During an alert once I was posted way out on the flight line, just me and the rabbits, as lonesome as lonesome gets. As I am sure you are aware these alerts could trap you on a post for up to 16 hours at a time with just a visit from the chow wagon to break up the long vigil (although I was hardly ever vigil on post).
So, anyway here I am feeling homesick and generally sorry for myself, when someone started making transmissions over the radio "I 'm crazy". I forget what the article of conduct (1399?) was called if you were proven mentally unsound where they would not let you near a M16 let alone a Nuke uploaded bird.. so this just struck me as the funniest thing I had ever heard. "I'm crazy", "I'm crazy ".. over and over at well spaced intervals.
Finally, our Squadron Commander Col. Galligan breaks through and very officiously identifies himself and declares over the air "Who is this person making these unauthorized transmissions?", well after a pregnant pause that would rival any Las Vegas comic, comes the reply "I'm not that crazy". Made my night, which was turning into day, and it became a catch phrase for us for a while.
Story by John Downing
"Dead Bodies Anybody"
One midnight shift, I was on Police Three so that meant I had the checklist to the flightline tech. side of Bentwaters. That particular night was going smoothly, the night air was damp but not incredibly cold. My buildings were confidently secure as opposed to being 'insecure', and I was killing time relieving Police Ten gate guard so he could go on one of his many potty break. I was pretty much patrolling around looking for anything out of the ordinary when over the radio the Desk Sergeant Kuhn bellowed, "Police Three, head over to the fire department and pick up a can of speckled paint."
"Say again?" I asked not understanding what I was asked to pick-up.
"Rehfeldt, I said (pause) proceed over (pause) to the fire department (a little sing-song sarcasm in his voice) (pause) and get me (pause) some speckled paint. Bring it back to this location A-S-A-P. Do (pause) you (pause) understand?"
"That's a roger." Not liking Kuhn's attitude over the radio, I proceeded to the fire department to pick up the speckled paint.
It was funny, but we all talked awkwardly over the radio, as though using words like 'proceed', 'utilize' and 'location' as opposed to 'go', 'use' and 'here' made us sound smart or something. I think we had a fixation of what sounded professional. Maybe we all watched a little bit too many episodes of TV shows like Star Trek or Adam-12.
If we talked normally, Kuhn with an attitude would get on the radio and say something like, "Police-3 maintain radio discipline!"
So I disembarked my vehicle. In other words, I climbed out of my car, and walked through the back door into the fire department. The fire department had a huge garage door and the only other entrance I knew of: was a back door that led into a small dark kitchen.
It was kind of neat that the fire department had a full kitchen with a stove, sink, refrigerator and a table with chairs. Reminded me of home. Apparently, someone recently made a blueberry cobbler and left it out on the kitchen table. Grabbing a paper napkin and helping myself to some cobbler, I continued walking down the dark narrow hallway.
Before I knew it, I found myself in the garage walking around huge green fire trucks. Still I didn't see anyone. Then I saw a light in what looked like a control room. I peered in, but again, saw no one. I thought it was strange that the fire department was like a ghost town. I knew there had to be someone there all the time, so where were they. I kept thinking, the fire department was like the police; we were always on call 24 hours a day. It was strange.
"Police 3 this is Police Control. What is your status?"
"Police Control, my status is I'm still looking for fire department personnel."
Flinching after hearing my awkward communication. I wanted to say, "Hey, I can't find anyone. Got any ideas?" But, that wouldn't sound right. I had to sound awkward because awkward sounded professional or something like that.
"Police 3, ten eleven this unit ASAP."
That didn't sound good either. I couldn't leave there without finding the speckled paint. I couldn't fail my mission. I decided not to ten eleven Police Control. I didn't have my ten series card on me, which would have told me what ten eleven, means. My card was in my alert bag, which was past the cobbler, outside in the patrol car. Okay, I knew that ten eleven meant that I had to get back to the LE Desk right away. I figured I had a few minutes to look around for either a person or a can of speckled paint.
Still in the garage of the fire department, I felt like someone was lurking around behind the fire trucks. The radio squawked for me to get back to Police Control with or without the speckled paint. I had to abort my mission. Heading for the back door where my patrol car was parked, I passed a dark weight room and noticed a human form-sitting leaning against the wall.
Rubbing my hand against the wall, trying to find the light switch and there wasn't one to be found, but as my eyes adjusted I could tell there was a sleeping airman sitting on the floor. I figured I'd wake him up, ask for the speckled paint and succeed in my mission. Walking slowly in the darkness of the weight room, I was trying to make sure I didn't trip over some iron weights.
I called out, "Hello?"
No answer. The guy on the floor must have been a deep sleeper.
"Hello." Still no answer than I nudged him, and felt his dead body.
"Oh Shit! Oh my God, he's dead. Someone's killing people in here!" As I ran out of the weight room.
"Police Control, this is Police 3 be advised there is a dead body in the fire department." Still running.
"Say again?" Asked Kuhn.
"Look, I need some back up. I think there is someone in here killing people." Trying hard not to sound stupid, yet sounding so stupid.
"Police Control to Police 2, rendezvous to Rehfeldt's location.
"Roger Police Control."
"Police 3 meet up with Police 2 on the south side of the fire department.
"Roger." Feeling really stupid, yet wanting to know if what I felt was a dead person.
Police 2 was Dan Koehler my Flight Chief. Dan was mild mannered. He was a slight guy and a long distance runner. He'd run five to ten miles a day. Anyway, he was slim, while I was fighting to keep my weight down which annoyed the hell out of me.
Dan slowly meandered out of his patrol car. I frantically made a mad dash to him.
"Dan, there is a dead body in the weight room."
"Okay. Let's go have a look."
I gave him a look that said, "Do we have to?"
I directed Dan through the kitchen, where he stopped and grabbed a piece of cobbler.
"How can you eat at a time like this? There is a dead man over there." Pointing in the direction of the weight room.
Dan continued eating his cobbler and I walked behind him, directing him down the dark hallway.
"That room over there on the left."
My heart was pounding in my ears. I couldn't believe that Dan wasn't scared. Then again, Dan was the flight chief, the boss, the big man on campus, and the head enchilada.
"Now, lets see if can find the light switch. Oh here it is."
The lights go on, and I look away. I couldn't stand to see my first dead person, and then Dan starts laughing his ass off.
"What's so funny?" Still not looking at the dead body.
"Look at your dead body."
"Do I have to."
"Yes, you have to." Said Dan.
I peek, and there I have a full view of my dead body. It was a horrible sight. Okay, it was an embarrassing sight.
"Dan, please don't tell anyone."
"Police Control this is Police two, be advised that the fire department is safe and secure."
"Police Two, what about the dead body?"
"No dead body. Just a dead fire dummy."
It was getting late out. TSgt Koehler would have let the issue drop, but the entire flight of guys heard the radio messages. So, for a few weeks, I was razzed.
Story by Lori Rehfeldt. Lori is writing a book about her experiences while at Bentwaters. This was a snippet from her "big story".
"Living it up with the Beatles"
I was stationed at Bentwaters and in the 81 Air Police K-9 Section from 1960 to 1963. In 1960 or 1961 (can't remember the exact year), the Beatles came to play and sing in the NCO Club at Bentwaters. They weren't very famous then. It had poured rain all night and when then went to leave the club after midnight, their van wouldn't start. They weren't sure what to do, and we had sampled a few "pints" so we suggested that they come over and stay at the barracks and they could sleep in the beds of the dog handlers working the midnight shift.
They came over and we got them tucked into their beds and in the morning we worked on their van and got it started. By then we were all hungry and we suggested that they follow us out to the dog kennels and we would fix some breakfast out there. We had a refrigerator with eggs, bacon, etc we always chipped in to buy. They loved the idea and the best part was that after breakfast and they had a look around at the dogs, they set up their instruments and played and sang some songs. The whole time, the dogs were barking and howling.
This is all hard to believe, and sometimes I have trouble believing it happened myself. I guess it only happened because they were not real famous at the time and a regular bunch of guys. None of us thought to take pictures of them or the action at the dog kennels, because we had no idea that they would turn into such big stars.
Just to add little comment. I can still remember what super guys they were and what great sports. I will always be a big fan of theirs, and their music. I was thrilled when they came over to be on the Ed Sullivan show in the 60s and the rest is history.
One of the "old" K-9s and still barking, Dick Shively
"wow"... that story beats 'em all & thanks for sharing that piece of history with us, Dick!
"It's not mine, Sir"
We had a young Lt. who liked to pull surprise inspections of the barracks. He took particular pleasure in conducting these white glove inspections at the most inopportune of times, e.g. after the third day shift when a lot of guys were running out of the barracks to catch the train for the Smoke, etc.
Well, one of the senior guys (this happened in 67) a fellow named Chuck DiBias, from I believe West Virginia, got wind of one of these little visits scheduled after a midnight shift. He took a jar of peanut butter, and shaped a realistic looking turd and placed it in the bottom of his room's waste basket. The Lt. came in and proceeded to do his thing when he spotted the "turd" at the bottom of the waste basket. Sputtering and simultaneous blowing a gasket, he began to roust DiBias (who was just feigning sleep, as were his roomies) from his slumber.
"Airman DiBias, he excitedly yelled, "there's shit in your waste basket". Having the young officer right where he wanted him, DiBias hopped out of bed, walked over to the offensive waste basket, peered in and scooped up some of the turd/peanut butter on his finger, took a lick before the horrified eyes of the young Lt. and proclaimed ..."It's not mine, Sir". Saluted, and hopped back into bed.
Story by John Downing
"the Youth Hostel Ghost"
January 20, 1981 -
Joe Rounds, who used to be one of the armorers with "B" Flight Security at RAF Bentwaters.. &, "I".. yours truly - took off in my Mini during a break. We were supposed to be headed for Canterbury, but Joe was apparently having a difficult time navigating with the map in hand. Thus, we decided after taking a wrong turn - to go to Kings Lynn instead. That plan didn't pan out either (smile), and we ended up at a place called Harlow for the night.
We stayed the night at a youth hostel in the town of Harlow. The building may have been an older structure - I can't recall. Anyway, Joe & I shared a room to ourselves designed for four. These were two bunk beds. He slept on the top of one bunk bed, and I.. the other. We slept in this room rather uneasily for the night, or perhaps Joe did. As I slept in a sleeping bag, I found it rather uncomfortable & had a rather shiftless sleep until about 5:20 AM.
Many things happened during this lite sleep. For one, I was aware of being there lying on the bed and everything else that went on. It was all crystal clear to me then. Right around 5:30 AM, I drifted into a heavy sleep, and dreamt of Flipper the dolphin!
We both woke up in the morning.. both of us knowing something was going on the nite before.. whether, it was related or not. Joe could not sleep at all that night. He told me that he slept on his back the whole night.. and that he never slept on his back. He said he was very frightened because he felt there was someone standing behind him.. and he feared him. He said he heard these words repeatedly.. "he's behind you.. he's behind you".
It was strange and went unanswered.
Story by Ken Kern
"a Real response!@?"
On my third night of duty, early 1974, I was in the reading OI's in the battle staff area just outside of CSC. K9 units in the TAPA started reporting receiving fire from off-base. I couldn't believe it! All the war stories from tech school said things like this happened, but this was only my third duty day as a SP. Msgt Eddie McAfee, Flight Chief, came into
the building, grabbed me, and we raced off to the TAPA while the security controller (Comm-Plotter) radioed the units not to return fire unless they were certain they were being fired on.
