Woodland, CA ~ A Bicentennial Community


Woodland, CA~ a bicentennial community

 In the summer of 1976 I was the office manager of the downtown Sacramento USAF Recruiting Office located in the Post Office across the park from the State Capitol.  My particular recruiting area was Yolo County which was a large area that included Dixon, West Sacramento, Davis, Winters and WoodlandWoodland was designated a Bicentennial Community which was a big deal even though there were hundreds of communities across the country that had that designation.  My fellow recruiters from the Army, Navy and Marines and I all agreed that we should do something special to commemorate this occasion. 

 Woodland was going all out with a big celebration at the Yolo County Fair that included a carnival, rodeo and demolition derby among other attractions.  The Navy recruiter had been in rodeos and convinced us that we should enter to ride the Brahma bulls.  None of us were too keen on the idea but didn’t want to chicken out to the Navy.  We all were enthusiastic however, about getting cars and entering the demolition derby.  We would also have booths and displays for our services at the fair. 

 I was a Master Sergeant at the time and the highest ranking of the recruiters (and the oldest).  In accordance with military protocol, I sent a letter to my Commanding Officer who was a Lt. Colonel stationed at Travis AFB, requesting permission to enter the events and explaining my plans for representing USAF at the celebration.  I felt this was just a formality and proceeded with plans for the events.  I had a good buddy who was a fellow recruiter with the Air Force and who moonlighted at painting motorcycles.  It was a very lucrative sideline and every so often he would quit because he got so swamped by bikers wanting their motorcycles painted all fancy.  I talked him into painting the cars for each of us recruiters.  We approached the local wrecking yard in Woodland and talked them into donating cars for us to drive and then we went to the paint store and got paint donated. 

 On the Saturday that we had set aside for my buddy to paint the cars, the Marine recruiter weaseled his way out of helping so when we got to the wrecking yard we were all pretty disgusted with him since he hadn’t helped with anything.  The three of us; the Navy, Army and Air Force picked our cars and, since the Marine wasn’t there, we picked a ’59 Cadillac for him.  With big tail fins.  My buddy painted our cars all red, white and blue with our logo’s on the side and they looked real sharp.  For the Caddy, we mixed the red and white together and made hot pink and painted the Caddy with the Marine logo on the side.  It was a thing of beauty!  Wish I had a picture of it. 

 

It wasn’t long after we had gotten our cars and painted them that I got a response from my Commanding Officer.  He said that my request to ride the Brahmas was denied (which I wasn’t too upset about) and that I wasn’t to participate in the demolition derby either!  The people that watched demolition derbies weren’t the caliber of applicants the Air Force wanted to attract. I guess he thought we should be recruiting in libraries!  Well, I was already in so I ignored that particular order. 

 On the big day my Group Headquarters at Mather AFB had gone all out for me and had gotten me a quarter-scale F-15  painted up like the Thunderbirds and a bunch of other neat stuff for my booth.  That morning we had a big ceremony where the other recruiters and I held the flag-raising ceremony for the kick-off of events.  Being in the Air Force, I was the junior service and had little to do and the Army was the lead service followed by the Marines.  The Army sergeant hooked the lanyard to the flag and the Navy held the flag while the Marine hoisted it.   Well, the Marine yanked the wrong lanyard and drove ‘Old Glory’ right into the dirt.  There was a collective ‘Ooohh’ from everyone.  After that fiasco, I set Patty up manning my booth for me while I went out back to work on my car. 

 A Major from Group Headquarters came out with a camera to take pictures of the Air Force display and the model F-16 they had acquired for me.  He asked Patty, “Where is Sergeant Ware?” And she replied, “He’s out back working on his car.”   He came out with his camera and took pictures of me working on my car.  I don’t think I knew about that until later. 

 Later that day Patty and I were out watching the Brahma riders (I found out that the fair wouldn’t have let me ride them anyway as it is considered to be a very dangerous sport and only for professionals) and Patty had told me that they tie those straps around the bulls to squeeze their testicles and make them buck harder.  As I was relating this bit of trivia to one of the other recruiters, Patty broke in and told me that she had made that up.  You really can’t trust her.  Anyway, I was very thankful that I wasn’t riding one of those death machines. 

That night, we had the demolition derby and the Marine car was a BIG hit!  Actually, I think the other contestants purposely tried to avoid hitting it and it went relatively unscathed through most of the heat.   The cars had their gas tanks removed and a small gas can set up behind the driver’s seat for fuel.  The idea is to hit other cars with your back end but you try to hit them in the front to take out their engine or radiator.  I floored my accelerator and flew across the field and smacked into a car that had been hiding out against a log and knocked him out of the field.  Patty was sitting in front of this guy and said he was screaming and pounding his steering wheel with frustration.  The back of his car was a twisted, re-enforced mass of metal so he knew what he was doing but he never counted on me and dumb luck!  Anyway, I had a great time and felt I did the Air Force proud. 

 When I got to work the next Monday, I received a message that I was wanted at Squadron Headquarters.  I went to Travis AFB and the brass from Squadron and Group were there and showed me the pictures that were taken of me and my car.  Well, it was Court Martial time.  There really wasn’t much I could say or do since the Colonel had told me specifically not to do what I did.  However, it worked out about like something from ‘Catch 22’ in that I would either get a medal or an Article 15.  Some of the Group people stuck up for me and I got off with a scolding. 

 I eventually moved to Squadron Headquarters where I worked directly for that Colonel as the Operations Supervisor for all the recruiting offices in Northern California and Western Nevada and including the AFEES in Oakland and in Fresno.  I retired out of that job and for the last two months of my career was given the AFEES in Fresno to run since that is where I was living anyway.  I guess the Air Force treated me pretty well, considering.   

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2 Comments on “Woodland, CA ~ A Bicentennial Community”


  1. […] Woodland, CA ~ A Bicentennial Community  January 7, […]


  2. […] when Squadron HQ started making noises like it was going to bring me in to a staff position. ( https://chronospots.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/woodland-ca-a-bicentennial-community/ […]


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