Friday, August 10, 2018

What?

 So there I was*...

We were marching off to class, just like we did every damned day. I was the flight commander on that particular day. I was not in the best of moods. Many questions in my head...
  • Why the Hell do I want to be an officer?
  • Where the Hell are these assholes going to send me if I stay?
  • Damn, I just said "if."
Yes, all those thoughts were running through Your Humble Scribe's head. 'Twas then that I noticed an inbound instructor. I could tell that his intent was to harass my flight of some 20-odd (and some were more odd than others) OTs. I could tell as this bandit was approaching that my flight guide** was already looking a bit antsy.

"Guide, you will maintain pace, eyes to your front!" I barked out.

"But sir, what if this captain gets in my way?" My guide bleated most plaintively.

"Then you will run his ass over. Am I clear!!?" I bellowed in my most stentorian tone.

"Sir, yes sir!"

At this point the bandit squeaked, "OT, halt your flight!"

"Negative sir, you are not in my chain of command. Stand down or get trampled. Your choice sir!"

Flabbergasted, the bandit captain chopped his throttle and fell into our wake. When we arrived at the building where classes were held, I gave my flight the command to "Fall out!" Meaning that they were to stay in the area (of the building) and be ready to fall into formation upon command. I had asked one of the instructors about that, "Dismissed" (which meant they were free to leave the area) or "fall out" (not free to leave the area). As I never got a satisfactory, I went with "fall out."

Anyhoo. Captain bandit comes bustling up and appears to be in a state of emotional distress.

"What do you think you're doing OT? Ignoring me? Really?"

I glanced at the guy, having had something of an epiphany in that moment, came to attention and barked -

"Sir, I am marching my gorram flight to class. As ordered. You do not have the authority to countermand my captain's orders. There, sir, yessir, I ignored you. If you have a problem with that, sir, I suggest you take it up with my flight commander. Will that be all? Sir."

"We're not done here OT!" he squeaked.

"I do believe you are wrong captain. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a class to attend."

And I walked away. I don't think the poor bastard knew what to do.


That afternoon we headed for the drill pad to have our formal evaluation of our marching skills and demonstrate a somewhat rudimentary ability to move a formation from Point A to Point B. (It was now actually the 10th and not the 10th in Ahab's world.)

We each had a little card with the commands we were required to give. I think there were about ten in all. Not many, nothing spectacular, no "double-to-the-rear-to-the-right-flank-march," which maneuver we had been fond of at NCO Leadership school at Yokota AB, Japan.

Nope, pretty simple stuff on the card, a couple of column movements, might have been a fall in and a dress right dress, ready front in there as well, (sorry drillspeak, remind me to regale you of the many beauties of drill someday).

I breezed through it, I had my suspicions that the Air Force didn't quite trust the OTS instructors to evaluate our prowess at drill as there was a technical sergeant Training Instructor (TI, that 's what the USAF called them, not DI - sigh...) at hand from main Lackland, an enlisted Basic Training instructor, Smokey Bear hat on head, clipboard in view, notes being taken.

After I halted the flight, and gave them a crisp "LEFT HACE," I saluted Ahab and awaited my evaluation from the real instructor.

After making a  couple of notes, the sergeant looked up and said, "Pass, nice job OT."

To which I replied, "Thank you Sergeant, but any competent airmen should be able to move a flight from Point A to Point B without a lot of fuss."

The TI choked back a laugh, once again I feared that Ahab's head was going to explode. To her credit, she kept her mouth shut for once. I felt bad for her, especially after one of her favorites, Mr. Roboto, made a complete hash of his drill eval. I'm not saying we wound up off the drill pad in the weeds, not saying we didn't either.

Mr. AnalogyDude later said he was in danger of wetting his pants he was struggling so hard to not laugh. I didn't try that hard, just kept it kind of low key. And yes, Ahab noticed.

Looking at me, she barked, "OT, my office, tomorrow at 1100 hours."

Just to stir things up, I answered, "Aye, aye, captain."

I believe Mr. AnalogyDude actually guffawed at that point. Which took Ahab's focus off of Yours Truly. For the moment at any rate.