When we got into the TAPA, priority "B" area, Sgt. Mark Lance had two or three vehicles full of people jacked up just out side the fence. They were all armed with rifles and shotguns. Turns out it was the landlord and his guests hunting rabbits out in his fields. The Landrovers had spot lights on them and they were driving the rabbits ahead of them and trapping them against the restricted area/base fence.
Apparently this had been coordinated with the LE desk and the Base Commander. We just didn't get the word. No shots were fired, no one got hurt. I do believe that the hunters may have had to make a latrine stop. We scared them pretty bad. Three SP's with M-16's against a half dozen of them.
Story by Joe Moews
"if only you were there!?"
One Christmas Eve while riding around on the SAT patrol (75-77), a comrade known as Chile Bean (can't recall his real name), called CSC from his post in the TAPA (post 23 I think) to report a tiny elf with eight tiny reindeer just ran his post. CSC ackowledged and the radio went quiet for a moment. Chile Bean came back on a few seconds later and asked CSC to send a SAT by his post with a shovel and bucket.
If anyone remembers Damon Dimmock you'll remember how strange he was. The plumbing to the showers in the Bentwaters SP barracks ran through his room which made his room very warm from the hot water pipe. Great in winter but not so in summer. To alleviate the heat he would sleep with his door open during the summer. One day while passing his room I glanced in and spotted his 10 speed bike on his bed. About four inches away was Damon fully asleep in a chair made for kindergartners. Very strange.......
Does anyone recall a guy named Merkel? Would love to hear what's become of him.
Story by Scott Paullin
Well, you asked for it.. OK, maybe you didn't! But, here it is anyway (smile). The long awaited SP ~ AP Story Land. This is the archive of all those stories you told & heard from other SPs or APs during the many boring & countless hours you spent doing absolutely nothing on the flightline.. sitting in the bomb dump.. cruising the streets, or just standing at a gate!
Here's how it works.. if you've got a great story, or even a mediocre one (we're easy).. email your prize story to the webmaster at [email protected] . Then, look forward to seeing your story displayed here in Story Land.. for all your colleagues to see, reminisce, laugh or awe at!
Granted.. many of these stories, like the first story below.. "I'm Crazy".. will most likely find only former SPs & APs slapping their knees.. you had to have been there to appreciate the stories & catch the gist of it..
E n j o y . .
I'm getting in bed with you ! !
I was stationed at Bentwaters from 1979 - 1981 "D" flt. While there, Pat Cioppa was my room mate the whole time. Around 1981 I was dating a girl who lived in Wales. Well, Pat went with me on a three-day break to visit my girlfriends' parents. They told us when we arrived that the house was haunted, and was built on the site of ancient castle ruins. We both thought "yea right..". Well that night, we slept in my girlfriends' room which had twin beds. About midnight Pat woke me stating he was scared. I said at what? He said someone was knocking on the small cloths drop door beside his bed. I told him well open it and see who it is. Pat calmly explained to me about how I was or must be out of my @#$%^%$ mind. Pat said, if it keeps knocking he was going to get in the bed with me. I told him while laughing, that would be a hell of a fight. He said he didn't care.
I don't think he let me sleep at all that night, and he never went back with me to visit, go figure!!!
Story by Michael Stacy Smith
While stationed at Bentwaters from late 59 to late 63 with 81st APRON we had had at one time an OIC, a Reserve Major Carl l Heck. I think it was the first Saturday of each month when the good Major insisted that we had a squadron parade. Unfortunately, he insisted in calling cadence but could'nt do so say to save NATO. On a particular Saturday morning we had the custumary English weather, pouring rain, so the parade was called off. But not to be undone the good Major still insisted in having an inspection.
As there were no free hangers to accomodate us he decided that we should all line up in the passage of our brand new two storey brick barracks which were like an hotel compared to the round WW2 Nissan huts he previously occupied and were affectionately known as 'Pig Alley''. I shared my room with Donald Burnthorne and a fellow from the Major's office whose name escapes me. As was the custom at the time we had an adaptor inserted into the light socket which enabled us to operate our record player. We had had a rough night in Ipswich on Friday night, gave the room a quick once over, closed the blinds and when ready switched off the light.
Now when Major Heck had his parade in the passage he and others inspected our rooms. Finding our room a little on the dark side he called to the Staff Sgt. ''Sgt turn the damn lights on''. This of course operated the turntable and out at full volume came Fatts Domino singing 'I left my thrill on Blueberry Hill' which of course we had left on the turntable the night before. Needless to say the Adjutant and Staff Sgt. ran out of gig slips by the time they had finished with our room. But I can still crack a wry smile after forty years whenever I hear than tune by Fatts!
Story by Robert O'Connor
Those Moments. . Those Moments . .
Ah! There are so many moments that I remember fondly of my stay with the 81st SPS from 1776 -1978. Like bringing my sleeping bag up to the MSCFO tower inside of my flight bag and stripping down to my skivies to sleep the shift away. Partying down at the Running Buck with Lawrence Duncan, Andy Davila, Rick England to name a few. Riding my bicycle to Bawdsey and trying to swim in fridged water. Fish and chips. Drinking beer in the barracks after shift until we dropped. Bowling with my fellow airmen. Asking the air tower for permission to do a blow out in the SP vehicle and just flat out getting it on down the runway.
One thing that is stuck in my mind are the goose bumps I got when an F-4 took off and after burners kicked in.. whew. I remember one time sliding around the corner at high speed almost hitting the oncoming shift during guardmount and T boning a pine tree. Then taking off just as quick only to be summoned back by TSGT Cooley. I remember putting catnip in rolling paper and puffing on it while walking through CSC. OSI and K-9 went crazey over it because it smells exactly like marijuana and TSGT Cooley laughing later telling me: "Fritton, I know it was you.."
Oh yeah, standing on the MSCFO Tower in only my underwear, my blue scarf and my M-16. Most of all I remember the good times that I had with everyone and the comradery we shared. It was a fine way to grow up.
Story by Daniel Fritton
The first time something wierd happened was when I was stationed at the guard shack, Echo 1? My memory fades...
If anyone remembers that shack, you would remember that the seat was down low and the windows high so you couldn't see outside. Outside around the shack was gravel. I was sitting there and someone walked up to the shack, crunch crunch crunch crunch... loud and clear right up to the door. Only thing is.. if someone was standing there in front I would have seen him unless they were 4ft tall or less? It scared the crap out of me because I was thinking EAST END CHARLIE!!! I called the patrol on the radio and waited for him to show up. I spent the rest of the night in the truck.
The 2nd time... I was in the truck and talking to the guard at the gate, I decided to make a run down the east end and check things out. As soon as I got to the east end, the wipers on the truck started going. I tried turning them off and couldn't. I tried everything. So, I turned around and went back to the guard shack & as soon as I got to about 200 feet from the shack the wipers went off. Now I know it sounds silly and it probably wasn't anything, but there were plenty of noises and other wierd things that happened there. Also, does anyone remember the little village we drove through on the way from guardmount to Woodbridge? How come in the two years I was there I never saw one person or light at night?
Story by Carlo Barsotti
Reduce Your Speed...
I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE A STORY THAT I REMEMBERED ABOUT ONE OF MY FIRST WEEKS AT BENTWATERS AS I WAS A BRIGHT EYED AND VERY NERVOUS SP WORKING WITH THE LE UNIT UNTIL MY SECURITY CLEARANCE CAME THOUGH. WELL IT WAS A MIDNIGHT SHIFT AND ALL WAS QUIET FOR A JAN
NIGHT UNTIL ABOUT 3 IN THE MORNING WHEN IT STARTED TO SNOW PRETTY HARD AND WHEN ABOUT A HOUR BEFORE MY SHIFT ENDED I WAS TOLD THAT SINCE THEY COULD NOT LOCATE THE REDUCED SPEED SIGN THAT I WAS TO STOP AND LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THE REDUCED SPEED LIMIT. SO BEING
SO NEW AND WANTING TO DO THE RIGHT THING I STOPPED EACH CAR AND TOLD THEM "PLEASE REDUCE YOUR SPEED". WELL IN NO TIME AT ALL I HAD TRAFFIC BACKED UP A COUPLE OF MILES AND WAS CURSED OUT BY A LT COL WHO PRETTY MUCH STATED I WAS A IDIOT FOR STOPPING EVERYONE AND THAT I NEEDED TO STOP STOPPING EVERYONE!! WELL IN MY STRAIGHT FACE AND VERY SINCERELY I SAID " SIR IM JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS" IN WHICH HE GAVE ME A UNFLATTERING LOOK AND DROVE AWAY. WELL THE END OF MY SHIFT COULD NOT HAVE COME SOON ENOUGH! AND SO AFTER MY SUPERVISOR CAME TO DROP OFF MY RELIEF AND SAW THE HUGE BACK UP OF CARS DECIDED IT PROBABLY WAS NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER ALL! AND I NEVER WORKED THAT GATE AGAIN!!
Story by Rich Vana
I feel that in a sense..
.. I have no business being on this web site for 1. I am English and 2. Was never in the USAF!
Let me explain who I am and what I have to say. I am 45yrs old and live at Beccles near Lowestoft in Suffolk. As a
kid was facinated by airplanes and so became interested in the history of the USAAF/USAF in East Anglia from 1942 to present day.
I have a large personal collection of Army Air Force and Air Force memorabilia, ranging from uniforms (inc 81st SPS) and equipment to the largest item being the compleat flight deck from a 1943 Douglas C.54 "Skymaster" cargo plane.
I have worked most of my adult life in the Security industry in the U.K. I was involved in the training and operation of the U.K's first civillian Drugs Detection Dog. Like your selves I have pulled many a long and boring shift through the night guarding all manor of things over the years from S.61 Helicopters to the "Mantis" submarine used in a James Bond film.
With this in mind I have always been interested in Security operations within the USAF (inc the M.P.s of WWII to the Security Police of today !) So I was most pleased to find this site.
I have in the past had many links with the 81st TFW, Gen Wacker and his wife came to officially open one of the USAF history projects that I was involved with in 1979.
A friend who was based at Bentwaters when the F.4s departed and the A.10s first arrived took a large oil painting I had done of A.10s in flight to the base and it was displayed for many years in one of the buildings.
I have visited many of the old World War Two airbases in East Anglia and find that these old airfields have a special auror. Most of them are sadly gone ! but some times you can find an odd building or a hanger with perhaps part of an overgrown runway that once buzzed with B.17 Flying Fortresses or P.51 Mustangs.
On many of these bases there will be small reminders of the inhabitants who crossed the Atlantic to fight for freedom in the skies.. At Halesworth in Suffolk (Once home the the highest scoring fighter group in Europe, the 56th F.G "Zemke's Woolfpack) behind an old mess hut, if you look clearly on the ground, set in concrete is a small inscription that reads simply "Andy U.S.A".
At the old airfield at Flixton nr the old market town of Bungay. Was the home of the 446th Bomb Group, their B.24 Liberators would lead the allied air assault on D.Day June 6th 1944. Most of the runways etc were broken up in the 70s but the NCOs club and mess halls remain and again, within these buildings are reminders of the past.. A mural painted on the wall of a mermaid, A sign painted on a beam in the mess hall that barks the instruction "BRING YOUR CLEANED PLATES HERE" !
Sadly many of the bases are gone, forever ! farmland once more with only smart memorials from a grateful nation to mark their contribution to the air war over the skies of Europe.
