Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Bust of MSgt Dillon. Well, his nose looked something like that. Very impressive it was!  And yes, if it was him, he'd be in need of a haircut. Just sayin'...(Source)
For one reason or another I went strolling through The Chant's archives on Monday. Something (which will get written about later in the week) sparked that particular excursion and while down in the basement (so to speak) I stumbled across a reference to one of those "I'll tell that story someday, POCIR."

Can't remember when I coined that particular acronym (pronounced "poker" for those who must know) but I'm sure it was at a particular point in time when a vigilant reader asked about a particular tale which had been promised but never delivered. So now all foreshadowing, hints, signals, portents, harbingers, and the like which I may make mention of in these spaces will typically have the POCIR caveat attached thereto. If I remember to do so (IIRTDS, pronounced "er-tids", this is unofficial as in "not added to The Acronym Page as of this writing).


So, there I was...*

I was nobbut a lad, fresh out of Fundamentals and eager to learn all there was to know (academically) about the AN/APQ-109A radar and the associated components, systems, doo-dads, framistats, geegaws, what-nots, and peripherals which made up the Weapon Control System of the mighty F-4D Phantom II.

F-4D of the 301st TFW F-4D, 1985, landing at Nellis AFB, NV. (Source)

I should note at this point that Fundamentals was basic electronics and things of that nature. They even taught me how to solder, a skill I never once used in my entire Air Force career. Sets (I have no idea why it was called that, Russ might remember) was where we learned (in theory) about the radar set itself. Lots of colored pencils, lots of wiring diagrams. I had forgotten (so I thought) everything SSgt Ames (my instructor) ever taught me. When I got to Kadena, SSgt Abbott managed to dredge all of that suppressed knowledge out of the deep recesses of my brain.

I suppose that's what happens when you take a month of leave after school before heading off to The Land of the Rising Sun. That is, Okinawa, Kadena Air Base, etc, etc.

But all that is merely prelude to the Tale of Master Sergeant Dillon, the boss man, shift supervisor, head loony in charge of the C shift at my Tech School at Lowry AFB, Colorado. Think Denver, think the Mile High City, think the greatest place to be stationed for tech school in the whole wide Air Force. Until they closed it down. Real estate in that area is pricey, Lowry took up a lot of acreage that wasn't on the city tax rolls, it being Federal property and all. I'm guessing the local politicians convinced the feds that that was a bad thing. Ah well.

Where was I?

Before continuing, you should go read these posts: here, here, and here, they provide the background for this tale. (Well, you can probably just skim through them, most of that material is not on the final...)

One day I decided, in all my 22 year old wisdom, to bring this to school -

A very realistic looking (and totally non-functional) replica of the World War II German MP-40 machine pistol.

Yeah, yeah, I know, totally stupid idea, how did I ever survive my youth? Well, there are times I wonder.

As I mentioned in one of those linked posts above, my First Sergeant and Commanding Officer thought that faux MP-40 was just the coolest thing ever. As did my roomie and a few other of the airmen in our outfit. One of those airmen thought that perhaps the instructors at the school would also find it nifty, keen, and worthy of admiration. Those were different times. Better times.

Now I mentioned above that I was on C shift. This shift ran from 1500 to 2300 or thereabouts, the actual classroom work was (IIRC) six hours long, so don't take those times as gospel. When we formed up to go to school, I was in charge as a squad leader. I got to march the troops there and back again (we marched way better than hobbits, dwarves, and wizards, though not much). So I was pretty much the head guy, the responsible adult, ya know your basic "leader of men" (for there were no women in our outfit at that time).

Yes, I know. What were they thinking, putting Your Humble Scribe in charge of all these young airmen? I too was an airman, though not as young as the others. I was the "old man" at 22. Only Irish Mikey was older than I, he was ancient at the ripe age of 28. Gramps Donnelly looked a lot older than me, but he wasn't. Premature gray was his bane. (Hence the nickname.) Premature baldness was mine, we looked a pair of Methuselahs beside the lads.

Again I see I've wandered off the straight and narrow and like a young right fielder am out grazing amongst the daisies, oblivious to all...

Sorry, a digression within a digression...

So off to school we marched. Though I don't remember how we got the machine pistol to school, probably in a duffel bag. Had there been any of the training sergeants around I'm sure we (read "I") would have gotten an ass chewing. But it being at the end of the "normal" duty day, no one was around to say anything.

At some point in the night I produced the MP-40 for to show my instructor, SSgt Ames. I thought he would find it très amusant. He did, he squealed with great joy and began to caper about the classroom.

Okay, that's a bit of artistic license on my part. SSgt Ames was a big dude, acted grumpy but was a big, old teddy bear. Seriously. So he wouldn't caper, or squeal with delight. (If you read this Bill, forgive me, I got carried away.)

No, that is not SSgt Ames walking to his car, too small. (Source)

He found the MP-40 to be worthy of sharing with his fellow instructors, before he could lug the thing out in the hallway, cavorting and making machine gun noises, MSgt Dillon came in to see what the ruckus was.

