The Legend of the Pinto Bean
AKA: How I came to own this behemoth
Hopefully at least four or five of you have taken the time to read my whole blog, and are now anxiously wondering HOW/WHY I have the Bean. At least one of you might even be a bit envious… Its ok, I understand… Not everyone can pull off the sort of coolness required by The Bean. Don’t worry… Neither can I. Without further ado, the legend!
Our unit, R Troop, 4/278th Cavalry was activated to go to Afghanistan on 22 Oct 2005. The big plan was to fly our Apaches down to Fort Hood, where we would undergo weeks of pointless training of how to do a ground convoy so we would be fully prepared to fight in Afghanistan. Right. Ground convoys. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo that we WERE PILOTS! Anyhow, there was flying involved, too. There we learned how to fly/fight in Iraq. Yeah… Another lost memo… Anyhow, when we got to Fort Hood, we obviously were sans vehicles. Well this of course was on purpose, since we were told by out higher ups that we weren’t allowed personally owned vehicles (POVs) at Hood. Unfortunately, no one seemed to have remembered to send this memo to the higher up units we were joining, so we were the only guys on the ground with no transportation. Luckily the Idaho unit we fell under saw the problem and was completely sympathetic to our plight, and supplied us with no less the one single van. For about 45 people. The van couldn’t leave post either.
Well being the super squared away Lieutenant I was (read: not too bright), I decided I would get a vehicle for at least the pilots to use, since we were separated from the enlisted guys, and they needed the van more than us. I went down to that great bastion and reserve of crappy vehicles owned by soldiers and for sale on post, the aptly named “Lemon Lot”, and began my search. After a long fifteen to twenty seconds of perusing the lot, I saw what was to be our future, The Bean. Now mind you this was not just any old vehicle, this was a vehicle with CLASS! This was a vehicle with STYLE! This was a vehicle with almost as much rust as undamaged pain AND to top it off, a “SPOILED DOBIE ON BOARD” sticker featured prominently on the rear window. Namely though, this was a vehicle that could hold twelve strapping combat ready highly trained ready to kill attack pilots. It was perfect. It was $1500 dollars.
I quickly called the number on the window and arranged a test drive. The owner showed up and amazingly happened to be a Kiowa pilot. I knew this was going to go well. We fired up the Bean and headed out to the open road. Much to mine (and probably his) amazement, EVERYTHING worked! Ice cold air, check. Windows, check. Cruise control, check. Fifteen hundred bucks, not so much. Anyhow, we returned triumphantly to the parking lot where the owner immediately went about attempting to unload the Bean as fast as his hot little hands could sign the title. At this point I stopped him, and began what was to be a long round of negotiating. It went a lot like this:
“So, you want fifteen hundred huh?”
“Yeah, that sounds fair.”
“I’ll give you a thousand.”
“A thousand? That’s not enough!”
“Look! Quick! A roll of twenties! Cash!”
“Sign right here!”
We then both walked away, no doubt thinking the same thing…. “Sucker.”
We then hopped in our newfound prize, and went back to the company area to show off our gleaming new possession. We pulled up at the barracks and I knew then I was a hero. The stares of envy were nearly too much. Yes, people came from all around to admire the Bean. The call went out, beckoning all far and wide to gaze upon our new steed. It got a little garbled by the wind and sounded a lot like “Hey everyone! Come look at this piece of crap the LT just dragged in! Stupid LT”. I think it was actually “Wow everybody the LT just saved us all! I love this new thing! Hoist him, upon our shoulders so that he might know our joy!” Oddly, there was no hoisting.
Anyhow, by now you’re wondering HOW it GOT the name. Amazingly, the Bean was unnamed at purchase, so a dilemma was in the works. Fortunately, it was quickly solved when CW3 Flanigan arrived. Tim walked over, tossed away his ever-present cigarette while trying not to laugh, and said these fateful words, “Well we don’t have String Bean anymore, but at least now we have The Pinto Bean.” The christening of a cherubic newborn could scarcely have been more beautiful. There were even tears of joy at this great event. Then people asked if I was gonna take them to go get some danged food.
Anyhow, String Bean had been Mr. Flanigan’s beat down and never washed green Jeep Cherokee back in TN. String Bean had been with Tim since Germany, and was near and dear to his heart. While being ugly as all get out, it was reliable as can be, and well known amongst all who came to our airfield. Tim unfortunately had to sell String Bean to one of the sergeants in the unit before we left who, sadly, washed, polished, and cleaned her until she was no longer recognizable as the String Bean. Anyhow, it’s because of Mr. Flanigan that the Bean is named, and will remain so for as long as I own her. Sadly, Mr. Flanigan will not know of these adventures as he was killed in action the first week of July, 2006, when his aircraft went down outside of Kandahar. I still remember the last time I saw him. Through my morphine laced haze he told me “LT don’t you worry, we’ll see you when we get back to the states.” Tim left behind two young children, a loving wife, a lot of friends, and memories to last a lifetime. I know now if he were here and heard of my trip, he’d likely say “LT are you serious? That’s the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of! Good luck man!” I’ll see you on the green, Tim.