TIME TO "SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT" - HOW A
FAT EGOMANIAC ("THE PILLSBURY DOUGHMAN")
HURT THE NEW JERSEY NATIONAL GUARD - GEN.
FRANCIS GERARD'S NAPOLEONIC-COMPLEX GAVE
THE GARDEN STATE EIGHT YEARS OF MIS-MANAGE-
MENT AND DECLINE - ENLISTMENTS DOWN AND
ARMORIES CLOSED - MORALE LOW AS COTERIE
OF SYCOPHANTS FED GERARD'S MASSIVE EGO
VICIOUS BACK-STABBER A "CARTOON-LIKE"
CHARACTER - IGNORED CORRUPTION AT HQTRS
It's been said, "speak no ill of the dead." But if we were to do that, we'd betray the memory of many good men and women who gave their all and maintained their honor and integrity in service to the New Jersey National Guard.
We cannot remain silent as to the terrible eight years (1982 - 1990) that a fat egomaniac - Gen. Francis R. Gerard - ruled and ruined the state Guard.
He was morbidly obese, with a pumpkin-like head planted on a stubby little torso. Chomping on an unlit cigar, like the late Gen. Curtis LeMay, and sometimes adorned in a white dress uniform, as if he was a South American "banana-republic" dictator, Gerard's cruelty and brass-knuckle politics damaged or destroyed the career of many men far better than he.
One of them was the beloved and charismatic Gen. Peter Genovese, co-founder of MilitaryCorruption.com, whom "the fat man" feared the most. More on Gen. Genovese (see related stories box below) later on in this article.
AN OBSCENE EXERCISE IN EXTREME EGOMANIA
We remember the time Gerard struck terror into the hearts of all Guard commissioned and warrant officers by issuing an order that we show up on a Saturday at the War Memorial Auditorium in Trenton, N.J. on non-drill, non-pay status, for reasons that were purposely made unclear.
It was a mandatory call-up, and all attendees were required to "sign in." Anyone not showing up, for whatever reason, it was understood, would be in big trouble.
Since the "Pillsbury Doughman" had already earned a reputation for brutality, rumors swept through the assembled throng in the parking lot that Gerard was going to conduct a massive blood-letting. One captain from Morristown guessed the adjutant general would read off a list of his victims from the stage, all the better to humiliate them in public.
What it turned out to be was a sickening display of egomania.
GOV. KEAN BENDS OVER TO PIN MEDAL ON THE "PILLSBURY DOUGHMAN"
No one was fired, at least that day, but hundreds of officers from every corner of the Garden State were treated to the spectacle of Gerard being decorated with the N.J. Guard's Distinguished Service Medal by his political pal, then-Gov. Tom Kean.
Kean, who had been a corporal in the Guard's 50th Armored Division back in the 1950's, looked awkward as the tall, lanky governor had to practically bend in half to pin the award on Gerard's puffed-up chest.
Up in the balcony, the general's chief flunkie, "Corky" Lowe, was supposed to produce a slide show, and instead screwed up the frames and even got some upside down. Few of us, however, dared to laugh out loud at the incompetent boob. For obvious reasons.
Nothing this sycophant and suck-up did could get him in trouble. He had mastered the art of "buttering up the boss" to such an extent, Lowe was one of the most feared men in the Guard. Earn his disapproval, for any reason, and you could easily see your career come to a screeching halt.
Smirk-faced Corky knew he was powerful and strutted around headquarters with an infantry-branch ascot round his neck and a riding crop under his arm. He played the big, bad "infantry officer," but his record shows he was commissioned several years before the end of the Vietnam war. Some of us wondered why this creep never got near the fighting if he was so "gung ho" to go into battle.
GERARD'S FLUNKIE ABUSES AND DEMEANS VIETNAM COMBAT VETERAN
That didn't stop Gerard's public relations man from abusing combat veterans, however. We know of one officer, a decorated Vietnam veteran, who was left behind in a barracks at Ft. Dix to "guard the laundry bags" while other unit members were allowed to go to the mess hall for breakfast. Denied any food and demeaned in front of his troops, the lieutenant had no choice but to take the maltreatment from Lowe. To complain to the IG (in Gerard's pocket) was to commit professional suicide.
