De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


Oh, I Wish I Weren't In Dixie....

After graduation, I went back to Utah for 10 days so I could arrange to have my belongings shipped to Maxwell and also enjoy some leave. The odd thing is that I can't even remember where I stayed. I do remember traveling down to Nephi and doing some target shooting with some guys, but the rest is lost to my memory. Unfortunately. I really wish I had some picture from that time. For all its flaws, Utah is still a nice place to live.

Despite that fact that layovers in Atlanta are supposed to be hellish, I don't remember anything of the trip from Utah to Montgomery except the actual arrival. As soon as I stepped off that plane, it felt like someone had taken one of those woolen Army blankets, dipped it in hot water, and draped it over me. I knew I was in trouble. I checked in at Billeting, and they put me up in the VAQ for a couple of nights. The next morning, I found my way over to the office (not a difficult task at all, given the size of Maxwell.

The didn't really know quite when to expect me, so when I walked in and introduced myself, they were rather surprised. My sponsor took me over to the Orderly Room and got me processed in. I was able to stay in the VAQ until Monday, but then they assigned me a room in the dorm, which was in the same building as the Orderly Room.

It's hard for me to believe that Someone Up There likes me. The rule on bachelor housing is that NCOs get their own room. Based on availabliity, the more senior airmen might get a room alone. Fortunately for me, there were enough rooms available that senior E-3s could get their own room. Better yet, I was senior enough that I got a room to myself. By the time things changed and there weren't enough rooms, I had been promoted to E-4 and still qualified for my own room. And when things changed yet again, I was on the promotion list for E-5 and still had my own room.

All in all, in 5½ years at Maxwell, I had a roommate for a total of about two weeks. Several times, they tried to put someone in with me, but it was always a smoker, and AF regulations do not allow for smokers to be roomed with non-smokers if the non-smoker objects to it. Not that I'm the sort to go objecting or anything. -)

The first thing I noticed about Montgomery is that very few people speak English. And I don't speak Southern. So, communication was problematic. What really bothered me was when I would use a 50-cent word -- because it was exactly the right word -- and people would look at me funny. I never did get used to that horrible southern twang, or the mush-mouth way some people talked.

Our local unit of the Church met in an old storefront out in Prattville, which was about 10 miles from the base. I got a ride out there my first Sunday, but quickly realize I'd need wheels. My first order of business was to start an account at the Base credit union. Then I got a loan and bought my first and only motorcycle. I figured, what the heck? It's the South, right? Mild weather, right? Yeah. Right. That first winter ('76-'77) was one of the coldest on record.

For years, I had had a desire to study martial arts. And this was long before Bruce Lee came on the scene. Partly, I wanted to be able to defend myself, since I grew up as the proverbial 98-pound weakling. And partly, it was the "art" part that appealed to me. So, as soon as I got my motorcycle, I started looking around. There was a guy who taught on Base, but I wasn't impressed by him. But there was another guy, Master Yu Ki Yol, who taught Tang Soo Do off-Base. So I enrolled with him.

My first lesson taught me that I had learned nothing from my experience with the aerobics run at Sheppard. I was reasonably familiar with the general idea of martial arts, but this was only my second actual experience. (My first one was at BYU, but that was a Japanese style taught be a guy with attitude to spare.) I gave it all I had. During the session, Master Yu took me aside for a bit of individual instruction, as happens with all newbies. All these years later, I'm still impressed with the man's humility. Partway thru the session, seeing how hard I was trying, he stopped. Looking up at me with those smiling eyes of his, he said "Take it easy. No can be Master first day." That was the most important part of that lesson and I've never forgotten it.

As mentioned earlier, that first winter was pretty bad. I do remember the temperature getting down as low as 7, which is pretty brutal when you're riding a motorcycle. On one particular day, I rode down to class and no one else showed up. I'm standing outside the Dojang thinking "WTH???". I had ridden all the way down there in the freezing cold on my bike, and none of these tough guys showed up. Hmph...

The first thing I wanted to do once I arrived in Alabama was leave. This was easy to do, but not for long. Since Florida was close by -- and since that was the one state out of all the Lower 48 that my Dad had never been to -- that was high on my list. One weekend, I simply got on a Greyhond bus and road down to Tyndall AFB, stayed the night, then rode back. Someone Up There was looking out for me, since I had no way of knowing in advance whether or not I could get a room in the VAQ, but I was able to.

By about that time, though, I had stopped going to Church, since all anyone had to talk about was when I'd be getting married. Yeah, right. Like there was anyone in Alabama who would be compatible with me. This lasted for a year before I finally decided I'd rather fight than switch. More on that later.

My first Christmas at Maxwell was so unremarkable, I can't even remember it. Pathetic.



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