That night I confessed to my roomie that I was done, I would be cashing in my chips on the 'morrow and bidding Medina Annex a not so fond adieu.

"If you leave, I'll never survive!" Mr. C. proclaimed with a note of panic in his voice.

"Dude, Im not going to stay a moment longer. You have to fend for yourself now. You're ready. I mean, you can actually make your bed now!" Yeah, I actually said that, and truth be told, roomie was starting to "get it."

But the next day when I reported to Ahab on the poop deck, er, her office, before I could say a word, the lady said, "Explain to me why your roommate came in this morning and SIEed?"

SIE, as a commenter mentioned yesterday, stood for Self-Initiated Elimination. Yes, OTS had to have a silly ass acronym for quitting. And Mr. C. had reached down and pulled the ejection handle.

"Well..." I swear she was tapping a pencil on her desk.

"Whoosh!" was all I said.

"I beg your pardon?" muttered Ahab.

"My seat just went."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, my roommate has ejected, we talked about this scenario last night, told him there was no saving the aircraft, so 'whoosh,' he ejected. So am I. Can't be helped, one seat goes, they both go."

"What are you saying OT?"

"What I'm saying, with respect to your rank and all, is that I'm sick of your infantile bullshit. I quit. Send me back to being a sergeant. This crap ain't for me."

"Wait, you're quitting as well?"

"Yes ma'am, I most certainly am. My decision is irrevocable."

"What?"

"Irrevocable. My mind is made up, the decision is final. Surely you, with a degree in English, should know what that word means. I mean I'm just a stupid computer guy, what do I know? Other than what the word 'irrevocable' means."

"Do you know how this looks? First Mr. BBStacker threatens to kill himself, now you and your roommate are both quitting on the same day? Do you know how this makes me look?"

"Well, yes, yes I do. And what's more, I don't care. Get me out of this place. Today!"

Well, it wasn't that very day. I had to hang out a few more days. Days in which I had a bit of fun with one of the upperclassmen and with this sloppy admin sergeant who delighted in tormenting officer trainees.

The Upperclassman's Tale

I was in my room, packing my stuff, Mr. C. had already been moved to the temporary quarters where all the departed were sent. In walks an OT, who asks...

"OT, why aren't you ready for PT***? We're running with the colonel this afternoon!"

"OT, you may address me as 'Staff Sergeant,' you will immediately unass my AO**** and trouble me no more."

Eyeballs about to burst from his head, this OT bellows, "Do you know who I am? I am the OTS Student Wing Commander, I have been to both Army and Marine OCS. You need to get geared up and fall out with everyone else!"

Laughing, I asked him if he had been to both Army and Marine OCS, why wasn't he an officer yet. Couldn't hack it maybe with the actual military? Dude was apoplectic, before he could say another word, one of my ex-flight captains stopped by and told Mr. BigShot, "He SIEed today, leave him alone."

So yes, I added on, "Yeah, sweetheart go run with the colonel, maybe you'll learn something."

Yeah, that's me...
(Source)
Mr. BigShot left, I said my goodbyes and headed for the temp quarters, to be with the rest of The Departed.

The Tale of the Sloppy Sergeant

One of the tasks to perform before heading off to the main base at Lackland to get a new assignment was to process out of OTS. Sign a couple of papers, including one where I promised, cross my heart and hope to die, to never, ever apply for any officer training, ever again. Unless of course the Red Chinese were driving inland from the coast and Uncle Sam needed officers, then if I said "pretty please" and "mother may I" they might, might mind you, let me try again.

But this paperwork had to be accomplished in something the OTs referred to as "The Snake Pit."

"What the heck is that?" I queried in my innocence.

"It's where the instructors have their offices. Your military bearing has to be perfect at all times, Back straight, looking straight ahead, the whole nine yards."

"So it's where a bunch of captains sit. Big deal."

I wasn't concerned, what were they going to do? Throw me out of OTS?

So anyway, I report to this sloppy female sergeant sitting behind a desk, who glanced at me and said, "Go sit in the waiting area OT."

