Friday, September 21, 2007

Summers Last Gasp/Dover AFB 1968

1:50 pm

The last official weekend of summer beckons....I have to say we have had a run of nice weather for about 10 days...a little humid the last couple, but it's been nice, and I have not bothered to look at the extended forecast.

Sam headed over to Nappanee to grab a new International Diesel Pusher RV, taking that to Pomona(the San Diego run has been delayed for a week), California.

At the Rec League football game last night my partner didn't show...so I got a parent to watch the other line, and did the game myself....a pain, but not impossible at the 6th grade level....did work up a sweat. Will mow and do some yard work this weekend....I'm in no hurry for cool weather, but come it will.

Hal will drop home for a short visit and to pick some stuff up today...then back to Dayton for his weekend gig...as he pays his way through his final year at Wright State, he will get his BA in High School History education this winter...and move onto his masters, either at Wright St or University of Dayton.....he is leaning towards Dayton, but either way he will be able to live in the same house and finish up without having to move again....unless of course that gang from Celina and St. Marys gets their butts booted out of their housing....which is always possible.

39 years ago this weekend
_____________________

Was just finishing up my first leave after Air Force Cop School at Lackland AFB in Texas...my duty station was to be the Military Airlift Command(MAC) base at Dover, Delaware.

Wasn't sure what to expect during my first full time duty station...but it would become what I will call Chicken S**t Base #1. This boy from the sticks still had not gotten his sea legs as far as dealing with the diversified military life...but one thing had not changed since my civilian days....I still had a big mouth, which would get me in trouble with my "lifer" bosses, especially one Tech Sgt, named "Smiling Jack Adkins"...he was to become the persona of A-holes in the Air Force...don't get me wrong there were good 'career guys' and sorry lifers throughout the Air Force...the Security Police field was full of both types...so don't think I am making a blanket statement on these guys...but Adkins(now in his 70s and living in upstate New York) is the one I remember most from Dover, and it's probably best we never met once I got out.

Aside from Smiling Jack there was a cast of misfits that were as diversified as possible...most from the east, however there were others, like me, from the midwest....

Turcott(Conn) Pritchert(Ohio via Chicago), Lippencott(Ohio) Walsh, Docko(another it's best I never saw again), and the late Bill Hocandoner(shot to death by a girlfriend's ex-husband in 1971) from Pennsylvania, Biggy Resnick from Ohio, the effeminate black kid, Parham, from New York, the spoiled rich kid, Robert Little from Virginia...and my favorite, Jack Gates from Sulfur, Oklahoma....Jack we considered the Old Man of the flight....he chained smoked and was 23, while the rest of us were 18 or 19 years old. Last time I saw Jack was at Tan Son Nhut in June 1970...he was on an incountry R&R, and we hit a couple of bars and bath houses together...I did talk to him on the phone a couple of years ago...still living in the flat lands of central OK.

The Security Police security duty at Dover was typical....3 days on, 24 hours off, 3 days on, 24 hours off, 3 days on, 72 hours off....you worked rotating shifts...graveyard, 2nd, then days....it sucked, you could never get enough sleep, especially if you like to hit the bars.....our major haunt was "The Mounds" that is where they kept the nukes...even though DAFB wasn't a SAC base, it did have the nuke storage...we also worked the flight lines...but for us rookies it was usually mound duty, and it consisted of standing guard on 20 foot high concussion walls, made of dirt, with a 2 foot wide path at the top, that you walked for your 8 hour shift...getting a half hour break for meals.....we used to, in cold weather, sneak down to the storage area to get away from the "hawk" (wind) and cold.

For the 68-69 Christmas/New Year season they gave us the option to work 5 days of 12 hour shifts, then get 5 full days off...we voted on it and took the bait. I was with the group selected to work over New Years and get Christmas off....worked great for me. I took the 5 days and headed back home for the upcoming holiday. Don't remember much about that, but I do remember coming back...working about one half shift and along with a few other guys caught the "Hong Kong" flu...it was highly contagious and they shipped 4 or 5 of us to the base hospital for the next week. On New Year's eve instead of humping the mounds for 12 hours, we got to watch the Orange Bowl Football game between Kansas and somebody...and Jack Gates and another guy sneaked up a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Scotch up to the room....we mixed it into our water bottles and managed to get a buzz on, even with the flu symptoms still lingering.

As spring sprang in central Delaware, I had become sick and tired of Smilin' Jack, sick and tired of Mound duty, and sick and tired of Dover...it was and is a boring town, that never warmed up to the men and women of the Air Force, that were stationed there. Anyway, I headed down to base opts, and asked if I could volunteer to get out of Dover...the Sarge in charge, said "sure....where you want to go?"....I wrote down Thailand and Vietnam, even though I had joined the AF to stay out of combat and such....I figured even southeast Asia was a better option than Dover.

Didn't take long, within 3 weeks I had my orders....Nha Trang AB, Republic of Vietnam....Dover was done in short order, I lasted 8 months, I've been back once, in 1997, to show the family the base.

I didn't look back, to me anyway, Vietnam was superior duty to Dover, or my last base in upstate New York....not gung ho was I, I just knew my limitations, and Dover and Smilin' Jack drove me to those limits.

[photos-not many photos from my DAFB days, and those I have are in bad shape, here are a few....at a Nuke Upload....off post at the Mounds....and dressed up for a dance in my best blues.]

4 comments:

Mushy said...

Very interesting post, and one that will somewhat fall in line with the one I have planned for Monday. It concerns the holiday shifts and I couldn't remember if it was normally 3 days or 5...so thanks for helping out the old brain.

Never pulled in security duty state side or any duty in real cold weather, and boy am I glad.

The only flight line I did was at DaNang, and the rest was LE.

Buck Pennington said...

Lookin' GOOD in yer blues, Pat!

Shift work really sucked. The "standard" shift at my first duty station out of tech school (Lompoc AFS, near Vandenberg AFB) was the "nine and three"...three mids, three days, three swings, followed by 72 hours off. You got off at midnight on your last swing shift and reported back in at midnight for your first mid...exactly 72 hours later. You did get 24 hrs off in between mids and days, and between days and swings. Big deal...

I worked that shift for three years straight and HATED every minute of it. The other downside is there were no weekends or holidays. If your shift fell on a holiday, you worked, and "thems the breaks." There was no such thing as "comp time." I understand the AF is a lot better in that respect, these days. (State-side, anyway.)

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Cool, M2 carbines. Always wanted one of those big coats with the fur lining in the hood. Just don't get cold enough here.

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