My friend Bill Clifton's mom, very bluntly said, "you're 19, school or the service."
Those words hit home...not what I wanted to hear but definitely something I needed.
I had never folded, ironed or washed clothes, hell, I'd only shaved a couple of times but I went to see the recruiter and I chose the United States Air Force Security Police.
On 28 November 1988 I flew to San Antonio Tx for basic training...I was green, scared and the prototypical Mamma's boy. After 14 weeks in San Antonio and 4 weeks of training at Fort Dix NJ I emerged a changed man and could iron the hell out of some clothes and could put a sweet shine on a pair of jungle boots.
My first duty station was Carswell AFB (aka...CarsHELL) in Fort Worth Tx. The duty was less than desired but I have some great memories and made some great friends...Joeseph G. Schmauss III, Ali Turon, Andreas Liss, Bob DeLeon were some of the best people I'd ever met.
Word got around our dormitory that a pile of orders were at headquarters and they thought I was going to Turkey...oh hell naw! I had requested Germany, Guam, the Azore's, Italy and Japan...something had to be wrong but then again I hadn't requested Fort Worth Texas in the previous "dream sheet" either.
When I arrived at headquarters I found that I indeed had orders but to my surprise, they were orders to an fairly unknown base in Germany....Buchel Air Base.
Buchel was actually a German Base known as Fliegerhorst Buchel with a small US detachment of about 100 Americans. It was on top of a mountain surrounded by agriculture fields, farms and small villages. In the valley below was the Mosel River and wine country. It was some of the most beautiful country I'd ever seen with it's castles, vineyards and cobblestone streets.
I left a sunny 70 degree Atlanta day knowing that this leg of my military service was the adventure that I had sought. I landed 12 hours later in a rainy cold Frankfurt Germany and was met at by fellow airmen Dave Torok and Mike Fluck at my gate. I remember thinking on the ride to Buchel, "Hoss, I'm a long long way from home." While that was true, everybody else was a long way from home too. I made friends with David Towler, Dan Smith, Eric Nollman, Don "Ski" Swiatkowski, Paul Flaherty, Dave Mapus, Jeff Richardson, Bill Haldeman, Wolf Shiedel, John Cunningham, Cephus Sturdivant and Greg Murphy (RIP)...we were all in the same boat. We partied hard, worked hard and played hard. We won best USAF small unit and in our off time went to numerous wine fests and skied in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
While I'm much different now than I was then, those 4 short years were the single most educational, mind opening piece of my life. It was a pleasure to serve and a blessing to have served with the quality of men that I did.