That's what they called us at basic training. The majority of the troops at Lackland A.F.B.
Basic training was easy for me. I was in excellent physical condition, and I came from a military family. I hated it immediately, and I learned what S.N.A.F.U. meant. Marching came easy, and I really felt for the ones that were so inept, that they were sent home. I wasn't accustomed to being awakened at all hours, and I had to stand, to stay awake, in my classes. The obstacle course signaled the end of basics, and as we crawled beneath live fire, and held our breath in the tear gas house, we knew graduation wasn't far away.
I wanted to go home, real quick, and see Pam, but the bus took us farther
east, and the terrain, and the weather started to
change with every mile passed. We have orders, in hand, so when we arrive at
Keesler A.F.B. in
nobody has too
much trouble finding where to go. We are still fangs, and we are doomed to the
crappiest barracks on base. I soon found out we got K.P. duty our fair share,
and somebody else's fair share too, and my second day on base, I pulled K.P.,
and I was not pleased. When I got back to the barracks, I had dorm guard duty,
and when I got was relieved of duty, I had the pleasure of rasseling
one of those enormous floor buffers, you see in the movies. I am, instantly
homesick, and wishing I was in
and my interest was awakened. I found out where the barracks were for these guys, and my first spare minute, which came after electronics class, and troop change, which they performed for, and then when I was dismissed for the evening, I followed them to their barracks, and the drummers kept this really cool cadence, that made the short hair on my neck, stand up. I grabbed the sleeve of the drum major, and he directed me to the auditioning airman, A1C Thomas Ynez. Tom was a soft spoken, latino, and a refreshing change from all the three stripers that always were hollering at me. He asked me what I played, and I asked him, "what you got?", he replied "No, really." I said that I could play the piano, and the guitar, and if he would rescue me from my predetermined fate, I would learn to play any instrument he chose. I was thinking that I was doomed, when he smiled and said, "I need a glock player." I asked, "What the f@#* is a glock?" "Glockenspiel", he said. "That's a effin' xylophone" I said.
I passed a really simple exam, poorly played a sheet of music, and Tom told me to go get my stuff, and while I was gone, he processed orders faster than I have ever seen anything done by the military. I spent that night in my new room with two roommates, who were so friendly, and they took care of me until I earned my rope. I went around, bare sleeved, until I passed a room inspection (very rigid) and a musical audition, and I carried my glock’ with pride, and always had a sympathetic smile for the guys on K.P. duty in the mess hall. Classes are interesting, and the material is simple. The teachers are, generally, exceptionally qualified, which is a surprise, and even without studying, I aced every test, and excelled in every class. I met my first Iranian friend, Esmail Dustmard, and he was impressed with my rope. Almost as soon as I joined the corps., we were assigned to march in the Mardi Gras parade, something I would have never done, had I not joined the corps..
The march was relatively short, probably two miles, give or take. At one
point near the end, a guy stepped off the sidewalk, and asked me if I had been
This is from the 1962 “Rocket” yearbook
Now that the instruments were on the
bus, we are free. I had a total blast, and I collected several hurricane
glasses, and several kisses, and I had to go get on the bus. I don't remember
the bus ride home, and I was sorry the only thing I had to remember
Things went smoothly, and I made friends with the drummer of "The Kings Men", Mike Mitchell.
I had been in a group called the “Night
Beats”, and we soon formed a little group with me on guitar, and we won a
little trophy for first place, in a talent contest. We played "Watermelon
Man", and a couple guys from our horn section made it sound really good,
in spite of the "
Mike was an amateur photographer, and he talked me into taking some pictures, which we later developed at the base hobby shop. I only have precious few of them left, and I cherish them, the way I cherish those memories.
It isn't long before Dean Handy transfers out. He was the other glock’ player, and Tom informed me that he was phasing out the glock’s. I borrowed a bugle, (a trumpet with one valve), and a drum, and started practicing. I was too uncoordinated for the drums, but I am able to make some pathetic farting sounds with the bugle. With the threat of K.P. looming, I turned those miserable sounds into something, barely acceptable, and I am reprieved.
I volunteered to carry the long bugle.
There are segregated rest rooms and drinking fountains, and I have a black friend. He took me to his house, and introduced me to his family, and his sisters are adorable, and I could have a crush, but I had to crouch down when he drove me, and that made me really nervous, so we eventually stopped seeing each other.
I take several fishing trips on the
bayou, and all the stories about water moccasins, and alligators seemed far fetched, as I only saw a few turtles, and dragonflies.
To top it off, I never caught any fish, so I spent my off duty hours, drinking
in the hotel bars in
I missed Pam awfully, and time passed so slowly, when I found out the beginners classes were over, and we were allowed to take leave.
I was dead broke. I couldn't even
manage to save a few dollars to make the property payment on my lot, on the
The second half went slower than the first, and I am able to challenge some of the classes, and I skipped a block of study, by barely passing the test. I wish I hadn't done that, and I settle down and finish school. I was always strapped, and I never paid Bo back the hundred he loaned me and I regret that to this day. I wish I could find him now, I would pay him back, tenfold.
There has been a devastating hurricane (Harvey) on the gulf coast, pounding Texas. It reminded me of hurricane Betsy of 1962 which struck Biloxi shortly before I returned home. It was very powerful, and we were ordered to leave our barracks, and march to a shelter in the eye of the storm.
When I get home, Pam's mother passes,
and we are forced to marry immediately, so that we can live together, without
raising eyebrows. We are poor, and when my parents returned from
My first job after military was with “UNITED CONTROL CORP.”
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