"I'm not an OT anymore sarge..."

"You're an OT until we say you're not. Go. Sit."

Long story short, a few days afterwards, when I had returned to the ranks of the living and was once again clad in the uniform of a staff sergeant, I ran into Sgt SloppyMess at one of the Air Force dining facilities on the main base. She was eating lunch with a couple of her airmen friends.

"Well hello 'sarge'! Remember me?"

She looked up from her plate and immediately turned pale as a sheet.

"Yeah, that's right 'sarge,' the chickens have come home to roost."

"Sarge, I was just doing my..."

"Stand at attention when you're speaking to me, sergeant."

Which she did.

"How's it feel to be treated like shit? Not very nice is it? Doing your job my ass. You suck at your job. Now sit down and eat your lunch, you look silly. By the way, did you actually sleep in that uniform? Because it looks like it."

With that parting shot, I pulled pitch***** and rejoined the real Air Force. But, as you might well imagine, I wasn't quite done with Lackland and the OTS imps of Satan. Not quite.

But gee, that will have to wait for tomorrow, won't it?


Ground control to Major Beans...




Footnotes and such -

* SJC

** Flight guide, the person at the front right of the formation, usually but not always carrying a guidon (small flag). He or she tends to be one of the shorter members of the flight. The guide acts like a pace car at the start of a race, keeping everyone marching at the same step. When a flight is aligned properly, the tallest members of the flight are at the front of the marching column. Without a guide, the tall pukes would be striding along, majestically, rather like giraffes, while the shorter members of the formation are trying to keep up, without actually running.

*** PT, Physical Training

**** AO, Area of Operations, "unass my AO" - get out of my sight, now

***** Pull pitch - to depart from a situation rapidly and decisively. Originates from a military aviation term referring to the pitch control on a helicopter, which is pulled to make the aircraft lift off.

60 comments:

  1. "Do you know how this looks?".......NOT the kind of statement uttered by by an officer actually concerned with the performance of trainees. Too frequent examples Sarge, of people who like to throw their weight around other people who can't officially reply in kind..... that rank business, eh? Am enjoying this tale.

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  2. It appears that the Air Force doesn't understand that the people training either new enlistees, or especially new officers, should be chosen from the ranks of the very best, and most proficient members of the Air Force. After all, those trainees are the future of the force. And they are learning by example. If you use the training command as a dumping ground for $hitty officers and NCOs who can't cut it in the real Air Force, then your future is going to be amply provided with Shitty airmen and junior officers.

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    1. That is twice in two days you shouted out the nickname of an ex-NBA player who now makes bad commercials.

      Please explain. Or, in a way that will make you laugh, "Norman Coordinate."

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    2. Ah do desu, gomen nasai...

      Hahaha! (Norman coordinate, heh, love Star Trek references.)

      Definition time - Shack, is a term used when a fighter pilot drops a bomb and makes a direct hit on a ground target; a bullseye.

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    3. Versus 'Normans Coordinate' because stripes do go with plaids...

      Normans being the 10th to 13th Century denizens of Normandy before they all Escaped France and went to quieter places like Antioch, Sicily and England.

      And the ever popular wide-brimmed straw hat with Mexican chi-chi balls hanging off the edges that fits over one's helm. A popular crusader fashion statement. Mrs. Andrew (in her SCA persona form) vigorously objected to and refused to allow Beans (in his SCA persona form) to affect this most fashionable of fashion statements (which actually would have been nice in FLORIDA during the summer when not actually fighting but in armor.)

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    4. Somehow I can picture you just that way.

      Heh, Mexican chi-chi balls. Love it.

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    5. The wife didn't and still doesn't. One of the hard-fast, will-divorce-my-ass rules. No Mexican Chi-Chi balls. Must meet minimal sartorial requirements to be in public (including taking out the garbage and other nasty jobs.)

      Can't say that I blame her. Though chi-chi balls are geek-cool, in real life they are not. Unless one is a fat, greasy Mexican bandito in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, that is.

