Tuesday, 28 June 2016

One of My Air Force Stories

This is one of those oddball stories that I will relate over a life experience, and years later.....I still ponder about.

As I got ready to join the Air Force in 1977....it required the final trip up to Nashville.....to the recruiting station.  On this particular morning, there were four of us who were leaving for San Antonio and boot-camp.

One guy was some two-year community college guy from around the Murfreesboro area.  The second guy was a 18-year old guy who readily consumed alcohol (even at breakfast there at the hotel).  Then there was this nutso 18-year old gal from Hackleburg, Al.

As we wrapped up processing and boarded the van out to the airport.....the nutso gal began a 20-question and comment period, demonstrating a remarkable amount of naive and unworldly behavior.  In retrospect, I would refer to as a female version of Forest Gump.

As we neared the airport, this childish chatter was driving me nuts and I hoped that I wouldn't have to sit next to her on the airplane.  Well....I was the one given the seat next to her.

It would be best describe her as a marginally bright individual....with the mental intellect of a 12-year-old kid.  The fact that her chatter just continued on, and on, and on......was the sad part about this story.

As we boarded the plane.....which was the last few hours of 'freedom'.....my two associates both asked for whisky and coke, and the nutso immediately hyped in to the stewardess that we were going to basic training and she didn't think they ought to be drinking.  This statement worried me.....so I took the morale ground and declined my chance to partake in the this last couple of rounds of booze before bootcamp.   For roughly two hours....from Nashville to Dallas.....this chatter continued on.

She related all sixty-odd relatives from the Hamiliton, Hackleburg, and Natural Bridge area of Alabama.  Names were mentioned, marriages, divorces, etc.  Several had dogs, and the names of the dogs were mentioned.  One had done time in a Mississippi prison for some bad behavior, but she left out what exactly the bad behavior was about.

We would arrive in San Antonio that night, and get on a big bus with forty-odd people, and find ourselves separated out into various groups, and that was the last moment for five weeks that I'd see this nutso gal.

For five weeks, I didn't really think much about her and simply concentrated on getting the heck through the six-week basic training and wrap up this whole thing.

Around three or four days prior to graduation.....I was hanging out at the shopette on base and several young ladies from another boot-camp group came up.  There was a discussion from the group over so-and-so, who several folks just didn't see how they'd graduate this gal.  I was sitting there close enough to hear the discussion over someone that was not standing there.  Yeah, I was thinking.....it has to be that nutso gal.  About five minutes would pass, and here walks up the nutso gal, and the chatter immediately ends over so-and-so.  Obviously, it was the same person.

A couple of days would pass, and it was the day after graduation, and around 150 of us met at some point near the barracks to board buses to Wichita Falls, Texas.  The next day, we'd all inprocess there for the technical school, and yes.....here was the nutso gal.  She was there to attend the fine Air Force nursing school there.  Somewhere in the first four hours of inprocessing.....they give us another dose of the "I'm OK, you're OK" seminar. I'm in the group of forty which has the nutso gal.  At least three or four observations are noted by the nutso gal during this psychological seminar.....all readily demonstrate her as a fairly dim and naive individual.

My class wraps up two months later, and I end up at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany.  For two years, I was stationed there.  About two weeks before I'm supposed to rotate out.....I have to go by and pick up my records as part of out-processing.  There in the hallway is this NCO and this airman.  There's a fairly intense discussion going on and I'm about ten feet away and facing away from the female airman.  Basically, the Air Force, or the Captain over this airman.....had put a note into her records to deny her re-enlistment.

The airman was fairly upset and the NCO simply noted that she had eighteen more months to demonstrate something to have this note removed.  Otherwise, he really didn't want to discuss the matter anymore. "Why" was asked over and over, and the NCO tried to put it in simple language....she wasn't up the challenges of performance.  He avoided using the term 'maturity' but he danced around the word enough to indicate that was 99-percent of the issue.

The voice of the airman seemed familiar.  So as she turned and walked my way.....I kinda froze....it was the nutso from Hackleburg.  I kinda hid my face and avoided being noticed.

I would leave Rhein Main in January of 1980 and never see this Hackleburg gal ever again.  In some ways.....I kinda wonder what happened, or if she ended up in August of 1981 on a bus back to Hackleburg, Alabama.

What it demonstrated to me was that you end up with all kinds of characters who march off and do a couple of years in the military, with some of them really unprepared for the experience and some of them really marginally capable of handling pressure or stress.

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