Recently, I temporarily relocated to a neighborhood a stone’s throw from an Army Base (post? whatever!). I’m not sure this Airman is ready for all those grunts!
Air Force Rules!
For over 20 years, my family and I have lived on or near Air Force bases. It was only near the end of my career that the idea of “Joint” bases began to get popular. Joint Base San Antonio, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Joint Base “Your-Name-Here.” I only experienced these peripherally, on random TDYs or stopovers on the way to somewhere else. Now, I get to experience another environment entirely.
Near Air Force bases, you see quite a few “Proud Airman” or “Air Force Strong” or “Aim High” bumper stickers and window decals. Sometimes you see the I.Y.A.A.Y.A.S. or N.K.A.W.T.G. slogans, but those people probably can’t read anyway, so you just kinda feel bad for them. For those who do not require remedial reading classes, they stand for “If You Ain’t Ammo You Ain’t Shit,” and “Nobody Kicks Ass Without Tanker Gas.”
Army Base? Post? Camp? Ball-Pit?
Near an Army Post (base? whatever), the amount of bumper stickers and decals increases exponentially. As do the numbers of jacked pickup trucks and deep-throated Mustangs. To be fair, there are a lot of Mustangs near Air Force bases, but they’re usually of the four-cylinder, hamster-driven variety. Still only $30,000 at 29 percent interest, though.
Bumper stickers with unit designations and ranks abound. Sometimes I wonder how they can see out of their windows from the sheer amount of decals proclaiming their pride in their units (platoons? squads? whatever). Then I wonder about OPSEC, and remember I have my DD-214 security blanket. Maybe they need markings so they know which F-150 with blacked-out windows, spec-ops trim package, and 52-inch wheels belongs to them?
Uniform wear seems a little more casual around this Army Base (post? whatever). I have seen numerous Soldiers with hands in their pockets, or without covers (hats, for those who speak English) while outdoors. I am also not sure why there are irons for sale in the PX since the OCPs seem to come pre-wrinkled. Well, the PX has loads more stuff than any BX I’ve been to, so there is that.
Old Crusty Retired Guy
I am retired, so customs and courtesies are a little different for me. This is good, because the Army rank structure, while not as goofy as the Navy’s, is still pretty goofy to me. Air Force is easy: no stripes equals E-1. One stripe equals E-2, two stripes equals E-3, and so on. The Army LOOKS like it makes sense, at least until you get to E-4. Why does an E-3 get a rocker but an E-4 doesn’t? Specialist? Corporal? E-5s only have three stripes (chevrons? whatever)? Huh?!? Luckily, the Army decided to copy the Air Force on officer ranks, so that shows real intelligence. Bravo, Army!
As I was on my patio the other night, I looked up from my phone screen at the sound of gunfire. I had heard there was a gang problem in this area, so I perked up a bit, wanting to know where it was coming from. Then I heard the sound of a squad weapon and thought, “these gangs are well-equipped.” Next came the sound of something bigger, kind of a “chow-chow-chow” sound and I thought, “cops aren’t going to do anything?”
That’s when I remembered that the base (post? whatever) was only a couple of miles away. Day and night live-fire exercises. Range qualifications. Bouncy castles for the warrant officers. Now I can go to sleep to the sound of heavy combat! I joined the Air Force, I don’t know combat except for Mortal Kombat and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. I didn’t hear a disembodied voice call out “Finish Him!!” anyway.
To Be Continued…
Living near an Army Post (base? whatever) will definitely take some getting used to. Apaches and H-60s instead of F-15s and B-1Bs. Rockers and chevrons instead of stripes. Big ol’ yee-yee trucks instead of egg-beater four-cylinders. As I find out more differences, I’ll let you know. Until then, maybe one of these E-4s (specialists? corporals? whatever) wants to play some Mortal Kombat.