Side by Side

Certain people shape our lives.  There are parents, other family members, coaches and special friends.  Larry Henneberger is one of those special friends.  Our lives ran parallel to each other, even before we met.  We were both jocks who went to college on athletic scholarships.  I played football at Missouri and he played basketball at Loyola New Orleans.  We both decided to complete our undergraduate studies in three years so we could go to law school our 4th year.  We both completed law school three years later and became first lieutenants in the JAG Corps.  We met at Fort Knox, Kentucky in the officers basic armor course. 

Larry’s favorite story about Fort Knox was when a group of us were standing on the rear deck of the Army’s latest tank, the M48A1 Patton Medium Tank.  A sergeant was telling us how powerful it was and that it was indestructible (he was a bit over the top).  He told us how the armor protected us against the enemy and that our armor piercing 90mm shells could destroy any enemy tank.  Do you see the problem?  I began to wonder whether the enemy had any armor piercing shells.  It made me  feel good that I was a JAG Officer and just passing through.  We were all standing on the rear deck looking down at its massive engine.  Tanks are not rated miles per gallon, but gallons per mile (it weighed 52 tons and carried 200 gallons of gasoline to travel 70 miles.  You do the math.  It traveled at 28 mph). 

Larry insists that I pointed at the air cooler with a clip board, and a ball point pen slipped off of the clip board and darted down inside the air cooler and further below.  The wide-eyed sergeant announced that the (indestructible) tank had just been deadlined and it could not be moved until a maintenance crew came out and tore the engine apart and recovered the ball point pen.  I clearly remember the incident and am positive it wasn’t me.  The lesson I learned is that we need to keep ball point pens away from the enemy.

Larry and I can sit around for hours and tell about crazy things that happened at Fort Knox.  My favorite story happened on the machine gun range.  Back then, each tank had a coaxial machine gun and it was controlled by the same mechanism that fired the main gun.  This way the tank gunner could decide whether he wanted to fire the main gun or the machine gun.  All he had to do was flip a switch.  If you had enemy infantry approaching, the machine gun would be the weapon of choice.  Well, Larry and I had finished firing and were standing in the rear talking to a sergeant when we heard a main tank gun go “kaboom.”  All the color drained out of the sergeant’s face.  I think his entire career flashed in front of him.  You have to do a  number of things wrong to fire the main gun on the machine gun range, but one of our JAG tank crews had met the challenge.

First, someone has to mistakenly load the main gun.  The command to fire is “fire,” not “shoot.”  But one of our Puerto Rican JAGs yelled “shoot.”  One of the 90mm tank shells is called “shot.”  So, when the tank commander yelled “shoot,” the loader threw in a 90mm round of “shot.”  How the main gun switch got turned on is anyone’s guess.  Fortunately, the main gun wasn’t pointed at Louisville.

Larry spent three years in the Army and forty plus years at Arent Fox.  I spent 28 years in the Army and 14 years at Arent Fox.  Even when we weren’t working together, we would get together whenever I was assigned in the DC area.  Maybe most amazing was that when I was selected to be the Chief Counsel at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it turned out that Larry had been practicing law in that area for 25 years.  Then, when I came to Arent Fox, we practiced together. 

Ten years ago on Larry’s 60th birthday, I wrote the following poem. 

                                               SIX ZERO

On April 13, 1938,
Another little Hoosier knocked on the gate.
Was the world really ready for this little guy?
You can hazard a guess, but don’t even try.

It was our own little Larry, a fine little son,
The doctor was startled, he heard, “let’s go for a run.”
Always a fine athlete, skills not a sparsity,
Coaches took one look and put him on varsity.

He was a college jock, but you won’t hear him  brag,
A lawyer, a connoisseur and even a JAG.
And marathons, he ran marathons till it hurt,
He’s been there, done that, he’s got the T-shirt.

A key Arent Foxer and such a natty dresser,
A man for all seasons and yes – father confessor.
Advising on associations, antitrust till it smarts,
Blinker lights, hoses, other automotive parts.
He’s done everything one or twice, it really is funny,
But, he keeps going & going, like the Eveready Bunny.

He’s now a little gray, but it’s OK to stare,
Say what you want, he still has his hair.
He’s just hit a milestone, the big six zero,
But we love you Larry, you’re our hero.

One thought on “Side by Side”

  1. Jack: I still say you were the culprit/disabler. Beyond that, it’s clear that you drank from the same Big Muddy water supply as Mark Twain. You have the same sparkling, fresh, creatively humorous style.
    Best always…..Larry

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