Archive for December 2018

Soap Soccer

December 3, 2018


Madera AFS

My first assignment in the Air Force was at a gap-filler site in Central California called Madera AFS.  It was part of Air Defense Command which was a network of radio and radar sites that completely covered the borders of our countries Early Warning System.   Seems quaint now but it was the best we could do in the 50’s and early 60’s.   I worked part-time at a Shell station in Madera and Patty got on with Sears in Fresno.  It was where she met Emmy and we’ve had a lifelong friendship with Emmy and Fred Adair and their son Billy.

I was fresh out of Ground Radio School in Biloxi and didn’t have my security clearance yet so I was assigned to the First Sergeant to do whatever he wanted.  I caught on pretty quick that they weren’t in any great hurry to get my clearance and I was kept busy building a three-hole pitch and putt golf course and planting thee hundred pithy orange trees that we got from a local grower who wanted to get rid of them.  One morning I was on KP duty and was the first one in to the mess (which is what we called the kitchen-go figure).  I went around turning on lights and as I was doing that all hell broke loose.  Sirens were going off and I was going around turning off lights trying to make it stop.  It finally dawned on me that I hadn’t caused the commotion and I ran out into the company street and saw that everyone was heading for the building that was serving as the bomb shelter.  I ran to the building and they wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have my security clearance.  I had to stand out in the street waiting for eminent death because I didn’t have my clearance.   Luckily, it was just a drill.

Shortly after that I got my clearance and went to work fixing radios. This was the most boring job in the world.  We had a crew of about a dozen people including a Tech Sergeant who ran the place and a Staff Sergeant who acted as his henchman.  There was one guy, I think his name was Gluckman, who was an E3 like I was, but was the only one who got to actually fix radios.  All the rest of us spent all our time doing Preventive Maintenance routines on the radio equipment.   So, I was really happy to be selected to attend training by a Collins Radio Tech Rep by the name of Jack Sayers in Fallon, Nevada.   The training I think was on the KWT-6 (kick while tuning six times) Single Sideband Radio.  I was to run into Jack Sayers again in Panama and Bolivia while working on the Blue Baron Transportable Communications Van.  Anyway, it was an opportunity that I welcomed to get out of the GATR (ground-air-transmit-receive) site for eight weeks.  Fallon, Nevada was a remote site a couple hours east of Reno and the site of Fallon NAS, the Navy’s Top Gun training facility and also Fallon AFS a gap filler site and part of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) network.

I arranged to travel with two others who were attending the same training, one of whom had a 1963 Pontiac station wagon that he was suffering buyer’s remorse over and was eager to open up on the desert highways of Nevada to see if he could wreck it.  I didn’t realize that at the time, of course.   I needed Patty to drive me to Madera from Fresno to catch my ride so she would have to miss work for a day.  When she asked her supervisor for the time off she was refused as they were short-handed at the time.  I think Patty intended to take time off anyway but the night before I was due to leave Patty and I had an epic bathtub soap soccer duel and, as I went to stomp the soap in what was to be an amazing end-around goal against an indomitable defense, my feet went out from under me and I came down on my elbows.   There was blood everywhere and I was unable to use my arms for several days what with the bandages and slings I was forced to wear.  So, Patty paraded me in front of her boss to justify taking the time off to facilitate my travel arrangements.

Jack Sayers asked for me to be reassigned to Ajo AFS in Arizona but the Tsgt that was my boss decided that I somehow contrived to go over his head and resisted the reassignment.  I didn’t particularly want to go to Ajo anyway so I extended to take an overseas assignment to Panama,  anything to get away from Madera AFS.



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