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    6. Oh, I so understand that. The Missus Herself has pretty strict dress requirements for me, as in she threw away most of my clothes when we got married and won't let me shop on my own for clothing. Looking back on things, yes, smart move on her part. Smarter on my end for actually listening.

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  3. I’d say you resigned with style. Pity they wasted perfectly good potential officer material in the process though.

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    1. Flair, I had flair. Not much in the way of sense, but flair.

      As Frederick the Great said, "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace."

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    2. Oh, it sounds like you had lots of flair. Quite a dramatic and fun mustang you would have made, especially skewering the inflated egos of all the shiny new ossifers who just graduated the modern equivalent of high school for us old folks.

      A shame. The Air Force really blew it. Then again, the way they treat officers once they get around O4 or so is a not-nice thing, mayhaps for the best.

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    3. I would have had fun as an O.

      But I had fun as a sergeant as well, especially once the USAF "forgave" (perhaps forgot) and I rejoined the promotable ranks. (I earned two more stripes after OTS, so I had that going for me.) Amazed me just how many people are absolutely terrified by salty old master sergeants who don't really give a fire truck for anything not mission related.

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    4. The way you handle OTS may have been a test of your fortitude. Sounds like you passed.

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    5. Or that I am actually not right in the head.

      Jury's still out on that...

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    6. Of course you're right in the head. You allowed me to join the blog...

      Okay. Check yourself into the local happy-house ASAP-Pronto!

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  4. My on-site Army Sergent said "mucho goat rope going on there..." And a ditto to Dave. Excellent story sarge. I'm glad you survived, and the comeuppance was amazing. Well done!!

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  5. Little Napoleons...They're everywhere. Unfortunately.

    Great series! I suspect Beans will be re-entering the atmosphere after the next orbit.

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    1. With all of the attitude and none of the talent.

      Thanks Juvat.

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    2. What? What? What are you two accusing me of now?

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    3. Uh, what?

      Oh that, don't worry. Different Beans...

      (Hey Juvat, he's on to us!)

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    4. From the beginning.

      Just because one is paranoid doesn't mean that folks aren't out to get oneself.

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    5. Sometimes the music isn't just in your head.

      (Not sure if that makes any sense, but it sounds cool to me.)

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    6. Yes, yes it does. As to reaching non-atmospheric flight, I am afraid that that is a no-go. I would never pass the physical. The inspecting medicos might not pass the physical, dying of hysteria and having their arms falling off from pointing while laughing.

      I'll get up on a horse. I'll grudgingly climb up on the bed to clean the fan, very grudgingly. I will fly in a closed cockpit plane, as long as the pilot isn't an insane anal-sphincter.

      I am afraid I am eternally earth-bound, so, juvat-SIR, there is no chance that I will ever go flying off the handle into orbit. Hrmph.

      It's like he's trying to fry my frijoles. How very rude. Must have served as a training officer at one time or another, or... wait, he did serve as a penta-weinie...

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  6. My compliments, Sarge. You wield the board of education (aka 2 X 4 of truth) with the skill of a true master. You would have made a fine officer. Unfortunately, that is not what they were looking for. You made the right decision. If you had stayed, you would have been worn down to a nodding, drooling robot, or have been the oldest un-promoted 2Lt. ever.

    "I wasn't concerned, what were they going to do? Throw me out of OTS?"

    Bingo. Let me tell you how that strikes a chord with me. I served for several years in a state defense force--specifically, California. Yup, a voluteer. No pay, no benifits. I would do it again. One of the things that greatly appealed to me was the CANDOR we enjoyed. Without being disrespectful or insubordinate to be able to speak the truth. What were they going to do, cut my pay and send me to California?

    And yes, I was 2Lt. for a long time. My CO then was an ex-Navy chief. Things sorta came to a head one day when I explained that while I was willing to donate my time and energy, my family still came first. Apparently this did not sit well with him (being told no about anything didn't sit well with him). So, I just outlasted him. The pay was all the same and I loved the work. Some years and CO's later, I was promoted to CO myself.

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    1. Thanks RHT447.

      Doing it all for free? Man, that's dedication.

