Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Charlie Tuna's outfit

At the end of tech school I got my orders for Dow Airplane Patch in Bangor, ME. During basic we got to pick what state we wanted to go to and I put down California for the state and Germany for overseas. When I told my instructors where I had put in for and where I was going, one of them explained that they use a large map of the country and throw darts at it to determine where you go. I said it looks like it landed a long ways from where I picked. He said no you probably landed right on CA and then they sent you as far away from where the dart landed as possible.

Anywho, I was assigned to the 75th FIS at Dow AFB, ME. Because of the tiger shark on the patch, some of us called it Charlie Tuna's Outfit, also that FIS stood for Frigging Idiot Squadron. As soon as I got there I was told that I would only be there for about 20 months because they were shutting down the base.
The link has pictures and history for the 75th. When I googled 75th FIS I was surprised to see that it appears that the 75th is still around. It has been deactivated and reactivated numerous times since I was in the unit.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Journey Continues

When I went to Milwaukee for the Draft Physical, they had some pullman cars on the train and we got sleeper berths. When I went to enlist I rode in coach and was put up in a hotel when I arrived in Milwaukee. The next day I had another physical and it was at this one or the one when I got to basic that I learned that I had a problem with colors. There is this test of circles with colored dots that have numbers in them. When I got half way thru the numbers disappeared. That meant that I couldn't chose any job that required perfect color vision. Anywho, I raised my right hand and swore my freedom away. I got to choose the base for Basic. Normally the Air Force did basic at Lackland AFB, TX. I chose Amarillo AFB, TX and got to spend almost 5 months there for basic and tech school.

This was the first time I flew in a airplane. The first part was in a 707 and when they served the meal(back then almost every flight had meals), when I was asked if I wanted more coffee, I put my cup on a small tray and watched as she spilled some on the tray. I think the second leg was in a DC-3 and the meal was placed on the pillow on my lap. When asked if I wanted more coffee, I was told to hold out my cup. I had a window seat so when I held out my cup it was over the lap of the guy next to me. She didn't spill a drop and I had several refills just to see if she would spill some coffee.

After getting to basic, we got to pick what job we wanted to do during the enlistment. Because of the color thing my choices where somewhat limited. I did get one that was on my list but not the first choice. When basic training was about to end, most of us got orders for where we were going next. Mine were that I got to lug all my stuff (duffle bag, suitcase etc..) several blocks down the street to a barracks that a couple of months before they had pulled the condemned signs off. Then I spent several months going to school to be an Airframe Repairman.

They say that most people lose weight in basic training, well, I gained 10 pounds because I was eating 3 meals a day!! I was down to 175 pounds (the lightest I have been in my adult life if adulthood starts at age 18) when I went to basic and I weighted 185 at the end of basic.

There were a number of things people would say about Amarillo. Like, it's the only place you can stand knee-deep in mud and have dust blow in your face. Stand knee-deep in snow and have dust blow in your face. The trees are beautiful, both of them. My sister-in-law told me about 20 years later that one of them died.