Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Amarillo Air Force Base 1968....The Summer of Basic Training.
The blood tests showed no worsening of my pre-Diabetes 2, and my BP was 124/68, heart rate of 63...not bad for someone who turns 62 in less than 8 weeks. I still need, or at least would like, to lose 10 pounds, dropping down to 178 or so was the original goal when I started in September 2009. I made 184, and now sit this morning at 188. The 178-180 range on the 5' 10 1/2 inch frame(as of this morning, guess I've shrunk about an inch over the past few years?) is a reasonable goal. Doc says I need to get my eyes checked, and he also recommends a pill for a minor toe nail infection...told him, no problem on testing the eyes for any diabetes related problems, but no to the "pill" for toe nails(I'll continue to see if the salve works for now), at least not until my next check up in 6 months, and no flu shots either, have not had one since 1976, and don't plan on getting one either. But for now it looks like I'll live....unless a heavy rock or some angry fan takes me out.
First Air Force Stop_____
My year in Vietnam, first at Nha Trang, then at Saigon, is usually the focus of any, or at least most, of my military memories on this blog. However, my first Air Force year, June 68 thru June 1969, saw me at 3 different Bases before heading over the pond...Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle for Basic Training, Lackland in San Antonio two separate times for Security Police training, and Dover, Delaware, where I patrolled the Nuclear Storage Mounds in the middle of the of Winter 68-69.
When I left the Columbus, Ohio, Airport in late June 1968, for Amarillo, it marked my first time flying. Many more have come and went since, both during and long after my Air Force days. That first flight however saw stops in Dallas-Fort Worth, then in the small airport at Lubbock, preceded my landing late in the evening at Amarillo that early Summer night of 1968. The next six weeks would mark the indoctrination into the Air Force lifestyle...a lifestyle frankly, I was never able to embrace. I wasn't then and never have been able to follow orders or walk the line that says this is the wrong way/this is the right way type of life. Although I look back at those days as ones that gave me confidence to face the world, I still never could have survived a career of taking orders, I never would have wanted that life...3 years 10 1/2 months was more than enough of the military for me.
As for Miller and Glover, I never saw them again after basic...Chuck and Ed, I ran into back home(still do in Chuck's case from time to time), and Sgt Prokop? Well it seems Joe, who passed away a few years back, was a Air Force Security Policeman. His last words to me before leaving Amarillo for Lakeland for Sky Cop training were, "Houseworth, you'll probably be walking a dog around the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut within the year, yep, you'll end up in Nam...you don't have the attitude to make it stateside for too long". It turns out that Joe was pretty close...within that year I was in Vietnam, volunteered because I couldn't stand my NCOIC, a Tech Sarge named Jack Adkins, we called him "Smiling" Jack, and it wasn't a compliment. I did end up at Tan Son Nhut, as Joe Prokop had predicted, but sans the dog...and one of the first guys I met at the Saigon Airport, there to pick me up, was Joe Prokop. Joe had reverted back to the duties of a Security Policeman after his tour of duty as a TI, we both worked Security, Joe on A(day) Flight, which I worked over night(C flight)...we tossed down a few beers together before Joe was shipped back to the states in the spring of 1970. Sadly I found Joe after my Air Force days, but only because I was informed he had passed away back in 2005...he was indeed a good guy. A career Air Force type, much like Phil Lange, guys who gave their lives to their military careers, but didn't give their souls to the corp.
As for Amarillo_____
When I flew out for Lackland I didn't see Amarillo for a number of years....the base had been long closed by the time I rolled my delivery RV through the Panhandle and into Amarillo in 2003, on the way to San Diego. I passed and even stopped many times in the next five years...but the Amarillo I knew, the Air Force Base, was only a memory...one of the first of my four year AF stint. Most of the people I met there are nameless faces locked away deep in my memory banks.
No games on schedule tonight, but some snow in the forecast for tomorrow...back later>>>>
Photos-Our Flight just before Graduation in August 1968...Joe Prokop is seen Kneeling 3rd from left in the front row...I'm near the top fifth row, first on left, with one roommate Bobby Joe Glover, over my left shoulder in the back row. (2) Me in front of our barracks, with the painted salute to Joe Prokop...and his Prokop's Pups as his flight students were called. (3) Entry control point at Amarillo, maned by 2 Air Police, which switched to be Security Police a month before I joined the ranks, and now in today's Air Force are called Security Forces, a much more "war trained" group than we could ever hope to be....but we were sent off to defend our bases in Southeast Asia anyhow, with little war training(a couple of weeks at Lackland if we were lucky), and weapons that were good, but hardly heavy enough for what we sometimes faced.