Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Air Force Days 1968-72 part 4

Sunny and Cold today...guess I really should not say 'Cold' per say....more like seasonable for mid January. After all, by average mid January through January 21st is the coldest on average time of the year...after that, with the days getting longer{since December 22nd} the temperatures slowly start to climb back upwards through late July.

Just a single Junior High game, that ended with a 41-3{yes 3 points, all free throws} score at Delphos last night...once in awhile at that level you get those types of games...worked for me though, a full pay check for just one game{same as two would usually get you at the Junior High level}.  So with that quick game, I was off to toss a full night of Dartball....I would have been better off working two games.  My Dartball season, as it reaches the 2/3 mark is the worst since my first season.  We lost 2 of 3 last night to drop to 4 wins 5 loses on the season's second half, and I went hitless for the first 9 at bats, before scratching out 2 hits in a row, and then ending with a 2 for 12 night and 1 RBI...dropping my average down to .296 on the season.  Even in my bad back year of 2007-08 I finished above .300 after a slow start.  The last time I batted below .300 was my first full season, when I ended up .286...I've made the All-Star team every year since, and may again this year...but not with any satisfaction.   If not for young Tyler, who is batting over .360 with more than a dozen RBIs, we would be in bad shape...he is quickly turning into the leader of the team, the passing of the torch so to speak...old age, working basketball, and sore feet are coming home to roost on my game.

Tonight to Paulding for a double header Girls Junior High Basketball....

The Air Force Years...on to Dover, Delaware fall of 1968....

After completing Security Police School at Lackland in September, I took some leave time before heading to my first regular duty station.  With my "Dream Sheet" requesting Ohio, Florida, or Delaware, as home bases....I ended up getting Dover AFB, Delaware.   It was a SAC Base, so I figured the MAC Squadron would be somewhat better duty for a Security Police guy with just one stripe and clearing $92 a month....even by those days standards, "How the Hell did one survive"?

Mom and dad, along with youngest sister drove me out...I had sold my 62 Ford Falcon and it would be a few months or maybe weeks before I took a bus back to Ohio to pick up my new ride, a 1963 Plymouth Fury 318.  Mom and Dad visited her brother Bill and his wife and kids in Wilmington...I knew I would have a place to visit on my breaks at the base....so with that, they took me the 90 miles or so south to Dover.  I checked in to the transit barracks on a fall Sunday evening, the
folks headed out, and here I was alone.  After the hustle and hurry of Basic and Cop School, it seemed pretty desolate for this 19 year old from the small Ohio town of Celina...not sure if I remember being lonely, but I do remember of the uncertainty of starting this new life alone.


The next morning I headed over to the 436th SPS and signed in...gotta say I don't remember much about the first days...except I was put on "B" Flight Security, given a room with a guy from near Pittsburgh, who was my senior by a couple of years, on the first floor of the SPS Barracks.  For the next 7 months my main "job" would be put on the dreaded "Mounds"....more on that later.  I would meet guys named Pritchard{Howie who just found me some 43 years later, thanks to this blog},
Turcotte, Gates, Little, Hochendoner, Lippencott, Walsh, Resnick, Parham, and others...in addition to "Pritch" I have found Gates and Walsh over the years..."Hoke" was murdered back in the early 70s by a jealous ex-husband...the others, I don't know what became of them or what the did in life and possible death....but those were the names, along with a 5 Strip "Tech" Sargent named "Smiling Jack" Adkins...


Adkins tried to come off as a tough guy....he always reminded me of a bitter type, who never bothered doing anything constructive while he served, but disliked those of us who didn't take well to orders.  Of all the of good guys that served as my NCOIC types...Adkins I put in the same category with Joe Gomez...he was no Prokop, Lange,  Marcelle, or Melvin Sloan...those supervisors I liked and respected, not so much for Adkins or later Gomez at Griffiss....but I probably gave them reason enough to dislike me.

The Mounds.....

On rare occasion I worked the gate houses, "humped" around and guarded C-141s that carried Nukes or Special Cargo, or drove in a patrol wagon...but most nights and days{we worked 3 overnights, 3 days, and 3 afternoon shifts, with 24 ours off between shift changes...until we finished up the three late afternoon shifts, then we were giving 72 hours off to discharge....you could never get enough sleep working that crap}....where spent on The Mounds...the mounds were akin to today's storage barns...except they housed Nuclear Weapons....that was our job, armed with Carbines
and .38 Police Specials, we stood on top of these "mounds" for 8 straight hours, with 30 minutes for a meal break..the wind blew, and blew, and since I was at Dover during the fall, winter, and spring months of 68-69, it was usually cold.  I remember one November night Turcotte and I were  standing on the mound BSing, when the small transistor we had blared out that "Richard Nixon has been Elected President" .  I cheered Turcotte didn't I was for Tricky Dick he was hoping Hubert Humpty Dumpty would be elected...looking back, did it really matter?


I soon was bored with Dover, the Mounds, and "Smiling Jack".  I was sick of going to classes when I got off from my shift and was assigned to study to upgrade my skill levels...I basically refused to worry about or work on the upgrade...What the Hell were they going to do...make me a Cook?  I mean, if I had wanted to study, I would have went to college.  I just wasn't going to do it....I've still got old test results from those days with my military records...most of the time, the tests didn't end well.

Even though I enjoyed my breaks in Wilmington at Uncle Bill's place...I hated the town of Dover....and I mean HATE.  Unlike Rome, NY, a few years later, Dover was, at least in my mind, not a friendly town for those of us serving.  I had good roommates, after the first guy I paired up with Robert Little III, Bob came across as a spoiled rich kid, but we got along....he was a cleanliness freak however...and that spring of 1969 Jack Gates and I roomed together.  Jack was from Oklahoma, smoked a few packs of cigarettes a day and was a few years old than
most of us...he was 23, the rest of us 19 or 20.  Jack, who now goes by Richard, Gates was one of a handful of good friends that I would make in the Air Force....after 40 years we made contact a few years back...he now lives on the Kentucky side of the Tennessee State Line.


But regardless of roommates, time off, or the coming summer with the Atlantic Ocean beckoning...I was sick of Dover, sick of the Mounds, sick of testing and most of all sick of "Smiling Jack" Adkins.  I strolled down to Base Ops one sunny spring morning in 1969...and told the Airman in charge...."I want to Volunteer to get out of here"...."Where would you like to go"? he inquired...I'm not sure what my initial response was, but I finally filled out another "Dream Sheet"....probably laughing to myself as I penciled in (1) Thailand  (2) Vietnam...

Yep, I had done it...I had joined the Air Force to stay out of Vietnam and Combat....I knew when I filled out that paper, I was not going to be sent to Thailand, where my brother Mike had served out his last years in the Air Force....I knew what country, just not which base, I was going...It would be Vietnam...and it was....

That story next.......

back later>>>>

Photos-The Main Gate at Dover back around the time I was there in the Late Sixties...Dartball Board, it's been a struggle this year, my worst year in nearly two decades, still time to get back to near normal if I hit better, but I'm not confident in that....Me at the "Mounds", I guess I should say "off post" at the mounds, on a winter night at Dover...we were supposed to be on toe, but when the Hawk was blowing we often snuck down to the storage buildings...the gate security made it pretty easy to get away with...Little, "Pritch" and Gates, followed by Gates and Ron Turcotte, and finally a blurry image of Jack Gate and PRH in our barracks room with our Playboy Pin Ups behind us, not long before we headed to Vietnam, all of "B" Flight, at least the guys I hung around and worked with, would be scattered off to Vietnam before the Fall of 1969....

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