Thursday, April 27, 2006

Days of Yore


One of the most pleasant assignments I had in the Air Force was with the 27 TASS at George AFB near Victorville, CA. Don’t bother looking, the base fell victim to the first BRAC and is no longer there, as such. The F-4G Wild Weasels were mothballed and the OV-10 was about to meet the same fate. A shame really, but the realities were that the F-4 wasn’t getting any younger and the OV-10 had a limited role for the USAF. The marines made better use of them in the long run.

Squadron life was the best. Many ached for higher level assignments at wings and head quarters for advancement sake, but I never really cared all that much one way or the other. I plodded my way to Master Sergeant and knew that was as far as I would go. I don’t regret a minute of it. I was a Technical Sergeant when I took over the Intelligence shop at the 27 TASS. TASS stands for Tactical Air Support Squadron. The OV-10 was primarily a Forward Air Control aircraft for directing fighters into their targets on the ground, generally trucks, tanks, troops in the open, and other mobile kinds of targets.

The mission certainly impacts the pace and character of squadron life, but there are some common threads. Those threads stand out in songs by Dick Jonas and Dos Gringos. There are/were other music groups and singers out there such as Bull Durham that also portray the pilot’s plight through music. I really enjoyed the traditions that went along with belonging to the squadron. Fliers new to the squadron get a nickname or call sign during a naming ceremony. I was fortunate enough to pick up a few myself because of my close association with the fliers. The last one was “Anthrax Bob”. The name is usually derived from an incident that the “namee” has experienced, a physical attribute, or just a play on words with their name. Mine came from a bad reaction to the anthrax vaccine, for instance.

Other traditions include soaking a pilot down with a fire extinguisher after his or her final or ”fini” flight with the squadron, never using the word “head” (and I complain about subcultures suborning the English language) , and inserting the phrase “so to speak” after making nay comment that could have a sexual connotation. Best of all was just the general respect and camaraderie within the squadron. A lot of this was built on Friday afternoons after work in the squadron bar. Many of the songs got their start there late in the evening when the hard-cores would sit around the bar and talk of times gone by.

Now in the civilian world I have yet to encounter anything even close the traditions and spirit of an Air Force squadron. Maybe that is because civilians are nine-to-fivers, or they just work to put beans on the table. I don’t know what the reason is, but I do miss the laughter and goings on of squadron life.

14 Comments:

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Gnat said...

Wrong job dude.

I work with the followering:

EddySmackatolie
Monty
The Neck
Haskle
and Shitty.

Drive by crop dusting at least once a day. Breakfast every friday morning at 6:30 at the local grease depot, and full tilt drinks at 5:30 that aftnoon.

The world got way to PC sometime around the mid to early 90's and corporate life followed. Good thing these guys have been around me for that long. I can come in from working out and say "Man my titties hurt" and one of them will punch me square in the nip. Good times. We are programers, or system admins, or something beanheaded but you would never know.

Gnat.
.

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Sounds good. I am a lone computer monkey now and that may account for me singing the blues. You can only joke with yourself so long before people call the boys with the nets.

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger jin said...

Very interesting post!
I need to read more of your blog, but...just curious...why does it smell like new-mown hay here?
;-)

P.S. You gotta have cookies to go with those beans!

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger KyuBall said...

Great post.

I think your story points out an element in the armed services that can't be replicated in civilian life. I've never served, but I have friends and family that have, and they all have stories like this.

 
At 9:14 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Jin: See you know your chemical agents! There's always room for cookies!!

Kyubal: Thanks for the words. Nice to see you back!!

 
At 1:43 AM, Blogger Die Muräne said...

ech dänk au mängisch zrogg ond lache. esch mängisch so sennlos gsi. aber nie vergäss ech all die geile sieche woni ide RS ond im WK troffe han!! priceless.

 
At 2:25 AM, Blogger Die Muräne said...

i did my service on M-109 artillery tanks. this big old bitch! good times, hard times, boring times. but i'll never forget all this cool guys i've met there. one glue

 
At 2:26 AM, Blogger Cherry! said...

So Anthrax Bob, tell me some of the other nicknames (if you can remember). I'm from Australia where everyone is called Chook, Snake, Piggy and the like. I have no idea why half of them have these names but I think half of the population has an animal nickname.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

Can't you go down to the VFW and share some laughs with other veterans?

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger nanuk said...

Anthrax Bob, eh? At least they didn't name you after a social disease.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

DM: Traurig, spreche ich nicht Freaky-Deaky-Deaky Schweizer! Er muß haben gewesen ein Gejohle, das jene grossen Gewehren abfeuert - wie hielten Sie den Umlauf innerhalb der schweizer Ränder? Wir sind Sie übend, um Lichtenstein abzustoßen?

Cherry: Other Phos Names: Gramps, El Jefe, RTW

Sarah: I'll get down there as soon as I buy one of those sit and shop scooters

Nanuk: Yep, no names invovling STDs, yet.

 
At 2:27 AM, Blogger Die Muräne said...

yeah, there was a rumour that they found oil in Lichtenstein... ;-)

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Tea and Books, etc said...

I think any specialized group has their own set of rules and comaraderie that is hard to translate or find in the civilian world.

And honestly, most of the civilian world seems to be consumed by things that seem rather petty in comparison. Celebrity watching, talk shows, reality shows... vs life or death situations, world events, security.

Sorry, no contest.

 
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