USAF Graduation Weekend

It’s over now (for me anyway), and I must say that I am relieved.

Thursday’s trip, I think I covered already.

I asked the guard at the gate where should I park. He replied that to avoid the main lots and park by the chapel, then he gave me directions. I drove right to it and sure enough, there was parking.

I took my morning blood pressure pill, and a good slug of water, and proceeded to where I heard all the noise.

The first event Thursday was the Airmen’s run where all the individual flights of graduates ran from I don’t know the hell where, and singing their ‘jodies’ around in front of the spectators. I was right on the curve and took video with my camera of my son’s flight, even though I didn’t see him. They came back around and I shot video them again; still not seeing him.

They disappeared back to I don’t the hell where, and the crowd dispersed. I went inside to the auditorium and a/c where there was a briefing for half an hour.

The place was packed.

We dispersed, and this time I went into the bleachers…imagine a three sided stadium, open on one end where the troops entered and exited onto a much larger field; paved with a running track painted on it, several acres big. I could not see where the pavement ended.

Now it’s about 10:00am and the Texas sun is beginning to bear down. I was on the wrong side to be out of the sun, but decided to stay where I was since I already had a seat. The shaded side filled up shoulder to shoulder.

Our side filled up and you know, there are always the Johnny-come-latelys that never seem to be on time got stranded in the areas between the bleachers. boo hoo

There was a ceremony for the top 10%; graduates recognized for exceeded expectations in PT, classroom, and other areas.

Then the flights marched in formation in fatigues. It was quite impressive, 742 grades divided into about 15 flights.

It was hotter than hell, and the sweat ran down my arms, chest and back.

I was amazed at the other folks from out of state that complained about the heat…”would you like a napkin to wipe off the sweat? this feels like the Finnish bath back home…”

After the ceremony, I got down off the bleachers as fast as I could to go find my boy on the other side of the field. I walked around, looking for him or his mother.

I walked all the perimeter, then cut diagonally across from all corners, at times breaking up happy families that got to be together…nothin’.

I got mad and thought “fuck this shit” and headed to leave.

My phone rang, it was ex-wife’s ID.

It was my boy.

They had gone off to the mini-mall, which I discovered later was the PX…not my fault.

I met them at the food court, and they were kind enough to offer me some pizza ( I was starved. I sat with him, his mother, his gramma for a good while.  (it was now around noon).

Fortunately, my ex and I have a fairly good relationship, and my ex mother in law is extremely cordial to me.

We went around for a little shopping and ended up sitting in gramma’s Toyota Highlander for probably 45 min.

They had absolutely no plans except to pick up his brother (my other son) but the arrangements were so off the cuff that I wanted nothing to do with it, so I had them take me to my truck where I bid them good bye until the next morning.

I got home by four, and prepared for my brother’s arrival sometime between six and seven.

I gave up my afternoon nap, and prepared some brisket, beans, and dessert.

He arrived about 6:30, and after we ate, we proceeded to drink heavily, and turned in about 11:30, having to be up at 5:00am.

Friday

We were up at 5 where I showered (you must understand that when I am alone at the ranch I rarely shower two days in a row; more like twice a week).

I asked my brother on the way out the door “do you have your insurance, day pass, and license?”

“Of course I do” he replied, almost annoyed.

I stood at the door “should I take my keys?” I thought ‘no’ because the house has a keyless electronic lock so I did not take my keys.

We were out the door by 5:30. We took a different route than what I did as brother was driving.

I don’t know how far we got…maybe 30 miles, when awoke from my reverie and said “I forgot my wallet!”

“Are you fucking kidding me man?”

I shook my head shamefully “no.”

He hung a U and we went all the way back to the ranch where I got my wallet from the same drawer I  keep my keys in…

So we retraced our steps and hit San Antonio at the 7:00 rush, which did  not turn out near as bad as I let on.

Other brother was already there waiting for us, and we proceeded to the visitor center where the buses hauled people to the parade grounds (different than yesterday).

We waited at the bus stop and when the bus showed up, it turned out that it was for handicapped folks only.

That was very disappointing. In X’s current physical shape, the walk that ensued would have been compared to climbing K2.

We walked.

We crossed Hwy 90 on the pedestrian walkway, then short cut down the embankment (quite a feat wearing Sketchers Shape Ups…not meant for going down steep embankments for walking long distances).

X, now fully winded, is gasping for breath and unable to speak but kept plodding, trudging behind my brothers, who are both very physically fit.

Another hike to the parade grounds. We got to hike past a bunch of old prop planes, of which one was a B-29.

