I was a Flight Chief as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force.

It was 1983 at Laughlin AFB, Texas. I was working in Whiskey Flight in the T-38 Branch when Chief Melton called me to his office. When I got there, my neighbor and friend Alan Jones was already there. The Chief got right down to business.

“This base has been base has been homesteaded with controlled five-year tour since I can remember. AFMPC has caught up with us and PCS’d all my Master Sergeants except three. Two will be the Branch Chiefs and one will stay in Delta flight and retire. I’ve got to come up with eight Flight Chiefs, three in the T-37’s and five in the T-38’s. All my Technical Sergeants will be Flight Chiefs and I’m two short. That’s why I called you two to see me. You’re the best Staff Sergeants I’ve got. I know this sucks on ice, but I want you to be Flight Chiefs. I will help you as much as possible and my door will always be open to you. Will you volunteer for this?”
Al and I looked at each other. We both said “Yes” at the same time. Al got Yankee Flight and I got Whiskery Flight.


Let me back track a little and tell you how I got there. I was working Aero-Repair on F-4’s at Kunsan AB, Korea. I met my replacement on the way out. To make it even weirder, I was replacing at Laughlin AFB, Texas. Specifically, Whiskey Flight. He said I’d love it. “Whiskey is where they put everyone on appellant leave, awaiting court martial or under investigation. You’ll LOVE IT!”

With that info under my hat, I reported for my first day. I grabbed a chair and sat next to the Flight Chief desk. It was literally a crew chief shack, about 20 by 40 feet. The airmen were at the other end and were playing grab ass and horsing around and smoking.

Seven o’clock came and went with no roll call, no Flight Chief. When I asked the room where he was I was told he was “Always fucking late”. Through the window, I could see the other flights forming up shoulder to shoulder for the morning FOD walk to the taxiway and back. A morning ritual that has every little rock and screw picked up before it can damage a jet engine. When they got to the far end, I started looking for someone in our flight.

I spotted a Senior Airman, three stripes. When he turned I saw his name.
“Airman Michelson?”*
“Yes sir.”
“What are we supposed to be doing?”
“I guess we should be doing the FOD walk.”
“Well why don’t you take the guys out and do the FOD walk?”
It was suddenly quiet. Everyone looking at me. Then more than a few starts to come at me and they weren’t going to talk. Michelson was in the middle.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “Does anyone know this guy?”
I pointed at the roster board and said, “I’m Staff Sergeant Chamberlain, incoming personnel.” The crowd was visibly unimpressed. “Wait a minute”, Michelson repeated. “We should do the FOD walk because he might be a Narc.”

They at the far end when our Flight Chief showed up.
“Where in the fuck is everybody?”
“They’re out doing the FOD walk.”
“Who made them do that?”
“I did.”
“Who the fuck are you?” Pointing to the roster I said, “Staff Sergeant Chamberlain, incoming personnel.” He said, “Congratulations. Comeback at 1600, you’re the Swing Shift Supervisor.”

*Later I found out that “Airman” Michelson was really 1st Lt Michealson, OSI.


The first thing I did was to hold Roll Call outside. In ranks, three lines please. The second thing was to improve appearance. It was AFR 35-10 back then. Anyone refusing my suggestions got a trip to the orderly room to chat with the First Sergeant.

Every shack had a U.S. Flag on it. Like the ones you have at home. The convention was to have someone grab it and stick it up. That ended immediately. At the close of roll call, everyone does an about face and salutes as the “someone” picked stuck the flag up. At first the other flights stood, stared and laughed. Then I noticed Yankee Flight forming up and soon every flight was doing this. If we were busy, the flag detail was increased to two. One to stick it up and one to salute. Sometimes they took the initiative, and both would salute.

After a couple of months, we started winning Flight of the Month. Three times in a row. When we cleared all of our delayed discrepancies over the Christmas/New Years break, Chief Melton came down to see what the fuck I was doing.

Most of the airman couldn’t get a security clearance to get assigned overseas or to a “fightin’ unit”. During the break, I went to the Student Squadron and checked out a projector and all the strike films they had. I then gave them a choice. They could be outside doing bullshit things like trimming grass or wiping down airplanes or they could be in a nice warm flight shack watching movies.



