THE DAY WE DIDN'T FUEL THE FIGHTERS
Jesus, the Sargent was a mean drunk. I’ve bumped into mean drunks before, but he was truly a hard case. Worse yet, he was a big bastard. And he outranked us all, so the potential for unrequited abuse was enormous. The only thing that kind of kept him in check was that my fellow grunts and I were in the National Guard. This gave us the opportunity to only be in his orbit for a couple of days, once a month, as opposed to our Sargent Nemesis’ full-time duty. The rest of e month we were civilians, so as a group of us reminded him one off-duty day, we could beat the hell out of him 28 days out of 30 and not be subject to Court Marshall.
This strategy was marred by our annual, two consecutive weeks of full-time duty, an ongoing requirement of our National Guard, military commitment. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad had we all not been trapped with the guy in a little shack on the airfield’s outer runway. Our little crew had the Air Force MOS (Military Operational Specialty) of Petrol, Oils, and Lubricants, which translated into ongoing duty as jet-fighter fuelers. In order to do this, and turn the fighters around quickly, we were banished to a little building close to where all the planes landed. From there, we could jockey huge trucks and chase down fuel-hungry jets landing from simulated combat missions. Then our job was to pump their mostly empty fuel tanks full for the next operation
I had, of course, not joined the Air Force to pump JP4, kerosene basically, into the bellies of jet-fighters. I had signed on the bottom line after receiving solemn promises I would be assigned to become a reporter for The Stars and Stripes, the military’s newspaper. Two weeks after taking the oath, I found myself on a cargo plane being transported to fuels school in Texas (yes, there really was a school for that). Sadly, telling the newly commissioned Second Lieutenant in charge that there had been a terrible mistake proved ineffectual.
By spending every spare moment in the Enlisted Man’s club, I managed to matriculate from fuels’ school first in my class (lesson #1, step one, in the fuels training manual was “open the door of the truck”). This honor eventually earned me a corporal’s stripe and ceaseless mockery from a buddy who became a fighter pilot and would, on occasion, actually taxi over to where I would have to personally fuel his plane.
Drinking on duty was forbidden of course, but our Sargent solved this problem by arriving early and drinking breakfast in his car. As each morning wore on he would regale us about the money he saved by making his own lunch and eating it in his car.
me. It's easy.