Friday, August 3, 2018

Chapter One: How I got there...

(Source)
At some point in my formative years, I decided that I would some day be a soldier. Probably because my father, grandfather, two uncles, and a grand-uncle had all been in the Army. The Vietnam War had not dissuaded my desire to serve, though the war was ever present in the headlines and on television. In addition, again at some point, I thought that being an officer would be just the thing. Hey, why not be in charge?

As my last year of high school began, college was suggested. No one in my family had ever been to college. As I wasn't in danger of being drafted, just yet, I would be first. While I had a number of older cousins (four to be precise) none of them seemed to have any desire to go to college. Why I went down that track has more to do with elementary school back in my youth.

Back then there were three kinds of students, the college bound, the not college bound (most likely to get a job straight out of high school), and the mentally challenged. I know what they were called back then, no longer a nice thing to do, wasn't really back then either, but truth be told, there were the kids who would be lucky to learn how to read and do simple arithmetic. At least back then (unlike some earlier times) not all were immediately institutionalized. They had a chance. A slim one, yes, but better than some of their predecessors.

But I digress.

So yes, college bound, or as my dad put it, "Who the Hell is going to pay for this?" Someone suggested the Reserve Officer Training Corps, the ROTC. Also, as Vermont had the nation's oldest private military college, Norwich University, founded in 1819, and as they had an ROTC program, that seemed just the thing.

So I applied.

The interview for the Army ROTC scholarship seemed to go pretty well. But I wasn't offered one. The scholarship went to a retired colonel's son who was active in Montpelier politics. Wow, what a surprise. But I figured, hey, what the Hell, a military brat, he does hae a leg up on us civilian kids. (Later one of my academic advisors told me that I was far more qualified than the colonel's kid. Sigh. Again, what a surprise.)

I did get accepted to Norwich, which pleased my mom, I nay have made known my intention of enlisting if I didn't get into Norwich, which was one of the only three schools I applied to, I didn't really want to go somewhere else, which, looking back on it, was PFS. Pretty Fire-trucking Stupid. Sigh, live and learn.

Long story short, I was a disaster as a college student. As a wise man once said...



Which I proved during my freshman year in college. In spades. I did have fun, but that wasn't really the point now was it?

So in the spring of 1972 I got a job. It was intended, at first, as a summer job but when I decided not to go back to college it became a "you need to support yourself" kind of thing. While the job was good as a summer hire, doing what I did full time was a non-starter. So I found a factory job, joined a union and everything.

I just could not see myself doing that for the next 40 years. No, no thank you.

I have blathered on, sometimes at length, of my early years in the Air Force, which you can read all about here, here, here, and here. (If you've a mind to and don't mind wasting a bit of your life which you'll never get back again. No, no, chase those links, good stuff, trust me!)

At some point in time I mentioned my desire to perhaps get a commission in the Air Force. Someone, probably my chief, told me about the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, or AECP. (Everything in the military boils down to an acronym.) Essentially, if you already had a year of college, and were selected, the Air Force would send you off to college to finish a degree on Uncle Sam's dime. You had to get a degree in something the Air Force really needed, which would make it something rather technical. No problemo, thought I. So it was off to the Consolidated Base Personnel Office (CBPO, I told ya) to, ahem, inquire within about the AECP.

"Nah, we don't do that anymore." sayeth the slimy looking buck sergeant behind the counter.

"But my chief said..."

"Does your chief work at See-Bow?" (Which is how that CBPO acronym was pronounced.)

"Uh, no, he doesn't but he's a chief and..."

"Beat it airman. We're busy here."

So beat it I did. I didn't relate any of this to my chief (stupid move) as I didn't want to embarass him, thinking perhaps he just didn't know the latest policies and all.

Actually he did know. It seems that the three-striper sergeant had actually lied to me. I learned in later years that some support agencies would actually "just say no" to potential customers so they could do less work. In my later years I would go to CBPO just to terrorize those types. Yes, I would wave my stripes in their faces, if I outranked them, or I would ask to see the requisite regulation if they outranked me.

I think my winning percentage in bouts with personnel pukes from the time I made Staff Sergeant until I retired as a Master Sergeant was probably close to 90 percent.

So AECP was forgotten, I fell in love, and transferred to Korea. (Which was covered in one of those links above. What? You didn't read those? Oh. You did? Cool.) Where the personnel wienies were way better at their jobs than the folks at Kadena. I was assured that AECP still did exist and that I should set course to the Education Office and inquire within.

