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
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!”