Plodding on, we begin passing the bleachers, many sets of them and all full. Plod on.

We finally found some empty seat about ten rows up at the far end of the parade grounds.

Some folks were kind enough to hop down (the side of the bleachers was open for the first six or eight rows.

Youngest brother went first, and before I even got there, I knew I was in trouble. These guys could step up onto the bleachers, and continue to go up the steps with no handrail! I had to crawl up.

It took me ten minutes before I could speak. I dared not drink any water I had brought for fear of barfing on the lady in front of me.

The ex-wife was sitting on the bleachers next to us and spotted us.

As usual, the sun beat on us directly during the ceremony. Much applause, standing, sitting, etc.

The grads marched on to the grounds in formation, much like the day before. It was quite impressive. It lasted about an hour, and we hooked up with our son, and next stop was barracks.

My younger brother volunteered to go back, get the car, and pick us up at a lot close to the parade grounds.

Thank you brother.

It was still a walk to the lot, but nothing like climbing up the embankment…”hey man, there were old ladies climbing up that hill!”

“What’s your point?” clutching my collapsible baton. It didn’t matter. I woulda collapsed after the first blow.

So we waited and got a ride. Nice. I still hadn’t completely caught my breath when I found out we had to climb 3 flights of stairs. Breathless, and now I met his drill instructors.

Very nice men, and then they told us that because of my son’s motivation in the PT area, their flight was given a town pass (instead of a base pass) on Sunday. They had the best PT score overall. His mile and a half improved 5 minutes from seventeen down to twelve minutes.

One of them said he got up everyday and ran with him, and watched his progression over the seven weeks.

I was still dead after the stair climb, and now we were done, an had to fight six hundred other folks to go down.

Again, my brother got the car and brought it to me so I wouldn’t have to walk.

From there, my two brothers and I left, as my son had a brief safety meeting, and we were all gonna meet at a local Mexican food place “Michelada’s”.

We dropped off one brother to get his truck, and we three hooked up at the restaurant, and waited for the others. By now, my other son had joined the group, along with their step dad, wife’s cousin, and aunt; ten of us altogether.

Good food, cold beer, good service, and we  hung there for two and half hours, before we split and said goodbye to everyone.

Saturday and Sunday were day passes. My ex’s entourage had no idea what they wanted to do, as did my son. There were rules; he was not allowed to go outside the Anderson loop (which prevented him from coming to the ranch) no swimming, no drinking, no driving, no smoking, among many others.

Whatever plans, they did not ask me to join them, so I bowed out. Both my brothers returned home Saturday. I slept. I lost five pounds. That’s a good start.

My Air Force son will attend tech school at Shepard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. He will be learning maintenance on the A-10, and possible the U2.

 

Joke Of The Day

A man was eating dinner alone in a fancy restaraunt, when he noticed a good looking redhead at the next table, also eating alone.

The man is shy, but finally gets the nerve to talk to her, and he stands up to step over and introduce  himself. When he does, the redhead sneezed a category 5 hurricane, and out pops her glass eye.

The man by reflex, catches the glass eye, and hands it back to her. She quickly pops it back into her socket.

The introduced themselves, and she invited him to sit down, where they finished dinner, and had a wonderful time.

They went dancing late into the evening, and she invited him inside her home for a nightcap.

She fixed a dynamite breakfast the next morning, and the man asked her “do you treat every guy you meet as good as this?”

“Oh no” she said “you just happened to catch my eye!”

Air Force Graduation

Beginning tomorrow Thursday, X is going to have an adventure.

My youngest son, just out of high school, is graduating from boot camp at Lackland AFB, San Antonio.

The next four days should prove to be very interesting.

First, X is up at 5:00am tomorrow and Friday to try to get to Lackland AFB by opening ceremony. Various events occur Thursday and Friday prior to the new airmen getting a day pass outside the base.

All visitors must complete background checks before passes are issued. My son got the information for said checks from me of my two brothers, both of which will be attending.

We were originally told that the graduation was Friday, and my son requested his two uncles be present. One of my brothers lives in Arkansas, about a 13 hour drive to my ranch, and the other about 3 hours from the ranch.

The base is about 60 miles from the ranch.

His mom and stepdad, brother, gramma, aunt Julie and cuzin’ Missy will be attending as well.

I figured it would be a nice gesture if I invited everyone to the ranch on Saturday for a bbq and just kick back most of the day.

