Wednesday, August 29, 2007


One of the first things I had to do after settling into the routine at Keesler was to look up Woody. Woody was at Keesler as a trainee, not permanent party like me. He was probably into his ninth or tenth week of air traffic control training by the time we hooked up again.

Actually, I may not have even thought about looking him up at all, had I not seen him marching along with his training flight one day. There he was, as I watched from the patrol truck, doing that little half skip step you do when you are trying to get back into step!

That evening, after completing the day shift, I went down into the barracks area that housed the trainees, and began asking questions of everyone I met, “Hey, you know a guy named Woody (not his last name) from Tennessee?” Eventually, I found an Airman who knew who I was talking about and he pointed to an upper level of a barracks a few down from where we stood.

I went up to the barracks door, talked to the dorm guard who also knew Woody, and he let me go upstairs to see my “hometown boy!” Sure enough, there he sat on the end of his bunk looking out the window and twirling a few short strands of his brown hair, as he usually did when he was in deep thought.

Woody seemed genuinely glad to see me and introduced me to his new buddies. Before long, there were at least six of us sitting around laughing and talking, and then someone broke out a full bottle of Jack Daniels!

The party got into high gear then with each member of the group taking a sip as it came their turn. The guys seemed impressed, somewhat, that I was a “sky cop”, so as they asked me questions, I answered partly in truth and with some embellishments I knew they expected. When my turn on the bottle came, a bubble always rose to the top as I took a long “show off” pull on it. Their eyes widened with each drink I took and soon everyone was trying to imitate me! Before long, the bottle lay empty on the floor nearest my feet.

Suddenly, I knew I was drunk! For those of you that have never experienced this sudden onset of stupidity, it is just a quick feeling that strikes your brain with no preliminary warning, just a light switch is flipped in the brain that says, “You’re drunk…you need air…now! Go! Go outside now!”

While Woody was in the latrine, and the group continued to laugh loudly, I rose quietly, went down the stairs, out into the open air, and sat down behind a large yellow-pine tree and began to giggle!

When Woody returned and asked where I was, no one knew. As a group, they all went downstairs and asked the dorm guard, like from some western movie, “Which way did he go?” The Airman simply pointed outside and shrugged his shoulders.

To me, it was all so hilarious. Here were all these guys out calling my name like I was a lost puppy of something. I pulled up as thin as I could behind the tree and said nothing, watching them search the area in the now dark Mississippi night. Every time someone would holler my name, I would have to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing aloud, and say in a whisper, “They can’t find me now! Hehehe”

It was one of those “retard” moments where you have no pain, no problems, and no good judgment. However, it only last a few carefree minutes before the stomach takes over and begins the process of bringing you back to reality!

Therefore, that is how they found me! From the first, loud, gut wrenching “RALPH,” to the follow-up “EARL” the group zoned in on me! “Ralph and Earl” give me up!

The same five or six guys who had not long before been admiring a brave and tough “sky cop,” were now watching him try his damnedest to throw up his shoes!

I do not remember ever seeing Woody again until years later in Harriman. I could have seen him a time or two more, but the memory is just not there. All I know is that this embarrassing incident happened, and I somehow made it back across an unfamiliar base to my own bunk!

Had I prayed to the “porcelain god” that night, I may have made some promises that may have saved me from that ever happening again. However, since I was on my hands and knees behind a tall yellow-pine tree, I got no help for the future. I was on my own!

Pine trees just do not have the same powers as porcelain gods!


Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Oh Mushy, that's too sweet and real not to have happened! You've done it again, my friend. God, how I love your writing, it's straight from the heart, and it shows. Wonderful post (again.)

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Yep, he's got the gift. Well done man. Reminded me of that night on Ischia, doing shots with the seals, tryin' to keep up, and ending up on the street. I think I told you. Once was enough for me, so far any way.

OldGuy said...

Ah yes, the mighty porcelain gods, I made many a promise to them in my youth. Now that I'm older and wiser I spend less time on my knees before them and more time sitting on them pondering the mysteries of life

Les Becker said...

Unlike Carol, I don't quite believe this post came from "the heart". But the stomach is an honest place, too. LOL!

pat houseworth said...

Almost made it to Kessler, but the thought of 53 weeks of training...just wasn't in the cards. Sky Cops it was. I remeber the line...if you don't want this job, you can be a Cook, Cop, Grass Cutter, or some other assorted dip stick(and stick wasn't what the TSgt said)...I took the 6 weeks at Lackland Cop School and never looked back.


pat houseworth said...

Did I just type in Kess-ler? Damn it's Hell getting old or dic-lex-ick!

Keesler is what it tis....although I never made it that far south stateside.


Mushy said...

Yeah, I could have ended up a cook, but then I would have just ballooned earlier! As it was, they were my best friends...I got leftovers every night to take back to Sgt. Webb and the upper dudes. I became an asset to the Flight with the friends I made.

The truth is, I fixed traffic tickets for the cooks and they feed me well!

BRUNO said...

There's always an angle for advancement somewhere, somehow! Ya' just have to use the old noggin', and wait 'till opportunity knocks!

Kevin said...

Hah! This stuff is like crack! I love it! Yeah, the hard stuff always gets me into big trouble too -- I'll be drinking away just fine, take a few shots... 20 minutes later its BLAM! I'm wasted! I pretty much stick to beer nowadays... hangers just aren't worth it to me anymore...

pat houseworth said...

Hey brother, have added you to my blogspot favorites list, and linked your site to my gmail signature....


Sarge Charlie said...

very well done my friend, we are peas in a pod.

Suldog said...

Know the "retard" feeling intimately, Mushy, so I can relate :-)

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Wonderful post- :) Enjoyed this read very much!