Before, During and After CLARK AB. PHILIPPINES
For me it began where it does for most of us...in the local office of a U.S. Air Force Recruiter. I enlisted on the Delayed Enlistment Program in September of 1985 at about the time that I started my Senior year in High School. Originally I was set to join the Special Operations Command as a Air Force "Black Diamond" FAC (Forward Air Controller) the training was rumored to be intense. I consulted with my older brother who was already in the Air force at Milden Hall UK and it was at that point he convinced me that dying is no way to make a living.
I graduated on June 23rd, 1986 and was gone for Lackland 2 weeks later. It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen my father shed a tear. For me it was about proving something. of course the Brooks family was a Military family so who was I to change that. I certainly couldn't afford College and after raising 8 kids, I am sure my parents were tapped out. So here I was, a kid from the Boston area, headed to Texas.
I remember flying down there with 2 guys from Boston, a kid named Scanlin and another who was a complete doorknob who washed out after 2 weeks. We arrived at night and I was tired as hell. The Bus picked us up and then when we were dropped off at Lackland, everything I knew was gone. What a friggan shock to my system... Dudes yelling at me telling us to get into a formation that I didn't even know how to make.
Anyway, I was in an Honor Flight (219) and although basic was fun, I was glad to get the F_ck out of that place.
Graduation photos, the whole Frisbee on the head photo with the flag thing... and we were off to learn something.
Arriving at Sheppard AFB, TX. was like arriving to a college dorm. I shared a room with a complete asshole named Richard Lang, who's daddy was a Tech Sargent somewhere in the USAF...This translated into this kid Rich thinking he could do whatever he wanted. A complete dweeb who put those shitty taps on his chloroframs. I got a new roommate in week 2 after smashing this kids cigarette into his face after he refused to not smoke in the room and lit up at 2am in the morning. I actually liked Sheppard. We learned about planes when we weren't falling asleep in Class. and it was at Sheppard that I met a good friend of mine, a black kid from Baltimore named Levi Hayman.
At Sheppard you were old enough to drink and drink we did at the Airman's Club. it was the first time we got to mix it up with the women too.
Having obtained that important training at Sheppard AFB, the day came when they were handing out orders for your next base assignment. I still remember the smart-ass airman who was hanging them out of the orderly room.
Much like college exam boards, your assignment was posted for all to see. I simply went to the orderly room and asked for my orders... the response I got was "I hope you like to eat dog!"
Great..... I had put in for voluntary service with the Air Force for assignment to Germany on my "dream-sheet" and what I got was the ass-crack of the earth Philippines.
At that time it seemed almost surreal. I didn't want to even think about what the Philippines even looked like, let alone be stationed there for 2 years. We were given the option to swap assignments with members of the same rank and AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) At that time I was a AFSC 43131 (the second to the last digit indicating skill level) I was a measly 3-level NUG (New, Useless Guy) or JEEP ( Just Enough Experience to Pass) Funny, I know, But at a time when you're in a place far from home for the first time, with the knowledge that you are heading half-way around the world to a third-world country - it seems ominous. You tend to grow up fast in these situations.
So, I was off to the Philippines.... after some down time and taking leave back to my hometown in Massachusetts, I hopped aboard a plane to Oakland and then touched off in Alaska and Okinawa before making my final approach to Clark, I remember sitting next to a kid whom we picked up in Okinawa who was heading to Clark for some leave. He told me I was lucky and that they called the PI "Fantasy Island" I didn't know why but I was going to find out. The pilot mentioned that we we arriving at Clark shortly and I looked out the window to see the plush growth of jungle and mountains that jutted up from a fog like something out of "King Kong" All I remember was that I was extremely tired and I still had to in-process.
It seemed like forever and all I wanted to do was sleep. I got my wish and crashed for what must have been 2 days. I woke up in a different world. My trip here seemed to be like a dream... It was hot and humid but balmy....new and exciting.
Note: rather than tell of all the occurrences at Clark, suffice t o say they were some of the best times of my life as exemplified by the pics and pages of this website. I skip to my leaving Clark...
Yeah, me on the Hardstands at Clark Air Base.
Photo: Jimmy Gary
at January 1989.... time for a PCS (Permanent Change of Station)
I left the PI on a Flying Tiger heading to the U.S. via Hickham and Los Angeles I was due for some leave after 2 years in the Philippines. I stopped in Chicago and then Boston and was met by my family. My mother failed to recognized me as I was extremely tan and more well built than the skinny 18 year old she last saw, even though I remained thin. lol.
After my leave, I left for my new duty station on the left-coast to George AFB CA. This was a nightmare.
I was assigned to the 35 EMS/ Aero-Repair Shop / Crash Recovery and was stuck in the desert with some real morons. The days in the PI were GONE! and the environment where I worked side-by-side with NCO's was GONE! now everyone pulled rank simply because they were LAZY.
I had enough of that shit in a short 6 months.
Although I got to visit with my brother a few times, and got to go to see San Jose with my friend Paul Moss while dating his sister, the desert was NOT for me. This place sucked, I developed a bit of an attitude and decided to Go Palace Chase back to Massachusetts and join the MA.ANG 102 FIW. Who flew F-15's. 102nd FIW