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
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
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!