Which I did.

Yes, Beans, you're going to have to wait for Chapter Two for the continuation.

Sorry.

Now everyone point at Beans and say, "Shame! It is thy fault that we have to wait. Thine and thine alone!" Wait, what's that sound?



Crap! Beans wasn't joking about that dragon ship!



Bloody Vikings!

And as John might say, "Toby Kahntin Yewd."



20 comments:

  1. As the wise man said: " A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step".

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Hopefully this topic won't take that long.

      ;)

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  2. I didn't listen to my inner voice and wasted a bit more than two years at college.
    No college debt because in those simpler days I could make enough working a minimum wage job to pay tuition, and my parents agreed to support me and pay for books as long as I kept a passing average. I finally realized this was going nowhere, and I joined the Navy under the delayed entry program in the tail end of '72 and went to Great Lakes in February of '73.

    Great post, looking forward to more.




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    1. Thanks John. It's good to hear other peoples' experiences as well.

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  3. Parts of this sound so familiar. I attended Catholic high school and went off to a Jesuit college. After a year I decided I really didn't like Jesuit discipline and dropped out and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Much to my chagrin I learned about 10 seconds after my feet hit the yellow foot prints that there was little difference between Jesuits and Gunnery Sergeants. The language was a little saltier, and the punishments a LOT more effective. And I don't recall any Jesuit ever saying "You can give your soul to Jesus, but your ass belongs to me!"

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    1. Jesuit college to the Marines?

      Jumped from the frying pan into the fire, dintcha Dave?

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  4. I decided even before graduation from high school that I wasn’t ready for college yet.
    I was in the Navy one week after graduation.
    Even after that enlistment it seems I wasn’t ready.
    So here I am with a world of experience and no degree.

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    1. How will you survive? haha.

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    2. Skip - Well, not too many folks were raring to enlist right out of high school in the late '60s, early '70s. That whole Vietnam thing.

      I'll take a world of experience over a college degree any day of the week.

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    3. And like Tuna said, tongue in cheek, I think you've done well.

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  5. Not that you didn't do fine without AECP, but I hope karma bit the hell out of that low-down, lying, cheating, no good piece of sh** Buck Sergeant at CBPO.

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    1. Yeah, but the silver lining is that while the jerk delayed my plan by over five years, if he had been honest, nothing which followed in my life would have happened. Too much good to really hate the guy. Though over the years I made his ilk pay, and dearly.

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  6. You have actually surprised me, with a tale of a lazy, incompetent member of the Air Force. This is my shocked face...

    So, now that you've not completed the story, and taking more time to describe the back scene than Dumas did in the beginning of the unabridged 'The Three Musketeers.' And you've hinted at but have yet, for the last 6 years, have not told us yet where you met your intended.

    So now we have to wait, yet again, for yet another installation of 'As Our Air Force Turns.'

    Which, quite frankly...

    I am eagerly anticipating. Harald (with an 'a' which doesn't stand for 'Arrow')(vs Harold with an 'O' who got an arrow in the eye) has been properly paid off, for now, and is just cruising off the coast for the exercise.

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    Replies
    1. Thank God for that, we were running out of Spam!

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    2. A simple substitution of Lutefisk will suffice, or the appropriate version of garum to go on their biscuits will work. SOS will also go over big with the Norske. Best get cooking!

      I think I'll have Harald head over to Hagatha's place and scare the bejebus out of her high-falutin' hospital gown/muu-muu designer. Maybe a trip up the Hudson to remind the City dwellers why you don't pay Dane-gild, and clear some land for some Boer farmers to escape to.

      How do you like that? We can accept refugees from countries where everyone wants us dead, but we as a nation are not moving forward to rescue a bunch of farmers who will soon be dead if those in power get their way. Grrrr. No politics, no politics...

      Hope The Missus doesn't run you too ragged in the summer heat in your back yard. Try to distract her, maybe get her side of how you two met, and threaten to post it if she doesn't get LUSH off her TUSH. (And this is how WFSHNFOs get renamed, right?) :)
      August 3, 2018 at 12:25 PM

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  7. Sarge, the first two links both go to part one; there is no link to part two. Just letting you know.
    --Tennessee Budd

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    1. Fixed it!

      Thanks for the heads up Tennessee!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)