The movie ticket was an AFTO Form 349 that documented the repair of a delayed discrepancy. With the old part that was replaced. By New Years, guys who were off would throw on a uniform and come down to work to watch the films.

Chief Melton just shook his head, said “Brilliant” and left.

We had legendary Flight parties too.  One epic party lasted four day of the Memorial Day weekend and was held at three different locations.  It started in my quarters.  There were five parties going on.  Smokers in the front yard.  Wives in the living room.  The Drinkers in the kitchen where a full bar was set up and the rowdies in the backyard.  It went from there to the Lake, then Royce’s house  and wound up at the dorms.  Just in time to put uniforms on and go to work.  About eight people were being reassigned and leaving the flight.  Including “Butt Plug” who was going to Hahn to be a Lucky Puppy.

Civilians and non-Air Force types can click here for the translations of the Air Force Slang used in this post.

Stories the Air Force Doesn’t Want You to Know

You might think these stories are Urban Legends, but they’re not. 


Hahn AB, West Germany back in 1989.  We had what we called the “Ether Bunny” running around base.  This story comes to you with one degree of separation.  I was hanging in the day room and there was a young airman in distress.  He was all upset.  He wasn’t moving around the pool table too well.  Being the professional NCO, I asked him what was wrong and could I help.  He said he was new to Hahn, fresh out of Tech School.  The previous weekend he was at the club and met some guy.  This guy was buying rounds and soon the 18 year old airman was God’s Own Fucked Up.  But this dude was cool and made sure the airman got back to his dorm room.  The next morning, Sunday, airman wakes up and is God’s Own Hung the Fuck Over.  He’s all sore and having a hard time walking.

Then things got worse.  A discharge started to come out of his ass.  Thoroughly freaked out, he made his way to the ER.  It was determined that the discharge was……………..cum.  

Apparently, the rapist got the idea from the Urban Legend.

He wasn’t the first and wasn’t the last victim of the Ether Bunny.  As more victims came to light, it seems that the M.O was to get the victim drunk at the club.  Get him back to the dorm, make damn sure he’s knocked out by doing the old ether on a rag trick and ass rape him.  No women were involved.  OSI zeroed in on the folks at the hospital but I never heard that he was caught.


My friend was a S.P (Security Police) at Spangdahlem AB.  He showed me the report of a murder in their Base Housing.  The victim was a Senior Master Sergeant.  When the S.P’s arrived, they found the victim hog tied feet to neck.  The hands were tied behind the back and the body was wearing a very fashionable leather hood.  The kind that have lumps of clay where the eyes go and is put on wet so as it dries it gets tighter.  The case was solved almost immediately, because they rewound the tape in the VCR camera on the tripod.  The couple, two men, were playing tie me up and beat me games when the beat-ee passed out.  The other guy, another senior NCO, fled the scene. Naked.  Arrested at work the same day. 


T-38A Talon with the speed brakes down.

We were stationed at Laughlin AFB, Texas.  The wife and I liked to play tennis and one day we used the courts across the street from the O-Club.  It had trees that cut down the wind.  We were playing when I heard shots ring out.  We grabbed our toddler and got real flat.  I was afraid we might get hit as a full fledged gunfight broke out.

There was a big field between the O-Club and the Student Dorm.  The Student Dorm was where all the Lieutenants learning how to fly lived.  This is where the gunfight was going down.

It all started in the Student Dorm when two officers (two men) decided to play tie me up and beat me games.  At some point the beat-ee didn’t want to play and the safe word wasn’t doing shit.  Being a resourceful officer, he picked up a toaster and crushed his boyfriend’s head. 

Someone called the cops because of all the noise.  When the Lieutenant heard the sirens coming he fled into the field.  Naked and armed with a handgun.  The gunfight broke out between him and the cops and ended when he ran out of bullets.  He got the Death Penalty at Leavenworth.


When I was stationed at Kunsan AB, South Korea 80-81 and worked in the Aero-Repair shop. We called egress to pull the seat and some civilians from Hill AFB came out.  From them I learned where the Egress Shop went. 

