War Stories

As I recall them, I will occasionally post "War Stories" here. They may or may not be actual "war" stories, but I somehow find them entertaining and worth retelling...

War stories (Vol 1)

When I first joined, they were getting rid of the old-style MRE's. Who remembers the dehydrated meat(?) with garlic powder & stuff - "reconstitute with water"... Nasty...

I've only ever eaten the newer MRE's right after that - I hear the newest ones are pretty good (comparatively speaking) with heaters & all that. When I was in the gulf, we had a metal chair out in the sun - that was our oven - throw them on there for about 10-15 minutes, and they were so damned hot you could barely pick them up.

Also, I can remember when they 1st opened a little field PX - about 3 or so months after we got there. I could go buy a Coke/Pepsi/whatever! Oooo it was gonna be good! I carried it to work & stuck it in a freezer for a while to cool it down. Took it out that evening - it was nice & cooollld. Man my mouth's watering... Open it up *click - spissshhh!" Oh, that sounds like a piece of heaven. 1st soft drink in 3 months, man this is gonna be good... Raise can to lips and FUCK! "Itchyballs, Itchyballs, Itchyballs! Scud Alarm Scud Alarm Scud Alarm! Go to MOPP 4!"


I took 1 quick sip before I pulled on my mask & gloves & stuff. (funny the way the human mind works under stress) Goddam I was pissed... I just opened that coke, and now it was probably all infested with athrax, botulinin, hussein ass, and who knows what else... Damn, I was ready to *walk* my sorry ass all the way to Baghdad & poke that SOB right in the eye.

Jumped into our makeshift bomb shelter & waited it out - I took a picture that night, I'll have to post it sometime. That was the same night the barracks in Dahran got blown up - we could hear the explosions from where we were - these muted thuds & shit. One of the guys in the "shelter" with me pissed himself. Me, I was over being pissed & was trying to make the best of the deal, just hoping for an all-clear so I could go drink my coke.

That's all for now - there's a lot I could say right now, but I think I'll just quit now.

War Stories (Vol 2)

We were the 1st at the base in Bahrain during Desert Shield. For the 1st month and a half, there was nothing to eat but MRE's. Get this, there was probably an acre of palets (you know, USAF C-130 style 6'x8', stacked 8' deep) of the damned things. Would you believe that every goddamned box was the same box? 2 "Ham Slice," 2 "Corned beef hash" (yuk!), 2 "Omelette with Ham" (Yuk!) 2 "Turkey a la King" (Which we had to throw away because they have milk in them & the wide temperature ranges caused them to spoil), 2 "Beef with gravy" (edible, but smells like dog food)... As you can probably tell, I spent a month and a half eating only ham slices & beef with gravy. Fights would break out over those two, as everybody else hated the others, too.

Finally, the marines came in & opened up a chow hall - we'd walk/drive/whatever all the way to the other side of the base... We decended like locusts - damn, the feed marines good! Real eggs & bacon & french toast (sorry, freedom toast) for breakfast, & good eats throughout the day.

Finally got away from homemade outhouses after 3-4 months, but still had to walk 1/4 mile through the sand just to take a shit. Still, beats the hell outa havin' to be up on the front lines. Marines deserve to be fed well (Army too).

War stories (Vol 3)

Well, not really a "War" story, per se, just a thought, I supose...

It was back in 1999/2000, before the Berlin Wall came down. The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, aka "The Soviet Union") still had a stated goal of "unifying the entire globe under the shining light of Marxism." Their economy was continuing its decline (due to Socialism/Marxism), and they appeared to be getting more and more desparate.

I believe it was one of the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty) or maybe START (acronym forgotten) treaties had just been ratified. Basically, up until then, the Soviets outnumbered us by about 5 or 6 to 1 when it came to "Main Battle Tanks" (or so conventional wisdom said). Granted, there was a lot of crap in there, old T-34 & T-20's left over from WWII, and so forth, but a lot, nonetheless.

Generally speaking, many tacticians will tell you that without a force multiplier of some sort, that to have any hope of winning a war/battle, you need to outnumber your opponent by at least 3:1. This latest treaty reduced American/Allied armor (almost all the newer M-1a Abrams), and Soviet Armor to an approximate 3:1 (Soviet to Allied) ratio...

OK, can you say paranoid? The soviets were using this as a way to modernize their armored batalions - getting rid of all the old crap, and manufacturing brand new T-70, T-80, and T-85 Main battle tanks (of course, these had not yet faced Ma-1's in real battle)... So, from a 5:1 ratio of crap to good stuff, to a 3:1 ratio of good stuff to good stuff. We were *very* worried, even for a while after the wall came down, as for all we knew, it was some sort of a bluff to get us to let our guard down (a la "Red Storm Rising," which was, at the time, a new book)...

Here's the anticipated battle stats for my base (on the far side of Germany from the Iron Curtain) should the balloon have gone up. End of week 1, 50% loss of aircraft & pilots. End of week 2, 75% loss of aircraft & pilots, supply of new, smart munitions (HARMs) depleted, fall back to old SHRIKEs and ARMs. End of week 3, ~90% loss of aircraft & pilots, only munitions remaining are pig iron (dumb bombs, probably of the 500/1000 lb variety). End of week 4, base overrun, any survivors taken prisoner. Assume that most of those 4 weeks would have been spent in MOPP 4, as Soviet doctrine was to gas the hell out of an area during attacks.

We were some worried folks at the time. I think that PG1 showed how well we could really stand up to Soviet armour, and relieved a lot of our worries.

War Stories (Vol 4)

Okay. I never got shot at by small caliber stuff while I was in Bahrain - we were too far away from the front for that, generally speaking (never mind the spy that got caught, or the marine that fell asleep on guard duty & fired off his weapon)... We did get our fair share of explosions, though - be they sonic booms, scuds, or whatever..

Before the war, *lots* of sonic booms - no airspeed restrictions, so pilots were always showing off. First time scared the bejeezus out of al of us, though.

Before the war, a Hawk SAM was inadvertently fired & auto destructed. Some stinky drawers after that.

I think I told about the night the barracks in Dahran got blown up. Here's a different one.

*Many* scud alarms before & during the war. Spent much time being awakend in the middle of the night. It became a reflex to grab my gas ask & roll under the bed. It's kind of funny - the PA system in the camp was an old tube set. Now, if you've ever heard one of those turned on, you know they have a funny *boing* sond to them at turn on. Well, my cot was directly underneath one of these bad boys, so I'd hear them come on in the middle of the night. So, when a scud alarm would happen, I would hear *boing*.... Itchyballs, itchyballs, itchyballs! Scud alarm, scud alarm, scud alarm! Well, after the first couple times this happened (and the pandemonium that followed), I was wide awake, grabbing for my mask, and yelling "scud alarm!" by the time *boing* was finished. The first couple of times, everyone thought I was having nightmares or something, but after that, I was the tent canary (It took me a while to figure out what was going on, myself).

It's the middle of the night - I got off work around midnight, so it must've been about 02:00. I about jump out of my skin as I hear *BAM* *BAM-BAM*. I'm sitting bolt upright in my cot, looking around in the dark. Everyone else is still sleeping. The wheels are grinding in my head, as I figure out what the noises were - sonic booms. I kinda settle back down in my bunk, thinking "they were just sonic booms," but the wheels were still turining.

*shit... There's no sonic booms in the middle of the night!*

*grabs for mask & starts rolling under the bed* "Scud alarm!"

Everyone wakes up, but the PA's aren't even on, yet... They figure this is my first false alarm. About 15 seconds later (I'm on the floor, as low as I can get, all dressed up for MOPP 4) the PA comes on & a scud alarm is sounded. About 20 minutes later, there is a stand-down, we can take gear back off.

Here's what happened (pieced together from talking to a bunch of different people):

Scud alert occured (they don't sound alarm until they figure out you're in a threatened area). All Patriot crews in our area were given an "all clear." They did their jobs, set the battery on automatic (it has a pre-programmed protection zone), & walked out for a smoke. While they're outside, the battery detects three incoming scud missiles. One is going over the base to land in the gulf (to our South), so it is left alone. One goes short, and lands in the Gulf (between us and the mainland), so it is also left alone. One is headed right towards our tent city (probability circles showed my tent being darned near the center of the strike zone), so the battery automatically fires 2 missiles. The crew outside scorches underwear & runs in to see what the hell is going on. I heard the 2 sonic booms, and the detonation of the scud, about 20 miles downrange from us. It made a big damned hole, about 100' across, and ~15' deep. I guess I wouldn't be here if not for the Patriot missile system, so for all you detractors, here's a user testimonial.

So, where's all this leading tonight? Well, thumping noises. Muffled explosions. Similar stuff. When I got back to Germany from the gulf, I would find myself waking up under my bed pretty regularly for about a year (a form of PTSD, I suppose). Even for several years after, this would happen periodically. Especially when there are fireworks - like on the 4th of July, and New Year's Eve (They sound sut like those sonic booms, Dahran getting blasted, and so forth). Nowadays, it's almost never a problem, but I stayed up to give Sara a happy call at work at midnight, and the fireworks have been going off since before. While I might not wake up under the bed, I sure as heck can't go to sleep during them...

They seem to be over, nw, though, so I guess I'll try to get to sleep now. I'll let you know if I wake up under the bed or anything.

War Stories (Vol 5)

OK, there I was, in the middle of a desert, at our air "base," making a call home.

A scud alarm goes off.

So, I'm like, dropping the phone, grabbing some dirt, then going MOPP 4... Then laying on the ground talking to them on the phone through my gas mask.

now, *THAT* freaked out my mom. My dad took it in stride.

War Stories (Vol 6)

I called this cadense, once, while marching my flight:

Delayed cadense, yellow-bird cadense, count cadense count!
"A yellow bird"
*A yellow bird*
"with a yellow bill"
*with a yellow bill*
"landed on"
*landed on*
"my window sill"
*my window sill*
"I lured him in"
*I lured him in*
"with bits of bread"
*with bits of bread*
"Then I smashed"
*then I smashed*
"his fuzzy head"
*his fuzzy head*
"The moral of"
*The moral of*
"The story said"
*The story said*
"You want some head"
*you want some head*
"You need some bread!"
*you need some bread!*

Sound off!

Problem was, that I ended right in fron t of a female barracks.... I got in some trouble for that one...

War Stories (Vol 7)

Ok, this is really a "just got out of basic training" story, but what the heck?

OK, so we graduate basic training... We're all dressed in our best dress blues (USAF). They shuttle us to the airport, we hop on an airplane to New Orleans. They then transfer us to a greyhound station, where we sit around for a while waiting for our charter bus.

This civilian woman comes up to me, looks at me, & asks when the bus to ?? leaves. I said I didn't know, as I was on the bus to Biloxi. She said, something to the effect of (bear with me, this was almost 20 yrs ago) "Oh! That should be the same bus, because where I'm going is between here and there!"

At this point, I guess it hadn't occurred to me that this would be a charter bus... I replied something to the effect of "Oh, really? I don't know, I've never been this way before." (I realized her mistake at this point, but was trying to be nice)

To which, she answered, "Oh, so you're new to this route? Where did you drive before?"

Realizing that his was only going to get worse, I decided to break the news to her. "Ma'am, I'm not a bus driver - I'm in the Air Force"

Blank look...

"But, your hat!"

"Yes, ma'am. We call them 'bus-driver hats,' too,"

She turned about 3 shades of red, and about tripped over herself as she tried to slink away, amidst many apologies. Then she noticed all the rest of us standing around, dressed the same way, many of them smiling at her...

I still feel kinda sorry for that lady. I don't know why I just thought of all this. I'll have to see if I can find my basic training pictures...

War Stories (Vol 8)

OK, so there I was, in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Bahrain, to be precise. There were 14 of us, all living in the same tent (it *was* a big tent). This style of tent is called a "temper tent"

At the time, these tents were not vinyl coated, just a tight, water-resistant cloth of some sort. Inside the tent is another tent, which gives some resistance to wind, moisture, dust, and changes in temperature.

It was late Autumn the first time this began to occur (it happened again in Spring), but the temperature would change by as much as 20 or 30 degrees between day and night. Remember, I said we were in Bahrain - during the day, the air didn't seem all that humid, but I guess that was only because it was already so danged hot. At night, as the temperature dropped, pea-soup fog will begin to roll in (another story involving just how thick the fog was, later). The fog was pretty darned thick - visibility would be down to 30-50 feet or so. Regularly.

So, in the middle of the night, one night, the guy in the cot next to mine jumps up screaming "What the Fuck, Asshole!" - he thought someone was playing a sick joke on him (we were all sleep-starved). He had justten a drip of cold water on his forehead.

Of course, we all woke up & turned on the lights, and there it was - a small, but expanding circle of wet fabric over his head... And it was dripping. What the hell? Some further investigation showed that the fog had condensed on the tent roof. No big deal, but so much condensation had occured in the panel, that it had begun to droop and hold water, instead of shedding it. This drooped down to the point where it touched the inner tent (you know about touching the inside of a wet tent, right?), and started to leak into the inner tent, which was only a thick cloth (not waterproofed). It then pooled in there & began dripping on my tent-mate's forehead.

