Osko,I Gotta Go by John L. Neel

General Order Number One didn't apply to us, we were NATO Soldiers.  Where other deployed American Soldiers were ordered to refrain from drinking, it was part of our Job.  The other NATO nations with whom we served had no such order, so we had special dispensation allowing us to drink with them.

We took full advantage of this rule at Film City and throughout Kosovo.  When a band came to entertain us, there was beer.  We visited the Multi-National Brigades and drank during meetings and meals.  We made it a habit to stop and visit the Italians at lunch for the food and the little boxes of wine.  We checked on the Russians at the Airport, making sure they were fed, because their supply chain was messed up, though they always seemed to have plenty of Vodka with which we toasted Mother Russia, The USA, The Presidents, the Paratrooper Brotherhood, and just about anything else we could think of.  Driving back to base from the Airport was always a chance.

Then there were the parties thrown by the National Support Elements (NSE) from each nation on our base, Film City.  These were spaced at what seemed about every two weeks or so, corresponding with national holidays.  The US NSE was the only building on the base that was dry.  If you were invited, it would be impolite not to drink.

These parties made for good times and great friends, and in this case, one of my favorite stories.

I had a good relationship with the Finish Battalion (FINBAT).  I had been there many times to visit them, eat with them, fire their weapons, and sat in briefings with them.  Some of their lads on a guard post had watched as I bluffed my way through a large riot on the M2 coming from Camp Bondsteel, the American Post, back to Film City.  The story was passed around FINBATT and got back to KFOR HQ. 

I forget the occasion, but the Finish NSE had a party.  I was invited and walked in with the other Americans to two large tables filled with every kind of liquor I could imagine...mostly Fin Vodka...in fun flavors.  We knew this was going to be a wild one.  Also invited were three young female soldiers from the FINBAT.  Now, these girls weren't what I would call attractive, but they were girls, and girls were in very short supply in Film City. They were a big hit with all the men there.

The senior Fin officer at Film City and head of the FIN NSE, Osko, began the night's festivities by calling me forward and presenting me with the FINBAT Knife, a big thing, then we got down to toasts.  By the time the toasts were done, we were already feeling the alcohol.

At some point, well into the morning, I headed to the small toilet in the NSE.  I waited by the door for a while, then knocked.  No answer.  I knocked again.  No answer.  I cracked the door and called, "Is there anyone in here?"  No answer.

I preceded in the door and there sat one of the young Finish girls, on the toilet, passed out, head back, her nickers around her ankles.  I backed out, called for Osko.  He and I tried to wake her with no luck.  We stood her up, pulled up her undies, straightened, as best we could, her dress, and I, being the less drunk of the two, carried her to the couch and sat her down.  The party went crazy with laughter and jokes at the poor girl's expense.

I made my way back through the cheering crowd and back to the toilet.

When I came out, the place was empty.  The only two people in the place were Osko and the girl.  She had thrown up all over herself and Osko was standing over her dabbing at the mess with a small paper napkin.  Osko looked at me with a look that begged, "Please help me."

I said, "Osko.  I gotta go." 

I remember exiting the door but do not remember how I got back to my quarters that night.  I don't know what happened after I left but saw the girl at the FINBAT a few days later.  She looked fine and didn't seem embarrassed when she spoke to me.  I never talked to Osko about it, and he never brought it up, nor did my desertion seem to bother him.

What I do know is that that is the last time I have ever had that much to drink.