In the late 90s I was asked to help out an old friend who was working on a project for BBC television, They wanted to film some American cars for a documentry they were making on the Challenger space shuttle disaster.
All I had to do was drive one of these cars (a 1982 Camero) to the filming location. Wait around all day (the boring bit) then drive the car back again.
When I was told the location we had to wait and be bored at was the disused airbase at RAF Bentwaters I knew the one thing I would not be was bored !
I parked the camero up near the old operations building (Why you guys cant put the steering wheel on the proper side of the car I dont know !) I got out of the car and there it was, the same auror of the WWII airfields, but this was very diferent. The chance of finding a reminder that the USAF was ever here. The possibility of a buiding still remaining in one piece ! These factors did not even come into it ! For here I was, standing in a base that looked as if someone blew a whistle and every one just went home !
The film company had turned the old war room into Mission Control at Huston, this was a facinating building to walk round. We were told that as long as we did not get in the way of filming we had the run of the base. Most people just groaned and settled down to spend the day sunbathing on the lawn. Me,I was off camera in hand.
Empty offices,one containing a memo from a disgruntled officer complaining about the laundry service. The control tower waiting for the A.10s to return, documents spread all over the place that would never be filed ! Workshops, Security Police points and hangers all now deserted !
Did I find any inscriptions in concrete to mark the previous occupents had been there ? No, but most prominently I found the remains of the 81st TFW "Dragon" insignia unfortunatly smashed in two on the grass bank. And on the side of a building that I could only look at from a distance (fenced off) was the legend "P.O.W and M.I.A You are not forgotten".
A nissen hut that served as a post office, the rack on the wall still had mail in, all be it "junk mail" prob' thrown back on the rack when the addressee realised he had no need for another years subscription of that magazine any more !
The day came to an end and the camero was driven reluctantly back to Lowestoft. Did I remove any souvenirs from the base ? Well, only a card tag that bears the USAF logo and states "Do not Disturb" on.
But then again there were no Security Police to stop me !!
I hope you will find my little tale of interest, I have been considering for some time putting a book together about Airforce Police operations from 1942 to modern day and would welcome stories of interest, funny, sad, spooky etc, that could be included.
East End Charlie was a legend among the young USAF Air Police Ramp Rats in the early 60s. Many thought he or she was a haze induced ghost or, at best, the figment of the imagination of some lonely young Woodbridge 81st Air Police Squadron guards which had nothing to do all night on sentry duty but to stare into the dense fog and wonder who (or what) might be out there watching them. The greater the imagination, embellishment and story telling prowess, the larger the legend.
But, for me and several more who worked security duty in the 78th TFS Aircraft Alert Area during the summer of 1963, we discovered that East End Charlie was not only real, but also real fast.
For several months in 63 there were several trailers parked just south of the 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron Alert Aircraft Area at Woodbridge (just a few hundred yards west of the East Gate which led through the forest to RAF Bentwaters). These trailers were parked about 50 yards from the Alert Area and about the same distance from the base perimeter fence.
On several occasions we would see movement around the trailers late at night and also see cigarettes being flicked out the windows of the trailers. We would call for mobile patrols and K-9 teams to respond to check out these sightings. But each time the intruder (later dubbed East End Charlie) would beat the responders to the perimeter fence, scale the fence with catlike lightning speed and evade apprehension. Each time we would hear a motorcycle leaving the area a short time later.
We figured we had either a spy or a very brave and determined Ban the Bomber on our hands. After several failed attempts to catch Charlie, we enlisted the help of the local police who set up nightly stake outs in the woods outside our base fence.
Then one night as the usual scenario played out, East End Charlie scaled the fence and as he departed the area, he ran smack dab into the outstretched arms of two waiting local English Constables.
To the best of my memory, East End Charlie turned out to be a young local boy who was a member of an English Aircraft Tail Spotter Club. He wore spiked toed shoes, motorcycle gloves and pants. That is how he was able to get over the fence so fast and not get hurt. He would park his motorcycle in the woods, away from the base in the late evening, and would walk the rest of the way and climb the fence after it got dark.
Legend has it that he came back once each summer for several years, and did the same thing, until they moved the trailers. That was probably his way of having fun and to just say hi. I cannot attest to that as I never personally saw him again after the night he got caught.
Story by Eddie C McAfee, 81st Air Police Sq, 1960's
I remember my first alert at Woodbridge.
It was early 1962 when the hooter went off in the dorm. Being a new gung ho young troop, I jumped out of bed grabbed my gear and started running to the Armory thinking war has probably started. But I did notice that everyone was sure taking their time in the dorm and did not seem in a hurry to get to the armory. Of course I soon realized the first guy to the Armory was the first posted and usually the last one relieved.
When I arrived, a TSgt said what's your name - I said Newman. He said get a B.A.R. (Browning Auto Rifle), I said Sir I can't shoot a BAR, he then said OK get a 30 Cal MG, I again said Sir I can't shoot that either - he then looked at me and screamed get a #%@MG. So here I am weighing all 140 pounds with this MG, ammo, tripod by myself. I was posted at the end of the runway with another new troop. After a few hours of boredom on post we figured out how to load the MG. Of course after that I made sure I was never the first guy to the Armory.
Story by Ken Newman
A Scene Out of Monty Python?
I served at Bentwaters from 83 til 85. At the time the exchange rate was $1.05 for a pound sterling. For a 19 year old kid, never away from home before, the thought of living off base in a foreign community was overwhelming at first. My 1st Sgt was ordering all new arrivals to find a place to live ASAP. I arrived about the same time as Jeff Thurmond, Jeff Woodward and Gil League. As fate would have it, we became pretty tight and eventually found a place to live at 280 Norwich Road in Ipswich.
Little did we know that this was to become, probably the wildest time of our lives. The place we rented was a row house, with a two bedroom apt upstairs and a two bedroom apt downstairs. One of the first things we did was look for transportation, Gil purchased an old beat up Vauxhal Mini and Woody bought a Vauxhal Maxi, which we immediately christined "the pad" (figure it out). We didn't have much furniture and luckily there was a second hand furniture store across the street. Man, we gave them a lot of business. Everything was broken at one point or another. We all worked on Dawg flight and our home quickly became "the Dawg house". For some reason Woody decided that we needed a pet. He was quite taken with the ferrets that an old farmer brought into the WSA to kill the rabbits messing with the MAID MILES.
One day we took a road trip into Saxmundham. Woody was quite the driver and used to get a kick outta going straight over the roundabouts. He would stomp on the gas and scream "round-over". As we entered the back roads towards Woodbridge, we would play a game called "kill the birds" and attempt to hit an occasional grouse, which were quite plentiful at the time by opening our doors while travelling at an extreme rate of speed. Anyway, while searching for a "ferret store", we managed to stop at several pubs and down quite a few pints of guinness. Believe it or not we eventually came across an old farmer standing by the road, selling ferrets. Woody picked out the orneriest one he had, and the old guy put it in a shoe box tied with a piece of twine. Woody gleefully took his new pet and we got back in the car. Myself, Charlie Valvo, Gil League and Jeff (Woody) Woodward, proceeded to head back to Ipswich. Gil was pretty toasted (as were the rest of us) and decided to open the box and pet our new buddy. Wrong idea, Mr ferret was pretty angry to say the least, and immediately lept from the box and started attacking Gil. Gil started screaming, myself and Charlie in the backseat, started to laugh hysterically. Instead of slowing down, Woody was inspired to go faster. Gil eventually got the offending animal off his hand, and threw it in the back seat. Now, it was our turn to scream. First Charlie was attacked, then he got me. At this point, three of us were bleeding pretty good. Charlie was able to get the ferret off my shoulder and we proceeded to kick the hell out of it on the floorboard (I probably shoulda warned any animal lovers at the start, but believe me, this thing was possessed, he was made outta titanium, with a mouth full of straight razors).
Charlie eventually won that round, and said "clear, I kicked him loopy". Charlie was like that. He had a way of talking that constantly kept me amused, God love him. Just when we had assessed the damage, and staunched the majority of blood flow, the little bugger, got up, started this hissing noise, and ran under the front drivers seat, ready for round two. Woody was still laughing hysterically, flew over a round about, and POW! Our little friend was attacking him. The other three of us lost it. The ferret crawled up Woody's leg, and made it down his arm, ultimately latching itself onto Woody's hand, chewing the hell out of the webbing below Woody's thumb. Here we go again, laughter, bleeding, biting, driving way too fast for conditions. Woody started to slam his hand/ferret onto the dashboard, and blood was splashing the windshield. He was able to knock it into unconsciousness, eventually, just as Charlie flung open his door, wacking a grouse, screaming with unabandoned joy, "got one".
I just sat there in my seat, looking around the car, watching the country-side flash by, thinking to myself, "what have you gotten youself into?" Everything I just wrote, came back to me in a rush, I wanted to write something, but I have hundreds of memories like that stored in my mind. Hope you enjoyed it. I'll come back from time to time and share some more. I think we only made it to round three with the posessed ferret, and there were several more...
Story by John P. Richards
Another Night Out in Town??
Being stationed at Bentwaters from 1983 til 1985 could be a dangerous experience if you happened go off base for recreation. The British nationals were not very receptive to American service members. Most likely due to the fact that their economy was in poor shape, because of a National coal strike. They were receiving economic assistance from the Soviet Union. The exchange rate fluctuated from a dollar and two cents to a dollar ten cents per pound.
A lot of single airmen were living high on the hog on the economy. With base pay, BHS, BAQ, and COLA, there was a lot of left over cash to enjoy the night-life.
I lived with 3 other guys at 280 Norwich Road, Ipswich. An address that will go down in infamy. It was known as "the Dawg House". We had more parties than I can remember. Hell, at the time, as Prince would sing, "life is just a party, so we'll party like it's 1999". We lived like there was no tomorrow. Our landlord's name was Berry. He didn't know whether to love or hate us. He would come by about twice a month, assess the damage, take our money, have a crew come over and fix whatever was busted, drink our booze, eat our steaks, which we had a tendency to cook in the living room on a grill, tell us we were "bloody yanks" and go home til next time. We thought we were invincable.
Anyway, a large part of our problems were due to the fact that we always had cash, nice duds, lots of girls, and attitudes from hell. In early March of 84, me and my buddies were out drinking after a swing shift. We were at a favorite night spot, one in which you had to pass a dress code inspection by two burly bouncers, produce ID, and take an elevator to the third floor. We were all enjoying ourselves, minding our own business, when all hell broke loose. Manchester United was in town, playing Ipswich in the local stadium. Also during this time period the British "football hooligans" were on the war path throughout Europe. Stampedes, riots, fires, hundreds of people killed and thousands injured. They were literally banned from going to matches on the continent.
Back to my original story. I was sitting at a table with a buddy and two local women, when the elevator opened and a mass of thugs came out singing their war cry, "here we go, here we go, here we go!" A group of them came over to my table, and just by happenstance, not because I was a supporter, I was wearing a blue and white Ipswich Town neck scarf. Oh boy. This big block-headed monster came over and grabbed ahold of the end of my scarf, pulling with all his might, and spun me outta my seat like a spinning top. From there, things became a blur. He took a swing at me, and before it could connect, Brian "Bear" Harris caught his fist in mid-air and punched him in the throat. The manager came running over and escorted us all to the bar. He said that if we would all just leave, going down the fire escape, he would have taxis waiting and pay for it. Since we were out numbered, about twenty to one. We agreed to split. As fate would have it, only one taxi was waiting. Bear was getting upset about having to run, and told four of the guys to get in the car and leave. Some of the other fellas lived close by, and hot-footed it out of the area.
