Dec. 10, 1944, Mourmelon-le-Grande, France. Men march and chant, because they're in the military. From the regimental HQ, Winters frets that Easy is only at 65% strength, with a hefty dose of replacement soldiers included in that number and a new CO, Lt. Dike, no one likes. "They're calling him Foxhole Norman" after only a few weeks under his command, Welsh giggles. Nixon tries to calm Winters by pointing out that nothing's planned until mid-March, which leaves ample time for training and restaffing before they "jump into Berlin and end the war." Winters panics that the NCOs are the only things keeping Easy together. Speaking of which, Gonorrhea's on the loose and he's spreading toward Winters with a quickness. Everyone greets him with smiles, and Gonorrhea pleasantly but sadly says, "Its true. I never thought I'd see you behind a desk." As you can imagine, Winters is thrilled at the reminder. Gonorrhea smirks and notes that he's just gone AWOL from the hospital so that he could rejoin Easy, rather than miss anything and get reassigned; this loyalty, as we've noted, was not uncommon. Popeye Wynn did the same thing. Gonorrhea pretends to worry that he's caused a problem, but then admits he'd have bolted regardless. Winters doesn't look up at him, ostensibly because he's pained at his desk job and misses working with guys like Gonorrhea in the field. Gonorrhea produces a letter for Winters from Moose, who is okay but still facing a long recovery. Awkward pause. Small-talk about a 506th vs 502nd football game, set for Christmas Day; when Gonorrhea notices Winters isn't playing along with the jabber, he ruefully takes his leave.
Winters sits mournfully, then balks loudly when Nixon produces something from his pocket. "What's that, a piece of paper? I don't want to see another piece of paper," Winters growls, at the end of his rope. I confess to feeling a sense of loss as well. When I found out he wasn't Easy's CO any more, I kept complaining in my mind that Stephen Ambrose was clearly telling the story wrong, and needed to cease examining the interior of his own colon so that he could correct the error. But, no. Damn true story. Nixon prefaces his announcement by saying that General Taylor is in Washington, Col. Sink is seeing Marlene Dietrich in a USO show, Strayer is at Lt. Col. Dobie's wedding in London, and Nixon is off to Aldbourne "to look up a certain lady." Nixon! You dog, you! Anyway, his point is that they've decided Winters deserves a forty-eight-hour pass to Paris for some rest and relaxation. And the love of a righteous, saucy French whore.