I ventured forth from my home to go to basic training in San Antonio, TX. I’ve blocked a large portion of my six weeks at Lackland AFB out, but I remember:
My assistant Training Instructor (Staff Sergeant Wilson) was nicknamed The Demon. He knew we called him that. I think he liked it. However, because of The Demon, I passed my final physical training test. He ran at the back of the pack with those of us who had a hard time with the running and wouldn’t let us drop back. I remember him grabbing my arm and hauling me along.
We used to sing “Black Water” (by the Doobie Brothers) in the barracks. To this day, I can’t hear that song without picturing the bay I lived in and the girls who lived with me.
I was in the Drum and Bugle Corp. We were practicing marching and playing on a basketball court when we got the news that the Challenger crashed. I feel the sun on my back when I think about that moment.
I learned what a blanket party was. I was so naive then I thought it had something to do with a slumber party. One of the girls in the other bay had contraband in her personal drawer and had gotten the rest of us in trouble. We had no idea that the command staff could listen in on conversations near the speaker at the door until a couple of the girls were talking about throwing a blanket party and we got hauled downstairs to explain ourselves. For the record, I was just standing there talking and would have left if I’d understood what they were talking about.
The door into the barracks wasn’t just a door; it was The Damn Door. I know this because every time a TI wanted to come in, they’d pound with their fist and yell, “Open The Damn Door!”
We went back to Lackland AFB in 2001 on a visit to San Antonio. The first time we drove through the gate my heart started palpitating and my palms got sweaty. I can’t say for sure, but I think I had a little taste of what PTSD feels like. If it was, I hope I never get it! I did get over it fairly quickly and made several trips back between then and when we left Del Rio in 2003. The shopping was a lot better at Lackland.
On a completely different subject, our friend Scott was born 33 years ago today. Happy birthday, buddy, and many happy returns.