Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The Christmas and New Year’s Holidays brought shift changes to Keesler AFB for many permanent party groups. The Air Police normally operated with four Flights rotating the midnight, evening, days, and off shifts, with 24 hours off between shift changes (so I was reminded by PRH recently). The shifts were normally broken into 3 days of each shift, with the last shift being 3 days off.

However, during Christmas and New Years two Flights alternated 12-hour shifts while the other two Flights took “leave” and usually went home for five days. Then two Flights returned while the first group took their short leave.

The best present you could get for the holiday was to work the first 12 on 12 off shifts, so that when you returned you went back into the normal routine. Otherwise, a week of relaxing with family was ruined by having to work the grueling 12-hour shifts!

Only one of the holiday rotations is clear in my memory, or it could a combination of the two holiday seasons I had a Keesler.

We prepared for the 12-hour Christmas Day or New Year’s Day shifts by gathering three clean garbage cans from our friends at the chow halls. We then requisitioned enough ice to fill them. Before topping the garbage cans off with the ice, we filled them about half way with canned beer!

One of the cans was placed at each of the three off-site radar facilities that we routinely checked several times each shift. The inspections were normally performed by the patrol that rode the area surrounding the back gate, where a highway from Gulfport came directly into the back of the base. Off this highway were the three dirt roads that lead to the radar sites.

However, during these festive times, each patrol got their turn to leave their normal areas, exiting the base through the back gate (Gate 7 if memory serves), and headed for the radar site/s. Once at the sight the unit went 10-6 (busy) and checked the fence and locks, and then grabbed themselves a beer – or two!

This was how we celebrated the holiday and forgot about not being at home. The beer trips rotated during the shifts, and by mid-shift, most Air Policemen were pretty happy. Even the gate guards got their turns, with the patrolman standing their duty while they were gone. However, we were sworn to uphold the law, and uphold it we did.

I remember driving along, feeling good, not drunk, but with a mid-level buzz, and seeing some Airman weaving along a base street in front of me. He’s drunk,” I said out loud as I reached for the toggle switch that turned on the huge chrome-clad combo red light and siren atop the Ford Econoline.

AWWWAHHH,” it bellowed, while at the same time sucking all the electrical power from the electrical system, causing the engine to bog and slow the truck by at least 10 MPH! You soon learned to flick the toggle back and forth quickly in order to keep your truck from stalling!

The Airman pulled to the side of the street and stopped. I could see him digging from his ID card and license as I walked up the rear of the driver side window.

Step out of the vehicle sir.” It was our custom to be polite and courteous of everyone; at least until we found out if they were an officer.

Yeeaah…shur,” he slurred as he opened the door and braced himself, carefully using the car door and the top of the car.

I do not remember the routine we used in those days to determine sobriety, but I am sure it was more a judgment call in those days, and I was calling this guy “drunk!” He could barely form sentences, and if he were not holding the car, he would almost go down.

Now mind you, at this point, I too was feeling no pain, and the least little thing would set me to laughing almost uncontrollably. I got the cuffs on the guy, helped him up into the passenger seat of the truck, and we both laughed all the way to AP HQ!

There we stood, both of us weaving back and forth, actually using each other to steady ourselves, in front of the Desk Sergeant. The only difference between us was that I knew the other guy was drunk.

I voiced the circumstances and charges to the Desk Sergeant, who grinned, and took down the information. The apprehended Airman was taken to a holding cell in the stockade, and I mounted up and resumed my patrol.

As soon as I entered my patrol area, I informed the Desk Sergeant that I was 10-8 (back in service), and promptly requested permission to check one of the off-site facilities. I was getting a little dry!

Uh, that’s a negative Unit 4, I believe you have done your service to the off-sites for this shift,” the Desk Sergeant announced. I remember hearing laughter in the background as his transmission ended. Was it Webb? Can’t remember.

While it is not commendable that a law enforcement officer would drive drunk while on duty, I ask you to remember that they are human, and when off duty, will do many, if not all, of the things you do when you are off. If you happen to catch one of them in the act, they would simply say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say!


~Fathairybastard~ said...

Hilarious. You're reminding me of some of the things we used to do at Gearhart. We'd have huge feeds some nights, and the hilidays were always times when guys like me could make a bundle by working 16 hour double shifts, at time and a half holiday pay. People would call me ahead of calling in sick to make sure I was free to work for them. That stuff paid for lots of Christmas presents that way.

Ron Southern said...

Whatever happened to "Don't do as I do, do as I was told to do!"?

Mushy said...

Never heard that one.

pat houseworth said...

Mushy...ya gotta wonder how safe and secure the bases really were when guys like us were providing he security some nights.....

Sarge Charlie said...

OK Officer Mushy, can you stand on one foot.
I have an MP story, My friend was so drunk leaving the NCO club, in the parking lot he had to take a whiz. His wife was in the car when the MP's turned on their lights shinning on him, while writing him a ticket his wife got into it with the MP's (she was drunk also} with comments like your gonna take his pissers license. The both wound up in the clink.

Mushy said...

Yep, MPs and APs could tolerate anything but another drunk!

David Sullivan said...

I want a job where I could drive around hammered!!!

Buck Pennington said...

Gate 7 if memory serves

Dunno what the number was...I always called it the "Pass Road gate." And I spent a lot of time at those radar sites you talked about. By the time one reached that point in radar school, there was light at the end of the were nearly done and close to getting out of school and into the "real" Air Force.

Which, btw, took me 22 years to find out there's NO such thing as "the real Air Force." At each and every assignment I had, bar none, I was always told by someone (usually in a supervisory position) "this isn't the real Air Force..."


Mushy said...

Pass Road...damn...that's right! I'm always in fear I'll write something wrong, but I just put down what I think I remember. You will never hurt my feelings correcting something I say...'cause I'm gettin' old!

Thanks for the feedback Buck.

BRUNO said...

I about shit when you started with the siren, lessee, how did it go, was it AWWWWAAAHHHH?! Then, I about filled 'em again, when I started to picture YOU, about three sheets in the wind, trying to "drive", and uphold the law, without up-holding the contents of your gut!

Damn, it STILL hurts from a good laugh! But it's worth it---I needed this today....!

Lin said...

Mushy - thanks for another great grinning chuckle. I had always hoped that the young guys stuck on holiday duty had some solace and you just made me feel better. I remember dragging food over to the alert facility and thinking "If they blow the horn now, I'm gonna stuff this turkey right up the ... " well, you get the idea.

Amazing Gracie said...

This could be a scene in a movie!
My family lived close to Long Beach, CA (which didn't used to belong to the Chinese!). One Christmas my dad got in touch with someone at the Naval Station and we had the privilege of sharing Christmas with a couple of young men far away from home! That was a holiday I'll never forget. They kept in touch with my folks for a long time. I think it must've been around 1963-64.

david mcmahon said...

I once worked with someone who used to say that!