We got out a broom, and pushed up the tent panel to dump it out. Got probably 2 gallons of water from that panel. We went around to all the panels on the tent & got the same results. We did this about every night until the fog season passed, and consistently got a gallon or so of water from each panel.

Nice survival info, eh?

War Stories (Vol 9) This one belongs to a friend

A friend of mine was SFG back in Vietnam. Used to go around, sleep 100' up in trees & so on.

He was telling me a story one day, & it goes like this:

Hell's yeah was the answer, and to here him tell it, a firhouse of tracers came raining down on the jungle in front of them. At first, they were damned glad about the whole thing, but then the (hot) brass began raining from the sky (I think they keep the brass on board, these days). He said so much came down that it filled their foxholes, and they were scrambling to get out, so they wouldnt get burned.

Anyhoo, Puff broke the attack, & they were able to wait it out 'til morning, when they saw that the entire jungle had been mowed down, for about 100 yards back. He says the tallest things were tree stumps, and they were only a foot or so tall. Estimated body count was over 1000.

War Stories (Vol 10)

So, one night we're actually *sleeping* in our temper tents (as opposed to all the other stories I've told baout them)...

I wake up in the middle of the night - I *think* I hear the following:

*squeek squeek*
*Fucking Rat!*

From a friends bunk (his was at the foot of mine)

So, later in the day, I saw him on the flightline and asked him about it.

"Yeah, I woke up & there was a fuckin' rat sitting on my chest! I freakedout & smacked it accross the tent! Goddamned rats!"

Of course, I laughed pretty good at that one. All sorts of comments about his personal hygiene, as he obviously smelled like cheese.

War Stories (Vol 11)

OK, so I'm *in* basic training. Haven't even made it all the way through - probably had about 2 or 3 weeks left, not sure.

We march across the base - I think I fell asleep while marching, because I didn't remember most of the march when I got there (neat trick, huh?) - We're going to see the recruiters.

"WTF!?" you say, "you 're already in, why are you looking at recruiters?"

Well, this is the point where you choose the actual career field you want to enter. We were given a sheet of paper back at the barracks the week before - it had the MOS's open to us, their descriptions, and we were to rank them in order of preference. Now we were going to see the recruiter to do the final paperwork & stuff.

So, I head in & see "my" recruiter. He was pretty cool - you'll see how cool in a bit. Anyhoo, he asks me if I'm sure I want to do the career field I chose (Electronic Warfare Systems Technician).


Are you sure?



Well, I read through them all, and this is the one that seems most interesting.

What's interesting about it?

Well, I'm really interested in electronics & how things work, & that seems right up my alley.

This requires a securtiy clearance...

Don't they all?

With a full background check...


He smiles - "Would you be willing to come back & do a security interview for this position?


OK, here's a pass - I want you to come back tomorrow, 1st thing in the morning. You'll be here all day.


Don't worry, this pass will keep you out of trouble. I know you're not supposed to read anything but your traiing manual, but if you;ve got some mail you haven't read yet, or something like that, bring it on up when you come back.

Uh... OK.

You smoke?

Uuuhh... Yes.

Here. (Hands me a cigarette - *and* lights it for me)

We sit back, smoke a butt, & small talk for a bit. He explains that there's a special thing going on, & I'll be part of a special interview. More details tomorrow. One more butt, & the day's pretty well shot, so I head back to barracks. *LATE* Barely in time for chow (and I'm chow runner).

Get back, TI (Technical Instructor) is pissed. Burke! Where in the hell have you been!?

Sir! Airman Burke reports as ordered! I've been at the recruiter's, Sir! He told me to give you this! (hand TI my paperwork).

TI grabs it from me, starts looking at it... Grousing.... Eyes get big... Looks at me. Hard.

OK, I guess we'll use the alternate chow runner tomoroow - you'll head out right after morning chow.

Yes sir!.


So, next day rolls around, morning calesthenics, run chow ('nother war story there), get stuff squared away, and head off to the recruiter's building on the other side of the base.

I walk in, & knock on his door.


Sir! Airman Burke reports as ordered!

*waves me in* meh... We're not so formal around here - this is more like the *real* Air Force. Come on in.

He explains to me that he wants me to participate in an interview later in the day. Do I think I'm up for it?

Sure, why not?

OK, I'll ask you a series of questions, and you'll answer them. We'll go through them in a bi, but first I've got to do some other stuff. Want a smoke while I'm finishing up this paperwork?


So, we "fire up," and he fnishes his paperwork. We go through the questions. The most memorable of which (to me, anyhoo) is something along the lines of "do you have full use of your hands" - at which point I'm to say "yes," and hold my hands up and wiggle my fingers to prove the point. (don't ask me why, I'm just doin' what I'm told). Going through all the questions takes about an hour or so. When we're all done, he offers me another smoke, & escorts me out to a looby area. He tells me I can read any of the magazines I want, but to be discreet about it - hide them in my training manual - in case any TI's come in.

OK. I sit down & start reading. About an ohour or so later, he comes out to get me - want a smoke?


We light up, & he escorts me over to a small room. It's *white* - the floor, the ceiling, the walls, everything - even the table & folding metal chairs we're sitting in (or so I recall). I'm sitting with the door behind me, and to my right are two large windows with one-way mirrors.

You ready?

Yes, I guess so. - I can hear some commotion on the other side of the mirrors. I can see some venetion blinds on the other side, as the lights are on over there.

You ready?

Yeah, I guess so.

OK, just a minute.

I see the blinds go up on the other side of the glass, and because the lights are on, I can see a few sillouettes of people and chairs in a good-sized room before they turn out the lights.

Go through the interview, and when it's finished, I hear the blinds come down & see the lights come back on on the other side.

How'd I do?

You did pretty well.

A woman comes in - she's wearing the new BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform) that are still optional (I didn't get my 1st set for another 2 years or so after this). No stripes on her sleeves, nothing shiny on her shoulders/collar, so I figure she's another lowly airman. I stand up & say hi, shake hands & so forth, then sit back down. She chats with us both a bit, then out the door.

Wow! You're a cool customer!


Most people wouldn;t sit back down when there's an officer in the room!

She was an officer?

You didn't know?

No, no stripes on her sleeves, nothing shiny on top, I just figured she was a slick-sleeve like me.


So, he tells me to wait around in there a bit, in case they have any more questions to be asked. None.

So, he escorts me back to his office & lets me have another smoke, while he goes off for a bit.

When he comes back, I ask him what this was all about.

"There were 30 or so securtiy specialists from around the world in there"



How'd I do?

They were impressed. Thanks alot.

We sat around & BS'd a bit, had a couple more smokes, then he sent me on my way.


I've asked *many* different people about their happenings in basic training. To a person, they all look at me like I'm from outer space when I tell this story.

I don't know what the heck it was all about - who or why, just the how & immediate whats.


Ya, not so good a story, I guess....

War Stories (Vol 12)

OK, so I'm in basic training, right?

I got pulled for the crappiest job there is - chow runner (our original one got recycled).

Some background:

Chow runners have to go get chow for the flight.

Get up in the AM, get as much of your junk squared away as possible, then when TI (They're called "Technical Instructors" in the USAF) yells your name, gotta go down & request chow for the flight.

Unless you're the first in, you stand in line & wait your turn. When they motion to you, you march up to the "Snake Pit" (where all the TI's sit for breakfast), and address the "head" for the day. This person sits at a lectern with a couple of other TI's at either side.

Chow runner reports "Sir/Ma'am! Airman dipshit reports as ordered! Requesting chow for flight 316!" (I was in flight 316)

If you're first, they send you off to get chow for your flight - otherwise, you gotta go stand against the wall (march there) at parade rest - reading your Air Force manual if you have it.

When it's time for the next flight to come in and get chow, the day's "head" TI calls up the next chow runner.

Chow runner marches up to Sanke Pit and reports "Sir/Ma'am! Airman dipshit reports as ordered!" They'll tell you to go get chow for your flight. "Yes Sir/Ma'am! Thank you Sir/Ma'am!"

Chow runner marches out the door, and then runs to get flight - if (s)he's not quick enough, flight can lose place in line, and chow runner gets beaten on. It's always a contest for the TI's to get their flights downstairs to try and beat another flight in line.

Upon return to the chow hall (with flight), chow runner marches in, finds previous flight's chow runner & taps him/her on shoulder. "Chowrunner. Good Job. You are relieved of your duty, have a nice meal." That chow runner marches off, the new chowrunner takes his/her place.

Chowrunner stands at a modified parade rest, facing people who are coming in to be seated - one hand behind your back, the other crossed in front of you - pointing down the row of tables at which the newcomers are supposed to sit. Chowrunner gets to watch everybody else in the rom eating & carrying food, and basically gets pretty hungry.

Eventually, another chowrunner comes up & relieves this chowrunner of his/her duty, unless this chowrunner was last - in which case, a TI relieves the chowrunner.

Today's war story:

So, I'm runnin' chow for the flight one day, and I get releived of my duty. The food for the day looked pretty nasty. Chowrunner from the next flight comes up to me, taps me on shoulder & gives me the schpiel. I keep a straight face, but let out an audible "snort" through my nose.

Apparently the chow runner (who was female) cracked a big grin (yikes!)

As I'm marching off, I hear a TI yelling at me from the snake pit:

"Airman, Halt!" (A favorite game, as some dumbass will halt & they'll jump his shit & chew him out for no good reason)

I keep marching...

"You! In the green! Halt!" (We're all wearing green, see above)

I keep marching...

"Chowrunner! Halt!"

Awwwww, shit... That's me - no other ones around :(

Now, let me tell you about drill sergeants/TI's - there's three bad ones to have, as they seem to have something to prove (no offense, it just seems that way): Minorities, Women, and short people.

A short, latino woman (SSgt Kuhara, IIRC) comes running up to me, yelling and screaming all the way: "What in *the* hell do you think you're doing, chowrunner?"

I look at her, baffled, "Ma'am! Airman Burke reports as ordered! Getting chow, ma'am!"

"Who's your TI, airman dipshit!?"

"Ma'am! Staff Sergeant Aguero, ma'am!"

"Is he here?!" (her "smokey bear" hat is poking me in the chest at this point - kinda surreal and funny, but I keep it in)

"Ma'am, no ma'am!"

"You listen here, you dirty little piece of shit!" (hat still poking me in chest) "You tell him that the next time I catch you laughing and smiling with one of my girls, I'm gonna kick your ass all the way around this base!"

"Ma'am! Sergeant Aguero is leaving on TDY today - can I tell Sergeant Ducket, instead?" (Much preferred to me, anyway - Aguero was a dick)

Flustered, "Yes, whatever! Be sure to tell him!" She stomps off in a huff. Other TI's over watching the spectacle are laughing. Other trainees are looking aghast & hiding faces.


That night, at mail call - we're all sitting in our "day room," while Sgt Ducket throws us our mail (literally).

At the end, He asks if there's anything from us (as usual).

I stand up: "Sir, Airman Burke repports as ordered!"

He gives me a quizzical look - since he asked for input, he was expecting me to say "Airman Burke reports" - but I was under orders from another TI.

Says Sgt. Ducket, one eyebrow raised - "what is it?"

"Sir! Sergeant..."

I completely lost my "military bearing" at this point, held one hand up to about Kuhara's height and said "Short, female, mexican TI about this tall?"

With a somewhat surprised look on his face, Sgt. Ducket says "Kuhara."

"Yes sir, that's her.." At which point I realized that I was being sloppy, and snapped back to attention. "Sir! Sgt Kuhara told me to inform you that if she ever caught me smiling and laughing with one of her females again, she was gonna kick my ass all the way around this base!"

Sgt. Ducket laughs out loud and says "and she will, too! Sit back down!"

"Sir, yes sir!"

Everyone in the room laughs at me.
Including me.

War Stories (Vol 12.5)

I'm all racked out one lazy Sunday, looking at the ceiling. It's close to lights out.

A face appears above my head. "Zabinsky (?) is gettin' recycled - you're the new chow runner"

Thinking this is some sort of bad joke - "Yeah, bullshit - who says?"

"Sgt Ducket"

"Yeah, bullshit - no he didn't"

*Sgt Ducket's face appears over me* "yes, I did"

...Awww shit...

War Stories (Vol 13)

OK, remember in Vol 11 I told you I was fotunate enough to be chowrunner for my flight? *rolls eyes*

Well, OK, you get the gist.

One day, I was running chow - when I was suposed to go back for my flight, instead of doing a "right face" and then starting off with my left foot for may marching out (always start on the left), I kind of mixed the two (yeah, sloppy, I know). Well, don't think for a minute that the TI's didn't miss that one

So, guess who the "head Snake" was? Yeah, that's right, it was Kuhara

So, she starts bitching me up one side & down the other - "What in *the* hell do you call *that*" - Give me a right face!"