Boy did his eyes light up when he saw that machine pistol. He looked like a kid at Christmas. He looked like a starving man stumbling into a buffet. He looked like...

I think you get the point. It was thrilled he was and immediately commanded SSgt Ames to "render it hither, posthaste!" At which point SSgt Ames handed over the faux weapon with some reluctance.

MSgt Dillon brandished the MP-40 like a...

No, we won't go down simile lane again, suffice to say, MSgt Dillon exhibited great joy and his visage took on a most warlike demeanor as he cried out...

"Let's go scare the shit out of the Security Police!"

...and ran down the hallway for the stairs (for we were on the second floor).

At which point SSgt Ames began to chuckle, then, realizing that the Security Police are noted for two things: real firearms and a complete lack of a sense of humor. 'Twas then that SSgt Ames got this really panicked look on his face, muttered "oh shit" and lumbered down the hallway after our Master Sergeant. (Okay, he was a pretty athletic guy, I'm sure he didn't "lumber" down the hallway, more like a manly sprint, or dash...)

After all, we liked our Master Sergeant, we wanted to keep our Master Sergeant, SSgt Ames needed to stop him before he reached the street and began bellowing insults at a passing Security Police vehicle.

Did I mention it was dark? Unknown individual, brandishing a very realistic looking faux weapon, cavorting upon the roadway, bellowing pithy phrases and commentary on the ancestry of Security Policemen everywhere. Yeah, that might not end well.

SSgt Ames managed to rescue MSgt Dillon (from himself) and that night at school was pretty much a wash. Too much excitement, there was no way we would be able to continue our studies. I think after that a few of the instructors came in and began to regale us with war stories. Ya know, the kind that start with "so, there I was."

It's all true, at least that's the way I remember the story. Others may have a different memory of that night, but this is my story. Such as it is.

Back in the days of Gaius Julius Caesar (or thereabouts), when I was but a lowly airman. Young and not possessed of a great deal of common sense. Ah, those days were fun. I am often surprised that we survived.

Caesar and his nose.
A pale imitation of the mighty proboscis of MSgt Dillon. (Source)



  1. Great story Sarge! Man, there's nothing better than being young and enlisted. It gets a little bumpy at times but executing shenanigans and navigating out of the resultant storms is part of the forging process.

  2. Marched way better...but not so much?

  3. Cavorting was what we did best at 'A' School.
    That is, after we had our studies well in hand.
    The instructors were a tad more subtle than the students.

  4. In the ASA, back in the day, the lower ranks were peopled with over educated wise asses. It was "de rigueur" to swear undying hatred for the service each of us had "volunteered" for. Anyway . . . I remember this one guy (There's always one guy.) who was rebel enough that he was continually in the First Sergeant's office. On this particular day he was tasked with running the audio equipment for a colonel's retirement ceremony. He had it all set up . . . with wires run and speakers mounted around the parade ground and record player ready to go. With the entire contingent of off-duty people formed up and waiting to parade before the ranking dignitaries he was given the signal and the music played . . . The Beatles - "She Loves You." When he was, again, standing before the First Sergeant's desk and asked "WTF??" he replied that he was told to supply the music . . . but nobody told him just what music to play, so he picked something that he liked. (In truth, he was correct and there was nothing that could be done, formally. Informally . . . that was another matter. First Shirts have wicked imaginations.)

    1. I remember this story, funny the first time, even funnier now.

      First Sergeants have devilish imaginations indeed!

  5. When I was the Admin/Scheduling Officer for the RTU at George in '66 (no not the civil war's '66), I had a First Sergeant who pretty much ran the Squadron. We flew and drank, he did most of the rest of it. My most vivid memory is how he used to report to me every Monday morning after the weather, Ops and tac briefing was over. The content of his report - usually how many guys he had to get out of the Victorville jail over the week-end. Those were the days. How did we survive? Oh, I remember - espirit de corps.

  6. In my book, "Never bring a replica to a gunfight" is right up there with "Never bring a knife to a gunfight".

  7. My good fortune was to end up in a company with it's own mess hall instead of some "Consolidated" ptomaine mill. We had that one guy, Mike, a cook, who had a Masters Degree in Applied Mathematics. He was a draftee who got kicked out of radio school so the Army made him a cook. He was Polish and your post has his picture. Scary guy. New Sergeant comes in. At breakfast he kept ordering his eggs one way then telling Mike he made them wrong. After the fourth time, Mike pours two raw eggs on the Sgts tray and says, "Eat'em or wear'em". Closely observing a 6'3" pissed off 240 lb Polish lad, the Sgt meekly took his tray to the dining room.

    1. A good cook is worth their weight in gold.

      A good sergeant knows not to mess that up. Or learns.

  8. OH man, I'm glad they caught him BEFORE the APs showed up... sigh

    1. I'm pretty sure he would not have actually run outside to hassle The Man.

      Pretty sure...


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