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    2. Not all. My first hitch was Regular Army as enlisted, then NCO. Got out, finished college and got married before the state uniform idea came along. The combination worked for me. Military lite if you will. I got to keep my hand in, salute the flag in uniform, had opportunities to pass on my experience. No worries about deployment or PCS. Drill was one Saturday a month. Got to raise my kids to adulthood in the same house.

      "Negative sir, you are not in my chain of command."

      That struck a chord as well. I was death on that (probably my NCO stripes showing). Nobody fire trucks with my people. Ever. If somebody needs to have something 'splained to them, I'll do it. I made it very clear that if anyone got hassled from outside the chain of command, they were to stand their ground on my orders and refer whomever to me.

      "Then you will run his ass over. Am I clear!!?"

      Heh. My buddy (Walt) in state uniform (and later my XO) did some ROTC time in his younger days (later he was Navy enlisted). Seems at some point another platoon attempted something on the order of your Captain Bandit. Walt's platoon was practicing Drill and Ceremonies with their M1 Garands. So, Walt being platoon leader, ordered "Fix--- Bayonets!" and charged. Walt and I are good friends to this day.

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    3. I so would have loved to bayonet charge Captain Bandit.

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  7. It must have been like taking the cork out of a bottle of Champagne after a bumpy ride on a hot day, once you actually reached between your legs (elbows in) and pulled the handle. All that pent-up frustration come a-boiling out. And you being a 5th level Smart Arse.

    Love the drill test. Something 1st year High School ROTC members can do, or CAP members after their 6th or 7th meeting. My problem with marching was curbing my exceptionally long and enthusiastic stride, bringing it down to 30" (though it was funny watching the little 10th graders try to make the 30 inches without having to jump.) Oh, yeah, took JrAFROTC in 11th and 12th grade in order to avoid Gym class or some bullscat 'elective' that would have gotten me beat yet again. At least in JrROTC I was a geek-nerd-dren amongst geeks-nerds-drens.

    In perusing old Chant Posts, I came upon this one, "Road Trip 1987, from the WayBack Machine Files" from Saturday, January 17, 2015. It describes your epic journey to and from this shite-show. And you've been forebodingly promising the potential for this story from pretty much the beginning of posting.

    Here's the link: https://oldafsarge.blogspot.com/2015/01/road-trip-1987-from-wayback-machine.html

    Looking forward to more of this epic story. Sure would be interesting to have been able to track the career of Captain Idiot. Just for fun.

    As to the sloppy sergeant, I always thought Training Commands were where people were supposed to be 'strack' and have their shite straight and squared away. Not a dumping ground for the incompetents and noncom-poops (suck it, autocorrect!)

    Glad you survived. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yeah, I had re-read that post a few weeks ago, thought that it was time to come clean, so to speak.

      There is more to come regarding my stay in Texas, post-OTS. But I don't see this lasting more than another couple of posts. Though my time in Biloxi should be recounted, I was there because of the post-OTS stuff.

      Stay tuned! ;)

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    2. Good. Glad you're finally confessing, I mean, getting this off of your chest. Heart-hurt carp like this, funny to us all, does weigh on the soul.

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    3. It has, lo these many years.

      I'm old enough now that it doesn't really faze me anymore. Much

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    4. Be interesting to find out the rest of your family's perspectives on this whole thing. Wonder how much it focused the progeny away from the Air Force towards the Navy.

      (in other words, blatant attempt to get my senior silent sister to open her yap and spill the... beans.)

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    5. I turned their eyes to the Sea Service. Why? They all wear glasses, no way they were going to be pilots. Not a pilot, can't run the Air Force, you'll fly a desk.

      I love my old service. But...

      For the kids, the Navy was the right choice, the only choice.

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  8. I know we had one good chute. How'd the roomie fare?

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    1. MIA. Seriously, the only classmate from OTS I ever heard of again was Karl. Blowing up 23 Iraqi panzers will get you that kind of attention. Going to meetings at some HQ will not. Guys going back to the civilian world would not have been on my radar. A Google search of roomie's name revealed a number of hits, none of whom were him.

