Basic Training (or Boot Camp)

I started my Air Force career in Milwaukee, WI. I was put on a Greyhound bus and stayed overnight in a Milwaukee hotel. On June 18, 1980 I raised my right hand and was sworn in at the Milwaukee Recruiting Center. The one thing I remember the most was how nice the military people were before I joined, asking if I needed anything and going all out for me. After I raised my hand and was in the Air Force, they changed. It was "you will go to lunch and be back at this time or you will considered AWOL".

We hoped on an Ozark Airline plane, and after a landing in Texas where the airplane came in too fast and we had to turn around at the end of the runway, it was on a bus to Lakeland Air Force Base (AFB) and the start of Basic Training. When I got to Lakeland AFB, it was already night time and all I can remember was the yelling. It was constant yelling, the TI's (or Technical Instructors) moving from person to person, yelling in their faces.

The next morning, it was hair cuts, innoculations, fitted for fatigues, and lots of yelling. Shots were given with a gun, that I was later to find out, used 850 pounds per square inch of pressure (I was told that 150 psi was enough). If a person even flinched, they would be cut and bleed down their arm.

Basic training moved quite fast, especially when I learned it was really just a mind game. Do what the TI says and it would be easy. Here are some stories that I happened to remember after all these years:


I remember I had a difficult time keeping "in-step" with the rest of the squadron. Right, left, right, left, ... you get the picture. Well one day when I assume I was out of step with the rest, the TI halted us and came right up behind me, stuck his clip board between my legs and whispered into my ear that he better not see me out of step again. Not sure what he actually said and what I did, but I was not out of step again the rest of basic training.

Bowls Not Bowels

When we first met our TI, TSGT Bowles, he kindly reminded us that it was pronouced "bowls", not "bowels", and if anyone said it wrong they would be doing latrine duty the rest of  boot camp.

Barracks Next Door

While sitting between our flights barracks, getting the "treating girls with respect" talk, the TI went into the barracks next to ours and all we heard was shouting. Our TI even stopped talking so we could listen and get a good laugh. Well, all of a sudden foot lockers began flying out the windows (this was Texas, in the summer, no glass or screens) and it didn't stop until every locker was on the ground, usually opened with it's contents strewn everywhere. It got really funny when the sqaudron returned to see their belongings outside the barracks.

Running Shoes

For PT (physical training) we would remove our boots and put on runnning shoes. One day I forgot my running shoes at the parade grounds and was told to go retrieve them and on the return trip was caught running by another TI. After chewing me up and down, I was given a reprimand (pink slip) which I had to explain to my TI later. That was the only reprimand I received the entire boot camp.

Smart Move

At night a person is designated to "guard" the front door. If someone approachs and knocks on the door, he is supposed to stop them and ask for identification. One night someone in my platoon allowed another TI in without asking for his ID and we were all awoken by the yelling. Well the lowly Airman Basic did one of the smartest things I have every seen, while being yelled at he told the TI it wouldn't have mattered as the lock on the door was broken. To our amazement the TI actually went back out the door and the Airmen closed the door behind and him and yelled, "Sir, may I see your ID". The TI began throwing a fit, but eventually showed his ID. After being let back in and being joined by our TI, who was amazed byother TI start to chew him even more. When our TI finally stopped laughing, he had the other TI back off and the Airman was let off with a warning, I presume by his act of brilliance. I don't remember the name of this Airman, but he must be a politician by now.

Parade Ground Workouts

Before entering the Air Force, I didn't know what to expect for workouts. So I started running and worked my way up to 6 miles per day. However, when I got to boot camp we started out our marches with stretches and jumping jacks, then proceeded on a 1/4 mile march. By the end of basic training we worked our way up to 1 and 1/2 mile marches, definitely not your Marine workout!!!

Black Flags

I don't remember the exact parameters, but when the temperature reached a certain degree, all physical activities where called off and signaled by a black flag. Well, Texas in June and July, I believe we almost had more days off than ones we could do physical activities.

Foot Locker

When we first arrived at the barracks, we were instructed to place all personnel items in the foot locker, except cash. Well, I mistakenly forgot or missplaced three pennies in my locker. When the TI found them, he yelled and cursed at me, accussing me of trying to bribe him. WITH THREE CENTS? I would think if I was going to bribe someone, I would need more than 3 cents!!!

The Snake Pit

At the chow hall (dining hall) is a section where all the TI's sit. It is separated from the area where all the airmen eat, with only one entrance/exit. The worst fear of any airmen was getting called into the snake pit. Once you entered the snake pit, you could be stopped by any TI and forced to do "tests" or examined for clothing misscues, constantly being screamed at. When an airmen finally exited the snake pit, they always had a look to relief and sometimes crying.

Passing Out

While waiting in line at the chow hall one day, I succombed to the heat and dehydration, passing out. When I came to, one of my TI's had a hold of my tongue with a food tong, believing when a person passes out they swallow their tongues.