I know, in this photograph, I do not look very formidable, but the truth is when you are alone on the street and you face overwhelming situations, your “second nature training” is enhanced by the adrenaline produced by fear. It is also surprising that you can hide your fear with a confidence that even you did not know you had.
Not too long after I began getting “law enforcement” patrol assignments, I encountered my first anxious situation. Looking back on it later, I knew I should have called for backup, but things just happened so quickly. In addition, as I say, Air Police Training makes you react quickly, as if it were only a training scenario, and the “adrenaline high” masks the obvious dangers of certain situations.
I was making a routine pass through the Keesler Airman’s Club parking lot late one Saturday when four guys, dressed in civilian clothes, came out of the club and started out across a wide grassy lawn toward a line of cars parked under a row of pine trees.
I noticed that they were tugging at one of the guys, and the fellow was obviously fighting back at them. Suddenly the guy who was slapping at the others, and getting louder, fell to the ground and turned over on his back.
This is the point I should have called in, especially since there were four of them and one of me. Instead, I pulled up and parked the truck with my bright lights full on the four individuals, got out, and walked toward the group.
Just as I got to the guy on the ground he regurgitated straight up and the whole mess fell back in his face. He just lay there and moaned, as one of his friends said, “Ah man, get up…what the hell?”
The drunk (on the ground) just lay there without any seeming regard for the puke all over his face. All he seemed to be able to do was moan.
I yelled, “You guys his friend?”
“Yeah,” one said, as they began slowly side step and get further apart around me.
“Are you stationed here?” I demanded to know, beginning now to shake way down inside.
“No…we’re ah, Coast Guard…from down in
I asked for IDs and confirmed there names, rank, and branch of service, and then asked where their vehicle was. One pointed in the general direction, and I said, as deeply and manly as possible, “Get this drunk off my base!”
“Yes, sir,” they said in unison, sensing they were getting off light. They went to where their friend lay and began trying to get him up. The guy lay flat out, arms and legs out to his sides as if he were ready to begin making “grass angels,” and refused to move.
It soon became obvious that the three guys could do nothing with their friend – he simply was incapable of moving. I walked over and looked the guy over with my flash light and I got more and more disgusted with his appearance, and lack of self-respect.
Feeling my legs want to begin a little shake, I yelled, “Damn it! Get that car door open!”
I reached in my pocket, pulled out a ballpoint pen and placed it under the second finger (the gig finger) of his right hand, and across the tops of his first and third fingers. Then, as someone once told me, but I had never tried, I squeezed down as hard as I could on the three fingers! Remarkably, the drunk rose to his feet, his right arm straight out, and began to walk like a zombie along beside me moaning loudly!
His friends looked at me wide-eyed and began to get angry with me. “Hey, you’re hurting him!”
“Get that damn door open!” I yelled.
One guy opened the back door of their vehicle and I walked “my drunk” even quicker to the open door. Just as we reached the door, I shoved him toward the opening and his head, just about the hairline, caught the opening and made a loud “thunking” sound! However, his momentum carried him on into the back seat.
Later as I sat reviewing the events, I thought at the point, particularly because of the way his head snapped back, that I may have broken his neck! Apparently that did not happen – thank God!
The others looked glaringly in my direction, but then I reached for the door and slammed it shut; only, in the dark, I did not see that his right leg was still hanging out the door. There was another loud “thunk,” and the drunk uttered another low pain induced moan. He then lay motionless in the dark!
Now, their eyes looked frightened at the bad assed “Sky Cop” who again bellowed, “Get him off my damn base, and don’t ever come back!”
“Yes sir,” was all I heard and they drove off into the night.
I stood there and watched the taillights disappear, and for a long time, I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself. It was my first real law enforcement encounter and I wondered if I had over reacted. I also wondered how things would have turned out had I not acted so wild myself. It was pure intimidation and it worked.
It was not my last encounter with drunks, but this first event bolstered my confidence for the future.
I could never understand a person who could get so drunk they had no control over or self-respect for themselves. To puke straight up into the air and then let it hit and stay on their face - something so wrong about that! I did not know until this happened, what a lack of tolerance I have for mean or sloppy drunks.