My Military Career, Part #5…”I’m Festus! I got cha covered tonight”…

AB JOHN W. Gray, USAF, Basic Training, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Tx, July 25, 1971
0620hrs, all of the “Barracks Rats”, that worked @ The Cave, were headed for the door, on to the Bus Stop, & headed for Kindsbach Bunker, “The Cave” as it was commonly referred to. It wasn’t hard to tell I was The New Kid on the Bus! I never rode a School Bus, in my life, but this mornin’ I got the feelin’ I was. It was a Non-Stop trip once we pulled away from the curb. 0700hrs & we were unloadin’ right at the Main, the ONLY, Enterence. Tsgt Elvin was there waitin’ on me. We headed for the Security Gate, they had my “Temporary Badge” ready & waitin’ on me. This place you didn’t just Walk-in-to. Tsgt Elvin lead the way toward The Chow Hall. Along the way we would stop & I would get introduced, as the New Kid on the Block, shake & howdy with everyone along the way. We got in line, gathered up what ever we wanted. For me it was Steak, Eggs, grits, juice, milk, & fresh fruit. We got to a table & situated to eat. My Crew Chief, Msgt Ed, joined us. He said “don’t rush but we have an appointment with the Commander @ 0800hrs” yes sir I responded. “I like that, Good Ole Southern Boy, right”? Yes sir, I’m from Alabama,I said. “You don’t speak much do you”?, said Msgt Ed. Well sir, I’m just over whelmed with everything, I guess! 0755hrs, we left The Chow Hall it was about a 200 ft walk & we were enterin’ the Commanders office. “Morin’ Ruffus” Msgt Ed said, my room mate, Sgt Ruffus, “we have a 0800 meetin’ with the Commander”! Yes sir, the Major is expectin’ you, go on in Msgt Ed. We both Snapped-to-Attention, threw up a snappy salute, as we reached the Majors desk, where he was standin’ to greet us. “Msgt Ed & Airman Gray reportin’ as ordered” said Msgt Ed. The Commander returned the salute & told us “at ease”. The major shook our hands & told us to have a seat & relax. Sgt Ruffus, get us 3 coffees please! Yes sir, came a reply from beyond the door. Airman Gray you drink coffee don’t you? Oh, yes sir I responded, I wasn’t dare goin’ to tell him NO! Black good for you, Oh yes sir! I said. Just somethin’ for those of you who have never had Military Coffee just understand “IT IS STOUT”! I think’s a “Special Military Blend”! We visited for about 1/2 an hour just all polite chattin’ & explained “The Mission” we were tasked with here and it’s Importance. We were dismissed & left. I couldn’t go to the Duty Station just yet because my Temporary Security Badge was Un-authorized for “Secured Areas” & my Permanent Badge was pendin’ me bein’ Officially Processed-In back at Head Quarters on base. Tsgt Elvin & I headed back to base to get that all tended to. It was an all day process to be brief about it. As the day closed on us I asked Tsgt Elvin to just dropped me at The Chow Hall & I’d find my way back. He said 0700 hrs tomorrow! “Yes sir” I said. I ate supper, wandered around a bit to get my bearin’s, & ended back at my Barracks/Dorm. I got up to the 2nd floor & there were about 6 of the “Barracks Rats” waitin’ for me. Hey Gray, do you drink Beer? Sure, whats up. We’re headed to town for a few, wanna join us? “I’m in”, I said. “How much does it cost? I haven’t been paid yet”. “Don’t worry about it, I’m Festus! I got cha covered tonight”. The evenin’ mission was ofcourse to get me not drunk but BAD DRUNK! We took a bus to Landsthul, a small town a few miles away. We’re gonna start he Gray! 1 beer an on to the next Bar, and so on. You goodwith that? Hell, I’m here aren’t I! Brave words for someone who didn’t have a clue! All I can tell you is the NEXT MORNIN’ I was very slow movin’, made the bus but was affraid I was goin’ to get sick all the way to The Cave. I skipped The Chow Hall that mornin’ & headed for that damn Black Coffee. I was introduced the rest of my Crew down in my Work area. The Display Room! Let me just say, I WAS IMPRESSED! We worked for The Battle Staff, Sector Controller, Intelligence Group, NATO Reps, 4th ATAF (Allied Tactical Air Forces), USAF, US Army, German Army, German Air Force, French Air Force, Canadian Air Force, British RAF, and a few others. The place was hoppin! I shook off my hang over & made it thru “The Longest Day”. I’ll close on the fact that this night I did not go out “Beer Drinkin”. I crashed early & hard this night…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

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