Friday, January 18, 2008

Stage 2.......1970-1972 end of an era





























I guess it was after I returned from my R&R in Hawaii that things started to change around...from the guy that went along just to get along, to the belligerent trouble making a-hole that I became for the next several years...





Leaving Tan Son Nhut for R&R in Hawaii....I was on a plane full of married guys who planned on meeting with their wives for 4 or 5 days...figure most of the poor bastards were going to spend their time in the hotel.....me I was heading for the beach and as many night clubs as I could close down.....I met one other guy, Denny Moneypenny, from West Virginia, who was also single...Denny was Army, I was Air Force...but we decided to pool our money, stay for cheap in a decent off beach hotel, rent a car, and share a cab at night, so we could booze it up and grab a ride, rather than drive the rental when drunk.....we saw most of Oahu, and took a day trip to Maui....a great 5 days.

On the Pan-Am flight back to Saigon I made the decision (in my mind).....to not take bullshit from anybody(that didn't have a gun pointed at me) for this point forward...first things first, I had just under 3 months left in Vietnam, once I survived that....things would change.

Change they did...first thing I was assigned to Griffiss AFB, in New York...my orders said AFLC Law Enforcement....I would be running traffic and base entry....well that's what I thought. "The Griff" was a SAC base, and SEC absorbed the LE the freaking week before I got to Rome, New York....I was assigned to SAC, the most Chicken Shit command in the whole freaking Air Force...spit and shine, humping gawdam airplanes out in the frozen hinterlands of the base.... well that sucked, if I had known that, I would have stayed in Vietnam....so much for me not taking shit. Knowing I had almost 2 years left, I decided to piss off as many "lifers' as I could for the next 22 months....the haircuts were few and far between....a few black guys who I tossed down beers with, Marvin Bussey, Rich Richardson, and George Hundley, started to call me "Sargent Hair"....it drove the first shirt and especially my flight NCOIC "Taco" Joe Gomez...crazy...they tried to get me busted a couple of times for refusing to obey orders(and yep my hair was long, especially for a sky cop)...screw em' I thought....I skirted as many rules as I could...and with the help of some good legal birds from the young law staff on base, I made it up until May 1972, when this half assed First Lt(we called Lt Adolph)...decided to give me a rash out on the flight line...I came within a inch of assaulting the little SOB, and actually made contact with him....lucky the only witnesses were 5 of my "underlings" and they swore that Alolph grabbed my shoulder...or they would testify to that, if he decided to bring charges.

Long story short....Major Bartles(sp) got wind and asked me if I was willing to take an early out...still with Honorable Discharge, but with the stipulation I would not be allowed to reenlist and not serve my final 2 years of inactive reserve.....I remember my exact words...."If I had known that offer, I would have done something 2 years ago"...the Major just shook his head..within 3 days "Sargent Hair" was gone, and my Air Force life behind me.

Now don't get me wrong...as much as I hated the Air Force life, and the spit, shine, and order, of it....I look back and do not have any regrets with the time I spent....but I was not one who was going to take orders that I thought were chicken shit in the face of war and what was important{shows you what I didn't know back then}...me and that life-style were combustible. Made many friends, a few enemies, and many good and a few bad memories.....I would not change it for anything.


May 5, 1972 saw me leave "The Griff", and the Air Force....I was a happy man...the next few years would see ups and downs and major decisions to be made....at 23 I was going to have to have many roads and forks in them to take....some were right, some were wrong....but the next 6 to 8 years would, as I look back, be the most interesting in my life....before or since.
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{photos}(1) On Patrol at Entry Point #7 Nha Trang AB, RVN(2)Me(L) and Harry Bevan...Harry went on to become a 30+ year Phildelphia Cop...VSPA Member today(3) Flashing the peace sign at the Honolulu International Airport in April 1970-check out those pants!(4)In the water at Wakiki Beach(5)Daimond Head when you could still take photos without a million hotels on the beach(6)"Sarge Hair" on a snow bank at "The Griff" in upstate NY(7) Getting Ready for "Charlie Flight" at Tan Son Nhut in early 1970}














3 comments:

Mushy said...

Right in the middle of my tour in 'Nam was where I became independent...figured if I was going to die, it didn't matter much.

Luckily for me only one "lifer," well, besides the Lt. I wrote about, ever pissed me off, but I got him back before leaving.

I just remembered I never wrote about it...I don't think.

Anyway, St. Forney, a Staff Sgt., was in charge of my area one night and he would come walking around in the dark behind the revetments and insist we "challenge" him even though we could plainly see each other.

Well, one night I decided I'd challenge him good. After giving the sign and getting the counter sign, I asked if he vouched for the man behind him. It was dark as the inside of an oil barrel at night, and he sort of said, "There's no one with me," real low and matter of fact like.

I asked him again, and he began to show some anger, but by the fourth time I asked, I clicked my safety off, and demanded he answer.

Suddenly he was obviously scared and he dove for the ground screaming "shoot, shoot, shoot!"

I just stood there laughing with him cussing me, but I knew he'd never tell anyone because of the way he acted.

That asshole!

Love those jail-bird pants man!

Cookie..... said...

Yupper..."The Griff" as you call it is only about 20 miles from where I live, and I'd heard stories about it's "Chicken Shit" rep from folks like my brother, a full bird Col. He was never stationed at "The Griff" as he was an F-4 Phantom pilot in Nam, and later at McDill in Fla.

...and Rome, NY certainly does suck...there's nothin there!

Pat...did ya ever get over to "Sylvan Beach" on Oneida Lake? I live about 10 minutes from there on the water....

~Fathairybastard~ said...

That was fun to read, like one of Mushy's life posts. I love reading this kind of stuff. My only experience with the military, other than being a dependant for 20 someodd years, was 2 years of Air Foece ROTC in college. Those years taught me that I wasn't suited for that life. It was very different from the life my dad had lived. Too much bureaucratic bullshit.

I wish I'd had an experience at that young age, like you and Mushy had, too give me the confidence to take life by the horns. It happened, but much later, after many opportunities had passed me by. That will always haunt me.

Anyway, I love reading this stuff. Keepp it up.