Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bringing Back What Was Asked

I once worked with a fellow in Auditing who was once described by our vice president as someone who was guaranteed to complete the assignment.

Ray was brought to mind when I read the obituary of Irv Refkin, 96, who was described as an 'impromptu spy' who during WW II completed assignments for the British and the United States. He was an American, who after basic training was further trained in Canada in the use of explosives. The obituary didn't explain why the Army sent Irv Refkin to Canada to learn how to detonate explosives and couldn't, or wouldn't provide the training within our own country, but this was the same Army that transferred my father from Guam where he was injured in a typhoon to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, half a world away. Talk about not having any beds available closer.

(It did work out for my father because he met my mother who was an Army nurse at the hospital, and they married. They produced one son, who at this point in his life types an occasional story about them.)

Mr. Refkin was somewhat shoved into first working for the British by an American commanding officer who didn't like him. The officer had him shipped off on a plane to Britain, where they made use of him as a spy to be dropped behind German lines, all because he could speak German, a language he learned while being raised in a German Lutheran orphanage in Milwaukee, and of course because he knew how to blow things up. Some skills when combined can get you the most exciting and nerve racking of jobs. Whether you asked for them or not.

Mr. Refkin proved quite good at completing his assignments. In one particular assignment he was to bring back a file. When he couldn't open the combination lock to the file cabinet, he brought the whole cabinet back. He then had to return the cabinet before the Germans knew it was missing. Mr. Refkin was never caught, and lived to be a decorated 96-year-old.

As for my Auditing colleague Ray, he was described by our vice president as someone who if you asked him to "bring back a typewriter" Ray would bring you back a typewriter. No questions asked.

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