Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remembering Joe Prokop and other "Lifers"





"Lifer"=  [lahy-fer]  
noun Slang.
1.
a person sentenced to or serving a term of life imprisonment.
2.
a person committed to a professional lifetime career in the military
 
Some like me would say the above two meanings are a combination of what life would have been like had we chosen to make the Military a Career....No way in this life was the Air Force or any branch of Military Service going to work for me....it just wasn't going to match my lifestyle or attitude....4 years were about 2 years more than I could stand.
 
For others however, the discipline and lifestyle fit in with what the perceived as a good life...I could, at least in those days, not understand why someone would choose that kind of life...I have mellowed, at least in that attitude somewhat over the past 40 plus years.
 
I met good lifers, bad lifers, assholes, great guys, dimwits, nitwits, and some guys who loved the lifestyle and loved serving their country....I make no judgments these days on why some choose to make the military a 20-35 year career...I just knew it was not for me.
 
Four men come to mind in what I recall as Good Lifers....Carol Marcelle, Phil Lange, Melvin Sloan, and Joe Prokop....Sloan and Marcelle were both black, Lange and Prokop white....Lange retired as a Tech Sgt{E-6} as did Marcelle, the rest as Staff Sargent's {E-5}....the lowest of the career NCO ranks...to show you how these guys were screwed in their careers, I made E-4, buck Sgt in just 18 months, and I was known throughout my 3 years and 10 months as a trouble making Jackass, especially in the minds of the guys just above me in rank....it's safe to say, these 4 men, like me, where not ass kissers during their years in the military, if they had been, they would have made rank much higher and more quickly.
 

I have written and posted photos of Marcelle, Lange, and Prokop before....Melvin Sloan?  I only have memories of our short time at Nha Trang....he was a good one, and like all of these guys, a tough one.
 
Meeting Joe Prokop....
 
46 years ago this week I met Joseph E. Prokop for the first time...I had made my first ever Airplane trip, from Columbus, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas, then flying into the night to Lubbock and finally Amarillo, in the northern Texas Panhandle.....46 years that have flown by in the blink of an eye.
 
Arriving at the Airport, we were herded like cattle into a Blue Air Force Bus and taken to the airbase at Amarillo in the middle of the night.....pretty much a blur it was, I just remember being assigned a bunk and before I knew what the Hell happened a burly guy in a Smokey the Bear Hat, came crashing into my sleep with night stick in hand banging on our bunks, flipping the lights on and off and yelling something at us...."Drop you cocks and grab your socks" or some such mindless shit such as that. That friends was my first encounter with SSgt Joe Prokop....
 

Joe looked and acted the part of the "Drill Sargent"{called Tech Sargent's in the Air Force}...he did it well.  By the time our six weeks of summer vacation were over however, I realized that Joe was a pretty good "Joe" after all, and once I got my assignment as a Security Policeman{nee' Air Police}, Joe confided in me that he was also a AP/SP and had just taken a 2 year stint as a TI for a change.  When Amarillo closed{later that fall} and all Basic Training would revert back to Lackland in San Antonio, he would revert to being a Security Police guy and we would likely meet up in Vietnam working the perimeter at Tan Son Nhut or some other God Forsaken base in South Vietnam....I'm not sure how close Joe realized he was to hitting that nail on the head?
 
Fast forward some 16 months....
 
I had finished Cop School and AZR Combat Training at Lackland and sandwiched in between was a stint at security at Dover AFB, in my mom's home state of Delaware....I lasted there about 6 months when sick of another "lifer" named Jack Adkins{who I would punch in the face if we ever met today, even though that bastard would be in his late 70s}, I volunteered to get the Hell out...Thailand or Vietnam, I just didn't care...."Get me out of here"....and they did.
 
I received my orders for Vietnam and a base called Nha Trang in May 1969....took a leave, went to AZR School in June, came home, and flew out on the morning of June 28th from Dayton, for Chicago, San Francisco, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, and finally Tan Son Nhut{Saigon} for a night...then I jumped on a C~130 and flew off to Nha Trang, located on the South China Sea where I would spend the next 6 months....as I have written/posted before, by far my favorite time in the Air Force.  It wouldn't last though and in late December 1969, with Nha Trang and the 14th being disbanded and sent home to the states, I got orders to Tan Son Nhut, where Joe Prokop's words to me would ring true.
 