"Ma'am, yes ma'am!"

*does right face, now facing away from snake pit*

"You call that sloppy piece of shit a right face? Gawdamn, airman, doi it again and get it right this time!"

*does another right face, pit now on my right*

"Is that the best you can do? Right Face!"

*does right face - now facing snake pit*

"Shit, my *dog* does better than that! Right face!"

*does right face*

"Right face!"

As soon as I complete the maneuver, she tells me to do it again... They've practically got me spinning in place. I suppose they were trying to get me dizzy. Then it came...

"Are you getting *mad*, airman? C'mon let's see you get mad!"

It was like a switch flipped in my head. Up to this point, basic had been pretty rough - I was 18, first time I was really out on my own, and a whole world of shit was constantly waiting on me. I had been seriously stressed. When this happened, it all came to perfect light to me - it's all just a game! It's just a game! They can't *really* hurt me - they canmake me miserable for a while, but shoot... The worst they can do is make me stay another couple weeksif I really screw up...

I guess I got a look on my face, as after a couple more spins, this short, italian-looking guy (maybe also latino? I don't really remember at this point) comes running up at me, and hits me right square in the chest (with his chest), knocking me backwards about 3 or 4 feet.

Now, that's down-right illegal - even then. That was assault & battery, & if I could've taken that to a court martial at a later date, and I knew it. I wasn't so stupid as to throw a punch or anything like that - besides, this guy would clean my clock!

So, after a couple stumbles, I gotmyself stable & stood at attention while this piece of shit is screaming at me, spitting all over my face, hitting me with in the forehead with his "smokey bear hat."

"What the hell's you're problem, you sorry little piece of shit!? You don't have any respect, *do* you?!"

Ya know, I think he was actually mad, but my next words made him madder

I looked him right in the eye and said "Yes sir, I *do* have respect - for those that deserve it!"

He turned all dark as his blood pressure must've been shooting through the roof. He was speechless. He gave me a dirty look and stomped off.

Through all this, my only loss of "military bearing" was my hands - they went to fists when he hit me (not a whole hellofa lot of difference, but I'm sure the other TI's noticed)

Kuhara: "Airman!"

I performed the proper maneuver to face her, and replied "Ma'am, yes ma'am!" Looking atht he snake pit again (and the red leaving my vision), it seemed to me that the entirety of the TI's there realized that a line had been crossed.

"Go get your flight!"

"Ma'am. thank you ma'am!" - and off I hustled.

I even realized it at the time - while I still had the occasonal problem with a TI, it was never as bad after that. I'm not sure if it was the "switch" flipping, or if I had earned some respect. Either way, life got considerably better for me after that.

That same attitude still is with me to this day, ya know. Yeah, you probably do.

War Stories (Vol 14)

So, one day in early 1991, it was raining. Hard. It was off and on, but we were all pretty miserable. When it was not raining, it was so humid you could take your goldfish for a walk. And all throughout the day, we were flying sorties into Iraq, so no one could keep dry very long.

So, the crew chief (Denny was his name, IIRC) that slept next to me had to stay with his plane, as it was supposed to be flying a mission later in the day. He figured out a way to stay mostly dry, and set it to work, while he took a nap (at his jet, where he was supposed to be).

Well... When an aircrew takes a jet, they're supposed to do a "walk-around," wherin they walk around the jet, looking for obvious problems. They obviously did not do this, as they did not find the crew chief - it was raining pretty hard, so they just jumped into the seats, assuming that everything was all right.

Since they didn't see the crew chief, they turned on the radio and called for someone else to help them get started (starting an F-4 requires a large starting cart (dash 60), and requires no small effort on the ground. So, a different crew chief came out - I guess he didn't do a quick walk-around, either.

So, he hooked up air, and they began the engine start procedure. It takes about a minute or so to start an engine... As the engine was igninting - heat waves & fumes could be seen rolling out of the tail-pipe - Denny comes bailing out of the tail pipe with his sleeping bag!

Apparently, he was sleeping in the afterburner stage, and he figured they'd find him in there & wake him up when they did their walk-around. I guess he didn't account for their reluctance to get all wet. He got a lot of crap for that one....

War Stories (Vol 15)

I was stationed at Seymour-Johnson AFB (Goldsboro, NC) for a while. This story occurs in the summer of 1989 (IIRC).

F-4's have an (maybe 2?) oxygen bottles that go into the belly of the plane. There is an option for the pilot / back-seater to switch to 100% oxyfgen, in the event of fumes in the cockpit, etc. It maybe also supplements the canopy pressurization, but I don't know (On a side note, 100% Oxygen quickly clears a hangover for about 3-5 minutes).

Near the parking area, but far enough away to be not dangerous, there is the "LOX Plant" - here there was a giant bottle of liquid oxygen (lox) and liquid nitrogen (ln2). We got tagged with rotating duty to go refill the oxygen tanks, and occasionally nitrogen bottles, too.

Now, I've got to describe this place to you. It's fenced in, with warning signs all over the place. It's under a carport (for lack of a better description), and maybe had a back wall, but I don't remember. During hot, humid summer days (like the one I'm telling you about), you worked in a fog. The humid air would hit the cold gasses that were floating around, and the pea soup would form. You had to wear oil-free coveralls while working in there, as the lox is about as good of an oxidizer as you can get. You're supposed to leave anything flammable outside the area.

On with the story...

So, one day, this crew chief has baan tasked with filling the bottles. We drop him off and we tell him we'll be back in about an hour to pick him up. Well, we cam back an hour or so later, just like we promised. He hops back into the truck, and pulls out a pack of cigarrettes. A pack of flammable objects that he did not leave outside the area. A pack of flammable objects that had been in his pocket in an oxygen-rich environment. For about an hour. A pack of flammable objects that were now impregnated with a high concentration of oxygen.

So, as I was asying, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, popped one in his mouth, and lit it. Now, they say it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. The corallary to this is that after someone is hurt, it becomes hilarious - this was no exception. When he lit the cigarette, it exploded with a loud *BANG!* and a bright flash of light. Amazing, really! It burnt his lips, burnt off his eyebrows, burnt his bangs, and scared the poop out of just about everybody in the truck.

After we finished scorching our underwear, we had a really good laugh at that guy's expense.

War Stories (Vol 16)

OK, this one is a little ... umm ... sick, so stop now..

OK, I warned ya.

OK, back when I got out of the USAF, I was in the best shape of my life - I was running 2.5 miles every couple of days, and doing it in about 15 minutes. Not too shabby. OK, that said, I am a *lousy* runner. If a big hairy monster was chasing me, I might make it a mile before he ate me, and my only satisfaction would be knowing that my muscles were full of lactic acid & other poisons, so I'd taste funny.

So, then, you can maybe understand how much people who are good runners amaze me. Really. I mean, running is nearly the most inefficient way of getting from point A to point B there is - that's why it's so good for burning off wieght (and so hard on the joints, I suppose)... I'm not sure, but I think driving a car from A to B might be more efficient in terms of energy expenditure (esp if you factor time), but I digress...

So, in the AF at the time, we had to go for our fitness test once every year. Yeah, in the AF, in most AFSCs (job codes) you can pretty well much be a slug & still do your daily job. Well, the fitness test consisted of the following:

1) run 1.5 miles in 13:30 minutes.
2) pant

yeah, really. That's it. nothing more. Problem was, most of us (me included, not too long before) didn't do anything except that run once a year, then maybe light up a cigarette to kill the pain.

The upper brass realized this problem (especially after a couple of senior people had heart-attacks during the runs), and changed the fitness test to 2x a year, and I believe they were pushing it to 4x a year after I got out. They also shortened the time for the run down to around 12 minutes or so.

Yeah, yeah, easy. I know. Not for me. Even when I was putting down 15 minutes for 2.5 miles - for some reason, it killed me to do that 1.5 mi run. I think it was mental - I was doing it for them, and not me. I suppose. I dunno, really - all I know for sure is that I wouldn't run that morning, I'd do the PT test instead (on the same track). And it would kill me.

Now, again, I notice & am amazed by people who are good runners, which brings me to the story...

So, one day, we're panting our way around the track, and we were about a half-mile into the run. There were a couple of us in a somewhat informal group, and one of the guys (Pecarerro?) pipes up:

Pecarrerro: "I've gotta shit!"

Somebody else: *laughs*

Pecarrerro: "no, really, I mean it - I've gotta shit. Now!"

Pecarrerro goes running off the side of the track, & into one of the buildings near the track to go do his business.

us: *laughing* *gasping*

So, we make it through the next couple laps - we've got maybe a half-mile left to go at this point, and here comes Pecarrerro, running back onto the track.

us: "no way - there's no way he'll make it in time!"

astonishingly, he ran the track fast enough to lap us twice, and finish about 1 minute behind the rest of us - and still make the time in under 11 minutes. While running off to take a dump in between!

Amazing! I still find it hard to believe to this day.

War Stories (Vol 17)

So, I deployed in Early Sep 1990 - 1 month after Iraq overran Kuwait. I was aircraft maintenenace (Electronic Warfare Systems Technician) on F-4G "Advanced Wild Weasel" Aircraft - Cave Putorium!

I think you've seen these pictures, already...

We were in Bahrain, so we were right down near the water - this made for some good photos:

And later, I got to travel to Manama (no pictures here, right now), where I saw the way people lived. Tru Bahrainis are pretty rich - the royal family has set up a trust fund, such that a certain percentage of all profits goes to support the people. With so many idle rich (some *do* work), migrant workers from all over come to eek out a living. These were motly Filipinos & Thais, and they mostly lived in shantytowns outside of Manama proper (sorry, no pictures handy).

Anyhoo, on the trip back one night, we passed by the bridge to Saudi Arabia:

So, we lived in tents, as I've talked about before - I have pictures, but none digitized right now.. We started building mass gravesbomb shelters - here are some pics - they are 2x6 pine frames with 3/4 inch Oak plywood shells - then heaped up with sand, open at each end - no structural strength for a side blow, they'd probably just collapse:

As I've discussed previously, we got scuded on several occasions - here is a picture of myself during the scud raid that blew up the barracks in Dahran (I think I talked about that in another War Story) - full MOPP IV in the then current "Darth Vader" mask:

The Bahrainis flew F-16's and F-5's - this surprised me, as I had thought all F-5's had been decomissioned by then:

During the war, we lost only one aircraft - to loss of fuel - I will talk about that in the next "War Stories" - they cut the nose & tail off & destroyed them with a gob o explosives before they brought the carcass back to us in Bahrain on the back of a flatbed truck:

So, I talked previously about the Patriot missile batteries that saved our bacon on at least one occasion - here's me, young and thin with the main battery for our base in the background, and another picture of a single launcher up close:

Finally, I got no pictures of scorpions (although there were many), but I did get pictures of another nasty - the camel spider. This "little" guy has a hard, chitonous shell and 3 toes on each foot. He's in a metal trashcan, and you could here his footfalls on the metal of the can - "clack schratch, clack scratch, ..." Kinda freaky:

Well, that's it for today, I suppose...

War Stories (Vol 18)

OK, so while we were in the Bahrain for PG1, we had *NO* combat losses. We had one aircraft come back with trivial battle damage, but that is a story for another day. So is the story of the contaminated aircraft and the worlds biggest explosion.

So, on with the story... There we were... No, let's restart.

At my base, in my unit were 3 people with my name. Me, a pilot who was a Captian, and a guy out of the weapons shop - they were always getting our mail mixed up (Captain Burke's wife made good cookies), but that's not today's story. Today's story is the one I promised last time - about our one lost aircraft.

This story is interesting, as I didn't learn the rest of the story until I got back to Germany, after the war.

So, starting again (is that enough teasing?)...

Capt Burke was the back-seater (Warfare Systems Operator/Guy-in-Back/Electronic Warfare Officer or WSO/GIB/EWO) on this particular aircraft.

So they're out on a mission one dark and foggy night. The mission is essentially over - all they need to do is meet up with a KC-10 (aerial refuelling tanker), top off the tanks and return to base (RTB).

They get to the tanker, and there's a line. Not a small line, but like, 20 or so aircraft waiting their turn to get fuel, and all of them getting pretty low.

They finally go binog fuel (that's sorta like when the fuel light comes on in your car), and there's other aircraft still waiting that are in worse condition than them, so they call in that they wil divert to KKMC (King Khalid Military City, a forward-operating airbase - I suppose it's now KFMC for King Faisal).

Well, they got to KKMC, and the airfield was locked in - pea soup fog. They made a pass over the airfield. The fog got bright white & grey. The radar altimeter showed them about 50 *feet* AGL (Above Ground Level). They couldn't see the runway or anything else, just the glowing of the fog from the airfields "stadium lights."

They went around for a second pass, and there was no change. They talked about it for a minute, and decided that if they ever had to eject, there was no better way to do it - the slowed the aircraft down to just over stall speed, tipped it nose up, got set all nice and straight, and ejected from about 100 feet AGL.

