Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rick Palaus’ Lucky Night

When I was stationed at Presidio of Monterey Defense Language Institute back in 1981, one of my shipmates was a guy studying Farsi named Rick Palaus. One night Rick was walking back to the Navy barracks from the NCO club when he heard the sounds of a struggle and a young woman crying out. He investigated and found a man trying to force himself on a young female soldier. Rick intervened and pulled the guy off her. I wasn’t there, but apparently the perpetrator’s intent was nothing less than rape. He got himself a court martial and a suite at Leavenworth for ten years. Rick became unofficial King of Monterey after that incident. The entire staff of the Defense Language Institute got to stand at attention while Rick was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. And everybody I heard express an opinion envied his luck at being the right man at the right place at the right time. The only bit of gaucherie I heard was one guy asking Rick, “Did she thank you?” and Rick replied “Of course she did.” The guy then said, “No, did she **thank** you,” and Rick said “Come on, man.”

I never heard anyone say “I bet she was asking for it,” but I did hear one guy say “10 years, and that guy deserves every day of it.”I offer this story since I sometimes hear some hard-line feminists opine that all men are rapists or in sympathy to rapists. Indeed, I think the perp got off relatively easy. Rick Palaus is a slender fellow; I know some guys stationed there who would have been inclined to beat the miscreant to death on the spot. Rick did what I hope that 99% of the guys at Monterey would have done. Based on that experience, I think young men in general have a bit more decency than they sometimes get credit for.

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