I arrived at Saigon on a hot, humid, afternoon on December 27th....a Jeep pulled up at the terminal building, "SECURITY POLICE" was pasted below the windshield...a burley SSgt in Jungle Fatigues stuck his hand out and said..."Houseworth, I Told You So"....how the Hell Joe Prokop remembered me out of the hundreds of guys he ran through Basic Training is a mystery to me?  I guess it was because I was one of a few that ended up as a SP out of that group that graduated in August of 1968 from his "Prokop's Pups" gang.  He took me to the SP sign in barracks, and once he got off duty we headed to the NCO Club to down a few beers.
 
We talked that evening and on a few other occasions, but Joe was on B Flight{mid days-early evenings} while I was assigned to C Flight Security{overnights}...so our visits were to few and far between.  He was shipping home shortly before me in June 1970....Joe finished out his career in 1972 at that Hellhole of a Nuke Base, Minot, North Dakota.  I got out of the Air Force at the same time and never looked back...pretty much ignoring or forgetting those years until 1999 when my family genealogy and my previous life in the AF came calling as an interest....I searched for many of the guys I had served with....Phil Lange came first, then Harry Bevan, Bruce Thompson, Bruce Dei, Howie Prichard, Jack Gates, Johnny Claflin, Steve "Birdleg" Walsh, and others I found....sadly by the time I found Carol Marcelle and Joe Prokop, they had both passed on.  Marcelle I found through his son, he had passed away shortly after I got out....Joe Prokop it turns out was living in Northern Wisconsin when we were living there in the late 1970s....but I wasn't looking for anybody connected to my Air Force years at that time.
 
Phil Lange and I talked on several occasion and he purchased my Life Membership in the VSPA and left me his flags, Air Police Badge, and QC Patches, from our days at Nha Trang....Phil passed away in 2009 and I still have contact with his son Paul.
 
Melvin Sloan in the only one of the Big Four that I have no closure with.....
 
Now 65 years old and in good health and {hopefully} mind, those days, so long ago, seem so close I could touch them...these men, who in their own rights were caricatures in the best sense of the word, will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.....
 
Rest in Peace Joe Prokop, Phil Lange, and Carol Marcelle....and God Bless Melvin Sloan, wherever you may be....
 
Baseball Double Header tonight at Lima Central Catholic.....finally the rain has stopped for a couple days they say....Back Later!
 
Go USA Beat Germany!
 
Photos:  from top:
 
Joe Prokop grave site in Spooner, Wisconsin, Veterans Cemetery, my ID card issued 26 years ago today....{don't worry about the ID # steal it....if you think you can gain something from it}, Prokop and my Class from August 1968...Joe kneeling in the front with his Smoky Bear Hat....I'm the clown on the top row far left{only time I've been far left in my life}...me in front of our Barracks at Amarillo with the Caricature of Joe Prokop above...Phil Lange enjoying a Cigar{another thing we had in common} at the Sky Cop Lounge at Nha Trang, ..the flag and SP items Phil left me, and Carol Marcelle's ID card at his retirement.....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hereos of the Right Posters

Don't do a lot of politics on here these days, only because I usually reserve that for the pages of twitter and even more so Facebook now....but make no mistake I still lean hard right and hard right Christian.....

With that I received a request to post this web site on my site this morning....checked it out, and if you are into Heroes of the Right Wing....here is someplace you might like to visit:

http://rightposters.com/

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day 2014....

To all of you that are good ones, or have a good one, or as in my case...Had a Great One!

Stan Houseworth 1917-1972....

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Change of {Baseball} Season!

My Spring Baseball Season ended this year in the District at Elida, working the 3 game set in Division 4, including the last one, a Patrick Henry 11-0 win over Columbus Grove, behind the plate....on to ACME and a few Summer American Legion Games...this shot is from the District Semi Final, where Grove depleted their pitching staff in a hard fought 4-3 11 inning win over Putnam County rival, Miller City...working 1st base in the 3 man crew, with Jim Runneals{left} and Garry Mosier{right}: