John Fought - 1977, 1978-1979 - Styx - St. Petersburg, FL
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I arrived at Keesler AFB on a Tuesday afternoon in January 1977.  Having just ridden all day on a bus from Lackland AFB in Texas we were very tired.  The In-processing squadron handled us all as if we still didn't know our right from left.  True, there were many of us who had recently escaped high school and there were also a few that were a couple years older than most with some experience under our belts.  Still, we were all wary of anyone with more than two stripes.  Most of the airmen who were getting us to rooms and handling our disbursement to the other school squadrons had one more stripe than most of the "slicksleeves" (us).

Smitty warms up the brass line for a parade

We remained in barracks next to the east gate.  I was watching some students play band instruments and asked what they were doing.  That was how I was introduced to some of the best memories of my USAF stint.  I was brought to the Drum Sergeant and was asked to "show my stuff".  I proceeded to do an unrehearsed drum solo with a military riff in the middle.  I was so caught up trying to impress the fellow in front of me that I didn't see the crowd gathering behind me.  Suddenly I had a pair of cymbals being held next to the snare I was using.  Upon finishing, I just about jumped out my boots when they started clapping and said "sign him up".  Well, I did, and I have a few surviving pictures from those wonderful seven months I was there.  We went to Mardi Gras.  Just about every community there had a version of the parade and I guess the Blue Knights were on everyone's list.  Many days we got out of school ran to the flight line, played for the change of classes, and jumped on a bluebird bus to somewhere to play.  Very cool.

Drum Section: Heartbeat of the corps

Some things to add: Memories of taping pennies to coffee can rings for pant blousing,  Starched fatigues that could stand by themselves, sliding into them on the floor and lifting ourselves by pushing up with our arms to not crease them before morning inspection, Box lunches on bus trips,  breaking down somewhere in one of those buses and still having homework when we arrived back at base for class in a few hours, "Open Portions", sectionals, the differences between "boots" and "ropes", being flashed at morning inspections, the floor polisher, walking on one side row of tiles in the hallway, "captain klepto" trying to uproot a street sign in Mobile while we were trying to leave - I swear that fellow could steal your shorts off you and you'd only know it by the breeze you felt, the many prize helmets that were "swipe" items, being put in a "brace", doing the trial task that started the inspection weekend for your rope, stopping the whole flight line (including the generals car) by playing the national anthem after a change of class duty.  Drum Major thought we needed to practice it again RIGHT then.  Without thinking that everyone within earshot would have to stop and salute.

Red rope Ken Brown inspects the rifle team on the flightline

And people, Jonesy, Eppley and his van, Ochoa, Ratcliffe, Trish the Dish, Crooks, our red ropes, the "evil" male chorus below us, dating the chorus "sweetheart" and all the looks they gave me cause they wanted to be in my shoes, doing "in-processing" with the weekly group from Lackland - with our parade uniforms on we looked like nothing they had seen in before - we got many salutes before they realized we weren't officers,  our poor permanent party sergeant, who we put through a weekly hell I'm sure, with all the crazy wacky stuff we did.

Flightline inspection of "Boots"

Marching through every street in the triangle playing every song we knew on Sunday morning to announce our arrival on the west end of the base.  We had been on the east side for many years i was told and were now being moved with all the "other" students.  Truth is they need our barracks for more perm party personnel.  Great memories, good friends, good times.  I hope you all enjoy the pix.  If you recognize anyone, chime in and let us know how you are doing.

John Fought - STYX RULE!!!!!

Here are some more of John's pics.

Corps Historian takes pix on flightline

Another change of class performance

Room desk with helmet trophies (swipe items)

Wednesday nights:  Open Portions - our weekly business meeting

Space Farce is practice, practice, practice!

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