As Bear and I were waiting for our ride, we heard a loud crashing noise (breaking glass), and then the dreaded "here we go!" The hooligans were looking for us. A taxi pulled up, and I was standing there with Bear and another guy from the Phillipines. Bear was cussing and saying, I'm not gonna run anymore. He was a star football player for Lakenheath and came from North Carolina. He was built like the proverbial "brick @!*% house". He shoved me in the back seat, and said, "Johnny, you boys get the hell outta here". I was arguing that he should come with us, when this idiot runs up outta no-where, and hit Bear upside the head with a huge ashtray. Bear looked at me and winked. The taxi driver started to pull away, with the back door open, and I jumped out. Bear was chasing his assailant full speed down the sidewalk. I watched as he caught this guy, grabbing him from behind by his collar. He threw his forearm up between this idiots legs, picking him completely off the ground and continued to run, carrying his prey straight into a brick wall.
At this point, a pack of hooligans were trying to bring down the Bear. And he was really kicking some ass. I was petrified. My buddy was doing a great job, but the odds were totally against him. I'm not sure what made me do it, maybe hearing Bears "rebel yell", but I started to run down the sidewalk towards the fight. When I hit the corner, somebody was waiting for me with a broken table leg. He connected with my face, and needless to say, I literally saw stars.
Bear later told me that he was trying to yell for me to stay back (all 150 pounds, soaking wet), but I never heard his warning. He said that they were on me like a pack of dogs. I regained consciousness at one point and remember being held up by two thugs, while another guy was walking towards me, doing all kinds of neat tricks with his butter-fly knife.
I thought I was gonna die. Not to happen. Bear broke loose and came running over. He grabbed that guys wrist, in his downward stroke to my all ready busted carcass. Bear threw his knee into the small of Zorro's back, wrenching his knife wielding arm into a very unnatural position. He literally "gorrilla-pressed" that guy, over his head. My attackers let me fall to the pavement and watched with amazement, this fete of strength. Bear slammed Zorro to the street and stomped on his face. The hooligans were chearing him on and clapping their hands. I was bleeding profusely. Bear came over to me and picked me up like an infant. The hooligans started licking their wounds and congratulating each other.
I remember being layed on a table behind a curtain. Bear was screaming at what I supposed was a doctor. The doctor wasn't very pleased. He started messing with my shattered nose and I screamed. Bear walked in and slammed him against the wall. A while after that, I musta passed out, the doctor sutured my face, stitching around the compound fractures. I rememeber him calling us "bloodie yanks" (how appropriate) and telling me I got what I deserved. I don't remember how we got home, but I do remember a bunch of guys sitting and standing around the living room. I remember kneeling between two chairs, with my arms spread out for support, and my face draining blood into Woodies chili pot. A lot of guys were arguing about whether or not I'd get into trouble for "destruction of government property" (my own body).
I can't remember the ride to Bentwaters a few hours later. I do recall the doctor assessing my damage (broken and crushed nose, with crushed sinnus's, fractured upper left jaw, fractured right orbital lobe, 17 stitches in my mouth, 1 fractured rib, and a broken right pinkie). I can also remember that Bear had very minimal damage. Some stitches in his temple, from the sucker shot, and if I'm not mistaken, a tooth was pulled from one of his fists. I received 30 days convelescent leave. I was too ashamed of looking like the Elephant Man to go stateside. I stayed home most of the time in the Dawg house. A lot of guys took care of me. Mostly Gil League, Charlie Valvo, and Jeff Woodyard. My buddies. I could go on and on, but this is just a "tidbit".
Story by John P. Richards
SP Stories incl Butt Mam..
Story #1 - I was in the WSA fire team facility and we were playing hearts (or spades) and drinking coffee. The area NCO Tom McNabb, who was tight with Sgt. Bradley (the FT leader that shift), came in for his coffee. Seems like he always had a coffee in his hand. Tom shot the breeze with us for a while and left. He walked to the corner of the building when Bradley called out “Hey, Tom, you forgot your coffee!” Tom did an about face took two steps when there was this huge “Boom!” A 20 mm round that whizzed passed that corner where Tom has stood and hit the FT garage. Right into the corner of the door and track where all the metal was. For weeks every time a truck or APU backfired we’d duck. Turns out an A-10 mech. had accidentally fired off the round during maintenance. As I recall they gave the blown out piece to Tom.
Story #2 - My partner and I were on patrol, well sort of, we were in the truck. We were parked in the back of the aircraft area on Woodbridge by the East Gate. It was dark and we were both reading by the dome light. I was reading something like Steven King. I happened to glance up to the drivers’ window and there’s this face right in mine! I began to yell and jumped toward the middle of the truck and my partner also begins to yell. After a few seconds we both felt pretty stupid when we realized the faces against the windows wasn’t East-end Charlie but our own reflections from the dome light being on!
Story #3 - Most of us rode the Blue Goose. I remember we used to pass an aircraft parking area on the right before you went around the end of the runway toward CSC. One night on the way back from chow (I think), some one got the bright idea to moon the guard from the goose on the way by. We rumbled passed, a full moon out every window when the driver yells, “OH @#%@#, its Lt. ----.“ Relieving the guard. Fortunately, SHE was unable to identify anyone. (I am unable to verify the veracity of this story because only the driver saw who was at the post.) Butt it certainly sounds like B flight.
Walt “Doug” Johnson “B” Flt 81-83
A Couple of Wild & Crazy Guys?
In the winter of 84, shortly after my buddy Gil went back to "the world", myself and Jason "Sid" Sedovic were tooling the back roads from Bentwaters to Ipswich in our Mini. The Mini was ours now, because Gil had "willed" it to us, just prior to his departure. The Mini was beat to hell, and there was no way that it would ever pass inspection. We really didn't care how beat up or dangerous it was to be driving that thing, our only concern was that we had a way from point A to B, and that we could buy gasoline, or "petrol" if you will, on base.
Gil, being the thoughtful big brother that he was, decided one day, to replace our nearly expired inspection sticker with an inspection sticker from the windshield of a Porsche that was parked right in front of the NCO club. Since we were just out of control anyway, this seemed like a totally logical thing to do and we didn't give it a second thought. We were content with the knowledge that we would continue buying cheap gasoline.
Anyway, Sid and I decided to stop at the video store and rent a movie. Since it was a Friday night, there were very few parking slots available. We decided, what the hell, Gil's gone, Charlie's gone, Woodie's getting married, Thurmond's in jail again and Sid was on his way to USAFE alcohol rehab soon. Let's just park on the sidewalk. Who really cares?
So, off we go to the video store. As we were checking out, the clerk says, "oi mates, is that your bloody mini across the road? If it is, there's a bobby writing you a ticket". We went to the door, and sure enough, a female bobby was talking on her radio, looking at the inspection sticker and then looking at the tags. Needless to say, they were both bogus. I asked Sid, "what are we gonna do now?" With his standard reply, he stated, "drink heavily". What the hell, we had several bottles of Girelli wine at home, all we needed to do was stop at the off license and pick up some Carlsberg. Instant "snakebites".
After returning home, and several drinks later, Brian "Biscuit" Anderson stops by with Bill "Jethro" Farmer, who was inevitably eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken, bones and all. No kidding, he would actually eat the bones. Biscuit wanted us to know that we had a recall planned in the morning and since we were on the shitlist again, we'd better be there sober. We thanked Biscuit and suddenly realized our kit bags were in the car with all of our equipment. We threw a little fit, broke some stuff, and came up with this great idea to simply walk to the Police department, get our tickets and our equipment and everything would be okay.
Wrong. We were pretty lit. When we got to the station nobody was at the desk. Sid located this old fashioned bell and started banging the hell out of it. Eventually a bobby came out and ordered him to "stop that bloody racket". We had decided that I would do all the talking. As per usual, it didn't work out as planned. Sid got frustrated and started to use profanity. A supervisor came out and ordered us all to "shut the hell up". I attempted to explain our sins, and before we knew it, we were both placed in seperate holding cells. Things were not working out as we had planned. Apparently, the owner of the above mentioned Porsche, had reported his inspection sticker stolen to the British authorities and they had messed up the report, making it look like our Mini had been stolen too. As I sat in my cell, trying not to get claustrophobic, reading all the literature scratched into the walls and counting blood stains on the floor, Sid began singing "swing low sweet chariot" down the hall.
Somebody stuck their head out and screamed "shut up". Next up, Sid started kicking his cell door, I heard somebody open his door, and Sid began screaming, "don't beat me boss, I'll be good, please don't beat me". I wasn't real sure if he was playing or not. After what seemed like an eternity, two Bobbies came to my cell and opened the door. I was half tempted to start swinging, and thankfully I didn't. They escorted me to an interview room. Sid was yelling, "don't tell em anything John". Once I got seated, they said, "we know what you've done, just tell us when you stole the car". I couldn't believe it. I became indignant, and told them they were full of shit. They grilled me for about a half an hour and then put me back in my cell.
Next it was Sids turn. He had calmed down a bit and apparently able to explain to them what was going on. He was returned to his cell and there we sat for several hours until our 1st Sgt bailed us out. He took us home. We tried to explain what had happened, but needless to say he didn't want to hear it. We were lucky we didn't get our butts kicked.
A few weeks later, we went to court. We had been ordered to move back on base. No more 280 Norwich road. We hated living on base with the "dorm rats". The day of our "trial" we were driven to court by the 1st Sgt. He warned us severely, threatening to send us to Mannheim if we didn't behave. We couldn't help ourselves. We were good for about 5 minutes, but as we waited in the docket for our case to be heard, the whole situation became unbelievably funny.
Too many "hear ye, hear ye's". The judge had on a regal robe and was wearing a white horse hair wig full of flowing curls. Sid was ultimately laughing out loud, the Judge was banging his gavel, and Sid started doing a scene from Cheech and Chong, yelling, "bailif, smack his pee-pee".
We didn't get locked up again, but we came close. We did have to pay a hefty fine though. We didn't care. We had been restricted to base, ordered not to drink, and most of our buddies were gone. I eventually got an assignment to Camp New Amsterdam, which was sort of a running joke with our "back office weenies". Nobody thought I'd last a month. Kinda like the old "kid in a candy store" analogy. But that's a whole different story.
Story by John P. Richards
I was a firefighter at Woodbridge from 81 - 85. I remember many nights we'd have members of the 81st SPS in the fire station getting out of the cold, watching TV with us (Thursday night Top of the Pops was always a favorite). We also used to employ cops to help us indocrinate our new firefighters. We'd have our new guy patrolling the front of the fire station with a pike pole (the large harpoon looking pole we used to pull ceilings down). Anyway, after about an hour of the poor kid marching back and forth in front of the station, a police car (LE or SP - whichever was available) would pull up and arrest him for carrying a dangerous weapon. Obviously, we'd call the desk and set this up - you guys were always willing to oblige. It was a hoot to watch the poor airman soil himself while 2 or 3 cops had him on the ground with M-16's pointing at him. Sometimes they'd even get as far as putting him in the car and driving him away before we called it off.
