Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery

I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dorm Guard, Dorm B-8

"Can I help you Sir or Ma'am?"

On this day in 1979, I cut my Mother's apron strings and gave over my life to TSgt Cross, USAF. I'd never even been out of state by myself, but now I was thrown in with guys from all over the country in a Basic Training Flight to teach us how to become good little cogs in the Big Blue Machine of the US Air Force.

My first two days were a disaster. After we got haircuts and received our uniforms, boots, underwear, other accessories, and some fundamentals of marching, we were marched off to the chow hall. At this time I discovered I was having a little intestinal trouble and needed to find a latrine fast. The TIs in the "Snake Pit" were amused by my formal request to go to the latrine. Marching quickly back to our barracks (or Dorm, as we called it), I was dismayed to learn that our flight's roster hadn't been posted on the entry list, so the dorm guard (from another flight) refused to allow me access! After some fruitless pleading, I clenched my sphincter and quicktimed it toward the orderly room. To make an unpleasant story short, I didn't quite make it. I ended up discarding my brand new tighty whities and running some water over the new trousers, but without soap, I didn't do a thorough job...especially since I was rushing so no one walked in while I was standing there without pants on. As I came out, a TI barked at me, but quickly warmed to my tale of the mix-up at my Dorm. I was still a tad stinky as the flight learned our bed-making skills that afternoon; I had trouble making eye contact with Airman Basic Vernado, who was paired with me for the training. I wanted to die.

After we learned to make a tight bed with hospital corners, we were assigned bunks. Since mine ended up on the end of the row, I was designated as one of the four squad leaders! That didn't last the early days of marching practice that followed, I was weeded out. When marching, the squads are organized by height, except for the squad leader. The big lanky guys behind were literally stepping all over little 5'6" Airman Basic Blob. TSgt Cross solved the problem by making me a road guard. That was a lot more fun than being squad leader, since shy young AB Blob was not a natural leader.

Flight 328 was a fine model of group dynamics with regional, racial, and personality type connections. It was fun when TSgt Cross finally got us working together and winning Honor Flight recognition. Academically, I breezed through the classes (the breezing had a soporific effect, however, so I had to fight the urge to bounce my forehead off the desk) and struggled through the physical training (punishment for being an asocial newspaper geek in high school). At long last, we got marksmanship training: one day of "dry fire" and one day of "wet fire" and qualification. On the day of wet fire, I had to hustle to catch up with the flight. I'd been to sick call that morning with an earache (middle ear infection). It was tolerable with all the Bufferin they gave me, but I think it might have affected my aim...or my judgement. At the end of the day, I was unqualified with the M-16 (actually a balky POS M-16 with .22 LR adapter). No biggie to the USAF, since I'd be in tech school for over a year and could qualify there before burdening the real Air Force as a nug with no weapons skills. In tech school, I got to fire a real M-16 (it was no longer the Carter Administration pinching pennies) and fired Expert.

On the final week in late October, we got our orders: some airmen identified in testing joined those of us who enlisted with guaranteed linguist jobs...boy, did they resent the stripe(s) we sewed on right after graduation! I got orders for the Korean course...the same week President Park had been assassinated! Two others got Korean and our Dorm Chief Alan got German (no surprise there). That final week, we saw little of TSgt Cross (rumor was his marriage was "on the rocks), but Senior Airman Kane (center, front) kept us on course to graduate. After graduation, some shipped out immediately. Alan let me march what was left of the flight to the chow hall...One-striper Airman Blob marched them into a wall trying to give the command on the correct footing. A slow start to a 22-year career, I'd say.


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