They were back to our base in a couple days, and the AF opened an investigation - they tried, but failed, to pin the blame on Capt Burke & his pilot. The board finally placed the root cause on operations for trying to put to many aircraft on a single tanker.


The rest of the story....

I got back to Germany, hiked my but back to my dorm (a whole 'nother story, there), and a few days later, met up with some of my SP friends (with whom I shared a dorm).

Turns out, they were stationed as ABGD (Air Base Ground Defense) at KKMC.

I told them about the crashed plane & showed them pictures, & they said something to the effect of "aahhh... So it was *you* who tried to kill us!"

I said, in my best "Scooby-Doo voice," "huh?"

So, here'e *their* version of the story.

They're sitting in their tents, in the middle of godforsaken nowhere, not far from KKMC. Fog is so thick that night vision & everything is useless. They're still manning patrols & guard shacks, but it's mostly pointless. My friends are off duty, and trying to catch some rack time.

Here comes the noise - the "Phantom Howl" - unmistakeable if you've ever heard it...

They hear the plane overfly them once.

They here it coming the second time, only this time, while it's some distance off they hear *BANG! *BANG!* (Pilots ejecting)

As it goes over them, they hear *Woomph!* *Woomph!* (Engines flaming out from lack of fuel)

Only about 500 meters downrange, *Kablam! Screech! all sorts of non-explosive airplane crashing sounds!*

Of course, everyone jumps up & runs out to see what in the hell just happened.

Turns out the empty plane flew right over them & crashed lees than a half-klik away - I guess they all very nearly died that night.


The last little bit of the story - why the aircraft looks like it does in War Stories Vol 16...

The pilots said the plane looked as if the landing gear could be fixed & flown again - they said it looked like it was in really good shape.

I don't know what the thinking was, but instead of repairing it (maybe they thought it was a loss), the AF decided they didn't want to waste manpower guarding it.

So, they came back to us, in Bahrain the next day & asked what needed to be done to delassify the plane (you can imagine that there's a lot of sensitive equipment in there) - I volunteered to go up to the front(ish) lines & help take it apart, but nooo... They had a better idea.

They *cut* the nose (behind the back-seaters's seat) & tail off the plane (that's where all the classified stuff was), moved it off with a forklift, and blew it up. Shoot, I wish I coulda gone up there just to see that - I would taken pictures, for sure!

They cut the wings off the plane (so it could fit over the Saudi-Bahrain bridge), threw them on a flatbed, and then they "tossed" the rest of the plane on there, too. They also went atround with a sledge hammer & broke the "back" of the plane to make sure there was *no* way anyone was ever going to be able to reuse it *rolls eyes*

And that, is the story of our one aircraft loss during PG1.

What fun.

War Stories (Vol 19)

I mentioned in the last journal, that during PG1, we had only 1 aircraft come back with battle damage. It mas amazingly small - a hole in the left vertical stabilizer - it was just big enough to slide a pencil through. I'm not even sure any repair was done to it.

Anyhoo, this war story is a bit about how it got there.


So, there was a mission flying one day (No shit, how you gonna get battle damage without going on a mission). This was the squardon commander's bird, and apparently he was a bit of a tail-end charlie.

I got the story from multipl sources (mostly pilots), and it goes like this:

When you're flying a mission & somebody launches a missile, the RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) goes nuts - I won't get technical, but it can tell when the missile's launched, but it does not know *who* it was launched towards.

So, this was a night mission, and the pilots told us that on a night mission, it was pretty easy to tell if it was coming for you - if the missile plume's reflection moved accross the canopy, it was for someone else. If it stayed in the same place (in other words, it was tracking your plane), the reflection would stay stationalry in the canopy.

You might be thinking that the plume must be pretty damned bright to be seen as a reflectionin the canopy, and you'd be right - the normal SA-xx missiles are as big as telephone poles - some have ranges beyond 80 miles.

So, there they were, third in on a 3-ship mission, when the RWR goes ape-shit. The front-seater can see the plumes reflection - and it ain't movin'.

So, he calls to the back-seater (the squadron commander) & tells him to fire up the ECM (Electronic CounterMeasures - in this case, an AN/ALQ-131) pod (I don't understand why it wasn't already on, although I might be able to come up with a couple of reasons...).

So, it turns out there were 2 missiles headed towards them. The first went past and exploded about 1,000 feet above them - the front-seater said it was quite the large explosion. Like the big fireworks on the 4th of July.

The second missile went off pretty close behind them. The front-seater said that all of his rear-view mirrors (he has 4) turned orange from the explosion, and the whole aircraft "bucked" from the shockwave behind.

The front-seater admitted that it was pretty scary there, for a bit, but the real story is the back-seater.

When the 2nd missile went off & he saw the reflections in his rear-views (he has 3), and the plane bucked, he shit his pants. Literally. Of course, the front-seater was jinking & trying to evade, and pulling all sorts of gees.

Let's explain for a second how a G-suit works... The aircrews wear a G-suit over the rest of their flight suit. When the aircraft pulls more than 1 gee, a valve in the aircraft opens up & allows compressed air to flow into the suit. This compressed air fills bladders around the aircrew's legs & abdomen, to help keep blood in the upper body. All this to help the mnot black-out during hig-gee maneuvers.

Of course, here's where it gets interesting, 'cuz by the time they made it back, all the amneuvers had squished his poo all the way up to his armpits. He was covered.

When they shut down the engines, he hoppd out, walked around ack, & threw his whole flight suit in the trash. He picked up another one from somewhere. He was pretty damned embarassed, as I recall.

War Stories (Vol 20)

Sooo... There we were, 10 feet above see level, and sweating our merry rear-ends off. Yes, it was still Bahrain, during PG1.

A couple of weeks into the air campaign, we start hearing (from the intel guys) how they think they've found a big ammo dump.

The next day, there was an "elephant" walk.

What's an elephant walk? Well, every aircraft on the base takes off, pretty much together - as many as can safely take off on the runway at a time (usually 2 - 4), until every flyable airship is up. Did I mention *every?* I really can't emphasize *EVERY* enough.

It was amazing. Remember before, I told you we probably had a full Carrier Air Wing on the base, and a bunch of Marine Harriers, too. So, something like 50 or 60 A-6E, about 10 or 15 EA-6B's, 10 or so Harriers, about 75 F-18's, 20 or so RF-4C's, and about 20 F-4G's.

Talk about a helluva racket. It was amazing how quiet the base was while they were all gone. *NO* noise whatsoever, except what we made. Amazing. I said that already, didn't I?

Anyhoo, we're listening in on some of the radios, and we hear the normal chatter between pilots & so forth, and the suddenly it gets quiet.

Shift to the pilots' perspective, here, so you can better understand (story gotten from one of the pilots, of course).

The sky has light cloud cover at around 10,000 feet. The air is full of aircraft of all types & sizes. Our pilots were flying above the clouds (well, this one was, anyways). Radios are full of the normal chatter, pretty busy. Then the clouds part and a fiery mushroom cloud rises through the cloud cover.

*All* radio chatter stops.

What seems like a couple of seconds pass before a lone voice comes over the air "Hooollleeee Shit!"

Then chatter came back hard & fast. They thought the war had just gone nuclear.

The reality was that they had found *THE* biggest ammo dump in the *WORLD*. Notice the emphasis. Not the biggest in Iraq, not the biggest in the free world, the biggest anywhere. Period. And somebody got a lucky shot on the thing, and the whole place went up in one giant secondary.

There's one side-story to the "big bang" that I know of. I dunno if they were flying low, or what, but one of our aircraft got splattered by something wet. The whole plane was splashed in the muck, whatever it was. Of course, we were all worried about biological/chemical stuff, what with all the scuds that were headed our way. The pilot called in that he was contaminated. When he landed, they checked him out. They didn't know what it was, but it certainly was not an agent. The aircrew would not believe the ground crew, even after they took their masks & stuff off, & wouldn't get out of the plane. They ended up spraying the thing down with a firehose before the crew would get out.

War Stories (Vol 21)

I'm not sure this counts, but I got to thinking about this for some reason the other day...

So, there I was, about 10 feet above sea level. Nope, not Bahrain. Biloxi, MS.

The dorms had no laundry, so everybody in the student triangle had to wash clothes at the same laudromat. It was a hot, Summer, Mississippi day, and we were in washing clothes & BS'ing. And boy, it was *HOT* in there. We didn't really realize how hot it was.

"How hot was it?"

(I honestly don't know what the temperature was)

Well, there were always these annoying little black bugs around the place. They were kinda like a small ladybug, only black, & they'd be all over the place during certain times of the year.

As it would start to get dark out, they would be attracted to the lights in the laundromat, and come flying in the windows (which were, of course, open)

And die.

In midair.

They would come flying in from the cool night air outside, and die while still in flight when they hit the hot air inside.

Then their little corpses would rain down on us & be all over the place. I guess that's better than all of them just flying around in there & pestering the hell out of us, but you could hear them when they hit the floor, too, sometimes...

Dang, *that's* hot.

War Stories (Vol 22)

Dunno if this is true, but it makes a good story...

A friend of mine in the Navy related this story to me. Apparently, he was on a carrier in the Pacific, and there was this guy who was *always* in some sort of trouble or another. His favorite expression was "Whaddaya gonna do? Take away my birthday?"

Well, one day he fucked up pretty bad, I guess, and used his now famous line. His Chief got in touch with the Captain, and they took away his birthday.

How, you ask, can anyone take away someone's birthday?

Well, the ship sat on one side of the international date line all day, crossed over at midnight, then crossed back over the next midnight, and continued merrily on its way. The guy had the day before that was, like, 48 hours long, and then skipped right to the day after.

Now *that's* some shit, eh?

I wonder if they made him work the whole day?

War Stories (Vol 23)

OK, so I've gotta set this one up for you...

When I was stationed in Germany, we were housed in these old Army barracks. Short flight of steps up to the main door, 3 stories tall, rooms were pretty-good sized, maybe 12 x 20 feet, 2 people to a room. Common bathrooms, ya go in, a urinal & 2 or 3 commodes to the left, 4 sinks & mirrors on the right. Go in a little further, and there's a shower - large boiler on each floor, 4 shower heads, and a window. The bathroom walls were lined with a fiberglass-like substance to keep the wood behind from getting wet. Bathrooms were right across from the steps (or main entrance on 1st floor)

So, one day, a bunch of crew chiefs get this bright idea (thank god they lived 2 doms down)...

They bring home a 4' x 2.5' 3/4" piece of plexiglass, some RTV, and some metal racer's tape from the shop. They then proceed to RTV the plexiglass over the bottom half of the shower doorway, tape the drains shut, and turn on the showers. As I understand it, it took most of the day for the room to fill up, right up to the windo sill.

So, these einsteins are in there hootin' and hollerin', floating around in little inflateable rings and inflatable matresses, when the plexiglass breaks, and... I dunno, 15' x 15' x 2.5' of water (lesse - *does math* - oh, about 4,500 gallons of water breaks free. Thank goodness they weren't on the 3rd floor - I heard varying reports that they might have been on the 2nd, but I'm not sure I buy it...

Anyhoo, *big* waterfall of water, inflatable toys, and morons flows right out the front door fo the barracks. Helluva mess. We got to hear all about it the next Monday at work (this happened on Sat evening)... Man, talk about the CO and 1st shirt being *pissed*

dumbasses. If anyone ever brags about being a crew chief in the AF, you just remember this, OK?

War Stories (Vol 24)

So, I worked with Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) Pods while I was in... These things are hung (on an F-4, anyhoo) on a "Missile-well adapter." What you do is this - you pull the missile well out of the aircraft (it's mainly a place for the fin to go in & some associated ejection equipment and cabling), and then you insert the adapter, on which the ECM Pod will hang.

The adapter weight ninety pounds, and is held in by four large bolts that are torqued down nice and snug. Then the pod is hung from the adapter. The pod weighs, I dunno, about five- or six hundred pounds. Those four bolts have to take all the weight of the pod and adapter through all the gees the plane might take.

So, one day, a plane came back with no pod. Or adapter. Final analysis showed that one of the bolts had not been torqued correctly, and the plane's maneuvering caused them to stretch until they broke. Apperently, there was just enough slop in there for the pod and adapter to really bang into the bolt head a lot, and that caused unde stress.

That's not really the story, though, this is... A group of us went out to the area where the guy thought he lost it (he heard it separate), and we searched. And searched. And didn't find shit. The area was lightly wooded, so they knew it was gonna be a bitch to find this thing, but they sure weren't having any luck finding a crater, or pieces, or anything. Finally, somebody was getting tired, and did the classic rub neck and look up thing. He was looking right at the pod, stuck up about thirty or so feet off the ground in a tree!<>/p>

Who'd'a thunk it?

War Stories (Vol 25)

Biloxi Mississippi. 1987(?)

Party. Lots o' booze flowing.

Out in the woods, somewhere, at this pond.

