Basic Training was a struggle, but I bounced back. I flew to Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado. Uncle Ben, and Aunt Irma lived eight miles from the base, but they didn't want to see me. They said I'd be bored. After a few attempts to see them I let it go.
Technical school was fun but hard. Through the 3 1/2 months I struggled through class, having the top scores of the new Airmen but still having academic hiccups twice and almost being held back to repeat lessons. I'm a paradox.
I became the comic of the class. Technical Sergeant Shoko Debold-Nelson, the class leader, liked me, and said I'd do well in the Air Force. Class consisted of half pipeline students...that is, students who had just entered the service, and the other half were those who had been in for a while and were switching specialties. Being on Nelson's good side, I felt comfortable being silly. She was like a big sister to me at times, giving advice and, best of all, encouragement. I was homesick often, being away from home for the first time, and missing my family. It was good: I learned to make new friends, and by the time I graduated Target Intelligence School on May 14, the class of eleven had become good friends. It was the first time in my life I felt comfortable, and open with a diverse group of peers. The cigarette isn't
| There was a 26 year-old married Airman named Camille Long, from Dayton, Ohio, who bore a strong resemblance to Diana Ross. She was different and I was the only classmate who didn't treat her differently. Even TSgt Nelson didn't like her but I always identified with the 'different' people. Camille and I took an accidental trip to Denver once, with no particular plan, and she asked me out to a movie at least once, if my crusty memory still works. She had an odd sort of affection for me that made me uncomfortable but I could see that she enjoyed being around me so I didn't chase her off. Camille said her husband gave her permission to date while she was in Denver. Perhaps she just wanted to mother me; she told me she did. She must have missed her kids. I don't date married women and at that time in my life I didn't contemplate the opposite sex much. I just wanted to survive in the Air Force. While others had girlfriends, I had a distant pen pal in Evansville whom I wouldn't see for another 2 1/2 years. Had I known the negative effect women would have on my life, I might have just castrated myself right there with my compass and rubbing alchohol.|
As my pattern went, Camille was also taken out of Technical School and sent home (just like Greenberg) on a Section eight discharge, meaning, she was a little looney, according to the 'experts'. She seemed perfectly sane to me. I'm sure glad I didn't tell the 'experts' about my castration idea.
|On Camille's last night at school she came by my room while I was dilligently working on a class project. She was almost in tears. She wanted to say goodbye but I was so tired and stressed about the project that I nearly blew her off. She didn't even get a hug. I never saw her again and I|
| never did finish that project that night (one of those academic hiccups I referred to earlier). I fell asleep and got in a lot of trouble for not finishing it, but I also felt bad that I didn't give Camille a proper goodbye. Even 'different' people deserve hugs.|
On my last weekend of school, I hopped on a Denver bus and took it as far as I could before they made me get off. I went to Golden, Colorado and wandered around the hills alone near the Coors Beer Brewery for hours until I started seeing too many dead rattlesnakes. I figured it was only a matter of time before I ran into a rattlesnake funeral. I took the bus home. I was a little disappointed to have been in such a beautiful place as Denver for 3 1/2 months and only left Lowry Airbase three times. A wasted opportunity.