One time Lowe ordered the editor of GUARDLIFE magazine to feature Gerard's name or photograph on every other page of the bi-monthly publication. The mission of the magazine was to promote recruiting and retention and those funds were used to pay for it's printing and distribution.
In 1981, GUARDLIFE had won both the Keith Ware and First Army Award for editorial excellence. Two years later, after Lowe made it into a PR platform for the adjutant general, troops out in the field mockingly referred to the magazine as "GERARD-LIFE." Sadly, it took many years for the publication to recover from that terrible time.
You had to wonder if Gerard was living in a dream world. Who would want their photograph plastered everywhere when they were a dead ringer for "Porky Pig?" But the Stalin-like glorification of "flying ace" Gerard continued unabated.
BRASS BUTTONS "READY TO POP"
We recall one instance where Gen. Gerard was the main speaker at the Governor's Annual Award and Review Ceremony at Sea Girt, N.J. Fellow Republican Kean was there, and as he presented his remarks, we watched with eager anticipation, as fat man Gerard sat on a chair, his little feet dangling below, not quite touching the floor. He was in his dress white uniform and the general's abundant abdomen was stretching the brass buttons on his uniform blouse to the absolute maximum.
Unfortunately, the governor was brief in his comments, and Gerard was able to keep his buttons from popping off, at least for another day.
Corruption and cronyism was rampant in those years that Gerard ruled the Guard and ran it into ruin. Idiots were promoted and good commanders were canned, one for being five pounds overweight. The general was at least 50 pounds over the limit, but no one dared to comment on how obviously the triple-chinned Guard boss was "way past" the weight limit.
THE NURSE FROM HELL AT SEA GIRT
During his years in power, a cancer developed at the New Jersey Military Academy in Sea Girt. A particularly ugly and vicious head nurse who had an open affair with a married officer on the base was given "carte blanche" to conduct a reign of terror. Flat-chested, with a pointy chin and long nose like some Appalachian half-breed, this foul-mouthed, chain-smoking shrew was "above the law" and knew it.
Gerard "looked the other way" at her antics. All one needed to do to get away with bad behavior, was be a sycophant and, like Lowe, she could "suck up" with the best of them.
One time when Gerard's chief of staff, nicknamed "Tex" allegedly got a black female enlisted woman pregnant and paid her hush/support money, the adjutant general did nothing. Even when ole Tex told an offended female enlisted member of the 50th PSC, "Ah like mah wimen like ah like mah coffee, hot and black!"
It's easy to see how morale was undermined when the vast majority of New Jersey Guard men and women saw a handful of favored ones get away with anything.
GERARD UNFIT TO SHINE GEN. GENOVESE'S PARATROOP BOOTS
Our memories of Gerard as a squinty-eyed despot go back to the day his deputy, Gen. Peter Genovese, made the mistake of informing the fat man he was going to launch an investigation into corruption in the Guard's 50th Armored Division.
No way did the adjutant general want that! Perhaps he feared some of the findings might come back and bite him, so he simply "killed the messenger" by abruptly relieving him of his duties and forcing Genovese into early retirement.
It was so typical of Gerard's dirty dealing, that we feel some 28 years after we first looked into his bloated face, it would be the right thing to do to tell the truth about an over-rated egomaniac who undoubtedly is occupying a very warm location as you read these words.
It's the least we could do to honor the memory of a great general and good man who tried to do right and fell on his sword. God bless your memory, Gen. Genovese. Rest in peace, sir. We have now "settled the score" with your old tormentor.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We have enough material on the New Jersey Guard, past and present, to fill a file cabinet, so we are sure the current leadership - Gov. Corzine could lose on Nov. 4th - would be very stupid indeed to protest our accurate and long-overdue account of the bad years under Gen. Frank Gerard. You have been warned. Yes, you too, R.M. You were one of Gerard's more obsequious bootlickers].