As juniors, we had AFROTC classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the second floor of OregonStateUniversity’s Gill Coliseum. Before class began the seniors inspected us in an open ranks inspection. These were nose-to-nose, one-on-one events where the seniors shouted their questions and we roared our answers because, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” The events soon turned into mind games where the seniors tried to baffle us and we were intent on using mental judo to best them while complying. Had you been a bystander, you would have heard a lot of humor on both sides, but no one would laugh. My “chosen” inspector was Hank.

The battle of wits continued through the fall term and winter term, but by the spring term, we were tiring of it and the exchanges were becoming repetitious. We needed a change mechanism.

As a counter measure, I called some of my classmates the night before the next class and asked them to meet me at the southeast corner of Gill Coliseum a half hour before class. At the meeting, I passed out cloves of garlic and asked them to spread out to each of the entrances. They were to intercept the juniors and give them a bit of garlic to chew on before the inspection.

It worked.

As Hank inspected me and we exchanged the usual at the top of our lungs, he had a quizzical look on his face. It was all I could do not to laugh. The other seniors weren’t amused. It was a short inspection.

We left the hallway for the classroom and waited for Major Paige to begin the class. As one might suspect, the room reeked. Normally prompt, Major Paige was late.

When he arrived, he waved the air in front of his nose, acknowledging the smell. But he had a small smile. He told us the seniors had gone to the cadre after the inspection and demanded the entire junior class be kicked out of AFROTC for the stunt.

Major Paige told us the cadre’s response was, “Well, at least they were organized.” When he asked us who had organized the event, I got fingered.

It was the end of the open ranks inspections.

Later, I asked Hank why he had been looking quizzical during the inspection. All though he had known something was going on, he couldn’t figure out what it was. Turns out that Hank had no sense of smell. What a waste.