Airman Tim has to be  back at squadron HQ by 8:00 pm every night; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

My sister in law (who doesn’t even speak to me any more) agreed to come down Friday, and spend Saturday here to see my boys over the weekend.

Well, his mom found some obscure line in the “Rules of Day Passes” and the airmen are not allowed to leave the greater San Antonio Metro Area.

That rules out the party as we are out of the “metro area” requirement.

X leaves here at 5:30 am to hopefully get to the base by seven where there is a ‘visitor debriefing’ and other activities until around 10:30 at which time the airmen are allowed to leave.

Friday is same thing, just different activities; parade, airmen run, and other traditions, then the airmen are released for the day.

Saturday and Sunday the airmen are released at 9:00 am for the day.

It looks like his mom has got the entire weekend booked. I cannot for the life of me imagine what the hell they will do for four days in San Antonio…

River Walk? that’s for old ladies and drunks

Fiesta Texas? It’s August in Texas. Wanna spend all day in the hot sun waiting in line for a ride? Not me.

Alamo? been there seen that twice

Sea World? Gee, I dunno…$35 a person to get in and stand in the hot sun…maybe get splashed…maybe not…

So my brothers will both be here Friday and we will attend the graduation ceremony, and then we will return here to the ranch and proceed to imbibe lots of bourbon.

Thursday, I will be attending myself.

Originally, we were told it was only Friday; only to find out much later it was spread out over four days.

My brother days “pick ’em up and bring ’em to the ranch. What? Does he have a GPS chip embedded in him?”

Tempting.

Update Thursday 5:18 pm

X has returned from today’s chicanery.

I shoulda just gotten up at 4:20 because I did not go back to sleep after being waked up to pee. I  thought I set the alarm (alarm clocks are seldom used here any  more) for 5:00, but instead it was 5:15.

I do not know what time last night I decided not to shower, and I didn’t need the extra time.

So I lie there awake for nearly an hour waiting for the alarm.

At 5:15, I flew out of bed and got a half shower; quick one and shave (just the  neck).

I gathered my ice chest and 4 waters. No time to make a brisket sammich. Load the ice chest in the truck.

Bring out the GPS and attach it. Start the truck and GPS, and grab my blood pressure meds for the day.

Plumb forgot the binoculars…damn!

Hopped into the truck, and watched the time on the GPS keep moving forward and I wasn’t.

Gonna be late. Gonna hit shitload of heavy SA traffic.

I backed out of the driveway and the GPS fell off the suction cup I stuck on the windshield.

OK I did not make any allowance for GPS shenanigans. Stick it back on, and it promptly fell back into the abyss of the passenger side.

I’m not driving down the road. Dark, deer thirty, and I am swerving trying to find the sombitch on the floor.

I stop, turn on the cab light, and find it.

this time, I carefully place the suction cup on said windshield, pull lever and suck it on.

OK, off again. Can’t really drive 70 because of the ding dang cutesy deer. Screw it. 70 it is.

I get out of town in the country where it is really pitch black except for a passing semi…

boom, the dang GPS fell off again.

Lemmee tell you this; don’t be going 70 miles an hour and you be reaching into the passenger floorboard. Your vehicle is very sensitive at that speed whilst your are not watching the road…

Fuck the GPS. I’ll keep the damn thing in my lap.

And I did the rest of the way. By the time I exited, I knew exactly where I needed to be…at the FRONT of the two mile line of cars waiting to get on the base, except I was at the rear.

Once on the base, I found a parking place only 7 clicks from the activity area for the day. Good thing I brought my Panama Jack hat and old-man-been-to-the-eye-doctor-shades.

The airmen did their thing with their run what the AF calls a ‘retreat pad’. It’s like a three sided stadium open on one end, and from whence the airmen appear with their group (called a flight).

I didn’t see my boy then but got him on video by accident. He pointed himself out later. Yes, we did hook up but only just as I was leaving the base.

More later…

Glen Campbell

Say good-bye to Glen Campbell.

A string of hits in the mid-late sixties and his own television show made him famous.

He was the seventh son of a seventh son.

He could not read music, but could play any part if he heard it first.

He did backup vocals/guitar for the Rolling Stones and other bands.

He released an album in the mid seventies containing the hits “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Sunflower”.

When X was a wee lad travelling ‘tween Texas and North Dakota in the sixties, they played a wide variety of musicians, including Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Petula Clark, Boots Randolph, Ray Coniff, the Jesus Christ Superstar album…all these on 8-track.

Folks would not let us play The Who, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Uriah Heep, Yes Fragile…”Very well” X would tell them “continue to wallow in ignorance.”