      I did run into a guy I went to college with who went to OTS about six months before I did, he had a bullshit job at SAC HQ. Confirmed my belief that I had made "the right call."

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  9. Just one more question for now. Do you remember what Captain Bandit Intercept-Interrupt wanted? Was he just trying to mess with you or did he have an actual reason to be an ass-hat? (Okay, two questions.)

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    1. Captain Bandit was just being an ass. A lot of instructors there were very good at that. I will make an exception in the case of the flight commander of our sister flight, a very decent chap, he was pissed when I SIEed, he hated Ahab. Was sorry to see me go, declared most of his fellow instructors to be "useless."

      Oh, an earlier question. Ahab managed to make major and I saw her again in Germany. Talked to a colleague in her squadron, he pronounced her to be "a waste of oxygen." I heard she was miserable in her new job. I was ecstatic. Not that I dwelled on that. Much.

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    2. From what I've been told, too many useless officers have ended up either at NATO or the Pentagon. Sounds like she was custom-tailored for a miserable position.

      Boy, how different your career might have been if you had been under the flight commander of your sister flight. Fickle Finger of Fate playing Russian Roullette with your life. Bummer.

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    3. Our American officers were a mixed bag, the ones who realized that we were in NATO, and yes you might have a non-American as a boss, worked out well.

      Those who thought they were still in the US of A, didn't fare all that well.

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  10. My Flight CO (and drinking instructor) Jesse Locke could communicate with Wing Weenies with a certain similarity to your communicative skill set. He was a "command wings" Captain for what seemed like a long time and then - WOW! O-4, O-5, O-6, as fast as it could be done. retiring there. I suspect that DFC's and Air Medals helped. He was always correct in judgement, fair and LOUD. Bless him. He had flown P-80's in Korea as a brown bar.

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  11. Where is/was Medina Annex? I was an ROTC graduate so I got to miss that fun hole. I now live about an hour from Lackland so curiosity is tickling my brain.

    BillB aka Deck (AF handle, don't ask)

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    1. Across 1604 to the west of Kelly.

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    2. Sorry, just inside 1604 to the west of Kelly

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    3. BillB, what Uncle Nown said.

      Google Medina Annex Lackland AFB in Google Maps.

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    4. Thanks Unkown and OAFS. Back around 1990 I did my non active duty AF Reserve training at Kelly. Went to Lackland maybe once. I live near Bandera, Texas now. I looked up OTS on Wikipedia and apparently it has moved to Maxwell AFB.

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    5. Yes it has. The program appears to have been shortened as well!

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  12. Crikey! I'm surprised you didn't tell Ahab that you were unanimous in your decision to drop but maybe "Are You Being Served" wasn't on back then.

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    1. Hahaha! That would have been awesome.

      The show ended in 1985, I just hadn't seen it yet. Devoured episodes of it after I retired. Big favorite of my parents as well.

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  13. Isn't Karma absolutely delicious!!! Would have loved to see her face. Power can be a really obnoxious thing!

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  14. Quite an Odyssey, OAFS, and well told. VietNam era WOFT was a combination of Army OCS and flight school. Pretty "high and tight" 24/7 although things did loosen up some in the later months during Advanced Flight Training. Lots of us "off the street" were more than willing to "play the game" to make it through as the option wasn't very promising. Many senior NCO's who decided to give it a go often didn't care much for the loss of prestige of being a WOC and just went back to their prior duties. TAC Officers were mostly CW2's or O-3's who were sympathetic to our plight as they had previously been there but, despite their fatalistic senses of humor, were very good at making our lives miserable Their goal was to break an individual Candidate and have them quit or eliminate those unable or unwilling to "play the game." Same for the instructors on the flight line side as there was little time then for stragglers. Teamwork, attention to detail, and some ability to learn to fly were paramount to finishing. One lesson that served me well for the next 27 years was that our sole reason to exist was for "the soldier on the ground." Thanks again, Alemaster

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    1. "The soldier on the ground."

      Five thousand plus years of warfare, and it always boils down to that.

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