Not being a “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full” kind of guy, I often ruffled the feathers of fellow workers, supervisors and managers. Following regulations was a lesson learned early on. Knowing them and following them saved my bacon many times. And sometimes, doing so just turned out to be “the icing on the cake”.
Some of the managers and supervisors at Anderson Air Base (AB) had no use for me. Being lower on the “totem pole”, I found myself on the receiving end of considerable harassment. They would ride me, I would stir the pot, they would ride me more, and I would just get a bigger spoon. Their attempts at harassment included changing my shift and changing my work location. Much to their dismay, I was down for that. All that was left for them try was to interfere with my rest and recuperation (R&R) opportunities. In short, I was denied R&R even after all other members of the shop had been on at least one, many of them on two such breaks. These short breathers were to other parts of the orient; Japan, Saipan, Thailand, and the Philippines. It was time for me to bring out my mega spoon!
Being an aircrew survival instructor, and being authorized to attend the different survival schools offered by the Air Force; Basic , Cold Weather, Jungle, Water, and Desert Survival, I pulled a few strings and got myself orders to go to the Jungle Survival School at Clark AB, Philippines. The shop chief and some of the supervisors were not happy. My knowledge of regulations and connections carried more weight than they could overcome. There was nothing they could do to cancel the orders.
The shop chief gave me a briefing prior to my departure. His displeasure at my finagling this class was clearly evident; he had authorized no R&R time in conjunction with the school, and was talking to me as if I was a child, covering every possible contingency he could think of, finishing with the “ I would be in deep crap if I screwed anything up on the trip”. I baited the trap asking if I could fly in civilian clothes since I would make the trip on a civilian airline. This drew the expected reaction… NO! I would have to fly in “fatigues”, the work uniform on both the departure and return flights. In his haste to harass he neglected to check regulations covering flights in and out of Clark Air Base, as expected. He even made sure those instructions were on my orders. I had him! His arrogance and dislike for me overruled his professional judgment. Although you can fly into Clark AB in the fatigue uniform, you were not allowed to fly out of Clark AB in fatigues. Pacific Air Command regulations required the wearing of the khaki (a tan color) uniform. Do you see the hand-writing on the wall?
I left Anderson AB in my fatigues, arrived at Clark AB in the afternoon and signed in to the school. Classes started the next day. We had a day of classroom, followed by a few days in the field. Field time consisted of instruction and demonstration of survival techniques, hands on experience in edible plants and water sources, building shelters, fire craft and cooking with bamboo, poisonous critters, and several other survival topics. My return flight was to be the following day after the school ended. Following the written orders, with bags packed, I showed up at the base terminal in fatigues for the return flight, and was promptly informed I would be refused boarding per a regulation forbidding departure from Clark AB on a civilian aircraft while wearing fatigues. To make a good show of it, I show my orders with the instructions to fly in fatigues which made no difference… something I already knew
Smiling from ear to ear, I called back to my shop on Anderson AB to explain to the shop chief that I was going to be delayed four or five days as I did not have the proper uniform to fly out of Clark AB. Much to my dismay I was going to have to buy a uniform, take it to a seamstress to have it altered, then have it laundered and pressed before I could leave. I liked to lay it on thick. He was furious, showering me with threats to my career; Article 15 action (reduction in rank and pay, a fine, and poor performance reports) if I was not back that afternoon. In addition, shop management would take other actions as well. Don’t you just love it when someone sticks their foot in their mouth so far you can see it sticking out their ass? I did my paperwork, retrieving a copy of the regulation refusing the wearing of the fatigue uniform; and it was off on my four-day R&R!
Upon landing at Anderson AB, I went to see the shop chief. After listening to him blow hot air for several minutes, I handed him a copy of my orders requiring me to wear fatigues, and a copy of the regulation denying boarding on civilian aircraft from Clark when wearing fatigues. I didn’t feel he would take a lecture from me on reviewing travel regulations before trying to screw someone over, so I kept quiet. The best he could do at that point was to put me back on the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift… my favorite shift which I neglected to tell him. As a matter of fact, I guess I may have laid it on a little thick about all the bad things about working the night shift. I had never reeled in a fish so big!
When my six month tour of duty was up, and after being relieved of duty, I went to the shop chief to thank him for putting me on my favorite shift. And… against my better judgment I thanked him for the vacation at Clark. I told him I knew of the regulation about flying in fatigues when leaving Clark, but felt it was in my better interest not to irritate him with petty regulations when he seemed so sure of himself… wanting to keep hostilities to a minimum and all.
Yup… that was a mighty fine piece of cake!