Friday, February 8, 2013

Arriving at Griffiss August 1970...Air Force Days 1968-72 part #16

Our upper 40s sunshine turned to some rain overnight, the winds picked up, and the temperature fell into the upper 20s...It appears that we will have up and down temperatures for the next week to 10 days.  Game tonight at Crestview, then I picked up a 8th grade tournament double header at Elida for tomorrow...before we head to Centerville to sit with Grandson Kasyn.  I probably should not have taken the Junior High games, but was doing the AD a favor, and I still should be able to finish up and head for the Dayton area on time.....2 weeks left of Basketball, then a break before baseball takes up in mid to late March....

August 1970...off we go to Rome, New York....

After 39 days or so of partying and relaxing in various degrees back in Ohio, I packed up my newly purchased Mercury Cyclone and headed towards upstate New York...I spent the first night in a local motel, arriving too late to check in on base at Griffiss.   The next morning would be one of my many disappointments during my remaining 21 months of Air Force life.

Checking in with Base Operations the next day, I was informed that my assignment to AFLC Law Enforcement had been "deep six ed" in favor of a sweet SAC assignment to Security..."Screwed Again"!  Another in the long of getting back doored by the good ole' military establishment...I had come to expect that, so I figured "What the Hell"?  I was assigned a spot in the Police Barracks, and eventually a slot on one of the Flights...I would work Security, 3 day rotating shifts, just like Dover....three 8 hour second shifts, 24 hours break, three overnight shifts, a 24 hours, break, which was followed by the 8 hour day shift, and then 72 hours off...it sucked to be sure, you seldom could get enough sleep, and by the time you got your 72 hours off...you needed that break just to drink and rest in varying amounts....that rotation lasted until early Spring of 1972, when we were assigned permanent shifts...which I was assigned to Days with Monday and Tuesday as my off days...whoopee sheet!  That would eventually lead to my demised from Air Force duty...if only I had known earlier.

I met and worked with some of my best Air Force friends at The Griff...the late Jack Friedl from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh, Jack would pass away some 20 years after our Air Force days...also Bruce Dei of the Cleveland area, Bob Kohli from Bluffton, Ohio, George Hundley, a black kid from Gadsen, Alabama, and a number of others, whose faces remain in my memory banks, but names have faded.  Lifers were also memorable...the thing about Air Force lifers{career types}, at least most of those in the Security Police field...the hated guys that had been to Vietnam....not sure exactly why, but I always suspected we did the job they were scared to handle.  A sort of perverse "Penis Envy"...we did it, they didn't have the balls to go over, unless they were forced to...at least that was my take.

Of the "lifers" who were my supervisors, I had "Taco" Joe Gomez...who I didn't get along with at all/Carroll Marcelle a 20 year Staff Sgt, a black guy with a German wife...as good of a man as you'll ever meet...Davignon, I can't recall his real first name, but we all called him "Dave", another good guy, who fit the bill of those that was scared shitless of being sent to Vietnam before his 20 years were up.  Also Major Bartles, spelling on that one is uncertain, and a small in stature First Lt, who finally gave me a chance to get out early.  Those story-lines will be coming up as this final few chapters fall into place.

The things I did get to enjoy during my off days and time at Griffiss included that first winter of 70-71, where I learned to Snow Ski, along with Jack Friedl we would ride the miles into the lower Adirondacks to a place called "Snow Ridge" outside Turin, New York.  I was never that good, but what I learned was good enough to get me a job years later in Northern Wisconsin, where I worked part time at a Ski Park in Wausau, for a winter nearly a decade later.  The next summer also gave me an opportunity to do something I never thought I would try....Cliff Diving/Jumping.  

Growing up on the Gulf of Mexico in Venice, Florida, you would think I was a pretty good swimmer....nothing could have been farther from the truth...I stunk, couldn't swim a lick...almost drown in a south Florida Canal, and would have if not for my cousin Jack Poling, later to die in Vietnam...Jack saved my life and I finally got the nerve to take swimming classes, and learn to swim, still never great at it, but at least enough to save my ass if needed.  So when Jack Friedl and I headed out to Lake Delta, north of Rome, I had no intention of diving or even jumping off the 50 foot high cliffs that surround the eastern shore of the lake.

After a few minutes of watching others dive or jump into the deep blue waters below, I finally figured "Why Not"?  So after a few weeks of Jumping feet first off the twin cliffs, one was estimated to be 48 feet above water, the only 52, I finally got the nerve or stupidity to dive head first...and I did, but only twice, the first off the short 48 footer, the second off the 52 foot high dive...I survived both and said to myself "OK you proved you could do it, now what is the point of pushing that envelope anymore"?  There was none in my mind...I continued to jump on occasion and water skiing if I could bum a ride from local skiers and ski boat bums...it was a good summer.

Those were among the good at Griffiss, the bad and the duty far outweighed those....and my Air Force days would seem long and discharge would see so distant that I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.....that next!

back later>>>>

Photos-The B52 Bomber was the main attraction at Griffiss, and our, as Security Police, main duty...guarding those uploaded with Nukes....we also provided security for the flying gas tanks, the KC-135, and the Delta Dart Jets, the F-106.  "Captain Hair"...yep as a Buck Sgt in SAC, especially in the Security Police field, hair like mine was frowned upon....try as the lifers might, I seldom got it cut...not because I particularly liked it that way, but because it pissed off the brass and senior NCOs and that, after all, was the main point.  Snow as a big thing that first winter of 1970-71, over 300 inches off Lake Oneida was dumped into the Snow Belt of the Mohawk Valley....but I did learn to Snow Ski at Lake Turin, as it looked back in those days...the next summer I did some Cliff Diving and Jumping into Lake Delta on several occasions.

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