We had been swimming in this pond all day. We had been diving from the same "ledge" all day.

We were good and liquored up, it was getting dark. I hopped up on the ledge & dove in.

Turns out there was a log floating about a foot under water, and chosen this moment in time to be where I was diving.

My friends said I bounced *out* of the water before landing back in.

Jammed my neck, pulled every muscle down the right side of my back. Spent a week in neck brace.

Doctor, after verbally abusing me of the ills of abusing alcohol, tells me it's probably a good thing I was drunk - If muscles weren't relaxed, I'd probably have broken my neck.

Go figure.

War Stories (Vol 26)

So, we got this new guy in the shop, one day. His name was Patrick _____...

He comes in on his first day, & meets the shift super.

SS: Hey there, I'm _____, What's your name?

P: Patrick

SS: Glad to meet you pat, welcome to the shop

P: It's Patrick... You pat a dog.

*awkward silence*

*shop super comes in from outside - his name is Pat - holds out hand for handshake*

Hey there, I'm Pat. What's your name?


Needless to say, there were several of us about to bust a gut at this point...

War Stories (Vol 27)

So, back when I was in Keesler for tech school, the commander (of the training detachment) was Colonel Emma.

Between our dorms and the Mini-BX, there was this little set of walls, behind which they hid the dumpsters. It had a small access road going through so the dump trucks could get in.

This asshat would park his staff car just far enough back that you couldn't see it, and then when you'd walk past and not salute the eagle on his car, he'd jump out, and tear new assholes into whatever poor schmuck's turn it was to get ass-raped.

What a dick. Now you know why we called him "colonel Enema."


War Stories (Vol 28)

So, in tech school, the derrogatory name for trainees was "pinger." It was a derogatory reference as to how our hair ws so short right after basic training that it would make "pinging" noises if you ran your hands through it...

Anyhoo, we took it in stride, and we would "ping" anyone who did anything st00pid... "Whoop, whoop, PiiIIiing!" (you've got to hear it to truly appreciate it)

So, one day, Colonel Enema is escorting a general through at breakfast time.

One of them drops a glass and it breaks on the tile.

No one is looking, just pure habit - the entire chow hall breaks out and pings them. In unison. Hysterical... Nothing out of the ordinary, somebody screwed up & got pinged.

Next day at formation - pinging has been banned, anyone who gets caught will get a letter of reprimand...

Did I mention that guy was an asshat?

War Stories (Vol 29)

Back at Keesler (again), we had "remedial training" ...

Basically, whenever we would screw up, we'd get assigned to RMT, which was usually "weeds & seeds" - go out, cut the grass, rake leaves, trim bushes, put lines in the dirt, and build pinger traps.

Lines in the dirt - literally. Some of the shade trees had no grass under them... NoooOOoo, we couldn't have just dirt under the trees, we had to have *neat* dirt. Go out with a leaf rake, and drag it out from the tree, so it made "spokes" *rolls eyes*

Pinger traps - we discussed what apinger was before... A pinger trap is edging along the sidewalks. Just an inch or so clearance between the grass and sidewalk was not good enough. Had to be about five inches, and perfectly square - we used shovels to mulch it all up....

Coincidentally, it was also almost exactly the width of a boot. They were, in fact, exactly the width of my boot - that's how I measured them on the few instances that I had RMT...

Sooo, somebody would come in & trip in one of those things and turn their ankle. Bad.

Had somebody come in drunk one night, and break an ankle, as I understand it.

They told us to not make them that wide, anymore - safety hazard (no shit, we all *knew* that)...

About a month later, some moron started complaining that they lookedlike shit, so we were ordered to go back to the original dimensions...

*rolls eyes*

War Stories (Vol 30)

Basic Training. Guy in our sister flight(?) fell or something, and got stitches in his head.

He got a hat waiver - couldn't wear his cover for the remainder of his time.

SooOoo... One day, he's be-bopping up to one of the chow halls, and one of the TI's sees him.

"Airman, freeze!"

Of course, by this time, he was used to his, and had a perma-smirk on his face

Airman! Wipe that stooOoopid fucking smirk off your face! Where the hell is your hat!? Di'n't ever tell you to wear a hat when you'r outside!? Goddam, boy, are you stoopid!? Do you have a hat waive or something, you dumbass!?

*airman pulls out pice of paper for TI*

WhaAat in *the* hell is this?

*starts reading waiver*

*turns about 14 shades of red*

Wipe that stoopid fucking smirk off your face, boy! Get out of my face!

*TI stomps off, looking like a dumbass*

Damn, that never got old...

War Stories (Vol 31)

So, there w were, in Basic Training.

Our flight was marching somewhere - don't remember where....

So, here's the deal - when you're marching, you're supposed to have your hands "cupped"... Not straight, like in some movies... Not balled into fists. Imagine that you're "loosely" holding a roll of dimes. That's sorta the way they should look.

Anyhoo, there we are, off God only knows where on the base, and somebody up front in the formation didn't have his hands cupped right.

TI: What *are* you, new? Cup your hands! - I'm in the back of the flight, and it sounds all garbled to me, so I dunno what the hell's going on.

recruit apaprently gives the TI a look like he's from Mars, or something.

TI: Don't look at me like that, boy, you heard me! Cup your hands!

recruit still looking at TI like he's st00pid...

TI: Goddamit I told you to cup your hands! Cup your hands!

recruit starts *clapping* his hands

TI: *goes right past red and turns about 4 shades of purple*

Are you making fun of me boy!? What in *the* hell do you think you're doing!? Put your fucking hands down and cup thim this goddamned instant, or I'm gonna recycle your ass back to day one!

(recylcling is the worst threat they can give you - if you screw up bad enough, they can send you back a couple of weeks and make you a member of a new flight - you get to spend more time in BMT )

Of course, the TI made the whole rest of the day miserable for all of us.

The TI was normally pretty cool, and on the last day of Basic, we were all sitting around & that recruit told him: "man, I'm *really* sorry about that day... I could have *sworn* you were saying *clap* your hands."

A couple of others backed the recruit up on that one... Everybody had a good laugh at it.

War Stories (Vol 32)

I remember one of the best parts of in-processing was this:

A whole group of us. Told to strip down to our undies.

Now, get in line!

Now, run in a circle!

so, there we are running around this really small room, one right behind the other.


Everybody stops.

Drop your drawers & bend over!

Everybody kind of lloks areound, shrugs, and does so.

Then the doctor walks around the circle & one by one, sticks his fingers on our rears & checks for hemmerhoids.


At least... I think that was his finger... :)

War Stories (Vol 33)

So, there I was, minding my own business. It was Late May/Early June of 1992.

I had just finished out-processing, and was maybe 5 days into my 88 days of terminal leave.

I was on a train, somewhere in Italy.

The train had stopped several times, in the middle of nowhere, for no apparent reason. We were on our way to Rome. Maybe it was on the way to Brindisi - I honestly don't remember.

So, I had to go to the bathroom... Bad!

So there I am, doing my thing, looking right at this sign, written in very plain English, that says "Please do not flush while in the station"

So I'm pondering this sign as we're chugging along, and I finish my business just as we come to another stop in the middle of nowhere - I can tell we're in the middle of nowhere, because I can see out this little window, and there's nothing there.

So, I stand up, pull up my trousers, etc, and flush the toilet. Looking down at the thing, I immediately understand the reason for not flushing in the station - flushing just opens a valve right onto the tracks... I'm staring in some amazement at a *VERY* stinky pile sitting on the railroad ties underneath the car.

"Man," I think to myself, kind of laughing internally, "Good thing we're not at a station, 'cuz this would just ruin some people's day!"

So, I open the door and step back out into the car...



We're in a station! The pier is only on one side of the track!

OoooOOops! Sorry, Italy, here's a present from America!

*Slinks away to his seat, hoping nobody noticed*

War Stories (Vol 34)

There I was, minding my own business...

I had *just* started my terminal leave. I was travelling Europe by rail. I had bleached my hair and was letting my beard grow - I didn't want to look like an American soldier while I was out galavanting about, who knows where. I had already decided that that might be the equivalent of painting crosshairs on my back.

I had spent half a day getting to Luxembourg, and hopped another train to Rome. I was doing my best to save money by sleeping on the trains at night and exploring during the day.

In the middle of the night, the train entered a tunnel on what felt like a *very* steep grade. I have no idea how steep it was, but I was head-down, and I think that's what woke me up. Anyway, after a very long time we came out of the pitch-black tunnel. It was the middle of the night, but now I could see stars. I wentback to sleep - with any luck, I would wake up in the daylight and be not far from Rome.

I woke up again. It was the middle of the night. The train was not moving. I stood up and looked out the wondow to see that everyone was on the pier, moving to a different train. I looked around, and the train was *empty* - I was the only one left on board.

That got my attention pretty quickly, I'll tell you what! I grabbed my backpack, tied my boots, and hurried off the train. Read the signs - IIRC, I was in Zurich. Huh. I thought the train was supposed to go straight through to Rome? Aaahhh.... The tracks had come to an end, and we had to switch over - the track gauge changed here! Glad I woke up, no telling where I would've ended up - certainly *not* where I thought I was going.

So, got showed my pass and hopped on the next train and promptly went back to sleep. Woke up as the day began, and IIRC, there were a couple more hours before we reached Rome. I just sat next to the window, watching the countryside go by. It was quite arid, almost desert in places. Huh... Not really what I expected, but that was why I was travelling - to see & learn about new places. And meet people.

We finally pulled into the train station in Rome, and this is where this "War Story" really begins... I said I wanted to meet people.

Well, I was warned about the kids - they'll steal you blind, so avoid them... Well, OK. But that turned out not to be my problem...

I walked out of the train station, down some steps, and into a parking lot. Across the lot, I could see the bus stop, so I headed that way. In between two cars, this Gypsie(?) lady comes up and starts accosting me... She has, like 5 teeth, wild hair, with a bandanna of sorts. She's trying to sell me a little, gold earring. In Italian (I suppose), of which I know none. Nada. (OK, maybe I know one word)...

So, I mean, I like to think I'm a nice guy, generally speaking, but I'm no fool, either... I don't want to buy this thing that's either stolen, or she found on the ground. I don't want to be all distracted in a big touristy place, where there's a good likelihood of getting rolled. I don't want her to see how much cash I might actually have, or where I keep it (with the backpack, I had probably 20 pockets).

I smile, and say "I don't understand," "Je ne parle," and also "Nicht sprechen." I hold up my hands, shake my had, and edge my way around her. At this point, she starts screaming at me... I'm guessing it was some sort of gypsie curses - man, she was waving her arms and everything... if it was a cartoon, I'm sure there would have been little stars and planets and heat lines coming off her head...

But wait, there's more!

So, I've extricated myself from the crazy lady (I wonder if she had a bunch of cats somewhere?), and I'm trotting towards the bus stop. The stop was an island in the middle of the street - very strange, moving traffic on both sides. So I cross the street to get on the divider. I see that there's a bus loading up, so I pick up the pace a bit and start heading towards the "hut."

At the same time, I notice these two guys. One on my right, one on my left. Traffic is stopped for a second, and there is absolutely *NO* doubt that these gomers are locked on to me. They're looking back and forth to each other and then at me, repeatedly, angling to intercept me before I get to the bus stop.

Let me digress a minute (like that's anything new in *this* story) - I'm wearing clothes that hide it, but I was fresho ut of the military. I was running 2.5 miles in 15 minutes or so. I could press 225, squat over 400. I weghed in at 185, and I was probably wearing fifty pounds on my back.

I saw tese guys coming, and picked it up to a run - the best I could do in my jump boots (nice ankle support, although lousy for traction)... I'm running just about as fast as I can. Closer to the bus. Shit, it's getting ready to pull away! Throw some more coal on the fire, and really start hammering out the steps. These guys are running now, too - angling in fast! Traffic has started on both sides again, there's no where to go! The two came right in front of me and tried to stop me. Here comes the adrenelin! I put both forearms up and out, ducked down a bit, and put all my weight & momentum, elbows first, one into each guys shoulder!

They ricocheted off of me - I mean it was obvious they weren't expecting it, they were *thrown* off their feet. I think they thought I would stop, but I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, the roar of the traffic, I was a train and they were cows. I barely made the bus, jumping onto the back platform just as it pulled away, slamming me into the back wall.

I dunno what happened to those guys. I'm deadly serious when I say they bounced into the traffic. I didn't have time or inclination to look back. I just ran. I heard horns and brakes. I dunno if they got hit by cars, or somehow miraculously survived unscathed, but I figured better them than me...

Helluva first impression, huh?

War Stories (Vol 35)

In Germany, we convinced a new recruit that the light-alls were voice activated. A friend hid inside & started when one of us said "light-all start" The next day, the new recruit went out with us, and again my friend hid inside. Another friend asked him to go start it, so he walks up and says "light-all start." Of course, nothing happens, so he says it a few more times.

