Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Who you gonna call? Not THEM but...
By: Posted On: 2020-03-16

A group of people walking down a streetDescription automatically generated

Screenshot from my copy of Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" video


A lot of what's posted on Facebook(TM) comes and goes several times a year.  Those who use and follow others over there know that for the last, um, several weeks or more, various "friends of yours" have asked aloud:

"You're kidnapped, and before they hide you somewhere, you have the opportunity to call ONE (television show, action-adventure actor or team, or other celebrity) to rescue you. Who would you call (and why them, him or her)?"

(in the business world, a suitable equal question would be something like "okay, you're being sued, and the court is threatening to take everything you have.  Before you go to court however, you are given the opportunity to get the best defense/investigative team out there to rescue you.  Who would you call (and why them, him or her)?")

In my line of work, one of the first things they explain to you at that public affairs school called "DINFOS" or "Defense Information School" is that "you need to find a mentor.  Someone you respect, someone you admire, someone when things get downright bad, you can reach out to him or her and ask, "HELP!" You need to have this person on speed dial, because just like the client whose a fool for defending himself without a lawyer; you don't want to be *that person* standing in front of the cameras, mikes and sat trucks trying to explain what happened in YOUR situation without a competent public affairs person beside or behind you.  That's why commanders and their senior staffs have "mouthpieces" -- and THAT is what you are going to be training to do for the next three months here: learning to speak for, supporting, and yes, in some cases defending your boss and your organization. That is what a successful public affairs officer or specialist does..."

My mentors -- COL Guy Shields, COL Jeff Keane, SGM Beth Lyle, and SGM Carol Sobel -- are on my speed dial at home and here in my office in Tennessee.  There are so many others I could ask for and probably get advice from -- but those four know me best.  

My mind reminds me frequently of what I recall from an old edition of Boys' Life, the BSA's program magazine.  I would read and re-read those old issues sitting in the back of the elementary school library, and daydream of being one of those Scouts illustrated in the pages.  In one issue, someone wrote that when a Scout would come to a new town, he would stand in the town center and hold his hand in the Sign of the Scout as a signal that he, a Scout, needs assistance.  People seeing and recognizing that hand gesture would run to his aid, giving him whatever he needed to be comfortable in his new surroundings.  He was among friends.

(I tried this as an experiment when I arrived at Saddam Hussein's former Presidential Palace.  I was respectful, patient and I have to admit stupid-looking and acting as I stood on a slick marble table at 6:45 in the morning, not saying a word but placing my hand in the Sign of the Scout until the embarrassment overtook me a few minutes later -- I wanted to see if that article had a bit of truth to it.  It did, as I ended up meeting three fellow Scouters who right off did not come to my aid but thought I was a bit "off in the head."  I had to confide in them, once I got down off the table and lowered my hand, that I did not inflict myself with an atropine injector or suffered a fall which rendered my brain matter a little more than mush.  I understood then the small print in magazines (and now on television) advising people "not to try this at home.")

The illustrations above bring home the point I hope to make.  People forget all about the great things that Scouts have been taught -- things which most of us cleared from our minds when we became adults (or older adults).  It's like the algebra thing.  We learn the equations and principles but once we left high school (or perhaps college), it's like "what? Equations? Be for REAL here..."

We put our Scouts and Scouters off to a side and it's only when there's a true emergency do we "break the glass" and ask of them to help.  Find ways that our Scouts and Scouters can be of benefit to the other citizens in town and you'll see an increase in civic pride and an increase in the number of youth members wanting to be a part of "something good in the neighborhood..."

When I'm asked, I advise young Army commanders to engage their supporting command's public affairs officer early onward -- don't leave him or her "locked up" to be used when the situation becomes so nasty and smelly that you are forced to "break the glass" - and most cases by then, it is too late to do anything except to make the best of a bad situation.  That person has a lot of resources and a lot of connections to work

through most issues dealing with their Soldiers and the community at large.


My picks?  Angus MacGyver and the Phoenix Enterprises team to rescue me from a kidnapping; the Law team from "The Bold Ones" to get me out of a legal mess.  Both feature actors who "played former Scouts" and who WERE youth or adult members of Scouting in REAL LIFE also. 

(The Bold Ones?  NBC drama in the early 70s. Law team consisted of Burl Ives (yep, that Burl Ives), Joseph Campanella, James Farentino, and from time to time, David Hartman (one of the "new Doctors") so convincing as a doctor that ABC hired him as a medical correspondent.)

Ray Parker Jr. reminded us of those four guys in the protective suits as they got rid of the Earth (okay, New York City) of such evils as the Stay-Puff man and freakish lightning as he sang the theme song for "Ghostbusters."   

Now, WHO are you gonna call?  No, not "Ghostbusters!" *heheheheee*  How about "A Boy Scout!!" (or for you military types, "A PAO!")



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