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Air Force Nostalgia


A travelogue, of sorts by Colonel Ben H. Swett, USAF (Retired)

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LACKLAND, AFB, TEXAS Air Force officers' boot camp ... Took the eye test seven times, read 20-30 every time, and thus became a navigator.
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ELLINGTON AFB, TEXAS From the air, it looks like an insignificant chalk-mark on a steaming billiard table.
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MATHER AFB, CALIFORNIA Navigators' trade school: Weak-eyes Polytech on the Sacramento .
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STEAD AFB, NEVADA: (Survival School) Porcupines, chipmunks, and manzanita tea, push-ups and mickey-mouse. Pemican, blisters, and soggy sleeping bags; three shivering people in a little nylon house.
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McCONNELL AFB, KANSAS This is the B-47 Stratojet, the instructor said, otherwise known as the whistling outhouse, or the six-engined post-hole digger. The navigator's ejection seat goes DOWN instead of UP...
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WALKER AFB, NEW MEXICO When the wind is East and the dust is brown, that's Texas blowing by ... But wind in the West with a yellow grit: Arizona's on the fly ..
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PEASE AFB, NEW HAMPSHIRE What do you folks do in the summertime? I asked. Well, he said, If it falls on Sunday, we have a picnic.
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PLATTSBURGH AFB, NEW YORK Cold and dry is better than cold and wet. Witness the sign over the door of the maintenance debriefing room: "PEASE IS OUR PROFESSION."
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LORING AFB, MAINE Hell of a fine place, the guy said, if you have a chance, don't go.
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GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR Sort of like an island, or a ship... most of what's outside the fence is water, and the rest might as well be ...
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TORREJON AB, SPAIN: (La Siesta in Madrid) For three hours, one stands in a doorway, his head drenched, icy rain blowing around his knees, staring into barred windows across a deserted street ...
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ZARAGOZA AB, SPAIN They tell me the wind stopped blowing once ... Everybody fell over.
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MARAKESH BOMB RANGE, MOROCCO You can't miss it: it's three sand dunes north of the intersection of a camel trail and a gully.
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UPPER HEYFORD RAFB, UK Ceiling zero, visibility three yards ... but with "bright periods" around noon.
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EIELSON AFB, ALASKA Figure a half-hour fuel reserve: it takes that long to get the moose off the runway ...
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YAKOTA AB, TOKYO, JAPAN The taxi driver turns around, leans over the back of the front seat, grins at us, flashing his one gold tooth, and yells: ME KAMIKAZE BOY, YOU HANG ON!
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ANDERSEN AFB, GUAM A swayback runway with five hundred feet of instant altitude and a lot of water just beyond the far end.
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NORTH FIELD, GUAM Notice to Airmen: Runway slick, snails.
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FORBES AFB, KANSAS Where some nice guys got the Distinguished Flying Cross in peacetime with Top Secret citations ...
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MALMSTROM AFB, NORTH DAKOTA I'd like to be here about a million years from now when some poor archaeologist tries to explain a Minuteman silo ...
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MINOT AFB, NORTH DAKOTA "You gonna re-enlist?" "Hell, no!" "Why not?" "Minot!"
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HOLLOMAN AFB, NEW MEXICO (Missile Development Center) A rocket track and a monkey farm, a think tank and a balloon ranch, radar scatter and Trinity site, all strewn across a frying pan between cardboard-cutout mountains.
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DAVIS MONTHAN AFB, ARIZONA (The Bone-yard) You know you are getting old when your aluminum friends are here and nowhere else ...
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NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (Armed Forces Staff College) Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and who-knows-what ? Forty-eleven kinds of uniforms.
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HOMESTEAD AFB, FLORIDA (Sea Survival School, aka Splash School) An outdoor amusement park that features parasail rides, helicopter rescue parties, and trolling for sharks
with yourself as the bait.
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SHAW AFB, SOUTH CAROLINA That EB-66 is a cute little airplane. Too bad the
engines they put on it were designed for one-time flight on unmanned
anti-aircraft missiles.
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LOCKBOURNE AFB, OHIO For sure, the C-123 Provider isn't a pretty machine,
the aircrew instructor said, but it's the most rugged airplane you're ever
likely to meet. He was right.
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CLARK AB, PHILIPPINES
(Jungle Survival School, aka Snake School) The negrito instructor finds enough food in the jungle in ten minutes to feed twelve men, but when he stops grinning, he becomes invisible ...
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CAM RANH BAY AB, VIETNAM (Sandbox-by-the-Sea) A big tin barn stuffed with people of assorted races, sizes, shapes and ages, uniforms and faces ... all sleeping in the darndest places!
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PHAN RANG AB, VIETNAM (Happy Valley) BOOKIE BIRDS (C-123) and HUNS (F-100) SHADOWS, STINGERS (AC-119) PEDROS (RH-43) and the fossilizing GOON (AC-47) No wonder the general called this place "Air Museum East"
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SONG BE, VIETNAM The young copilot thought Phan Rang was the bung-hole of creation until he saw the cement culverts with sand bags at each end that passed for Visiting Officers' Quarters at Song Be ...
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KHE SANH, VIETNAM Where a bunch of Marines served as the bait in a better mousetrap.
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TAN SON NHUT AB, VIETNAM This traffic pattern has gotta be the most dangerous place this side of Hanoi ... Even if you do avoid a midair collision, you could still run out of gas, miss your DEROS, or starve.
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SAIGON, VIETNAM I heard that one GI actually crossed Tudo Street during rush hour without getting run over by a Honda.
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DA NANG AB, VIETNAM Nice climate here. It automatically produces the best instrument pilots west of San Francisco, and then sends them home with a sun-tan like the underside of a frog.
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BINH THUY AB, VIETNAM FNG: "Why do all those helicopters fly around all the time?" SHORT: "Cause there ain't enough room to land 'em all at once."
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TAHKLI AB, THAILAND Where the Base Exchange sets sales records in flashlights ... because of the cobras.
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KHORAT AB, THAILAND Several guys said it was the Chaplain who started that rumor about venereal leprosy ...
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ANDREWS AFB, MARYLAND (Headquarters, Systems Command) From the top, this building looks like half a pizza pie, and the Command logo looks like six paths to the outhouse ...What am I doing HERE?
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WASHINGTON, DC Looks like it might be a nice place, if they ever got it finished ...
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THE PENTAGON (arrival) If somebody doesn't turn off the Xerox machines this five-sided wastepaper basket is gonna explode and scatter confetti over three or four states.
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THE PENTAGON (departure) This is the assignment that REALLY turns boys into men ... old men.
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DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CENTER PHILADELPHIA What a pleasant surprise! Some government employees, without uniforms, who know the meaning of "civil" and "service" ...~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PHILADELPHIA, PA City of brotherly love, and other perversions ... pot-hole capitol of the known universe, with third-generation car-thieves ... If these drivers see a car with four fenders, they go after it, for the insurance ...~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEMPLE HILLS, MARYLAND (Retirement from the Air Force) Yes, you really ought to retire in Maryland. Why? Because of the license plates: "Maryland is for crabs"


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