Friend walks up & tells him that sometimes the microphone gets clogged up or something and it can't "hear," so go up & yell into *this* pipe, here.

Kid does so, friend inside starts it up.

The pipe was the exhaust. Blew all sorts of crap into the kids face.

Another time they pulled the same trick on a femal recruit. Told her that they were "trained" to obey men's voices, and that hers must be too high-pitched. Got her to jumping up and down until she was hoarse to try and start the damned thing.

*jumps repeatedly*

*pant pant* "light-all start!" *pant pant*

*Jumps around a bit more*

War Stories (Vol 36)

This war story is more about people misunderstanding things, and the results that can come from this. Might be a learning lesson, who knows?

OK, so I worked on F-4G's when I was in Europe and the Persian Gulf. For those of us who worked on the ECM stuff, there was a special class that was on just the APR-47 system (the heart of the Advanced Wild Weasel).

Anyways, part of what was taught in the class was the allowable offsets in azimuth, elevation, roll, pitch, and yaw of the various receivers on board the thing. Basically, these represented how far out of perfect alignment the devices were when mounted on an aircraft, and this had to be measured *on* the aircraft with special fixtures, targets, and theadolites - all while the aircraft was up on jacks.

So, the fore and beam receiviers had tolerances that were, like, an inch or so out of whack, IIRC. The aft receiver, however, could be +/-a couple of feet in elevation, and someting like +/- 15 feet in azimuthal offset.

The guy who taught the course was Jamie Demming (IIRC). He had been with the Wild Weasel program pretty much since its inception in Vietnam. There are pictures (somewhere) of him standing with some of the first WW aircrews. He had been working ECM maintenance for over 15 years, all on Wild Weasels.

What was his take-away from this allowable offset in the TO (technical order)? It was that the aft receiver really wasn't importat, because if the tail was bent far enough around to be anywhere near one of those az or el offsets, then the aircraft had worse problems than a bad set of alignments in the aft receiver. He taught this to *every* class. I distinctly remember him telling me that.

What wa my take-away from that? Mine was that the designers had thought ahead a little bit - to make the system adaptable to new airframes... Like, say, an F-15, that has *two* tails, each about eight feet offset from the centerline, and quite a bit taller than that of the F-4's. Of course, everyone figured me full of shit, because Jamie had been doing this forever, and therefore he must know *way* more about it than me. Which, I imagine that was the case for every other aspect of the system.

Fast-forward to the Persian Gulf, and we had an aircraft that was having real problems. I spent probably two days tracking the problem down to the aft reciever set (it kept ghosting to other things). Anyway, I finally figured it out, and swapped it out, and got the system back up and running correctly.

I told some others about it, and their words were to the effect of "Aft receiver? Crap, tht thing's not important, I would just left it and done something else.

A little later in the war, we had a problem show up that resulted in several hang-fires (I won't go into details), and we had support guys from the manufacturers sitting on the flight line with us, troubleshooting the problem (something that was fixable in software). I asked them about the aft receiver. What they thought if the thing was no good.

Their words were to the effect of "If you lose any receiver, you shouldn't be flying at all during wartime. Peace time is one thing, but no way when there's people really shooting at you.

I forwarded this little piece of insight on to some others, but I don't think it made an impression.

War Stories (Vol 37)

So, You've probably figured out by now that pranks on the new guy(s) are a mandatory part of military life.

There's a lot of good ones, like a hertz donut, etc.

So, these things can occasionally backfire, and this is the subject of this "War Story."

Two instances come to mind. To set this up, you have to understand that I worked on electrical things, with lots of wire in very tight spaces. A common prank was to ask for the "Wire stretchers" - there is no such thing, at least in the electrical sense.

So, one day, a group of guys asks this buddy of mine to go get a set of wire stretchers. Off he goes to the tool crib. Of course, they smile at him & tell him they don't have any. Well, he's a WV farm boy, and it turns out he actually has a set out in the bed of his truck (they're used for stretching fencing/barbed wire out, after it gets bent up from being on a spool), and brings them back.

"What the hell are these?" they ask.

"Wire stretchers," he replies.

Prank backfired. D'oh.


There's another case of this I can think of right off-hand, and this one (I think) is damned funny.

So, flightline is the area where the aircraft are parked (you need to know that) - one of the jokes was to tell someone to go get you a few feet of flightline.

Well, we got this new recruit in, and one of the Senior Master Sergeants decides to prank him, & tells him to go him a yard of flightline.

Well, it turns out the kid has a good friend from high school who's on the same base.

In the Civil Engineering unit.

And has told him about this prank.

So, he goes down to the CE unit and gets some rapid runway repair stuff - they have chunks of pre-poured concrete - they're about 2 yards by 2 yards in size, and maybe 8 inches thick.

The guy explains what's going on, and they help him out & use a forklift to carry a slab of this stuff down to our hangar.

He peeks into the SMSgt's door & tells him he has some flightline, what should he do with it.

The SMSgt waves him off & tells him to "set it outside the door."

So, they pull in the forklift and set the slab about 8 inches outside his door.

A door that opens *outward*

So, about 20 minutes later, we're all gathered 'round giggling as the SMSgt is screaming throuhg his door to let him out, because he can't get his door open.


This last case was kinda funny, too.

We had a new MSgt in - he came from a comms background, and had never worked on jets before.

So, one day we asked him to get us the keys to the jet - we had just finished the repair & wanted to turn it on so we could test the system (jets, ours, anyway, have no keys). We tell him to go get them from the tool crib.

So, he heads in to the tool crib, and asks for the keys.

They tell him they don't have the keys, go see the production super (The SMSgt who was in charge of all of us working on the jets).

Prod Super (SMSgt Diehl) tells him the guys in the tool crib are playing a prank on him, and gawddammit, he should go tell them to give him the keys to that, now, or he was gonna go in there & have himself some ass! (I happened to be in the Prod. Super's office right then, and I could barely contain myself)

So he goes back to the tool crib, and they run back behind and throw together a toolbox key with a number tag on it & hand it over.

The guy goes be-bopping out across the flightline, mission complete!

Inside, me, the tool crib guys, and SMSgt Diehl are all watching through the window, laughing. The joke was on everybody!

War Stories (Vol 38)

You might not believe it, but I'm not personally guilty of pulling too many pranks.

I will own up to this one, though...

So, in the front seat of an F-4, off on the left side, there's this big, red button. The button has a yellow and black (warning colors) "sleeve" to keep you from pressing it accidentally. This button does nothing more than turn on a small, red light in the back cockpit. The light says "eject."

The idea is that if there's an emergency where the pilot thinks they'll need to eject, and he has the time, he will push that button to let the back-seater know that they're getting ready to exit the airplane in a noisy, and violent manner. This is to give the back-seater time to get positioned, and maybe not come out of the whole thing all busted up. Well... more busted up than he might, anyway, right?

So, when you work on the flightline, you get ejection seat training, where they explain how dangerous ejection seats are - an F-4's has seven safeties, most of which can lead to a deadly incident if their not engaged.

I guess you can tell where this is headed already. I remember when somebody pulled this trick with me, I was looking down, working on something-or-other, and when I looked up, I saw this little red eject light. I got all tensed up & had enough time to think "What'd I do?," knowing I was bout to die. Then I saw my friend in the front seat - shoulders shaking, because he was laughing so hard.


Of course, I had to do the same thing when we got another new troop (Amn Kurowski) in a year or so later. So, he's in the back seat, and I'm in the front. I hadn't even planned on pranking him, but I looked down & saw the button. The evil grin spread across my face, and I reached over & pushed it. Just on a whim.

The jet shook a little. I looked out of the cockpit, and Kurowski was standing down on the ground yelling at me. I was amazed - I'll bet it took him less than a three seconds to get out of the jet, and descend 12 or so feet to the ground. He was yelling at me to get out.

Then he realized what had just happened.

I think he called me a dickhead.

War Stories (Vol 39)

A friend once told me this story from weapons school:

Drilling into their heads - always make sure the damned claymore is pointing in the correct direction.

So, he's out on the range one day, belly crawls out to set up the mine.

Turns around and crawls back. Gets to foxhole & looks.

The detonator is laying beside the mine.

Crap, he thinks, and belly crawls back out onto the range.

Reinserts the detonator and starts belly crawling back to his foxhole.

Part way back, he takes a quick peek over his shoulder at the mine.

"I could see that mother-fucker's arm sticking out from a barricade, as he was turning the sunofabitch around!"

He was pissed.

War Stories (Vol 40)

The last time I had to take a military piss test. Oh, geez...

I had been driving back from Luxembourg, and I was beginning to get worried I wouldn't make it back to base in time for my shift. I had to piss so bad I couldn't stand it, but I kept holding it back. Finally, I couldn't stand it any more - I was only about 15 minutes from the base, if that, but there was no holding it, especially since I just *knew* I ws gonna have to head straight out on the flightline when I got to work.

So, I stopped by a little rest area, and gave the local flora/fauna a nice refreshing drink of mineral water.

I get to the shop about 10 minutes later, barely on time, hustling ass in. I see the Sgt in charge of my group, and he says "hey Burke. It's your turn - you gotta go to the hospital and piss in a cup."


I spent, like, 3 hours sitting there, until I could piss for the guy. He was getting mad at me by that point, but since I was the only one there, it was like personal, or something, and I jnust couldn't perform for the guy... Every time I'd think I could, I'd walk in there with him, and then not be able to go.

Double D'oh.

War Stories (Vol 41)

A little background is necessary here.

A long time ago, in a sleepy little town far away (unless oyu live near Mt. Carmel, IL), there were no Fourth of July fireworks.

Not long after my dad got out of the Army, the Lion's club (of which he was a member) decided to start putting on a fireworks show every year. Since my dad was ex-military and new a little bit about mortars, explosives, and the like, they asked him if he'd be willing to help set it up.

He said sure. So in this respect, I'm a pretty lucky guy - I've been around those big-assed explosives used for fireworks displays since I was, I dunno, maybe six or seven.

At home, we had a pretty simple setup. My dad mad the motars from drill-pepe, with a one-half inch steel plate welded over the bottom end. Each mortar was, maybe, three feet long or so. The fireworks themselves look a lot like a bottle of boose tightly wrapped in a brown-paper bag, with a fuze sticking out... A non-descript Molotov Cocktail, if you will. The fuze is about a three-second slow-burn that leads directly to prima-cord.

The firework itself has the fuze sticking from the top. Inside, there is an explosive propellant charge. On top of this is the firework itself, with a small, timed fuze connecting the two. So, you lower the firework into the mortar (by the fuze), light the fuze, and get the hell away. When the prima-cord ignites, there's a pretty loud "thump" and the firework sails sky-ward. If it's nightime, and you know what to look for, you can see the fuze as the firework sails up, so you know right wwhere to look for the explosion. During the day, you can actually see the round flying upwards, so no problem there, either.

The shell come in various sizes - the smallest (IIRC) is a three-inch shell, and the biggest is around twelve or so... I can remember three, five, eight, and ten or twelve inch shells being available to us. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean louder, either, it just depends on what's in them. The ones that just go *BANG!!!* and nothing else? Those were called "announcers," and were a three-inch shell.

The way we used to do it in Mt. Carmel was as follows: Starting at ten AM, we would fire one announce every hour, until about six or so. Then one every thirty minutes until about an hour before the show. Then one every 15 minutes. Then we'd mix whatever were left with the show. Fun stuff.

So, we set up relays :
Loader gets the shell, walks it up, and drops it in the mortar.
Gunner lights the fuze and gets the hell away (the fireworks come with flares, but we used blowtorches)
After the shell goes off, swabber comes up and swabs the hole - these things blew burning paper all over everywhere, and we wanted to make sure there were no fiery bits left in the hole to pre-ignite the next round.
Start over from top, several different mortars.

So, where's the war story? Well, there's several here, so here we go:

40a) My dad used to insist that everyone use helmets. One guy lit the wrong end of the fuze. Shell hit him in the head on launch. Everybody about shit a brick, but the helmet saved his life - knocked him out, but he didn't even get a concussion from it, just got his bell rung.

40b) One day, while I was driving down to the firing area, an announcer was fired. It's what we call a "low blow." It usually happens when the shell, for whatever reason, doesn't make it to the bottom of the mortar. Makes a funny sound, too - instead of a "thump," it sounds more like a "took."

I was driving along, I saw it fire and arc into the air.

Towards my car.

It's a bad thing when an incoming round stays in the same place in your field of view - that means it's coming right at you. Hang time was two or three seconds, and I was hitting the brakes, but it was still coming right towards me.

I was thinking something along the lines of "aww crap!"

It disappeared out of my windshield, and exploded over my car - witnesses say it was about fifty feet up, still.

I can attest that it shook a 1965 Pontiac Catalina (my car), and was loud a hell. I made it out of the ordeal without scorching my underwear.

