The the desktop was about thirty inches above the main floor, and the desktop, and shelves beneath it, made up a walled ring around the Desk Sergeant’s area. Above the desktop was a Plexiglas ring, about twenty-four inches high, protecting the area from people walking through the area, but gave the Desk Sergeant a 360-degree view of the Air Police HQ operations area. This made the overall height of the Desk Sergeant’s platform about seven feet from the top of the glass to the floor.
The raised floor, on which the Desk Sergeant stood gave him a commanding view of the entire HQ area. From his perch, he could look down on anyone coming in the front door and walking up to the three-foot opening in front of the Plexiglas to ask questions, plead his/her case or voice his complaints on traffic violations and other issues, or for patrols to bring in appended Airmen for identification and disposition.
The Desk Sergeant usually stayed out of the main conversations between the Patrolmen and their arrest, and just stuck to documenting the incident in the Desk Blotter, and ensuring the proper forms were completed and signed.
On one eventful midnight shift, Sgt. Webb brought in, rather shoved in, through the front door, a very belligerent and obviously drunk Airman. The loud commotion took me by surprise and I jumped to my feet and looked over the side of the desk at the Airman that was now lying on the floor attempting to get up without the use of his arms, which were cuffed behind him.
The Airman looked up at me and yelled, “What’chu lookin’ at?”
“Uh, you,” I snapped back!
“Get your ass up,” Sgt. Webb said, reaching down and pulling the guy up to his feet.
“Hey, you better watch it asshole,” he fumed!
Sgt. Webb again shoved the drunk on toward the rear of my Desk Sergeant platform and made him take a seat in a chair along the wall near the side entrance door. Every time Sgt. Webb would start to walk away, the Airman would jump up, only to be pushed back down in the chair again.
“You damn APES (a derogatory term developed from AP) are all assholes,” he spewed in Webb’s direction.
“Sit down and shut up!” Webb yelled back.
The third time the Airman sprang to his feet, Sgt. Webb grabbed his right arm and forced him up the three steps and through the short swinging door and onto my level. Webb grabbed a rolling office chair and handcuffed the Airman’s arms to each of the chair’s arms.
The Airman could not stand up, but he could scoot the chair about. He then made a near fatal mistake.
“You damn APES are stupid,” he said looking at me and spitting in my direction!
Sgt. Webb boiled and spilled over! His big booted foot suddenly lashed out and caught one arm of the chair and he pushed with all his might!
Through the swinging door, and bypassing the three steps, the Airman landed face first on the hard tiled floor below. The Airman made an “Ooffff” sound as he bounced to a limp stop next to the chairs along the wall. His face was against the floor, turned slightly to one side, and looked distorted from the full weight of the chair and his body on top of him. The room became so quiet we heard the chair’s rollers spin to a stop.
Everyone but Webb held their breath, just knowing the Airman did not survive the fall. However, by the time Webb ambled over to where he lay, he began to show signs of life!
Even if the fall had killed him, Sgt. Webb probably would not have shown any concern. He bent down close to the Airman’s ear and whispered something none of us could hear. The Airman blinked his eyes, shook his head, and then allowed Webb to right the chair without resisting.
I would love to be able to tell you what Sgt. Webb said to the Airman, but I do not have a clue. Suffice it to say, there was not a peep from him the rest of the morning.
The next morning the Airman was lead away to the stockade.
I always felt safer with Sgt. Webb around, even before this incident, but this just sealed the deal for me. I gained a new self-respect and sense of pride for being an Air Policeman on “A Flight,” and more importantly, a Desk Sergeant that night. I was determined to be the best at what I did, not only for me, but also for him.