Thursday, February 7, 2013

Part #15 My Air Force Years 1968-72 Between Vietnam and Griffiss, upstate NY

Sunshine for this morning...rain for tonight...

That is the forecast, cooler for Friday and Saturday, then a typical up and down, mostly down, range for through the middle of February...best I guess not to get to high or to low for the time being.

Attended the first baseball rules meeting at Van Wert last night....earlier yesterday I pulled up the official state online meeting, while the first baseball game or scrimmage is still over five weeks away, depending on weather, it's good to get back to thinking about baseball, by far my favorite sport, especially to officiate.  Meanwhile just 9 dates on my basketball calender remain, beginning with a quick drive to the local intermediate school for a Celina boys freshman contest, tomorrow night back to Convoy Crestview, Saturday off, as Patricia and I watch the grandson while his mom and dad go out for a 2nd anniversary dinner night out.

The up and coming Vietnam Security Police Group Reunion at Wright Patterson Air Force Base/AF Museum/Hope Hotel, is coming along nicely...I have folks helping out from Greene County, the Hope, and Bob Griffith, a fellow member, is getting things ready on the Dayton end....this will be our biggest and best it appears, although we don't want it too big...we are looking at 50 or so Sky Cops with wives and guests.  When that arrives, spring cannot be far behind.

Leaving Tan Son Nhut Behind....a 39 day break!

As my days at Tan Son Nhut were winding down, my orders came....Griffiss Air Force Base at Rome, New York...a stone's toss from Syracuse, in the lake and snow belt country, in the Mohawk Valley and the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.  I would be working Law Enforcement, so my orders said{they lied, like so many other times during my Air Force days} with the Air Force Logistics Command portion of The Griff....of course the orders didn't tell me that the AFLC portion of the base was being swallowed up by SAC...the mighty Strategic Air Command, "Chicken Shit SAC" as we referred to it.  I would find out that my AFLC assignment as well as LE, was just a dream...SAC was about to become my nightmare, or perhaps, as it turned out, I would be the lifers at the Griff's nightmare?  It was the one revenge I had....

Before all of that however, I had 39 days leave coming...and in the middle of summer no less...that I was looking forward to.  I boarded the United{I think? perhaps it was another Braniff, unlike the trip across, I really don't remember} flight, backtracking the same route as the year before...Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, and San Francisco.  Then on to a "Red Eye" to Chicago and O'Hare, and a 707 on to Dayton in the morning....all pretty much a blur.  Dad and Mom picked me up at Vandalia, home of Dayton International, it was I believe, a Saturday...but I could be mistaken on that as well....thus I began my 30 day leave plus 9 days travel time.

The 39 days, most spent in Celina, where the folks had moved from Montezuma earlier in the year, was a pretty good time...a few dates with girls I knew before going in, a quick trip with mom out to Wilmington, Delaware, where her brother,  my Uncle Bill lived, and a few Cincinnati Reds games at newly opened (in late June 1970) Riverfront Stadium with dad...but mostly it was spent with Jerry Jones, drinking and raising Hell in his 1970 Dodge Charger Six Pack Hemi....his new ride was a beast, and frankly we were crazy in it.  Jerry managed to get his license suspended, after one run we made down Main Street in Celina, back to his place in Montezuma...frankly, as the old saying goes, "It was amazing I survived the leave" .

As for myself...I had sent money home to mom, hoping to save enough for a 70 Plymuoth Road Runner...but my partying ways after being transferred to Saigon, left me a bit short...I instead opted for a close to new 1968 Mercury Cyclone.  No it wasn't a high powered Mopar, but it got me through alive for another year or so, until I finally managed to buy a new 1971 Dodge Charger 383...finally a Mopar I had always wanted..but as I said, the Cyclone was good enough for the next 12 months or so, until I could manage the payments on the Charger.

The month of July 1970 was a wild one...a bit of civilian life right in the middle of my Air Force "career".  I will have to say I did not encounter the hassle and harassment that some would have you believe came when returning home after service in Vietnam...small town America, places like Celina, that just didn't happen...even the guys that didn't go, and opted for marriage, kids, and/or college, didn't say much negative about Vietnam, or at least at those of us returning.   For me July 70 saw bottles of Boone's Farm Wine, and gallons of canned and draft Pabst Blue Ribbon and Stroh's Beer consumed....those brought the usual bouts of stupidity and fighting hangovers.  Then I was packing my bags and gear, I had gained nearly 20 pounds in a month, about what I had lost while overseas...some new civvies, and me and the Cyclone were headed out on a warm August morning for Upstate New York....that portion of the story begins next.

back later>>>>

Photos-Grand Lake..whether 1963, 1970, 90, or today, It's always, good fishing or not, been a big part of life around Celina, and in my life....The Cap and Coins of the 377th SPS, my six months there flew by, I probably should have stayed, and would have, if I knew what awaited in upstate New York, and we aren't talking about the huge amount of snow that first winter...some 300 inches fell on the Mohawk Valley in the 70-71 Winter...and although I don't have photos of the Mercury Cyclone I purchased on my return from Vietnam...but I do have this one from the Summer of 1971, sitting on my Dodge Charger at my favorite haunt on the lake, Windy Point.

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