40c) The "real" war story. So, there I was. Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro, NC., 1990. They were doing fireworks on base. I went up and introduced myself, and asked the team there if they could use any help (they were "professionals" - the base paid them to do it, but they did it pretty much the same as we did at home... Only they used the flares). They grilled me a bit, and I apparently proved to them that I knew what in the heck I was talking about.

So, we get into the night, and I've got one of my best friends there, too - he's not helping (other than keeping some cold water available), but he's got *the* front-row at the event.

So, I'm shuttling the ammo up front (not loading or anything) - just handing up shells, and then running back for the next one at my station (I seem to remember that there were about three or four stations).

So, just as I'm coming back to the "ammo dump" (the shells were alid out on half a tarp to keep them off the ground, and the other half ready in case it rained), and I heare a "low blow." SO, up 'til then, it went like this:

grab shell, hustle up. Hand it off, hustle back. *thump* Repeat.

Well, this time, I heard *took*


Of course, I looked up to see where it was going (I looked up in between sometimes to watch some of the bigger ones going off, too - not like it was *all* work).

Guess where the thing was headed?

Yep, right at me. Again, for the second time in my life. I must be charmed or something.

I dove down and pulled the tarp over the top of the ammo, and threw myself on top of ir - I landed on my knees, and just tucked my head down to keep from getting burned on the face, hands over my head o protect my (obviously defective) mellon.

I hear a dull "thump," and the whole world turns white - it was one of those pretty "starburst" shells, white (I suppose phosphorous) rainnig down like a shotgun blast, directly over my head. I could see the little burning pellets bouncing off the ground all over me.

My friend said it was at once kinda scary and kinda cool. He said he watched me do the whole thing, and that it detonated probably fifty- or so feet up, and that I was plain as day as the fire rained down on me.

I made it out without scorching my underwear.

Let me rephrase - *I* did not scorch my underwear.

Unfortunately, however, I hade a flaming bit of white shoot straight down my ass-crack.

He laughed about that part, 'cuz I was doing the stop, drop, roll, scoot bit to put myself out.

Naah, no scars, but it did leave with a story.

War Stories (Vol 42)

Well, I cannot personally vouch for the authenticity of this story, even though it's about me.

No, I wasn't drunk

I was asleep.

This story was related to me about two weeks after-the-fact, but here goes:

It was back in 1987, I think it was my first or second night in basic training. Our "mother flight" was pulling fire and door guard for us, and Airman Pataki (sp?) had the honor of gracing us with his presence as guard (he's also the one who told us this story)

Seems that as he was walking through the barrack, his flashlight passed over my face.

As he made it about two steps past me, I allegedly sat straight up in my bed and began yelling at him (I disavow any knowledge of the whole incident)


Pataki looks around, confused, as he's the only one awake, as this fresh recruit is apparently yelling at him. He kinda points to himself, as if to say "you talkin' to me?"

"Yes, you! The little green guy! Turn out that light!"

Pataki said as soon as he turned out his flashlight, I basically just collapsed into my bunk and went back to sleep.

I kinda felt sorry for him...

War Stories (Vol 43)

OK, so there I was, approaching the Luxembourg-Germany border.

It's the middle of the night (early on a Sunday morning), and I'm headed back to the base after seeing my girlfriend at a club (she lived in Olm, if you must know).

There's a little checkpoint right on the border, but it's usually just lit up, and I'd never been stopped at it.

Until now. >.<</p>

So, I'm zipping along in my little green Ford, and I see that they've got the cones out and the gates down, so I slow down. The border guard motions me to me, and I tell him:

"Nicht Sprechen Luxembourgish - sprechen zie English?"

And indeed he does speak English.

"Your license please."

So, I hand him my international driver's license. He looks it over, and asks me to step from the car.

"You are visiting?"

"No, I am military," and I hand him my travel orders (essentially you keep those with you when you travel - they say where you're allowed to be. If you're in Europe and in the military, you should keep these with you any time you travel)

So, they bring out the drug dog, and have it start sniffing around my car.

They walked the dog around the car, opened my gas cap, had the pooch sniff some gas fumes, and then asked me to open the trunk.

OK, I admit to having a messy trunk. The trunks in my vehicles collect all the garbage you would expect to find in the bed of an old redneck pickup truck.

He opens the trunk, and inside, amongst the mess, is a nice, new cardboard box. Hey! I forgot that was in there!

He points at the box and asks what's in it.

I open the box, and he gets all excited.

OK, now we need to backup in time...

Friday afternoon, a friend and I (CJ) drove down to the APO on our way somewhere. I got a package at the APO. It was from my Aunt Roberta. My friend got nothing but air.

So, my friend and I head back to my car, wondering what might be in this large (~ 2 ft x 1ft x 1ft) box. Especially because it was very light.

We get back to the car, and I open up the trunk. I toss the box in, whip out a knife & cut the box open (see, I even use the trunk like the tailgate on a pickup).

It's full of styrofoam peanuts.

I fish around in the peanuts, and come out with a small object wrapped in plastic wrap.

It was amazingly cookie shaped.

I look my friend in the eye and yell "Cookies!"

His eyes begin to gleam, and I ask if he wants one. ("Care packages" from home are prized commodities. Home cooking is something unmarried folk don't often get)

Of course, he says yes, and we laugh a bit about why in the heck she wrapped each one individually (Ever heard of Tupperware, Aunt Bobbie?)

We each took one bite, and I'm sure my face looked like his. They were just awful. We both spit out our bites, threw the rest in the trash, and closed the lid on the trunk.

We drove off, laughing about how bad they were, why in the heck Aunt Roberta wrapped them like that, and promptly forgot they were there.

Back to the Sunday morning.

So, the guard looks at this open box full of styrofoam peanuts (with a couple of wrapped cookies floating to the top) and asks "what is *this*?"

"I forgot those were in there," I laughed.

"Is this drugs?"

I stopped laughing.

"No, not drugs - cookies"

The guard looked at me like i had been eating too many cook.. err.. drugs.

So I picked one up and told him "Cookies! Eat?" And offered him one.

He refused, aghast at the idea.

"It's a good thing, because they taste awful!" I told him.

He herded me off to a small room.

"Take off your clothes!" he tells me.

Oh fucking yay. A strip search. Lucky fucking me.


I got undressed down to my undies and socks.

I'm watching out the window as they run the dog through the car. Another guard feels me up pretty quick-like, and goes through my clothes.

"You can get dressed," he tells me, so I do.

They come back, and after a few questions, they finally let me go - elapsed time: about an hour.

Thanks, Aunt Roberta, for the story. The cookies sucked, though...


War Stories (Vol 44)

So, there we were. It was Spangdahlem AB, Germany, sometime near the Persian Gulf War - I don't remember if it was before or after, but I'm thinking it was just before.

Anyhoo, at the time there were three bases hosting Wild Weasels (F-4G's), Manilla, Philipines; George AFB, Victorville, CA; and Spangdahlem, Ge. Part of the "Peace Dividend" included shutting down George and PI, and we were picking up several of their aircraft.

So, we had this new tail in, and boiy was it a pig. *Everything* wasw broke on this aircraft. They had cannibalized it to make the jets they were responsible for work, and sent us a jet filled with bad parts. Jerks.

So, there we were, running a test, finding a problem, replacing a box, running a test, finding another problem, just really finding ourselves cursing a lot more than normal. Replacing boxes is a pain - by the pilot's write-up, we might have an idea of the problem and bring a few spare parts out with us to a job, but we didn't have enouhg spares laying around to cover this job. So, there were many trips back and forth to the supply warehouse, and lots of panels to pull off.

Let me talk a bit about accesing equipment on older aircraft. You young kids don't have any idea how good you have it. Back when we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow, the panels were all screwed down - almost none of those nifty Dzeus or Airlock fasteners. No way, almost entirely Hi-Torque screws. Yeah, you know the ones - like a standard screwdriver head, only the screws are of the counter-sunk variety. Requires a special bit, and the screws strip if you just look at them funny. And there are, many times, different length screws in each panel. And never mind broken nut-plates, so there's no way in heck to remove the screws short of waiting around another thirty minutes for the sheet-metal troops to come out to drill the screws out. Yeah, what a pain.

So, here we are, working overtime to fix this stupid bird, and we are sitting up on a stand on the nose. We pull the panel off, and there's a note written inside the panel in grease pencil - "Have fun with this one, guys!" It was signed by someone from our shop who had transitioned to PI. Jerk.

Oh, man, was their a fair amount of cursing that guy's name, PI in general, and the sorry state we were in. By the time we were done, we had changed about ten different boxes on that system and repaired several connectors.


War Stories (Vol 45)

So, in the previous war story I talked about crappy aircraft from PI. After Desert Storm was over, we were still hanging around in the desert. George AFB was shutting down, and some of their aircraft (that had been parked just down the ramp from us a month before) transitioned to Spangdahlem. I guess they flew back to George, then to Spang, and then came back to the desert, or something like that - seems silly, doesn't it?

Anyway, we got this jet in, it mostly worked - had a minor problem. I went out to fix it, went back to the "shop" (it was a tent). The jet flew a mission the next day and had another problem. So, a couple of guys go out to fix it. A little later they came back and started asking me questions (which makes sense, as I was the last person to work on it, but not the box that was found bad).


"Huh? What?"

"Did you lose something?"

"Not that I know of, why?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, pretty sure..." (now I'm starting to doubt myself)

"Are you sure you didn't lose a knife?"

"Uuummm... No?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yyyeeess? What's going on?"

Well, it turns out they opened up a panel on that same jet and found a pocket knife inside. Opened up. Just standing there, tip down. Amidst several cable bundles.

Talk about "Yikes!" - that was potential for a serious FOD incident, there, maybe even a plane crash. All's well that ends well, I suppose, but that's some scary stuff, there.

On the bright side, though, one of my friends got a new knife out of the deal...

War Stories (Vol 46)

Persian Gulf, 1990 or so. It's HOT. How hot? So hot I saw one of those women in black berkas explode. So hot, that the turbans on the Pakistani guys' heads were steaming. You get the idea.

So, the mini-exchange had just opened up - a small tent full of fun things like cigarettes, sodas, chips, and that was about it. No AC to keep things cool in that tent, so cokes were about ambient temp - call it ninety-five degrees Farenheit, or so. Maybe only ninety, since it was in the shade.

Anyhoo, a hot drink is just about worse than no drink - especially when it's a soda. They taste all syrupy and gross, ya know? But we were tired of drinking water that tasted like sulfa. Bleah :b

But, leave it to AF ingenuity. Holy cow, we had hundreds of gallons of liquid nitrogen! Gotta have it for the aircraft pneudraulics, right? (Pneudraulics are like hydraulics, only they use gas instead of liquid. Nitrogen is used because air will allow any oil in the system to combust under the high pressures)

So, we risked our rare cokes and gave them a big shot of LN2 right out of the hose. *ppsssshshhhhhshshshsh!*

Ya wanna know what's neat? the cans looked like they were crushed. The stuff inside contracted down, and pulled the cans with it! Set it out in the sun, and the cans slowly expanded back out to shape while the stuff inside warmed up! They even made little crinkly noises while they expanded. :)

Fun stuff. Your tax dollars at work, making a coke cold so it was drinkable in the desert. Probably only cost about ten dollars a can to do it, too!

War Stories (Vol 47)

When working on aircraft (or starting them in the case of older aircraft), a dash-sixty (some number that ends in -60) power unit was used to provide power or bleed air (for starting) the bird. We used them all the time for maintenance, as the bird needs power to test the systems.

The dash-sixty is a largish cart, about eight or ten feet long by about five feet tall, by about six feet wide. It's got a smallish turbine engine (similar to a helicopter engine, were I to guess) that drives a 45 kVA generator, and the bleed air off the turbine is used to start the engines of the aircraft. The rest of the thing is fuel tanks - it holds something like four-hundred gallons of JP6/8/diesel - whatever is being used for fuel. The turbine pulls air mostly from the front and underneath of the cart, and the exhaust goes through a large pipe and is vectored upwards through the top of the unit.

The exhaust pipe is oval, and exits through a square "smoke stack" on top. Over the exhaust pipe, there is a steel grate to keep stuff from falling down into the turbines final stages and fodding the thing out. Exit exhaust was hot (of course), and was travelling at least a hundred miles per hour (I'm guessing).

So, this allowed all sorts of fun shenanigans. Friend on the other side of the aircraft? Hock a lunger into the exhaust - watch it shoot up into the air, and land on the other side of the plane - with any luck, you at least get close to your friend.

Winter time? Toss a snowball in there, watch it shoot up about forty or fifty fee tup, and then come down on the other side of the plane. With any luck, you nail your friend on the head.

Fun stuff.

Now, I've never done this myself, but it seems one of the people I knew had a strong dislike for frogs. This was at Seymour Johnson AFB, and at the time there was a plethora of them. So I'm sure he didn't damage the ecology of the area too badly.

Anyhoo, he showed me this trick. He put a frog into the exhaust port of a dash-sixty, back in a corner. Remember that the exhaust exited through an oval pipe? That meant there were corners whete the exhaust didn't hit anything. And the exhaust flow would pull some fresh air through, too.

