Thursday, April 9, 2015


Schutzengel by Bernhard Plockhorst (Public Domain)
So yesterday, in the midst of regaling you with the tale of how I got my first assignment, I may have been a tad harsh regarding the wondrous airmen who staff the Air Force personnel system.

Juvat is married to a retired Air Force personnel officer.

Oh sh!t, oh dear.

I must now make penance for my sins and tell you a tale of the time when the personnel system worked in my favor. It did happen from time to time. (In my case, more often than not.)

So there I was...*

I had been on Okinawa for nearly a year and a half and was fast approaching assignment time. Far off in Mordor Randolph AFB, the Dark Lords assignments people were consulting the stars and reading the signs to determine just who would go where. One could not actually see the dark clouds over that benighted land, but you could sense them. Far out on the horizon, like an approaching storm. (Why yes, I am exaggerating. Dramatic license and all that.)

Since coming to Kadena I had been to Korea a number of times for temporary duty. I had established a superb working relationship with my counterparts at Kunsan, I liked them. They liked me.

I had also met the love of my life. Literally. I had been hit by "The Thunderbolt."
“You can't hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it. Christ, man, don't be ashamed of it, some men pray for the thunderbolt. You're a very lucky fellow. - Calo” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather (When Michael Corleone first saw Apollonia Vitelli)

Yes, I had met the future Missus Herself and was in love. Madly, passionately in love. There was no way in Hell I would leave Asia without her.

My Chief (CMSgt Colonna, best chief ever) told me to file a dream sheet (we all know how well that had worked in '75). But that's how the system worked, so I did.

My assignment came in. Florida. Hhmm, last I checked, that was not in Korea.

"Oh Chief, Chief, my Chief. Pray tell, what should I do?"

"Extend." he said.

So I filed the paperwork to stay on Okinawa for another six months.

Time passed. I traveled to Korea more often than before. (I wonder why?)

My assignment came in. Florida.

So yes, six more months on the Rock (as we called it). Near the end of that time, the Chief mentioned that a buddy of his from PACAF** would be on base the next day. Seems this buddy of his was the reigning Chief at PACAF Manning. As the Chief put it, "If PACAF wants you, Randolph can go spit. You stay in PACAF."

So the next day, when the PACAF Manning Chief and his boss were on base, I called the number my Chief had given me.

His buddy, the other Chief, wasn't in, as the captain (the Chief's boss) who answered the phone told me. The good captain (a personnel guy mind you) asked me what I wanted, he'd pass it on to the Chief.

So I told him of my desire to go to Korea. A remote assignment. A place few wanted to go, yet I was desperate to get there. (As a matter of fact, I was now married to The Missus Herself and we'd set up shop, so to speak, in Korea already. All I needed was an assignment.)

The captain then said, "Well Hell airman. I can take care of that."

So after informing him of all my necessaries (Social Security number, name, rank, etc), the good captain said, "Expect the assignment in one to two weeks."

I stammered out, "So, you will put my request in to Randolph and then they'll let me know?"

"Hell no son. You're a PACAF asset. I say you stay in PACAF, you stay in PACAF. I'm the bull goose loony in charge back there at Hickam. You will have your assignment to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, in your orderly room in one to two weeks. Guaranteed."

"Guaranteed Sir?"

"Guaranteed Airman."

Two weeks later, I had orders to Korea. Within a month, I was in Korea. With my sweetie in our little home. Most pleased I was.

From that day forth, I don't think I ever got a bad assignment.

In fact, when we all left Korea (as they were replacing the F-4D with the F-16), all the other guys in my shop got MacDill, in Florida.

I got Lowry. In Denver. Which was perhaps the most coveted assignment in the WCS career field.

So Mrs Juvat (and any other personnel wienies, er, I mean specialists, out there who may have taken offense at yesterday's post), my apologies for insinuating that all personnel types were the north end of a southbound horse. That was most assuredly not the case.

I am guilty of hyperbole, nothing more, nothing less.

But many (not all mind you) of the enlisted clan within the personnel specialty were of questionable parentage. Now I'm not saying that their mothers were hamsters and their fathers smelled of elderberries, but...

Essayons avec un grand blaireau de bois...

I had nothing but love for the commissioned ranks in the personnel field. And that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth. More or less.

One might even assume that after a certain period in my career, I may have had a guardian angel somewhere high up in the personnel ranks.

Who's to say?

So Juvat, am I safe?

** PACAF = Pacific Air Forces


  1. So apparently no one ever penciled "FOF" on the inside cover of your pers file.

    Two kinds of enlisted personnelmen in the navy, shipmates and bureaucrats.

    Two kinds of personnel officers. shipmates and future admirals (ruh-roh).

    1. Well in the Air Force one was expected to check one's personnel file periodically. I did. I erased everything I found which was in pencil.


      Concur with your last two statements. For the record, to my knowledge, Mrs Juvat did NOT retire as a general. So she must be cool. (If she had retired at flag rank I'm sure Juvat would have mentioned that.)