Story by John Hancock
Another John P. Richards Short Story
Life in the WSA wasn't always what the Flight Chief woulda wanted. As a newly assigned E2 I was initially intimidated by the thought of what we were ultimately assigned to do. Pretty hefty responsibility for a bunch of kids, who for the most part, were experiencing their first taste of life, away from the safety and security of their homes and families. Since I was brand new and recently "pipelined" through Lackland Airforce base, Camp Bullis, and Fort Sam Houston, I had the further responsibility of completing my CDC's in a timely, yet proficient manner. The Flight Chief at the time was TSgt Harvey and an Hispanic TSgt. Can't remember his name, but he used to give us safety briefings and would always warn us about black ice. With his accent it came out as "black guys". "Be careful out there. Watch out for the black guys, it's dangerous". We also had a Flight Leader who had a a serious problem with speaking in front of the flight at guard mount.
His name was Lt Epling. Heck of a nice guy, but kinda hard to take serious when he had to turn his back to brief us, or else he'de stutter continuously. It was tough to maintain military bearing, when guys like Brian Harris were constantly asking him to repeat something, just so's he'de start stammering. Anyway, this was how we'de normally start our shift. We'de rarely see the guys in CSC, unless of course, you were one of the "JEEP'S" lucky enough to be tasked with making their coffee. Yeah, Russ, Biscuit, Larry, and most of those guys had a pretty good time at our expense. Laugh it up fella's, then go rent that new movie out on DVD called "Waiting". You were cute. What you failed to realize, was that Bear taught us all how to make you a "special brew". You shouldn't haved mesed so hard with the Big Dawg's pups.
I spent my first two months at Bentwaters, in the AFTF. We were supposed to take advantage of the time to do our CDC's. Wasn't gonna happen. The older guys were always playing cards in the kitchen, or else coming up with neat little games for us to play, like "pass-out". That was really fun. What you'de do, was take a jeep (like me for instance), stand behind him, make him take several deep breaths, then have him bend over quickly at the waist, while you bear hugged him from behind. When we stood back up rapidly, the air was not allowed to escape from our lungs. This caused many of us to immediately "pass out". I gotta admit, when it wasn't happening to me, it was comical to watch guys wet their pants, thrash around on the floor, and usually make some rather strange noises in the process. I'm sure that was a very healthy thing to experience, but as I would soon come to realize, brain cells were meant to be killed at RAF Bentwaters.
After a week or so of this behavior, it was easy to develop an attitude. Play cards, throw darts, play "pass-out", plot rabbit hole maps, watch porno, anything but study. It was easy to fit in. Unless of course, you had one of those rare NCO's for a supervisor, who really expected you to learn your job quickly and to excel. I had one of those. Tad Robinette from Southern W.V.. Tad was probably the best supervisor I ever had in my 9 and a half years in the Air Force. Last I heard, he was a member of the Los Angeles County SWAT team. I made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that I could do what I wanted, whenever I wanted. I literally refused to complete my CDC's at one point. Tad didn't threaten me with paperwork. He simply said, "okay, we'll try something else". A few days later, he came to ther dorm, and somehow I ended up with a gas mask carrier case over my head, and several blows later, a new found respect for NCO leadership. I woulda never dreamed of turning him in.
Hell, I'de found someone I could respect. Needless to say, I got my act together and finished my CDC's. I remember sitting on the floor at the alternate CSC, Larry Lee was usually at the helm. Myself and Derek Cailing finished our course in record time. I told Larry what had transpired and he declared Derek and I "off limits". Mr Schonmeir (sorry if I butchered that Russ) and his partners in crime would try on occassion to distract us from our studious disposition, but we persevered. Once that was outta the way, we were free to act out in the normal manner of Delta Dawgs. I was one of the lucky ones. SMSgt Fossem didn't become Flight Chief til nearly 6 months into my tour. After he took over, things got a little bit crazy. It all started when the Flights were revized and a bunch of guys were transferred to "D" Flight. There had always been a bit of hazing, but nothing like would transpire for the next month or so. I cannot remember for the life of me, who decided that we should rip the underwear of the new guys (who weren't even new) and run them up the flag poles in front of CSC and the AFTF. I'm sure Brian Harris was one of the main culprits. He and his partner in crime, Dan Grogel. I'm not a very big guy. Certainly wasn't then either, but when you get atleast a dozen fellas, intent on holding you down and having their way, you're gonna lose, ultimately. It was all done in fun (if you can believe that). Nobody was seriously hurt and when it was all done, it truly instilled a sense of Esprit De Corps. Some of the things we'de get up to in the WSA were truly unbelievable. We were a world unto ourselves. Nobody in, nobody out, without the area supe knowing about it. Crickett, football, baseball, big time wrestling, snow ball battles, lots of sunbathing (occassionally in the nude. Randy Kendall, God rest his soul), and the occassional fist fight.
On one occassion, the area supervisor (I'll use his nickname, "Bugs") was upset, cause we'de been playing bumper tag. That's when it's icey outside and we'de hang onto the bumper of the Sherpas, for dear life, and race around the inside of the WSA. One of the guys flew off going around a corner and suffered a broken ankle. "Bugs" decided to start pulling exercises and was posting us all out on foot, against the fenceline. Charlie (the pitcher, not the biggun)was encouraged to roll a snow ball into a mud puddle and see if he could hit ole "Bugs" from about 75 yards away. Well, he hit em allright. Nearly knocked Bugs unconscious. When he came too, Ron Adams, who was working the tower, was doing a security status check, with no response from Bugs. Ron knew Bugs wasn't gonna respond. We were just winging it as we went along, CYA, and "Big Toe" was lead to believe that Bugs had slipped going down the stairs on the tower and knocked himself out.
There were too many acts of lunacy to recall. I wasn't working, but on one occassion a guy just got fed up with being an SP, and threw his M-16 over the fence, from inside the sally-port, and announced "I quit". For the most part, the majority of us couldn't for the life of us, understand why anyone would want to "quit" such an awesome gig. Oh yeah, and least I forget, the time "Spanky" fell outta the tree and gave his wrist a compound fracture. Grossest, yet funniest thing I ever saw. What that obese Airman was thinking, pulling his girth up that skinny little tree in the first place, is totally beyond me. Probably had something to do with the fact that he was tired of being in correctional custody. He was not the brightest bulb in the socket anyway. As I look back on it now, I realize that we weren't being very "professional". We knew how to be professional, even did it on occassion.
As I progressed in my military career, I never had the misfortune of trying to supervise anyone as wild as I once was. We were lucky I guess. Lucky that nobody was ever seriously hurt, lucky that the mission was never compromised and lucky that we'de been able to experience so many things, the majority of which the average human being would find unbelievable. There were a few guys, okay, a lot of guys, who lacked the ability to realize when play time was over and it was time to separate ourselves from our antics. I guess that's another thing I'm lucky for. I personally pushed the envelope on more occassions than I care to admit, but when it came time to grow up, I remembered people like Tad Robinette, Brian (Biscuit) Anderson, Big John Bulldiss (sorry sir, if I butchered that too), MSgt Poppino, MSgt Brady Randall, Joe Slavik, and many, many more.
Story by John P. Richards
the Green Berets?
Time for yet another "trip down memory lane". I was watching a National Guard training film for prospective ROTC students the other day and there seems to be a really big push to enlist Special Forces candidates. My oldest son is gonna be twenty at the end of this year and he may be leaning that way. At least I hope so. He is an exceptional young man and would make one hell of an officer one day. Anyway, while watching this film, it brought back memories from october and november of 1983. Any SP's from that era will remember the Green Berets who came to Bentwaters and taught us Advanced Air Base Ground Defense. I was one of the lucky ones. Not only was I just 19 years old, but since I'd just graduated from ABGD myself, I was still in exceptional shape. We were assigned to a 5 man fire team from one of the Army Posts in Germany. The only one I remember by name, was a MSgt McFarland. He was the big, burly fella with half of his right ear missing (claimed it was bit off in a barroom brawl). There was a SSgt Medic from Florida, who used to be a civilian paramedic from Miami, a tall lanky fella with red hair, a quiet SFC who specialized in mountain warfare, a Spec 4 who specialized in small arms and hand to hand combat, and a bald headed captain, who had some kinda skin condition on his scalp.
We were all really psyched to be given the opportunity to learn from those guys. After the first couple of days, we were in a mild state of "hero worship". There was nothing these guys could tell us to do, that we wouldn't at least attempt, enthusiastically. The flights were put on 12 hour shifts and 2 flights at a time would go through a 4 week training program. Our instructors were "unorthodox", and that's putting it mildly. Our training days would start at 0500 with PT. We'd go to the big field behind the gym, stretch, do calesthenics, and then form up to run. We'd ultimately end up in the officers housing area, screaming profane cadence at the top of our lungs, to "wake up the zoomies". When that was accomplished, we'd regroup on the PT field, form a huge circle, and then either right or left face. The individual we were facing would be our pairing partner for hand to hand training. Each day, the instructor would begin his class by saying, "today, I'm gonna teach you just enough to go to the NCO club and get your ass kicked". At the time our Flight Chief was TSgt Evanow. He wasn't too popular at the time with most of us, cause he was a stickler for regulations and was apt to write us up for even the slightest infractions. Once in particular he nailed me at open ranks for having "2 hairs over, on the right corner of my mustache". For real. If I recall correctly, not long after that, we were in formation, ready to hit our DFP's for a NATO Tac Eval and I had cammied my face by drawing a bulls eye on it, complete with a red tipped nose (lip stick borrowed from a nurse I'd met the previous evening). Didn't go down too well.
Where was I? Oh yeah, hand to hand. Anyway, we had an airman (I'm not gonna use names here, this mighta been embarrassing) who was going through financial difficulty. He had recently acquired his very first bank account, and was under the misguided impression that as long as he had checks in his book, the bank would cover his withdrawals, and that since the bank allowed a 300 dollar a day limit from the ATM that he could withdraw that amount every day, regardless to his balance. Needless to say, he was messing up and the Air Force quickly began to frown upon his ignorance. This particular airman had enlisted for 6 years and he was very proud of being an AIC. He was promptly demoted to Airman Basic for his "financial irresponsibility" and was heart broken at first, then he became very angry. Anyway, one morning he made it his goal to pair off with the Senior NCO that he felt was solely responsible for his newfound shame and destitution. This particular morning one of the lessons we were being taught was how to get out of a "bear hug". It was a simple, yet brutal procedure. We were taught to step to the left, raise your right leg, exert as much pressure as you could with your heel, raking the skin of your attacker from his knee cap to his lower shin, and then stomp with all your might, breaking his arch. When he involuntarily reacted to the pain by lifting his wounded leg, we were to hook his leg, while bending over, raise up as quickly as possible and throw ourselves backwards, still holding on, and attempt to break his back. Now, of course we were advised to go through these steps very slowly and to use only about 20 percent momentum. Well, our financial wizard had other plans. Needless to say, he accomplished his task. The victim of his misguided attempt of retribution was moderately injured and had to withdraw from the course. The Berets were confidentially advised of the circumstances and decided that turn about was fair play.
