decades, back to when I first entered the service. I had a friend in boot camp – let’s call him “Ed” because that wasn’t his name – and we hung out a lot, talking about what we might do in the future.
One day, after we had finished boot camp, he confessed something to me. He was very excited about it. He knew it should be kept secret, but he just had to tell someone and he felt he could trust me.
It was a plan Ed had been working on for quite a while. Well before he joined the Navy he had been visiting a small city located in the central part of our state. What was unusual about these visits is that he had managed to obtain a uniform of a Lieutenant-Commander, complete with service and combat ribbons, and he illegally wore this when he paid the visits.
In that community there weren’t many military types and very few Navy personnel – and no Shore Patrol. A Lieutenant-Commander, especially one with a couple of rows of ribbons, was welcomed everywhere. He received an invitation from one organization to address their group; he received a standing ovation. He had also visited some local church affairs and other such functions and had managed to meet a beautiful girl.
Quite unbelievably, after a number of dates he had proposed and the girl, undoubtedly a bit dazzled by this remarkable young naval officer, had accepted. Her folks had met him and had welcomed him enthusiastically into their well-to-do family. He had managed to convince everyone there that his folks were in Africa doing some sort of relief work, so they wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding.
Now that Ed was out of boot camp, he was actually going to go up in his fake uniform and marry her. He wanted me to be his Best Man.
It all seemed weird and unreal. I bowed out of the Best Man job; I didn’t want to have anything to do with this operation.
But then I wondered: perhaps morally there was something I should do.
A: Should I call this family on the phone (I knew their name so I thought I could get in touch with them) and tell them that their future son-in-law was no heroic naval commander but an ordinary sailor of the lowest rank?
Or B: Should I notify the military authorities that there’s a guy illegally roving about that area in a fake lieutenant-commander’s uniform?
Or C: Should I just ignore it all and try to forget about it?
After all, the marriage might turn out well; the couple might be happy together, even after it came out that his officer’s commission, and his ribbons, were phony, but that seemed highly unlikely.
The above is true; it actually happened. Ed and I received our assignments and we went off in different directions so I heard no more from him. As far as I know, the wedding took place on schedule; I have no idea how it turned out.
But what’s your opinion? What would you have done in such a situation?
1 year ago