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Henri Gaudette

This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.

Sir Henri Gaudette 7777BB Age 34 Cr32,000
4 Terms Army (Major)
Leader-3, Tactics-3, Combat Rifle-2, Admin-1, SMG-1, Air/Raft-1
SEH, MCG×3, MCUF×5, Combat Service Ribbon×9, Command Ribbon×7, Purple Heart ×6
Gauss Rifle w/10 mags

Sir Henri is a slight man, a scant 160 cm and barely 60 kg, with dirty brown hair, such of it that can be seen. His almost permanent squint nearly conceals his hazel eyes. His gaunt and lined face cannot be called handsome, but it is easy to see he once was. His only notable bad habits are his drinking, though he’s not an alcoholic, and his tendency to grind his teeth. He engages in fairly limited exercise, mostly light walking and light calisthenics.

If one talks to a few veterans around, it is not difficult to piece together most of his story: He loves a fight, but would rather win a few than lose a lot. In the protracted counterinsurgency campaign in which he spent his army career, one of the other company commanders called him “wimpy” for calling off an ill-conceived assault, and volunteered to take the mission himself with no extra prep time. Gaudette’s men repeated this with pride, after the other command was slaughtered almost to a man. The commander, known by Gaudette’s men as “Stumpy” from the double amputation inflicted by the TDX mines that annihilated his command, blamed Gaudette for his unit being savaged. Later, ‘Wimpy’ and his company set and sprung the trap that did for the responsible group of insurgents.

When Gaudette was a cavalry troop commander, a mission went badly wrong for one of his platoons. The options for rescue were limited by either time or scale; the squadron was massing and pulling in assets to put together a thrust that could get the platoon’s survivors out, but it would take hours. The platoon was not likely to last an hour without some forlorn-hope mission to divert the attention of the insurgents; an insurgent brigade had downed the cav platoon’s carriers in a sudden, massive volley of ATGM fire, and swarmed from unknown subterranean positions like angry ants. ‘Wimpy’ put his XO in command of the troop and asked for volunteers from those without wives or children to go on what he said was certainly a suicide mission, with little hope of either survival or success. He limited the men to enough to fit in two carriers by drawing lots, because no one wanted to be left behind when ‘Wimpy’ rode out. Through a skillful raid, they got to the survivors, and shuttled them back on the one wounded carrier that would still fly, as one Rampart that was officially ‘down’ went in again and again, firing mostly blind into the jungle valley. Less than half of the rescue mission, and only 12 platoon members, survived; all were both wounded and profoundly grateful. ‘Wimpy’ went from popular to legendary as a result of this action, and was awarded the Starburst for Extreme Heroism some years later. After recovering from his wounds, and taking an accelerated version of Staff College, he was given command of the Headquarters Troop, and went on to quickly move into a job as the head staff officer for operations training and planning, all from the effectiveness he showed in combat leadership and planning. His success inspired a bit of jealousy in some peers and superiors alike.

His men had always been more devoted to him than to his superiors, though; sometimes small men in the military have a greater need for obedience than efficacy, let alone efficiency. ‘Wimpy’ was not brilliant, but he was smart enough, very well-read, and would not back down when right. He cared not for his career but his job; the excellence in the latter never quite made up for the lack of attention to the former, however. His men would follow his profoundly profane, squeaky commands almost without a thought, because he worked hard to never make a bad call. If there was a hot spot, ‘Wimpy’ was there, with divots in his combat armor, ordering drivers to take cover, and gunners to shoot true. He never took a bad risk, and never missed a good opportunity to hit the “G’s” where it hurt. Sometimes, when he had a good XO, he would lead the riskiest patrols himself. He was later made Battalion S3 for an infantry battalion, and did creditably, but knew that this was likely the apex of his career. Indeed, “creditably” is a gross understatement, if planning and coordinating highly successful combat operations were all an S3 had to do; all staff officers ultimately need to make the boss happy, though, and sometimes this means executing his stupid plans when he won’t listen. ‘Wimpy’ failed badly at that.

He is from a military family of “rankers,” and the pride of his father, a retired Regimental Command Sergeant Major, means more to ‘Wimpy’ than any of the efficiency reports that damned him with faint praise. His first wife left him in his third term, and though he pretended that it did not affect him, he really blamed himself. He knew his love of the service had hamstrung that relationship, and would in the end rather have lost another of his men than have seen her go. But she went, and they kept dying anyway. ‘Stumpy’ went to real lengths to sabotage him, even delving into perjury and other criminal mischief, mostly ham-fisted, but some almost artful. He never retaliated, though, and pitied ‘Stumpy’ in his impotent rage. Everyone in the chain of command saw through the tricks, but they were annoyed anyway, and some blame fell on Gaudette. The military tends to apportion blame to perpetrator and victim about 90/10, and this meant ‘Wimpy’ was eventually a liability that no one wanted around. Wimpy eventually retired, when it was clear that ‘Stumpy’ would not stop his vendetta. This was, in many ways, a tragedy.

Sir Henri is looking for a way to put his skills to useful and honorable service, but is willing to be patient. He is generally distrustful of mercenary units as being too, well, mercenary. He is staying at a veterans’ hostel, where he can live cheaply in adequate comfort. He knows a few of the regulars there, and they respect him. He has a large network of trusty connections, though, where he can find out about most people in military service. He does not speak of his accomplishments in social circles; few outside military circles know about his SEH or the knighthood he received with it. He is currently a shift supervisor at a local security company; the company is quite happy with him, and he has gotten a string of raises and promotions. He is living well within his means, and could put some away if 80% of it didn’t go to liquor. He is always sober on shift, though. Despite knowing that he is ‘underemployed’, he approaches his job with the humility that all truly effective military men must have, and with the sense of self-sacrificial duty that few can retain and aspire to wear general’s rank.

When interviewing for a position, Wimpy will arrange to do it in his time off. He will have an official fiche of his Army service record, and a staggering list of references. He will really be interviewing the interviewer, however, and in the time before being contacted and the actual interview, he will check out the organization that is approaching him. When approached by those trying to put together a mercenary unit, he has insisted on talking to all who are principals in the organization of the unit, and ask about contractual rights of the commander, and who the commander is. Most have either failed to pass muster, or balked at some of the most probing of his questions. A couple have not yet met his conditions, but are working to do so. Though he would never undertake it on his own, Sir Henri is perfectly capable of commanding a mercenary unit of up to brigade strength; if this is offered, however, he will have conditions, including having good recruiters, good trainers, and some months time to assemble and train the unit before going into action. For a smaller unit, all of veterans, he will still want a few weeks to train before being committed to action, for he well knows the difference between a group of highly skilled individuals and a good unit.