Another portion of our training involved a land navigation course, coupled with field survival under combat conditions. We went out on a 3 day manuever. In preparation for the exercise we were encouraged to "donate" 2 pounds in order to purchase live chickens, which we would release in Thetford Forrest, and then, after being trained on the proper ways to use stealth and concealment, we would catch our chickens, which would be field cleaned and then roasted on bonfires that we'd set up in our bivouac areas. The exercise didn't start out very well. Our Shift Commander (Lt Wrongway Epling) was adamant that he could proficiently guide us to our staging area, utilizing his trusty compass and the various terrain features on his map. Wrong. After spending 3 or 4 hours in the back of a deuce, in the rain, over bumpy roads, tired and hungry, we were in a hurry to set up camp and get some chow. As we trudged through the forrest, it was evident to a lot of us that we had to be lost. The Lt kept stopping to check his map and MSgt McFarland would confer with him loudly, asking repeatedly "are you sure". Rather than admit a mistake, the Lt continued to get us lost. I had the glorious responsibility to be his RTO. The radio, along with my ruck, M-16, and an extra can of 60 ammo that I was tasked with carrying for "having a smart mouth" was beginning to get heavy. We eventually found "our spot" and begun to dig hasty fighting positions. The Berets were standing around shaking their heads and smoking cigarettes. I recall the soil, as with most of the soil in the U.K. being very hard to dig in. Just as we were finished, one of the Berets said, "fill in your holes before some pissed off farmer comes along and get back in line."
We marched for about another 2 hours and unbeknownst to us an OP-4 team was waiting to engage us, so that we could be evaluated on our ability to react to contact. One moment I was walking along, cussing the Lt under my breath, and the next minute we were taking fire. I was completely out in the open and one of the instructors was screaming at me to take cover and return fire. It was total chaos. We were wearing MILES gear and had blank adaptors. I started running down a deer trail and tripped on a wire. Some wise guy had attached a trip flare to a tree and had it pointed horizontily instead of vertical. The flare flew right at me and I managed to turn just in time, taking it in the back, instead of in my chest. Somewhere along the march I had decided to break open the 60 can and wear the ammo across my chest like Pancho Villa. I didn't know that my field jacket was on fire. I saw an OP-4 DFP and ran towards it. I flopped down inside and the gunner started throwing dirt on me. I called him an inappropriate name and came close to throwing punches. When I realized that I was smoldering, it hit me simultaneously that I had a lot of gun powder on my person. After putting out the fire, I traded the ammo for a pack of smokes, sat back and watched my patrol team get slaughtered. The fire fight was over quickly and we were escorted to where we were supposed to be. After experiencing about an hours worth of degradation for our pitiful attempts at being infantry troops, we were allowed to eat some C-rations and then we were given a very colorful class on how to catch, clean, and cook our previously emancipated chickens.
We were all given army issue, stainless steel pocket knives (I used mine this morning to open a can of tuna for breakfast, no kidding). The objective was to find our dinner, making as little noise as possible, hypnotize the damn things by putting them between our legs in a kneeling position, take a stick, methodically rubbing it back and forth slowly in the dirt, from the tip of it's beak outward about 12 inches. This was supposed to calm the bird down and make it think that it was now a part of the ground. After that we were to slowly get up, and if we did it properly, the bird would remain on the ground. All of this was demonstrated to us by MSgt McFarland. Worked for him. During his demonstration, the MSgt started telling us that in dire field conditions, we would be amazed at what we could eat and what would sustain us. He said that fresh blood, as long as it wasn't our own, was the best source of protein. To emphasize his point, he slowly picked up his bird, began to separate the vertebrae in it's neck, gently massaging it. He told us that this act would make the muscles relax to the point that it would extend out about 6 to 8 inches. He was speaking very softly and it was hard to hear him. The next thing we knew, he bit down on the birds neck and separated it's head from it's body, turning it up like an improvised wine sack and began to drink/suck the blood. I found this slightly repulsive. Apparantly, two of the other instructors had been intently watching one of our Airmen taking a nap, instead of paying attention. He was rudely awakened (he got kicked in the chest) and ordered to perform the task which had just been demonstrated. Obviously, he was clueless. Those of us who had paid attention began to instruct him on what to do. He initially said "the hell with that", but after being ragged on for a few minutes, he gave it a try. I'll never forget how hard it made me laugh. This poor guy ended up shoving a live chickens head in his mouth, shaking it around like a rabid dog. His uniform was trashed. Feathers and feces were flying everywhere. The Special Forces Medic got angry, knocken him down, pulled the chicken out of his mouth, wrung it's neck and flung the carcass at his feet.
I start writing this stuff, and it all comes flooding back. I gotta get some work done, so I'll fast forward a bit and tell ya about the last day we were with the Green Berets. They invited us all over to the NCO club for a few farewell drinks. I was sitting at a table in the back bar with Brian Harris, Nick Deotis, Larry Lee and Ron Adams. We were doing "Alabama Slammers". Man, I hate Jack Daniels. Anyway, after a few hours of loud boisterous behavior, it became apparent that the PJ's at the bar, from Woodbridge, were getting annoyed with our antics. MSgt McFarland slipped out the back door and came back about 10 minutes later. He talked with the SFC at our table and walked towards the bar. We were told to shut up and watch what he was gonna do. He had taken a chicken head from our field exerecise, saved it, with a cut off pair of chicken feet, turned it upside down in an ice cube tray, and then fashioned a little maroon beret to top it off. When he went to the bar, he loudly announced, "I'de like to buy a drink for my little buddy here, P.J. chicken." That's all it took. There were several pararecuemen in the bar and there had been a lot of occassions when the Green Berets had been openly disrespectful to their profession, throughout their stay with us. One heck of a fight ensued. I gotta say the Green Berets won that battle. Msgt Mcfarland was arrested. He was laughing as he was being led away, saying "they die, so others can live." I really wasn't too impressed. I've got a world of respect for our PJ'S. I learned several years ago that Sergeant Major McFarland was supposedly killed in the Persian Gulf, during mine sweeping manuevers. God Rest his soul.
Story by John Richards
TALES FROM THE TWIN BASES.. "the BOX"
Recently I ventured up into the attic at my home in an effort to purge some of the old junk, miscellaneous papers, and “stuff” that had been taking up too much space over the years. Buried under various cardboard boxes in a corner I discovered an old Acme Boot cardboard box. I remembered this box fondly because it used to contain an old pair of cowboy boots that I had purchased late in 1980 at RAF Bentwaters. Twenty-five years later the boots are long gone. They followed me back into civilian life in 1983 and I am sure they hung around for a few years afterwards. Where they are now is anyone’s guess. They are just one of a multitude of memories I have from my days serving in the United States Air Force from 1979 until 1983. Observing the condition of the box, I knew the contents had to be at least 20 years old. As I fumbled to cut open the old brittle masking tape surrounding the box my excitement level peaked as I anticipated what Air Force nuggets and pieces of the Bentwaters past I might find inside.
It’s funny how impressionable we are at an early age. If you asked me today, at the age of 44, to recall what I did last Tuesday I would have a hard time giving you a coherent response. Yet when I think about my two years spent at RAF Bentwaters the memories that rush through my mind feel like they could have happened yesterday. I find myself looking back to Bentwaters and my years in the Air Force with lots of affection and pride. You have to understand that during my four years in the military I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision. Being a teenager, away from home for the first time, I missed my family, friends, and the secure and happy life I had known for 18 years immensely. I truly loved the experiences I had and the friends I met during my four years of active duty, but I was one of many who were counting the days to get “back to the world”. I guess it is the life experience and wisdom of a middle-aged man who can now look back at joining the military as being one of the best decisions I ever made. Today I reflect back at my time in the Air Force, especially Bentwaters, as one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling parts of my life. I can say with all honesty that the United States Air Force was the catalyst in shaping who I am today and set the foundation for everything positive that has happened to me over the last quarter century.
The masking tape on the Acme Boot box was so old that it didn’t take much effort to pull it apart and loosen the cover. I was as excited as a kindergartner at Chuck E Cheese when I slid the top off! What artifacts would this little dusty treasure chest hold? The first thing I saw is probably the most recognizable issued piece of equipment if you were an SP during the late 70’s and early 80’s; the Blue Beret. There it was in all its glory, a little wrinkled, but still in great shape. It had not faded one bit. The blue was still deep and rich and the metal USAFE pin still gleamed with color. I immediately thought of how I probably wore it more than any other piece of clothing during my youth. I also recalled how many pictures from my Bentwaters days it can be seen in. It still looked great to the point that it could have just arrived in a time machine from 1981.
Not far from the Blue Beret I found the silver, pewter-like, Air Force Security Police badge. It was not my original mind you, but just like it. An old buddy of mine ‘secured’ one for me and I am indebted to him. It’s a great collectable. I will not reveal his name until I am sure the Statute of Limitations has run out for taking the shiny, tin badge without permission! Although the LE’s would’ve worn this type of badge daily, SP’s like myself usually had the subdued cloth one sewn on our olive green uniforms. And wouldn’t you know it, one of my old uniform shirts was folded inside the boot box too. I guess I must have wanted to save one of the many I had for posterity. The damned thing still had semi-creases in it! When I thought of the countless times I put that uniform on and headed out to catch the bus for the ride out to CSC I smiled.
I continued to dig into the box and saw lots of things that brought it all back home. One of the old cigarette and alcohol ration cards, complete with a few holes punched out on it! I must’ve needed some Lambrusco or Mad Dog 20/20 before I left the twin bases! It also had some cigarettes marked off on it. Since I didn’t smoke I knew I must have let my main room-dog and friend Chris Armold, a C-Flight LE, use some of my ‘ciggie’ rations. A nice surprise was the discovery of some ticket stubs for some of the concerts we attended. There was an AC/DC ticket from the Hammersmith Odeon; Queen, Bob Seger, and Styx tickets from Wembley Arena; and even a stub from when the Kinks played the Ipswich Gaumont in 1981. Now that was one hell of a show!
The items that really sparked my interest was the discovery of three calendars from 1979, 1980, and 1981. Apparently, while stationed at Bentwaters, I got into the habit of writing down little notes and tidbits each day as to what I did and where I went, and who was with me at the time. I thought this was could be interesting because as I read through them I realized something significant. Many of the experiences I jotted down in the calendars, in all likelihood, were very similar to the experiences of many other SP’s and LE’s. So during an e-mail exchange with Ken from the 81st SPS site I mentioned sending in an article every so often with some tales to tell. Ken said he welcomed all contributions to the site and so I have decided to make an effort to rekindle the memories using the calendars as my guide. Like many of us I have limitations with my free time, so I will make submissions as the time to write presents itself.
My wife likes to call me a ‘pack rat’ at times for my tendency to save things. And I’ll admit a lot of the stuff I have should probably be put out with next week’s trash! However, every once in a while I will re-discover something that is priceless. The old Acme Boot box, sealed with brittle masking tape, was one of those rare ‘finds’. Through this box I had the pleasure of rekindling old memories of friends, good times, fun, and growing into adulthood as a member of the 81st Security Police Squadron. I know these memories will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Story by David Paine
BUS DRIVER & A SP???
I remember getting a "bright" idea one day. Rather than simply riding the bus, I wanted to drive the bus. So, armed with a supervisor's authorization to test for bus driver, I headed over to the base motor pool at the ripe old age of 18 or 19. Having never ever driven a bus or anything with such a long wheelbase, I was confident I could pull it off. I had learned to operate a stick-shift international flat-bed truck as a child of about 12 while living in Chambles, Calif (zip 92304)--10 miles east of Amboy on 'ole highway 66. Naturally, the only time I struck pavement was while crossing the infamous highway. The motor pool evaluator had me start the bus and I was off. Having ridden on the motor pool bus btwn BW and WB, I had closely observed the trick to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. All you do is hug the curb side as close as possible and look straight ahead. The motor pool evaluator told me to turn right from the motor pool, turn around and I brought it back for a safe landing. I imagined I was operating my father's international truck but with a much longer flatbed and thus I remembered to swing extra wide on turns. Promptly, he signed off on my slip and I was now an AF bus operator and of course SP. So, to those of you who had the fortune of riding the SP bus to and fro from the chow hall to the flightline, now you know. Aside from knowing how to shift, I had about as much bus experience as my passengers. You may recall that we soon received our very own diesel SP bus that was ez to drive as it was automatic. Wuz nice not having to fight for a seat!