The S.P.s sent the dogs through the Egress Shop and caught the folks smoking Dope right there at work.  The O.S.I homed in on the Airman that was selling the marijuana.  They wanted to know where he was getting it from.  He said he’d tell them but first he wanted to say he was sleeping with his shop supervisor and it was he who called for the dogs to visit swing shift.

Half the shop went away for smoking shit and the other half went to jail for poking shit. Cue the egress guys from Hill.



Zulu Alert is Air Defense Alert.  F-15’s were sitting Zulu at Kandena AB, Okinawa. It gets lonely on alert.  A pilot and his MALE enlisted Crew Chief were caught doing the nasty inside the intake on a F-15.  When this went public all the pilots started wearing the squadron patch wherever they went.  The pilots of the squadron of the couple had rockers made for the squadron patch that read, “I’M NOT THE ONE”.




George AFB, 1978ish….. It was a dark and stormy night.  The flight-line was as quiet as it gets when flying is cancelled.  We all all cozy in the expediter van when someone gets on the radio.   Two girls, I’m sorry WAFs, I’m sorry again Female Airmen down in Blue Section were talking.  One of them was bragging about her boyfriend.  No one dared to call a hot mic while she droned on about what sex acts she liked in minute detail. The other one then chimed in on the sexual prowess of her lover.  Imagine about a 100 guys all leaning into the radio speaker trying not to miss a word.

Behind the scenes, the husband of one of these sexy ladies was rushing down to the flight-line to get the name of the guy she’s fucking.  At the same time, said guy was rushing over to Blue Section to tell her to shut the fuck up.

The two NCO’s met each other outside of the Blue Section expediter truck.

Fisticuffs erupted.











If you’ve spent any time in the military you know it’s a true war/sea story when it starts, “This is no shit”.
This is no shit.

I was stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base outside of Del Rio Texas. I was the swing shift supervisor in Whiskey Flight. Having worked on F-4 Phantoms I was still getting used to working on T-38’s. They’re so cute and dinky compared to the Phantom.


We were launching the afternoon go’s and I was walking up and down the line when Airman Woods attracted my attention. He had his jet up and running and there was a leak coming off the belly. I stepped in and took over the launch. On the T 38 you do not use a comm cord that allows you to talk to the pilot. All communication is done with hand signals. I reverted to my F-4 experience and figured the seals needed to be set. I signaled the student in the front seat to rev up the engines to 80%. When he did that, the leak stopped. I signaled the pilot to reduce power and when he did the leak resumed.

It was at this point that I wanted to go underneath and see what was leaking. I signaled for the crew to put their hands up indicating that I was going to go underneath the airplane. You don’t want to have the crew messing with anything while you’re under there. When both the student and his instructor had their hands up, I proceeded to go under the airplane. I was just under the speed brakes, looking at this leak and still couldn’t figure it out. It was too far forward for me to touch, so I popped out and went back to the front of the airport. I signaled again for the power to be run up and once again the leak stopped. When the pilot throttled back the leak reappeared.

We went to the pilot’s hands up thing again. This time Airman Woods followed me underneath. Once again, I found myself under the speed brakes. The leak had propagated down the belly and I could reach it. I did a taste test and found out it was water from the air conditioning system.


I turned to Woods and said,” It’s fucking water. Let’s go.” He turned and bumped into me as I tripped over the mooring chain. As I fell towards the nose of the airplane, I heard the engine powering up. The suction of the engine grabbed me by the epaulets of my field jacket and started dragging me to the front of the airplane. The engine inlet of the T-38 is rather small and I was thinking, “This is going to suck”. I figured I was about to stop up the left engine intake and stall out the motor.

Sucked Up

That didn’t happen. The engine bent me over backwards and I was going down the intake. I felt like Quint at the end of “Jaws”. Being sucked into an intake is a job hazard when you crew jets. In the F-4’s, we had many discussions and opinions on what one should do when facing this situation. The first idea was to aim for the bellows probe and hang on for Dear Life. If you missed that, the idea was to get your arms out in front and sacrifice your arms to the engine before it ate anything vital like your head. Neither option was available to me. As I went into the intake all I could think was,” Be big like a puffer fish.” My head wound up being like that playing card in the spokes of your bike. I lasted about a 10th of a second and passed out.

