This will be installment number two of where I was stationed, how being in the AMMO careerfield influenced my drinking habits, and different places I traveled while still being stationed at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. If necessary, you might need to read Land Of The Rising Sun to get caught up to where I left off. Originally when I was given relocation orders at Misawa AB Japan I was heading to Keflavik Iceland for two years on an accompanied tour. That went south and I was diverted to being stationed at Holloman AFB New Mexico to fill in for a shortage of Munitions Inspectors that they were experiencing. But, I failed to get orders for this tour until after all my belongings were shipped to Iceland and I was in Iceland for three days. But, I am getting ahead of myself completely here so I need to back track just a bit. Let me take you back to my final days in Japan before I actually departed. Just a few days before we were scheduled to leave, neighbors and friends of my wife and I were thrown a party. It was a family oriented party held outside in two feet of snow. It had to be outside because that is where we were cooking. There was a fair amount of drinking being done by everyone that cold December afternoon. The kids were all playing in the snow and having a good time as well. After dark it got very cold and started snowing again so we all decided to clean up and call it an evening. We all said our goodbyes and farewells to many of the people since this would be the last time we saw them before we leave in a few days. However, this was only one send off. My personal send off from work was the following evening. My wife was well aware this was going to happen and was actually okay with the whole idea. The following evening I was picked up by friends since we had just sold our cars a few days ago to people who were just coming into Misawa and needed transportation. We did what is referred to as a pub crawl in the AMMO community. Meaning, that we started at one bar and then we hit them all as they were all in close proximity to one another. The entire “crawl” lasted for about six hours or so and some of us, including myself, were crawling by the time we arrived at the final bar. To say I was that drunk would be a mild understatement. I would say that I was pretty toasted to say the least. In fact, most of what I remember about the entire night is what was told to me when I was sober afterwords, plus some jackass decided it would be a good idea to take pictures with one of those disposable cameras and then decided to shove it in my pocket so I could develop it on a later date. Unfortunately, out of 36 pictures, only 3 were of me, all in a condition I don’t wish to share with anybody, ever. I didn’t get much sleep by the time I got back since our flight was leaving in two hours. I had enough time to shower, get dressed, get in the taxi, and head to the airport. Needless to say, the flight sucked because of rough weather which really played havoc on my developing hangover. I was awake 90% of the flight and knew it when we landed because I was 13 shades of green at the time.
After landing at Keflavik we went thru customs and eventually collected our bags. We then hailed a taxi to take us to the base so we could check into billeting (base hotel quarters). We were hungry so we called in an order of pizza and it was one mistake we only made once since it sucked pretty bad. That night my wife and I went out to explore, get something to eat, and pick up some toiletries we needed. All in all a good night, we even found this great bar! The following morning a messenger from the commander’s office was knocking on the door to inform me I had an appointment at 9am. It is there that I found out about my new orders and my new departure date to head to Holloman AFB. I went back to the room and told my wife not to get comfortable since we were leaving in four days to go there. She wasn’t overjoyed but was happy to go to the United Stated where she was closer to family. Meanwhile, we wanted to go explore locally and see what we could see. It was, however, an all expense paid mini vacation so we wanted to make the best of it. One of my favorite things to do is to try the local cuisine, from bar foods to actual restaurants, to see how the people of that land eat and drink. We found, very fast, that the actual restaurants were quite expensive and most required a more dressier dress code than what we had to offer. So, to a few bars we would go. We were able to sample some really great food, none of what I can remember the names of or pronounce. We did some drinking as well, we found that some of the bars were actually swingers bars, so those were fun. And, the rumors are true for what we saw in Iceland, everyone, with very few exceptions, was blonde and had blue eyes. We were the oddballs, we stood out like the tourists we were. The best drink I had was a Bacardi and Wild Turkey slushy served in a mug made from ice. It was real cool and it kept the slushy very cold. Our time soon ended and we were headed to the airport the leave this beautiful place. But, for me, and some time into the future, I will be returning so this isn’t the end of the story for Iceland. We boarded the plane and took off and after a few stops and layovers we landed in El Paso Texas. I had contacted my sponsor (also to become my new supervisor) that we were in town and we needed a ride. Around an hour later we were picked up and taken to billeting to get checked in. If memory serves me correct this was a Friday afternoon so we didn’t have anything to do until Monday rolled around. We were tired from our trip so we just said screw it and showered and then went to sleep. Sometime Saturday after noon sometime, my new supervisor came over to check in on us and see how we were doing. He mentioned that a few couples were going to meet up at a bar called Nickles right down the street from the base if we were interested. We were game. He left us to mill around a while and get dressed. He and his wife came over later to get us to take us out for our first “night on the town”. This place was interesting, a true mix of redneck meets hip hop meets metal type of place. A truly bizarre mixture of people were there. I found out real quick that I was no longer in the land of exotic drinks because this was a beer and shots kind of place which was quite a bore and very disappointing. This led to me asking some questions to the bartender. She liked me and recommended that I get my license to bartend at the local community collage because they need some new blood in this bar. So, we drank, we talked, we got the rundown on what Holloman had to offer and what it was all about. After a few hours of drinking, playing pool, playing darts, and many tequila shots, it was time to head on back to the base.
