Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Without us the plane wouldn't get off the ground. ...a salute to all the young enlisted airmen...and women!

A personal story... (nothing to do with airplanes)
The Lowly Enlisted Man…In Command
In my early days at the Military Dog Center I had volunteered for the early shift whereas I would open up the clinic, do all the early morning treatments scheduled for the dogs awaiting school, perform all the laboratory fecal exams dropped off by the student dog handlers earlier, and any Knott's test (for heartworm) that may have been scheduled the previous day (students were instructed to drop by the clinic before attending that day's class)...so anyway I thought that was a lot of responsibility for a guy that had barely sewed on his second stripe but I enjoyed the work of working alone and felt deep down that Dr. Husted had a lot of respect for me...especially trusting me in this position. Meanwhile, one early morning as I walked from the barracks across Lackland Air Force Base and over to the kennels/clinic area, I spotted a dog handler with his dog already waiting for someone to open up the clinic. It was still somewhat dark at that hour (cold too, I remember) so I could not recognize the handler's uniform as to whether or not he was Army or Air Force...and that didn't matter anyway, they were almost always young airmen or soldiers who recently joined the service and were attending their first or perhaps second so-called 'Tech School'.
Without really looking at the guy and his dog, I said something of another that I really can't remember...just small talk that one would use with people of about equal rank. I did inform him that he would have to wait outside until I set up the clinic and that when I was ready for him I'd let him know. A part of setting up the clinic was to place a wash pan with sanitizer on the stand between the two exam tables. After setting up this last item I went to the door and yelled out to the dog handler that it was OK to come in now and that he should always upon entering the clinic yell out the word's,
"Dog coming in!" ...there was also another rule concerning that command...if the muzzle was off then please so indicate. (Remember, this was in the days we only had those mean sentry dogs...not the patrol dogs of later years). So as the guy was entering the clinic I had stepped into the lab (in those days it was also a supply storage room) and told him through the open door (still out of sight) to grab that sanitizer sponge from the sanitizer placed between the tables and wipe down the table before lifting his dog onto the table. Now by the time I had finished up in the lab and entering the exam room I had my first glimpse of the soldier and his dog...the soldier was much shorter than I but he had his back to me and I wasn't sure that was a soldier's uniform fatigues or something the Air Force had...there was just a hint of something that made it look different. Again, without looking directly at the guy I walked around the table and over to the draw that contained the syringes at the same time confirming with him that his dog was here for a heartworm test.  Remember now that the guy is much shorter than me and when I turned I could see his face and down to his upper part of his collar...the rest of his uniform was hidden by the dog standing on the table in front of him. I told the guy to let the dog lie down on the table as I would have to draw blood from the dog's front leg. As the handler gave his dog the command to lie down I noticed something about his voice...it was not the voice of a young soldier or airman, but an older, more authoritative voice...the voice of a United States Marine Corps Brigadier General! (It was then I saw the star on his collar).
ps: It's a rare occasion where a young low-ranking airman can give orders to a general!

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