    2. Can only imagine what FOF might stand for.
      We had a different version of your last two lines in the AF
      "There are only two kinds of people in the Air Force, Fighter Pilots and Shoe Clerks. Fighter Pilot is an attitude not an AFSC." (Air Force Specialty Code)

      I knew Shoe Clerks who flew F-15s and Fighter Pilots who repaired Radars and ran Personnel shops.

      IMHO most of the problems in the AF today are caused by the fact that mostly Shoe Clerks got promoted to General and the Fighter Pilots got passed over and retired.

    3. I like the way you put things Juvat.

      I'm doubling your pay!

    4. I concur Juvat, very well said indeed. The Air Force has great institutional sayings. They navy's are a bit more cryptic. In this case, "Ship, Shipmate, Self."

      Sigh, there was never enough room on the ship to pack both the thesaurus and the thesaurus NATOPS manual.

      FOF = Firetruck Over Forever, btw.

    5. Heh heh, he said firetruck. Heh heh.

    6. I was virtually certain one, if not both, F's stood for Firetruck, just wasn't certain what was in between.

  2. Was it evil personnel types that consigned approximately 40 airmen to be transported to Europe on the troopship General Maurice Rose circa 1963? They certainly expressed unkind opinions about those who made the decision.

    1. Probably.

      (I'd call it cruel and unusual punishment but I'm crazy enough to have enjoyed something like that.)

    2. I enjoyed the troopship as there were many opportunities to mess with the system, and it was an "adventure". Wouldn't want to do it again. Made me appreciate what my father endured going to and coming home from India.

    3. Yeah, I'd do it one time.

      Just to say I did it.

  3. I grew up at Robbins AFB and Ft Gordon as a military brat. When I was going from junior high to high school my dad retired and we moved to the farm in South Georgia. I enlisted in the Air Force wanting to see the world. My dream sheet had nothing but European locations. I was teletype/crypto maintenance so there were slots everywhere there was an airfield.

    My first assignment was McDill in Tampa. I was the only wingnut in my shop and I had a Marine Gunny as a supervisor. It was a joint unit. Obviously I was not in the same Air Force my dad was in. I did my time and took to the "re-training" Gunny gave me - I became his pet project. I was coming up to my 6 year mark and I found I had no hopes of a different assignment as once CENTAF had their hooks in you they never let go.

    I got out after my first hitch and got away from that Gunny madman. The day after my terminal leave was finished I enlisted in a Combat Comm ANG unit in South Georgia. I had turned in most of my BDU's when I left CENTAF and the Combat Comm wore the pickle uniform with a blue unit ballcap. Fist drill weekend was nothing but orientation. The next month when I showed up the mission had changed as well as our Active duty counterpart and they were giving small group orientation that scheduled the issuing BDU's. I was scheduled for Sunday to receive my new uniforms. All of the full time and a few of the weekend warriors had them on but they were missing the command patches and the unit patch. I was back in CENTAF Comms but on the ANG side. After that weekend the AF blue ball cap with the unit logo would be no longer authorized and we had a new ball cap that was Barney Purple with JCSE enblazend across the front.

    I went home and pulled out my best set of BDU's, found the obnoxious purple cap, and wore them on Sunday. My blouse had all of my tabs and the JCSE Shield in the correct place. I was a Staff Sergent back then and when I showed up I had a Master Sergent giving me the business about the tabs on my uniform when my old active duty supervisor butted in. He had made Master Gunnery Sergent just prior to me mustering out of AD. Gunney made a comment that at least there was one f**king wingnut that had his uniform squared away and didn't look like a shit bag and maybe there was a feign glimmer of hope that this guard experiment wouldn't fail miserably since they had at least one person that had proper military training.

    I stayed in the unit for another 7 years and then transfered to a Combat Comm unit near my home in Atlanta where I stayed until I retired. I still believe that I was in a different AF than most other Airmen.

    1. Oh you were Tony, you were.

      I have a lot of respect for Combat Comm.

      Your Gunny sounds like a real mensch.

  4. As I approached the end of my four-year enlistment, this Missouri boy rec'd orders to the enlistment center in Peoria, IL. Granted, it was several hours of driving from where my family lived, but after four years overseas, that's practically backyard duty. I mention this because my detailer (USN-speak for the personnel assignment weinies) was the E-5 (then an E-6) with whom I'd worked on my first assignment. Helps to have friends in high places, etc etc.

    1. It does help to have friends in high places.

      From my understanding, in the Navy a detailer is someone from your career field. In the Air Force it's someone who is a personnel / assignment / clerk.

      Makes a difference I think.

  5. I also did get one good assignment from Personnel. When I was due to rotate from Kadena, the Fairy Godmother,
    who was apparently feeling good that day, put down her knitting and picked my name off the list for a special assignment
    to Tyndall AFB in Panama City Florida. It was a research project for Westinghouse with a great crew. You will probably
    remember some of them, Ed Toughlian, Chuck Daily, Larry Bankus and Leslie Hooe.

    The best member of the crew was a tech rep from Westinghouse by the name of Mike Colonna. Yep, CMsgt Colonna's
    little brother. We tipped quite a few brews in honor of his big brother who I agree was the best Chief ever!!

    1. Wow Russ. Yeah, I knew all those guys: Ed, Chuck Larry and Les.

      Chief Colonna's kid brother? Yeah. awesome assignment.


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