“Hi, I’m Don B. Morgan from Austin, Texas,” he said to three other army recruits at Fort Carson, Colorado. “Where are you from?”

All three of us were from the Rio Grande Valley. We became friends and have been ever since.

John Dominguez came from Mercedes, Jim Rogers from Weslaco, and this writer from McAllen. All four of us had gone to college. We becamefriends in common, when we met in 1956-57. That was 54 years ago.

Morgan succeeded as a lawyer and a judge, as did Dominguez, after their army years.Rogers does well as a fruit shipper. I became a sports and newspaper writer.

We sailed across the Atlantic to serve in the Cold War to prevent Russians frominvading countries in Europe.

Morgan created the best practical joke I ever have seen. Unfortunately I was the butt of the trick. I never told anyone, except my wife Jerry, about it until now. I was so stupid for taking the bait.

Don Morgan was in charge of 11 soldiers. We were a small patrol, sneaking throughsome big trees somewhere near the border with East Germany in 1957. We found no Russian soldiers where we checked, then retreated for a better position, as instructed.

Then it started to snow, hard. Squad Leader Morgan said to me, “Better take off yourcoat, McKone.”

“Why?”

“Because it always gets warmer when it snows! Didn’t you know that?”

So I took off my coat, as he said, and all the other men also took off their coats to encourage me. It was about 25 degrees above zero. I was the last to shed my coat — and then everyone laughed uproariously. One young soldier from New York laughed so hysterically, he couldn’t stop. He kept saying, “We fixed him, we fixed him!”

By then, I realized I had been tricked. We all put our coats back on, with everyone laughing except me. I never fell for that trick again, but the other soldiers in the incident would remind me of it while I ground my teeth and kept silent for about a month, every time theykidded me.

Even so, I still liked Don Morgan and we remained friends after I literally cooled off.

Don Morgan died almost two years ago, after his long career as a state judge in Texas and being a private attorney before that.

He was such a nice guy, the only one of us to pass away. To this day, I laugh about his funny stories and tricks as a soldier as well as his other occupations.

We were lucky to have a soldier like him and lawyer and friend, and to this day I have to laugh every time I remember being ridiculed by a dozen men because I fell for his joke. I was careful never to be that stupid again and often succeeded.

NOTE TO VETERANS: Any U.S. Armed Forces veteran who would like to tell their own best funny experience is invited to email this writer at mckonetx@hiline.net. I will try to get these funny service stories printed, if short enough and others agree to use them.