So, he'd put that frog there in the corner, and fire up the dash-sixty. It would get all spooled up to maximum thrust before that metal screen (on which the frog was sitting) owuld get hot. The frog would jump, and then he would go shooting out, fifty or so feet into the air. The only time I saw him do that, it didn't kill the frog, but I've gotta figure that the landing hadda hoit. >.<</p>

Of course, this was the same guy who used to toss frogs into the jet exhaust when we were doing afterburner runs at the tie-down pad. I don't imagine any frogs ever survived the sudden stop after moving at near mach. This is the sam guy who used to dip them in LN2 at the LOX farm, too - watch them shatter.

I dunno what he ad against frogs - maybe one ate his pet fly collection or something? Bizzar.

War Stories (Vol 48)

So, there I was... (It's amazing how many of these start this way, isn't it?)

I had just got out of tech school, and had just arrived at Seymour-Johnson. At this time, we were all in the same CRS shop (before they split us off to the AGS sections on the flightline).ink like a fish")

One of the guys there, Crawford (Fom Louisianna, IIRC - "They call me crawfish, or fish for short - 'cuz I drink like one")... Anyway, it's probably my first morning on duty with my new job, and we're going out to the line for the morning FOD walk.

So, we're loaded in truck, headed down to the line, and Fish says to me, "We're headed down to do a FOD walk. You know what FOD is, don't you?"

me: "I've heard the term, but I don't remember what it means..."

Fish: "We're going down to pick up FOD - You know, fucked-over dogs. Damned stray dogs run out on the taxiway and get sucked in the engines - makes a helluva mess!"

Me: *Jaw drops open* "You're shitting me!"

Fish: "Yeah, that doesn't really happen, it sure would fuck 'em up if it did, though!"

Yeah, the joke was on me. Kinda funny, though.

For those of you who don't know, a FOD walk is where everyone lines up across the pad(s) and walks, shoulder-to-shoulder, picking up every little piece of whatever they can find. This is done because any little piece of crap (rock, washer, dog, whatever) will royally screw up a jet engine.

War Stories (Vol 49)

So, I'd been at Seymour-Johnson for all of about a month or three, and I had just moved to swing shift (three PM to whenever all the work was done or midnight, whichever comes last).

So, we're all sitting around that evening and one of the guys (Schuyler) asks me: "So, when you gonna buy us a keg?"

me: "Not gonna happen - I can't stand the stuff"

Schuyler: "Well, you see, it's like this. If you don't buy us a keg, we're gonna have to beat the tar out of ya" (or something to that effect)

Of course, I'm thinking I done screwed up joining the AF...

me: "What the hell? You've gotta be shitting me!"

Schuyler: "Naah. See, any time someone changes units, comes to a new unit, goes off to a new one, they gotta buy everyone there beer, or get hazed. Happened to me, it's gonna happen to you."

me: "Yeah, well..."

At this point I notice that several of the guys are circling me... "Crap," I'm thinking, "He's not shitting me!"

I hop out of the chair just in time to have Schuyler and about four or five other guys jump me and haul me out of the building! I'm struggling, but I've basically got a person on each limb, and they toss me out into the front yard of the AMU - right where anyone who comes past can see - some balls, huh?

So I jump back up, and a couple of the guys come jump at me - Ispin a bit, and dodge one of them. The other tries to grab my shoulder, but misses - he grabs a hand full of my watch as his hands slide down my arm - ripped my G-Shock right off my rist, breaking the band.

I keep twisting and manage to trip one of them, but then two others are there, and knock me down on my back. Schuyler jumps in, and he's coming down - I keep rolling back, and do a two-leegged jack-kick - I caught Schuyler right in the eye.

I really don't remember much more than that - I didn't get hurt, in a short-order, everyone had stood back up and we were all walking back inside... I guess they didn't really expect it to turn into some sort of real fight - who knows?

Anyhoo, I go stumbling back inside, and everyone's mostly just sitting around like nothing happened - I wasn't hurt, I don't know if I took any shots or not. Everyone's kind of laughing about the whole thing... Schuyler comes up to me & says, "Yeah, that shot to the eye? Yeah, that wasn't bad!" Then he just laughs about the whole thing. (I'd never want to get in a fight with him - he's a tough bird)

So, story over, I guess - we were all pretty good friends, and we stayed together when we got transferred down to the AGS squadrons. Helluva first night on swing shift, though.

War Stories (Vol 50)

I talked previously about Schuyler. He was a good guy. Jackson G. Schuyler. Don't remember where he was from - NY, maybe? Anyhoo, he's a black guy, very dark skin. He used to joke that when the commies came over the hill, he'd just stand in the shadows and all you'd see were his smile and the whites of his eyes. Funny man.

So, we're out working a bird one afternoon - it was still light out. I was up in the cockpit running the system (AAR-47 Missile Warning System), and he was walking around the plane with the "squirt box." (The squirt box is a radar simulator - by walking around the plane with it, you can show that the system is working correctly.

So, I've got my head down, looking at the display, telling Sky when he can go on around (the squirt boxes would cycle through signals, and sometimes dropped signal in between). Sky's off on the right side of the aircraft, somewhere, walking around with the squirt box.

I'm watching the signal, and suddenly I hear a "thump" - right through the soles of my feet (Flightlines are danged loud, you can't hear anything, this was a direct impact on the aircraft, and the sound went through the metal and through my bones for me to hear it). The whole plane rocked, and I'm imediately looking back out of the cockpit, trying to figure out what in the heck just ran into the plane!

And there's Sky, walking out from under the wing, rubbing his forehead!

I look around some more, and there's nothing else anywhere nearby that could possibly have hit the plane. I yell down at him (through the microphones, of course) ,"are you all right?"

He looks up at me and asks, "yeah, why?"

me: "Damn, you must have a thick skull! You shook the whole damned plane!" (An F-4 weighs about twenty or thirty tons)

Sky: "Really?"

I exclaimed incredulously, my own head aching in sympathy, "Holy shit! You shook the whole plane! Crap, are you sure you're OK?"

Sky: "Huh! I barely felt it - I didn't think I hit that hard. Shoot, I blew it! I guess I could've gotten the rest of the night off at medical!" Then he pretends like he's passing out.

Funny stuff.

Yeah, I guess maybe you had to be there.

War Stories (Vol 51)

So, back in tech school, we break from formation. One of my friends was a rope (a student leader - demarked by a "rope" worn around the shoulder - basically, they can give orders to some extent, and are the leaders of their flight).

So, one of my rope friends is all excited. It seems he woke up in the middle of the night to be staring some other airman's trouser snake pert near right in the eye.

Yeah, rude awakening.

Seems the guy was standing between my friend's bed and dresser, pissing on the floor. My friend's like, all jumping out of bed and screaming. The guy claimed he was sleep walking, but there were some doubts.

Now, everybody's heard of the phantom sihtter, I'm sure, but this was the first (and last) I'd ever heard of the phantom pisser!

War Stories (Vol 52)

So... I'd just gotten out of the military. I'd travelled around a bit, and I was finally settling in for the remainder of my terminal leave.

I picked up a job washing dishes at the local "Lone Star" restaurant to last me 'til school started. That's possibly the worst ob I've ever held, but that's a story for another day, I suppose. Anyhoo, one of the side benefits of the job was the occasional meal at a reduced price (like, free).

I'm a big fan of a juicy piece of not quite burnt dead cow, but I ended up not taking full advantage of the situation.

"Why," you ask?

Well, lemme tell ya why - everything tasted funny.

And no, not just there. I spent about two months trying to figure out why every damned thing I ate tasted strange, like it was missing something.

Near the end of the month or two, I finally figured out that I was tasting food the way it was supposed to taste. See, I'd spent the last five years or so woeking an active flightline full of various types of aircraft. I lived right off the runways, and could watch them take off and land right from my window (less than 200 yds away at my last base).

So, go to a busy airport and walk around outside (out of the climate control) for a while. What do you smell? That's right - burnt diesel fuel (well, most likely JP5, but there's not a whole helluva lot of difference). I had spent my last few years inundated in fuel, both burnt and spilled.

And grease. And hydraulic fluid. My uniforms were permanently stained with hydraulic spills, engine oil spills, and whatever other sorts of nasty BS comes off the airplanes. Heck, they even have a light brownish-yellow coat from flying through pollution (gawd only knows what's in that) Shoot, just writing about it brings back the memory of the taste.

So, evey time I took a bit to eat, I was also getting the taste of burnt fuel, and whatever else might be on my hands. And that's no joke, either - we didn't always get a chance to go back somewhere nice to eat (as I'm sure you can imagine). Sometimes we'd have someone run back to grab us some grub while we were working on the jets - no opportunity to wash up or anything. And, of course, there's no way to clean up other than wiping your hands on your only slightly cleaner pants (or shirt, or rag). I can recall actually eating a hamburger when my hands were black with grease and grime - holding it the best I could with two fingers, and eating around the gritty, black fingerprints on the bun.

No kidding.

So, kids, if that sounds like the life to you, go into aircraft maintenance. I'm sure with the latest personnel cuts, there'll be many chances for you too to ingest a similar sort of carcinogen cocktail! (and wonder why your food tastes funny)

War Stories (Vol 53)

So, there we were. Myself, CJ, Lutz, and maybe Gus. I was aircraft maintenance (but you knew that, already), and they were SP's (Security Police). We were friend by nature of the fact that we shared the same dorm, and several similar interests (Gus was a weapons instructor, CJ was the M-60 Gunner, and Lutz? Well, I dunno what Lutz did... - they were all ABGD types).

Anyhoo, we took a couple of days leave and took a guided tour to Paris. Yep, straight to the center of the French dynasty. The deal was that we would take a Greyhound-style bus, and stay about four nights. The attractions were The Paris Airshow, The Eiffel Tower, A guided tour of the City, a ride down the Seine, and some other stuff.

Now, just as I believe anyone visiting the US should at least try to speak English, I believe that when we visit other countries, we should try to pick up as moch of their language as we can, given the time we have available.

For instance, I learned the following (although the spelling may be grossly incorrect):

Poland: Di ay ku gi = thank you
Spain: Gracias, por favor, some numbers, calimare, some very basic pidgin...
France: Oui, non, blah, blah - I had 2 years of French that didn't stick. I just didn't get it 'til after I left the class.
Germany: Ja, Nein, counting, Bier (that's an important one), raumschnitzel (another important one), and so on.
Denmark: "Vil du ballen may mai" - Loosely translated, "Ya wanna fuck?"

Yeah, that last one... I had some friends in the Danish Army who were trying to convince me that I should go around asking women that one, without telling me what it meant... I'm no fool, I figured it out prety quickly. Then I told chix my friends were trying to get me in trouble by asking it. Much to their (my friends) consternation, it got my talking and laughing with several pretty smokin' girls...

Anyway, we were at a little (expensive) restaurant below near the Eiffel Tower. We were seated on the second floor (I can't remember if it had two floors, or was only on the second floor), and came complete with its' own requisite snobb, French waiter. Really. He was a prick. He was the classical "even though you try to speak French, he ignores you and considers you inferior" type. He even had the giant pepper mill for our salads.


How sterotypical... I guess sterotypes wouldn't exist if there weren't some truth to them...

Anyway, he comes around and takes our appetizer order, "Would you like some appetiser?" (notice my spelling, I'm trying to convery his pronunciation & hautiness, here...)

"Oui," I replied, "en peu escargot." (I thought I'd be game & try some snails)

"Youu waant ssoome snaailss?" he replied (hauty French bastard)

"Oui, s'il vous plait," I replied, trying not to let him get under my skin...

So, anyhoo, he brings us back the appetizers, and asks if we'd like drinks. So, I order a drink for CJ and myself, not intending to say it the way I did...

I replied "Oui, zwei biers, por mon ami et moi, por favor."

The guy was dumbfounded. He gave me the "blank look," blinked three times and turned away. A few minutes later, he brought our beers.

In the meantime, CJ looks at me with a look of wry humor on his face, and says "What did you just say?"

"I ordered us a couple of beers."

"No, I know that, you dumbass, but what did you say?"

I thought about it a minute, and we both started laughing. I guess I accidentally showed the guy up or something, but it was pretty funny at the time. I was kind of impressed that the guy got the order correct. After that, he stopped trying to be such a prick at our table - I guess he was afraid we'd try to really make it hard for him to understand.


If you don't understand, I'll break it down for you:
Oui - French, Yes
zwei biers - German, two beers
por - Spanish, for
mon ami et moi, - French, for my friend an me
por favor. - Spanish, please

I almost feel sorry for the guy...


As an aside, the snails were horrible. Consistency of once-chewed, left out overnight bubblegum. Hard and slowly getting chewier. Garlic sauce, I assume to hide their true taste. I would never have though that there was a such a thing as too much garlic, but a tiny speck of the sauce ruined a bite of my desert cake.

Comments: Tom Burke

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