Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Proud to be an American
I just saw Lee Greenwood at Target! Well, I actually don't think it was Lee Greenwood. I think it was just some guy who looks like Lee Greenwood. And I would know because I've met Lee Greenwood. Yup! It was in Spain in the mid-eighties when he was touring with a USO show.
I was stationed at Torrejon AB Spain and my office was in the same building as the office where people got identification passes and badges. Both offices were on the second floor of an old two-story building.
Now, those of you who have served in the military know that sometimes the higher ups have you do crazy things for no apparent reason. Some things that, strangely, can only be done under the cover of night. We've all had to perfect our landscaping skills, trash collecting skills, painting skills - we even had to paint a parking lot once. No, we didn't paint a gravel parking lot with asphalt colored paint. We painted lines on the lot with beautiful red, white and gold paint. Paint that made some awesome, reflective artwork on my old black cowboy boots, by the way!
Once, while stationed in Wyoming, I was rousted from my bed, stuck on a bus and transported out into the middle of nowhere to scoop slush away from the entries of several missile sites. Now, I grew up in South Dakota and I certainly remember shoveling snow in the light of day so I am not sure why this mission was any different, but I ended up having a decent boxed lunch and a pretty good time with my fellow inmates, I mean Airmen.
There was a time back in Spain when I had to guard the front gate of the base with my .... presence. I'm sure all buck-o-five of my 1986 self was quite threatening, too! As an American, I wasn't allowed to carry a weapon since it was actually a Spanish base so I just had to stand there. I tried talking to the dog, but he didn't seem to understand me. I was not sure if it was because my Spanish was so bad or because he was a German shepherd (the only things I can say in German are not meant for the innocent ears of dogs), but we didn't really connect the way I would have liked. I did learn the phrase: No Poner Los Pies En La Pared. Good stuff. I'm forever putting my feet on the wall and I had no idea it was such a problem.
At one point I had to escort a female prisoner to chow for a few weeks. She threatened to run and I promised to shoot (I was allowed a gun for lunch, just not at the front gate). As a Personnel Specialist, I'm surprised I got this gig, but it was pretty fun.
So, on the night before I met Lee Greenwood, I had been dragged from my slumber and placed in a ditch somewhere for some reason (I'd like to say it was raining but that might just be The Voices in My Head wanting to embellish the story). I don't remember actually digging or burying or ... well, I just can't talk about it, but I wasn't happy, that's for sure. As the sun came up, I was dropped back in front of my office building so I could check in before returning to bed. I was tired and muddy and wet. And miserable, don't forget miserable.
I checked in with my office and was just approaching the stairs to go down and out the front door when I heard someone say, "Lee Greenwood is in the building!", and he was, in fact, just approaching the stairs to go up and to the identification office. I know this because when I heard someone say, "Lee Greenwood is in the building!", I responded over my shoulder with, "Oh yeah? Well if he's so proud to be an American, why didn't I see his ass out in that ditch last night?!" (There may have been an F-bomb before the word "proud".)
I turned my head back around and said with a nod, "Oh, good morning Mr. Greenwood."
Needless to say, when I saw him at Target just now, I kept my mouth shut. Older and wiser, I am. Older and wiser.