Friday, December 21, 2007

The Second Chicken Thief

While AC was stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia after World War I, Douglas MacArthur came to dinner. AC and MacArthur had been friends since serving together under Brigadier General John J. Pershing on the Mexico Punitive Expedition. The menu for the evening was fried chicken, gravy and the like. Jack’s mother, Irene, was famous throughout the Army for her fried chicken. An Arnold chicken dinner was an event not to be missed. Quite an accomplishment for a southern service.

AC being an Army captain at the time had no houseboys assigned. Thus, the job of serving the dinner fell to the eldest son, Jack. As Jack was serving the chicken, he served from the “wrong” side. Ever the gentleman, MacArthur hesitated a bit to allow service from the correct side. When it appeared Jack would not be moving he reached for the chicken. Just as he reached, Jack noticed the eye gesture from AC and quickly stepped to the other side. MacArthur grasped open air for his chicken and exclaimed, “You took my chicken!” A moment passed, as Jack started to respond MacArthur continued, “That is the second time an Arnold took my chicken!”

With that the story from a couple of years before in 1918 surfaced. AC had been on patrol with his unit, the 1/326 Infantry at Chateau-Thierry. They had gone through the lines on a reconnaissance patrol into No Man’s Land, then probed enemy lines. As they crossed back through the lines, the Germans began shelling the American position. Their entry back into the American lines was near MacArthur’s Command Post. When they got there they found the post empty, the headquarters personnel had withdraw to their bunker until the shelling ended. On the table was set a roast chicken dinner, complete with vegetables, dessert and, most important, a nice wine. With the food in sight, the shelling did not seem so near or deadly. After consuming all that had been put out, AC went to the bunker to report.

Thus, Jack became the Second Chicken Thief in the Arnold family.

ADM Jackson D. Arnold, Oral History November 2005

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