Xavier Lomeli BW feb/79 to feb/81
Story by Xavier Lomeli, BW Feb 1971 to Feb 1981
GHOST STORIES, ANYONE?
One night, when I was on the SRT (Security 32?) with Glen Detample or Willie Wheeler, we got a call to the NNMSA (right next to the WSA and Echo NAPA, and across the road from CSC) about strange lights and shadows. They were first noticed and called in by Whiskey 2 (WSA tower), but then confirmed by Whiskey 1 (EC to WSA), one of the WSA patrols (Whiskey 4 or 5), and a member of Whiskey 8 who had done a MAID/MILES walkover in the sector nearest the NNMSA. We got the keys to the NNMSA from CSC, went in and drove around. We didn't see any lights, but saw some weird shadows by one of the bunkers. We parked the vehicle pointing to the side of the bunker, left our lights shining down the one side; we got out on foot, and immediately saw footprints in the snow, leading from the road toward a small group of trees behind the bunker. About 30 or 40 feet later, the footprints just stopped, ended. There was no other snow disturbed around the area. That was weird enough, but, as we
were walking back to the vehicle, the lights on the truck went out, then the engine died. We tried to start it, but it wouldn't. We ended up pushing it back about 20 feet or so; then, it started right up. We immediately left the area, and of course no one believed us.
My first seven months or so, I had to work LE; my Security Clearance hadn't come through, and I couldn't get a line badge. Being right out of tech school and only being a one-striper, of course I worked mostly gates (5 nights out of a 6-night cycle). One night, I was riding with Bud Steffens on Woodbridge; at about 7 or 8 that night, we got the call that the 67th Rescue Squadron was having a recall, and they needed Butley gate opened. So, we went down and opened it, and I posted in the guard shack. Over the next hour or so, about 10 or 12 vehicles came in, folks from the 67th who were coming to work. The LE desk called me on the landline and told me that, at shift change (2300 hours), Bud Steffens would come pick me up, we would close Butley gate, then return to Bentwaters. At about 9:30, I saw what appeared to be a bicycle headlight coming up the road, from the direction of Butley village/off base, toward the gate. I watched it get closer, and, just as it was passing the
actual gate (the guard shack was about 50 yards inside the gate), I could tell it was a woman. As soon as I stepped out of the gate shack to check her ID, she completely vanished. I really thought I was imagining it, so I looked around, then went back into the gate shack. About five minutes later, I saw another headlight coming toward the gate; as soon as I saw it, I called on the radio to have Bud Steffens please rendezvous. Again, just as the bicycle passed the perimeter gate, it completely vanished. I went back into the gate shack, shut the light off, and darn near peed myself. Bud got there a few minutes later; I told him what happened, so he drove up toward the actual gate. When he came back, he was chuckling but admitted there were bicycle tire tracks on the road, they looked fresh. I thought he was just trying to spook me more. When we went to close the gate and head back to Bentwaters, I saw the tire tracks myself. As silly as it sounds, I made sure the door was
locked on the LE car, especially when we went through Butley village.
Toward the end of my tour, I was on Bravo 2 (Bravo NAPA, next to the Fire Department and across the road from the Rod & Gun Club) with a guy named Warner or Wagner (don't remember his first name), on a mid shift. We were sitting at the end of the taxiway (the end toward the runway) and talking. All of a sudden, we heard music playing, what sounded like a violin. We got out of the truck and walked around, the music seemed to be coming from a PP post out toward the runway. When we shined our flashlights toward the PP post, the music would stop; as soon as we turned them off, it would start again. That went on for about 10 minutes, then we decided to move to a different spot in the NAPA.
This is just a few that still stand out in my mind. Of course, since I was young and a "jeep", I had a lot of people tell me stuff just to get me spooked and riled up. But, I swear on all that I am, I can't explain any of these. I know that other people saw other things ("East End Charlie", etc.), and there were other unexplained situations over there.
Stories by Shawn P. Sones, 1980 to 1982
SHOTGUNS & PHEASANTS
I was stationed at Bentwaters 76-78 "A" FLT. Myself and Steve Hughs dicided we would go pheasant hunting in the country side between Ipswich and Felxistow. No land was posted like in the states so we hunted everywhere and shot alot of pheasants that day.
Well we were walking back to the car after about the 10 field we hunted and the Bobbys met us. They knew our names and knew every place we had been that day. Well the took my shotgun the shot gun that I had loaned to Steve and left us with a ticket. We drove back to base and when we got to Butley Gate the guy on the gate already had the full story of what we did.
We had to go to court two weeks before we were to return to the States. Well that was the only time in history that they have ever given guns back to someone. I paid a fine, Steve paid his fine I got my guns back and I went home.
20 years later my sister was at a dinner party in Alameda, California and was talking to a guy who was at Bentwaters TDY in 1981 and he had heard of the two guys who had shot the queens pheasants. Not the crime of the year.
I had some of the best times in my life over there. Great guys shitty beer and some good women.
Stories by Dennis Canady, 1975 to 1977
I remember being Security 52 (chow runner) quite frequently; as an A1C, it beat the hell out of an EC or an ART on foot (remember the vehicle shortages?). It was even better than being on standby, having to do latrine breaks or worse, making coffee for CSC (especially controllers like Shetterly (sp.?), Kennedy, and Matthews).
For inquiring minds, the eggs turned green because --- the food cans sat in hot water, so the eggs actually kept cooking; therefore, the yolks in the eggs would cook harder and harder (ever seen a hard-boiled egg yolk? they're green and yellow). That food wasn't the best, but it beat the heck out of c-rats.
God, I can't believe it, but I MISS c-rats; even though MREs have got better, they're still not as good, in my opinion. I can't believe I've been in over 28 years now, and still going....
Stories by Shawn P. Sones, 1980 to 1982
Picture RAF Bentwaters in 1981.
I was fresh from the security police academy and stepped smack dab into a full alert. My first post at RAF Bentwaters was the infamous PP1 at RAF Woodbridge and to add insult to injury, the 12 hour night shift (which turned into 14 hours with post changes). I had not even met my first RO (reporting official) yet, but i did know his name. Standing there in the middle of the night with the nothing going on, i was facing the flight line when i suddenly hear something rustle the bushes that seperate me from the base fence line. I turn to see someone, off base, duck down. I issue the standard challenge for USAFE and go to port arms. The individual off base suddenly jumps the fence and ducks down again. I notify CSC of the situation and they report back of no exercises goin on in the area. When the dark figure stands up, i lock and load my weapon and issue the challenge again. The figure starts to run down the fence line. I took a bead on him and switched the lever to semi. He disappeared in the high brush before i got a shot off, but i had him dead to rights. I notified CSC of the update and requested an ART to come by. When the ART finally came by, they told me that the guy had been caught at PP2. With that said, I asked SSGt. Tim Herd to clear my weapon. He looked at me with the puzzlement and asked why my weapon had been charged. I told him of my judgement call to the situation. He cleared me then left abruptly. Shortly thereafter, the area SRT came by to check my status. I told them of my concerns at SSGT. Herds reaction and told the SRT leader that i had not even met my RO yet and that i felt i was in trouble with him. The SRT leader asked me who my RO was and i told him, SGT. Jim Burris. The SRT leader simply said dont worry about it and then moved to show me his name tag...Burris.
As it turns out, the incident at my post was a "GEEK" QC NCO named Randy Akers who was out there without anyone knowing it. He came by my post later that night to chew me out. He doesnt know how close he came to goin home in a body bag that night, but I do believe the flight chief and flight commander had words for him when he got back.
When i was relieved from post and back at CSC, the flight chief just looked at me and smiled. I knew then that RAF Bentwaters was goin to be a life altering experience and I was never disappointed. The people i met there and later served with at other bases are to this day still my best friends. Lookin at some of the photo albums here at this site, bring back so much emotion that i thank god for the opportunity to have served with so many good men and women.
Stories by Rick Zube, 1981 to 1983
THE DREADED DISCHARGE AT THE CLEARING BARREL
Wow, on October 31, 1987..."yes" Halloween, was one of the worst days of my life. It started with Death... Yes! The Clearing Barrell!!
I shot it and killed it dead. Everyone dropped and started drawing beads on me not sure what was happening. Walking back to the dorms it was like I had a virus. I drew a lot of stares, and not the sexy woman stare I usually get... LOL. I dropped in bed and just wanted to disappear. Good thing was things only got better from there. I met my wife soon after that.
That was my claim to fame, everyone knew me from then on out. Moral of the story is start big & everyone will remember you. And when you start at the bottom, well... I already said it.
Funny thing is that I ended up a weapons expert on everything they let us shoot... from the Peace Keeper Challenge Team at Bentwaters to Nellis Vas Vegas where I spent most of the year training and competing. It was all good, and I owe a lot to the Air Force for turning me into a man & teaching me how to be an honorable one.
I loved the Air Force and all the guys I served with. Well, most of you... some of you only your momma could love.
Jim Williams, 1987 to 1989
PIN UPS ON THE WALL
Having arrived at Woodbridge Dec. 23rd 1962, the AP barracks was very laid back not having a serious inspection for a long time. Needless to say things were relaxed. As some of you may remember, the bloke version of pin up mags were very raunchy, and they were all over the walls in most rooms.
Enter a new Lt. at Woodbridge Ops.. a Lt. Harris was put in charge of the barracks. He orders a major inspection, and was appaled by the pin ups. He issues an order that no pin ups were to be displayed on the walls, or else. Next inspection there were none on the walls, but when he looked up the ceiling was covered with the same pinups that had been on the walls. His face turned red. The veins in his neck bulged, and he sputtered.. screaming till the 1st shirt pointed out that the directive specified non on the walls. And so started his education.
by Clarence (Stan) Rudacil, 1962 to 1966
SURVIVING THE Z
There's only a few who will remember this from late 1979-1980. Maj Malcolm Zickler, CC, and Maj Drury, Ops Off (want-a-be CC), were quite a pair! I’d just arrived in fall 79 and remember being crammed in the blue goose with other cops carrying weapons armed with blanks and heading from BW to WB for aggressor/defensive field training. I distinctly remember our not-so-illustrious leaders arguing at the front of the bus. I was at the back with the other trouble makers, I mean highly motivated cops, and everyone could hear them. Being the young and impressionable A1C two-striper, I was stunned by their odd display of leadership and wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into.
Once we arrived at WB, got all camied up, and deployed to destinations unknown, one “D” Flt security cop (name respectfully withheld) was stealthy hidden in a bush and along came Maj Drury who unbeknownst to him, took a whiz right beside the entrenched cop. I have no idea how this tactically disciplined cop kept from giggling loud enough to betray his position except for fear of being whizzed on.
There are other stories too about the majors that only cops from 1979 to 1980 experienced. I can’t imagine how frustrating it was for Maj Z who worked us long and hard transforming the 81 SPS into “Best in USAFE 1980.”