Soon enough it was Monday, time to get some in-processing done and get out to the bomb dump (munitions storage area) to get acquainted with my new job. Due to the luck of the draw I guess, I ended up in the Munitions Storage shop. There were a few very interesting characters working here to say the very least. It doesn’t take a great deal of time to find out who is all business and who is the work hard and party hard people. Of course, a few of the guys were going to be doing a little drinking and bowling at the recreations facility after work. So, I tagged along and found out this place didn’t have a whole hell of allot to offer besides working. What did I expect, this base is in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a desert. When I first got stationed at Holloman there wasn’t even a Walmart in town. The mall was dubbed “The Hall” because it was a Sears at one end and a 3 stall theatre at the other end with about 20 stores in between. It took about 30 seconds or less to go from one end to the other which made it a pretty sad excuse for a mall. Soon enough we got settled into base housing and began living our lives in the “Land of Enchantment”. I did successfully complete the bartender’s school to get my license. I did take a part time position at the bar out on the highway. After a few months I got TDY orders (temporary duty) to go to Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas Nevada to participate in a military exercise known as “Green Flag”. In actuality it was a school to teach us how to build bombs in a mass and rapid fashion to support the aircraft in a quicker manner during a time of deployment and/or conflict. There was allot more to it, but why do I need to bore you. As an adult this was the first time to visit Las Vegas so I was real excited to go. It didn’t take long to mix in with the locals and see that I was falling into their routine which was work, party, eat, work, and keep repeating. Sometimes, for a change of pace a few of us would go to a strip bar called Cheetahs to blow off a little steam. I found that I could drink for free pretty much all the time just by making simple bets with the people I was with and with the bartenders. I ended up with a part time job there bartending during peak hours. The money was good but I would have rather been partying with my friends who were getting drunk. I wasn’t into all the gambling or anything like that so I did allot of sight seeing when I could, went to school, worked part time some, and partied all the rest of the time. This place was more my “style” since there was so much trouble to get into there. Soon enough it was time to head back to Holloman AFB to get back into the routine there. After a couple more months I received orders to go to Osan AB in South Korea to assist another TDY group from some base in Alaska who would be doing inspections and maintenance on equipment that has been in long term storage. They had new equipment that they were also testing so it sounded like it was going to be a good time. Little did I know that after six months that these guys would get to go home and I would get extension orders to remain for 12 more months. I will not lie, I don’t remember much about the last 11 1/2 months I was at Osan, it remains a blur still to this day. I started drinking one evening and basically didn’t stop until I left. It all started with what is called a “Green Bean” since it was a party designed to introduce you to the AMMO drinking life in Korea. I was hooked. For me every night from that point on was a time to be so drunk I would not think about being across the world without my family. It was a lonely life there and it actually went pretty fast for me since I was always drunk. I met some good people there whom I remain in contact still today so many years later. If it weren’t for these great friends and an endless supply of alcohol I would have never made it out of there in one piece. Soon enough I go my orders to rotate back to the world and I was very happy to be leaving Korea.
Life hadn’t changed to much back at Holloman and it was easy to get back into the work and life routine there. We had nice weather all year long so we could grill out or smoke anytime we wanted to. Which was good, I always had a party to look forward to go to, even if it were at my own house. Then I got orders to go to Kuwait. I wasn’t real happy about that. I didn’t want to go to war again. I will make this as simple as possible for y’all since Kuwait sucked ass. The routine was work, eat, shower, sleep, and repeat every 12 hours every day for seven months. There was no drinking, there was no party, there was nothing. I saw things there that changed me inside for ever. But, I would think that seeing death up close and personal would change anyone. I was so damn glad to get the hell out of Kuwait. When I got back to Holloman I was in for a surprise, a big surprise. The night I returned I walked into my house to find that my wife had her boyfriend spending the night in my bed. I will spare you the details but just know I went to jail that night. It gave me some time to reflect on where my life had been going. When they saw fit I was released. But now I was beyond pissed, I was beyond wanting to be married, and I was beyond wanting to be in the Air Force. It is hard to make clear decisions when you are angry at the world. I spent the next few months sober struggling with my marriage and what direction I wanted it to go. I couldn’t forgive her, I couldn’t overlook the fact that she intentionally destroyed our marriage, and I didn’t want to be married any longer to her. I needed to get out of my house and away from her because every day that went by I found myself hating her more and more. I ended up at a friends house where we go stupid drunk. When I went home that next morning I started a fight with my wife on purpose because it was time to shit or get off the pot. We separated that afternoon and I never looked back. I ended up moving in with my good friend and his wife. During this time I had an end date for my marriage as well as an end date with my twisted marriage to the Air Force. Luckily for me my friend liked to drink almost as much as I did so it was easy to spend these last few months in New Mexico drunk as a skunk. There are many things I regret about being in the Air Force. I became one of those statistics that they write about to chart statistics since I was essentially an alcoholic, I ended my marriage in divorce, and I chose to leave because I didn’t want to be a part of the machine anymore. I found, soon enough, that there was indeed life after the Air Force, life for someone who was divorced, and brand new opportunities to do whatever I pleased once I moved back to Texas. My return to Texas is where I will pick up with the next installment of my story.
Part 1: Land Of The Rising Sun