When I was in the Air Force, one of my duties I enjoyed doing while protecting the world from the big bad Russians, was to going on funeral details. I fought in the Cold War and got several paper cuts working in the medical record section at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL. Don’t shoot em, Chanute em was our motto. Sounds bad, but it’s not as bad as “nuke em till they glow, then shoot em in the dark” as one of my buddies used to say.
I got to go on bus rides with a bunch of other guys and travel to nice cemeteries and participate in ceremonies honoring veterans that had passed away. At least I think they passed away but I never checked the coffin to make sure they weren’t being buried alive.
We would all get dressed up in our nice looking Blues so we looked really sharp and deadly. I usually participated in the presentation of the 21 gun salute. We were issued M1 rifles loaded with blanks. After all, they wanted us to make noise but they didn’t want us shooting up the graveyard. What was bad was that a lot of times the blanks didn’t work. We would all point our rifles at the same part of a tree branch so that our guns were all lined up nice and neat. The order “Fire” was given and the only thing heard was 7 clicks.
One time our detail got to do something really special. We got to go to Chicago and spend the night, so that when Chancellor Helmut Schmitt from Germany arrived, he would get to walk around us for inspection. Surely seeing a bad ass like me would sway Germany from ever thinking about pulling any kind of crap in the foreseeable future.
So there we were in the front row waiting to be gawked at by his highness. I’m not sure why us Wingnuts were chosen to line up in front of the Jarheads, Grunts, and Squids but I just passed if off as a good decision made by our fearless leader wanna be’s. I was almost all the way to the far right, standing at attention with my eyes straight forward, looking in through a big window where I could see the upper section of an escalator where people were getting off.
This is the hard part of the story to tell. When I first saw the Escalator Girl she rose up seemingly from nowhere and appeared directly before me. She was a Beauty and I thanked God I was under orders to look right at her. When she first saw our formation, she must have wondered what was going on. And then our eyes met! I was looking right into her eyes and she was looking right into mine. I didn’t move; not because I was under orders, but because I was frozen. It was like Curley’s love of his life in City Slickers. I knew I would never see her again. I couldn’t speak, or move in any way, shape, or form; at least I wasn’t supposed to. But then, against orders, I winked! Not with my left eye but with my good eye. Immediately her expression changed to one of surprise and excitement. She was obviously telling her friends what happened and asking if they saw it too. I was a getting worried that others would notice and I would be court-martialed, blind folded (so I couldn’t wink at girls anymore), tied to a post and shot. Not with dud blanks but real ammo that worked.
Even though we never saw each other again it still makes me smile knowing that I made her day.
Oh yeah, Chancellor Schmitt walked by.
Alan August Blanc