I also remember being posted on several seemingly uncharted sector perimeter posts during those eerie, long night shifts and on top of the WSA igloos for what seemed like forever in the freezing, bone-chilling, damp British weather. Life got better when I finally invested in battery operated socks to keep from walking on blocks of ice. And who could ever forget the unspeakable and probably illegally sanctioned wrath of Maj Z and his creation of the “Chain Gang” formed after several cops got into trouble, working them nightly cleaning/repairing things and who knows what else by light generating light-alls?
Fun times though with "D" Flight security, Bobby Ball and crew and "D" Flight LE with Glin Whitehead, George Fulkrum, Bruce Ham and crew. If it wasn’t for back office senior NCO supporters like David Richard and Ed Whitted (both highly respected retired Chiefs), who knows what other wrath we might have endured. All I know is at times Maj Z intensely disliked me no matter how many awards I won, degrees I earned, or accomplishments because I was a female in a non-traditional role and I spelled my last name differently than his first name. Oh my gosh, the walls rumbled and the Quonset hut ceiling rattled if anyone ever spelled his first name like my last name--yikes!!
I wish to publically credit and thank both Ed Whitted and Dave Richard for my survival when I was told by Maj Z in 1981 that I had “reached my peak potential at BW,” and for them helping me keep my Irish temper in check. One attribute of a good follower is to find exceptional NCO leaders and pay attention. That means shut mouth and engage brain; we all had that support through their tutelage.
Side note: I loved the “Green Eggs and Ham” story by Ken Kern since I’ve often thought about that anomaly and wondered what caused them to tarnish to such a peculiar color. I never ate the eggs for fear of death by some incurable intestinal disorder or some other revolting ailment. The lumpy SOS (stuff on a shingle) was semi-palatable and stuck to the ribs.
I hope to visit Bentwaters in June 2010 on a European trip with my 18 yrs old daughter and 20 yr old son. I’m blessed to have known the unique and memorable cops of the 81st SPS!!
Geraldine “Jerrie” Reese (maiden name Malcomb)
Sep 79 to Jan 84
BEER or ROOT BEER?
So, we were "warned". There's a big dorm inspection a-coming! Well, my roommate and I, Martin Lopez both agreed to give it our all--to try our utmost and win the inspection. I recall spending about 3 solid hours cleaning everything in sight--and then some. I figured that if our room was up to basic-training standards we stood a chance. But there was just one problem: the award was a case of beer! Well the reason Martin and I (I wonder what ever became of him) roomed together was because we both didn't smoke and didn't partake of spirits (the liquid kind). My first roommate was Frank O'Connor from Texas and although he was a fun kid we just weren't quite compatible.
But back to the cleaning, I instinctively knew that in order to stand a chance of winning not only should the obvious be spotless but the not-so-obvious as well. Yep, you guessed it. Up went the area rug and down went the knees as we swept, "mopped", and spray-waxed the floor under the rug until you could eat from it. The next big challenge was the refrigerator. I cleaned the magnetic seal just inside the door and to our surprise we emerged the winners of a case of beer! Root beer!
by Xavier Lomeli, 1979 to 1981
the Magic Phone Booth
I was an SP on MSG Garland Gibson's "C" Flight at RAF Woodbridge 1974-1976 before going into K9 under MSG Gary Wilson. Well the rumors were spreading that the payphone booth by the base library at Woodbridge was connecting calls back to the States as if it was connected to a private line in the nearby base housing area. Being curious I tried it. I entered HMS phone booth and put in a 10 pence and dialed my home phone number in Hicksville, New York 516-938-9385 and it connected with the 10 pence being refunded. So I spoke to my Mum for about 10 minutes. I felt guilty,but why not it's free. Well after a few days even dependents from the base housing area were lined up at the phone booth to call home for free. Late one night our communications plotter initials LFM called his frat buddies at Western Michigan University and stayed on the line for two hours. I felt the British Postal & Commun-ications Service would be suspicious after awhile and take action. Sure enough we heard that a SSG on another Security Flight was on the free phone line calling his wife who just given birth back in the States. He was only on the phone a few minutes to find out if he was the proud father of a son or daughter. The tale goes that he got arrested and Uncle Sam was presented with a $10,000 bill for unpaid calls on the "Phone Booth." After that I don't think anyone used the phone booth again. The poor guy got caught after using the phone for a few minutes and other people abused it for hours. It was fun while it lasted. My nickname was BB Bennett and was roomie was A1C Mario Alamedia Curesma. Take care,you all.
by Greg Bennett, 1974 to 1976
"a Woodbridge "C" Flight Character"
In 1975 there were some characters on "C" Flight Security under MSgt Garland Gibson. Gib was a great leader & a good guy to work for. There was one NCO who stood out & marched to a different drummer. That was Sgt Larry Hartnett who hailed from Galveston Island, Texas. Larry was called by his nickname "Strech" and also "La Bamba". He always listened to the pirate ship radio station Radio Mi Amigo which had the jingle, "La Bamba- Radio Mi Amigo." He had served in Thailand and was a "C" Flight short-timer.
Strech lived off base with a beautiful British nurse named Marion. He also maintained a room in the Woodbridge SP dorm. Strech had a small business selling King Edward cigars and Bacardi rum off base. He used to buy ration cards from all the new troops in the dorm. He'd unload liquor trucks at the Woodbridge Class 6 store for the manager Eric and would earn $20 & a few bottles. He also rode a Norton motorcycle.
I don't recall Sgt Hartnett rotating posts, but he always had the TAPA Supervisor Post Charlie 5. During normal security operations the only other TAPA post was ECP "Charlie 5 Alpha" next to the vending machine snack bar & the two K9 posts "Canine 22" and "Canine 23." Sgt. Hartnett would always stretch his radio transmissions by announcing "Charlie 5, Charlie to Charlie Control Charlie, over !" One time during a last midnight shift surprise inspection MSgt Gibson found Strech to be wearing sandals under his rubber rain boots.
Strech took a UK discharge & toured Europe on his Norton. A few months later he returned to Woodbridge entering through the East Gate on his Norton riding down the flightline road. I spotted him from my K9 post in the TAPA and met him at a taxiway that had a metal barrier gate. He said, "BB give me your radio." My nickname was BB and I was very hesitant to give Strech my radio, but I did. He then did his classic Charlie 5 radio check once more. Comm Plotter AIC Leon Mannes replied, "Is that you La Bamba!?" & soon both SAT teams came to say hello to our old buddy. We were glad he returned safely from his European tour.
Rumors were that Sgt Hartnett was not allowed to board the bus from the Travel Management Office to RAF Midenhall due to his long hair, leather jacket and jeans. He quickly got a haircut & our Squadron Commander Major Reiling was known to have interceded & Strech was soon on his Freedom Bird for McGuire AFB and home to Texas where he said he would work as a crane operator on grain elevators with teamster wages. Not bad. He gave me his "Easy Rider" poster which I hung in my dorm room.
His girlfriend Marion came to our guardmounts a couple of times looking for "her Strech" and "wanting to go to Texas with Strech." Yes, Sgt Hartnett was a character and an Easy Rider, but also a good troop.
by Greg Bennett, 1974 to 1976
CSC Switchover to alternate CSC (the WSA)
Not really a story, but something that has stuck with me through the years. It was the switchover from CSC to alternate CSC in the WSA each night. Ahhh yes, the memories.....
"Bravo Control to all posts and patrols in the Bravo Flight Area, be advised this office now assumes duties as Primary CSC. Direct all radio and telephonic communications to and through this 10-9. No need to acknowledge. Bravo Control 10-6".
Don "Drac" Hammond, Feb '78-'Feb '80
Different Type of Mail Run
During the 1950s and early 1960s, aircraft of the 81st TFW at RAF Bentwaters/Woodridge (as well as other US combat aircraft in Europe) would rotate once a year to Wheelus Air Base in Libia for weapons and bombing practice. Air Police and Aircraft Maintenance Support personnel would go along on these TDYs tips, which usually lasted several weeks. During the 1960s, a story was told that during one such TDY, a Woodbridge AP and an Aircraft Crew Chief had a bit too much to drink at the Wheelus Base Airman's Club and decided to come back to Woodbridge to check their mail. Having no other way of transportation, they decided to borrow an aircraft. I believe the aircraft was a 78th TFS F-101 Voodoo, tail #444. With the AP in the cockpit, the Crew Chief, using a power cart, started the aircraft. The aircraft running up caused so much attention that they were quickly detected and the ill-advised trip thwarted. Rumor went about the ranks that the pair were severely disciplined. Maybe?
SPECIAL POST 1
I had the privilege of being a Security Specialist with "C" Flight under MSG Garland Gibson at RAF Woodbridge and also serving as a Patrol Dog Handler under MSG Gary Wilson, Training NCO Keith Thornburg and Element Leader SSG Kim Reed at RAF Woodbridge/Bentwaters during 1974-76. I was there when the 81st SPS was awarded the honor of "Best Security Police Unit in the USAF !" My flight mates in K9 used to rib me about my patrol dog Saber dragging me all over the Twin Bases. MSG Wilson said I would leave England with Saber's bite marks all over me. SSG Reed used to be Saber's handler and Kim told me to put the leash through a loop in a chain link fence and hang Saber until he turned red and Saber would heel. Well I used kindness and dog treats after all Saber was my K9 buddy and protector. We were a team. We depended on each other. When on patrol Saber had a great alert, but he made too much noise dragging me towards the source of the alert, but we worked well together.
Shortly after I was assigned to the MWDS, I was at the kennels training Sabre. Ist SGT Larry Fowler was there and Major Reiling was there with MSG Wilson. Word was that an arsonist had destroyed a runway sweeper and was setting fires on Woodbridge. I heard Major Reiling order MSG Wilson to put his best dog team out by the Travel Management Office as they were anticipating fires being started there especially with wood crates being stored outside. I was really surpized when I heard MSG Wilson tell me, "BB get Saber and come with us." I got my M16 and .38 pistol and portable radio at the CSC Armory and MSG Wilson posted Saber and me by the TMO. Orders were that my call sign would be "Special Post One" and I was only to call CSC if there was an emergency. My assignment was to be confidential and secret from the on duty Security Flight. I patrolled the TMO area for two hours and I received a radio message from Charlie Four, the Reserve Security Alert Team (SAT). The message was "Airman Bennett, K9 Special Post One put up your dog you're going to chow." So much for top secret assignments.
A couple of days later the same SSG was taking me to chow when I had K9 22 post in the TAPA. We were driving past the Woodbridge fire department barracks and I was in the rear bed of the SAT truck and I observed an individual wearing USAF fatigues and a red leather USAF Fire Protection hat carrying a gas can walking into the woods perhaps heading near the WSA area. I screamed for the SSG to stop the truck that there was a suspicious persons carrying a gas can. The SSG kept going and said do it after chow. I told my K9 mate A1C Tim Elliot what happened and Tim called CSC. I was later interviewed by SP Investigations and the Investigator told me I should have immediately used my radio or jumped out of the truck to detain the subject. I could only give the investigators a description of what the individual looked like from the backside. If I remember correctly the SSG worked for MSG Dave Nagy, whose Flight was known as Nagy's Marines. I don't remember anymore arson incidents happening. I met Dave Nagy in Washington, DC when we both worked for the Veterans Administration.
Yes I should have gotten on the radio and shouted a warning about the suspicious individual. That was a lesson learned.