Airman Woods

Legend has it that I went in up to my waist or my knees, depending on who saw it happen. Airman Woods yanked me out of the intake and threw me to the ground. Woody was a tall lanky good old boy from Arkansas. I remember laying there on my left side completely calm wondering if I was dead or not. The liquid I could feel streaming from my nose I assumed was blood but turned out to be snot. My eyes were shuttered open and I couldn’t seem to blink. Remember Woody down on his hands and knees pounding the ground with his fists screaming, “Please be alive Walt. Please be alive!” He had a great southern drawl. I remember calmly thinking, “I’m pretty sure I’m alive but I’ll be dead if someone doesn’t treat be for shock please put my legs up”.


The first people that are to arrive at the scene were the fire department. I could tell because the silver pants walked past me. They went straight to the student sitting in the front seat. He was frozen with his hands on the throttle and the stick with piss in his pants. They start to pull him out of the seat. The second people to arrive at the scene where the medics because they had white pants. I remember them asking, “Who is this guy on the ground?” At that point I started convulsing and thought, “Oh good I’m going into shock I wonder if somebody will notice”. At this point I pass out.

So there... (click to enlarge)

I wake up in the ambulance and was wearing an oxygen mask with one of the medics leaning over me screaming, “You’re going to make it buddy! You’re gonna make it!” Years later I learned that’s exactly what you’re not supposed to tell the victim. But at the time I thought, “Okay I’ll try” and then passed out again.

My Wife Hears the News

When the accident happened, my next-door neighbor called my wife who lived in base housing with me and told her there’s been an accident and I’d been sent to the hospital. With a one-year old baby in his crib she put down the phone and walked out the door. She walked up the street to the hospital. When she walked into the ER there is a bunch of brass in the ER waiting room from the Wing Commander on down trying to figure out what happened. Rumors I to put a ladder up to the cockpit or the Comm Cord that nobody uses had pulled me in. My wife was an Army brat and daughter of a Colonel. She screamed, “Where the Hell Is My Husband!” They ushered her into me. Like I said, I was awake by then and when she walked in, she wordlessly checked me out. Arm, arm, leg, leg, Dick. Then she asked what happened. I told her I had totally Fucked Up. She didn’t reply as I got wheeled out to x-ray. As I was rolling along, I reached into my pocket and handed the doctor my car keys. At the time my key chain was adorned with a 20 mm cannon shell which of course was dummy, but the Lt. Col. didn’t know that and all he said was okay.


They kept me in the ICU overnight for observation. In the early evening the instructor came to visit me. His name was Capt. Love. He asked if I needed anything and I said I really needed my glasses. I told him I was really upset because I thought I destroyed an airplane. He reassured me that it was not my fault. The student had said he saw an anomaly at 80% and ran the engine up on his own to check it. It was then that Capt. Love noticed an engine fluctuation on the left side and heard the bang, bang as my ear protectors and glasses hit the compressor. He counted up his crew chiefs and was one short. He immediately throttled back the left engine which allowed Woody to pull me out but being in the backseat he had no way to actual way to turn the engine off.

There is a God and He likes me.

I didn’t have my eyeballs sucked out of my head or my lungs sucked out and of course I didn’t die. The only injuries I sustained was a concussion and all the hair follicles in my ears were sucked out. Losing the follicles would give me raging ear infections for the next few years. I’d have to go to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base to have my ears sucked out to control the infection. On one trip, the airman vacuuming my ear busted my eardrums. You know those times when your vacuuming a throw rug and it gets stuck on the vacuum? That’s what happened my eardrum.


Years later I was still assigned to Laughlin and would hear stories about the guy that got killed in Whiskey flight when he was sucked up into the engine. I always asked, “Was there a lot of blood?” And they would say, “Yeah”. The airman in Whiskey flight celebrated the incident by painting a little green man inside the nose wheel well. The T-38A was 64-3228 and is now in the bone yard in New Mexico with a little green man in its wheel well.