Amn, Det 165, ROTC, USAFR
When one joins the military service one does it as a young man, filled with romantic expectations of excitement and glory and foolish thoughts of dash and derring do born while watching Erol Flyn, John Wayne or perhaps Arnold Schwarzenneger movies. Without them, very few men would join of course, so it is a good thing. But those ideas in time expire before the slow progression of the dreary the mundane, the stupid and the downright silly. Usually such dissapointment and disillusionment is very private and sad. Other times, however, it is public and a source of great entertainment.
I witnessed two such awakenings while at Tyndal Air Force Base in 1982. I was lucky enough to have made quick friends with a D. Jones and in turn a friend of his whose name now escapes me. The friend was the first to face the harsh realities during our free weekend evening in town. Tyndal rests on the Gulf of Mexico alongside the jewel of the Panhandle, Panama City Beach. The Beach was filled with white sands and browned women and lots of nightclubs which were alongside the first and filled with the latter. It was a good place to be a twenty year old kid with a weekend night to blow.
Well we found ourselves in one such nightspot without too much delay. Our Hero, I'll call him Jim, had obviously long dreamt of this moment, a blond blued eyed man of war loose in town for the first time "on leave" and ready to sample the womanly wiles of the scores of girls who would no doubt wilt before the attentions of the American Hero. Jim stepped up from his bar stool after a round or two and decided to let the ladies have what they so obviously needed, him. "Watch This," he said as he walked towards the nearest lovely. We did as told, and gazed upon the Master at Work.
It was a sight to behold, but not a pretty site - more like a train wreck. He walked up too the girl and though what happened could not be heard it could be summed up by his walking away alone. Unfortunately being inexperienced he did not turn away to reorganize, he pressed on. He asked the girl next to her, and then the next one, and the next one, and incredibly the next one and so on until he reached the cold empty end of the lengthy bar. Jim returned to us and laid his head on the bar, defeated. Erol Flynn, it would seem, he was not. Not even a Tom Cruise. Gilligan perhaps.
Dave's rude awakening had to wait until our return to the Base. A few days later we were readying ourselves for our orientation flight and had just left a few tedious hours of "Egress" training run by one of the more arrogant members of the Air Force Academy Alumni, a pilot through and through who emoted the Right Stuff and tough guy images with every word and pose. I despised the little P but Dave thought he was the coolest. Dave was the son of a general, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in fact. He had been brought up in the fold and fed all the propaganda and boy was he glad to be here getting started with his career. He wanted to be the Hot Shot Pilot in a bad way. Don't get me wrong, he was a great guy, but he had some very high expectations of what the Air Force Pilot was all about. And he shared them with us, often.
Well here we stood in line to do something, get our flight suits I think. We were outdoors at the end of the line when lo and behold Zoomie, the Academy P, strides out of the squadron building we had just left and heads for the parking lot. Dave who had been espousing the manly virtues of the Pilot quickly seized upon this opportunity to prove his theories. "Watch this, this guy has got to have a Sports Car, probably a Corvette or a Mustang, or maybe a Ferrari!!!" He went on for a while, gathering guesses from his audience as to the exact make of the muscle car Zoomie was about to climb into and peel out of the parking lot in. There was quite a bit of excitement and anticipation as Zoomie moved through the parking lot, keys jingling in his hand.
It was a pick up truck, a chevy, and it was old and covered in dust and rust. He drove it slow and used his blinkers. The only peel was that of laughter. Dave would never be the same.
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