STE MERE EGLISE, france — The soldier had target fixation. He had three beers in hand, a full day of leave and a group of young women waiting. But a crowd of Army uniforms also gathered for this French village's D-Day celebrations stood in the way.
The soldier navigated another step and realized he was pushing his beers right into the uniform of Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Palomino, what are you doing?” Milley said, reading the captain's name tag.
Palomino's eyes went wide.
“Whoaaa!” he said, backing away from the big guy.
“Whoaaa!” Milley said right back, grinning and taking a step toward him.
While the captain may have been surprised to find Milley mixing it up with soldiers, it didn't surprise me. For those of us who have covered him, there's the Milley who has been defined by the deeply controversial moments of his chairmanship under former President Donald Trump, who branded him a traitor. And then there's Milley with the troops, mischievous and at home.
“Here, I'm going to give you a coin!” Milley said, continuing his approach toward the 173rd Combat Airborne Brigade captain, dropping his chairman's coin into his beer to the laughter of a herd of troops.
Once soldiers get a coin as high-ranking as Milley's, any time they are at a bar and are challenged to show what coin they carry, well, they win and the other soldier buys the drinks. So it's a valuable…