Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Memories Just Won't Die

You know I let an anniversary slip by yesterday. It was July 22, 1982 that I became a civilian, after 4 years and 4 days of military service.

It's hard to believe I have been a Civilian that long. Hell, at the time I got out I would have sworn I had already spent 30 years IN the Air Force.

Today; 30 years later, I still don't get through a week with remembering something about that 4 years. I of course have mementos around, but usually it is someone, something or some event that triggers an old memory.

Just tonight I was driving down a suburban street and ran across a sign that said 'SPEED BUMP", and a couple of home-built speed bumps. It put in mind of the Trailer park that once (maybe still is? Yep. Still is) outside Grand Forks Air Force Base. The one gravel street down the middle of that park was nothing more than a series of ruts and potholes. A friend of mine lived over there, and I can tell you it was terrible. Everybody complained about the condition of the road. The guy who owned the place had a solution though. He just put a Speed Bump sign and went about his business.

Every time I had to do some small repetitive task at work I recall some of the things I had to do as part of my job. Paperwork. My God, Napoleon believed that an Army moved on its stomach; The Air Force believed it was pushed by its mountain of paperwork. From after form after form. And all of them had numbers. And effective dates. Heaven help you if you used and outdated form. Or used a 1356b, when the 1357a was actually required.

I still recall the first form I was introduced to in Basic Training (3743 BMTS- Basic Military Training Squadron. MOTTO: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way {amazing what the minds remembers, ain't it? But don't ask for my cell phone number}); the 341. And no, I don't remember the suffix letter. I don't believe there was one. A 341 was a disciplinary record. the form itself had to folded just so; I think in half length-wise, and then in half again, then the top half inch was folded over and that tab was used hold the form under the flap of your left breast pocket, left side of the pocket. This way when an infraction was committed, the 341 was 'pulled', filled in by your MTI- Military Training Instructor- and then became part of your 'PERMANENT RECORD'.

I had the dubious pleasure of having a 341 pulled one Sunday morning while I was on Dorm Guard. Which reminds me of another funny story. Each training squadron was filled with Flights of 50 men or 50 women. Some thing I don't recall- so maybe I never knew- was how many flights were in each Squadron. But any rate, each flight had what was called a sister flight, so you had a group of 100 that went through Basic together. Did I mention that the 3743 BMTS was a training Squadron for women? Yep; 900 women, or there abouts, and 100 men. And the US Air Force did their level best to keep us separated.

But I told you that story to tell you this one.

Because we were in a female squadron, our flight had one male MTI, and one female MTI, as did our sister flight. Our female MTI was Airman First Class (A1C) Budd. I am fairly sure that she was not issued a first name.

Any rate, there I am on Sunday morning doing my stint as Dorm Guard. There is a knock at the door. I look out the window in the door to see who is beating the door down on a Sunday morning. It's A1C Budd. I knew who it was. I had seen her everyday for the last 4 weeks. But regulations required I ask for an ID. So I did. As usual, she began some tirade about 'Don't you know who I am; how can you not recognize your own MTI and so on. But I knew the drill, and stood my ground. She produced her ID, which I examined through the door, and then let her in.

As I stood back and opened the door A1C Budd entered the dorm. As she came abreast of me, she looked at me with an inquiring look. "Aren't you supposed to say something?", she asked. Basking in the glow of my recent success with the ID procedure, my mind went temporarily on vacation. So my mouth took over control. I said, "UH.... Good Morning Ma'am?"

And I had a 341 pulled. The one that I had folded Day One of Basic, 4 weeks ago. And had been in my pocket through 4 weeks of July and August Texas heat. It had lost some of its shape. Hell, it had lost MOST of its resemblance to a solid object. I'm not sure I could have even been unfolded. She accepted the 341 and marched to the MTI office. I don't know if she ever filled it out or not.

What was my infraction? As a warning to men in my Flight I was required to shout "Lady Entering the Dorm" when ever we had females in the dorm. But Hell; she wasn't a Lady.

She was my damn Drill Instructor.

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