"MAZDA AT THE PUMP"
Category: "Air Force"
I was getting something from the gas station store at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas, when I walked out, I noticed a second lieutenant filling his pick up at the premium pump. Two things struck me as odd: first he was in backwards [at Military gas stations, there is one way in and one way out] and second, he was pumping in high test. Since I was in the market for a pickup like he had, a Mazda, I knew it didn’t require high test. I could tell by his paper license plate, that his pick-up was new, so I called to him:
“Hey Lieutenant.” He did not react, so I called louder, “hey Lieutenant!” Again, he did not react and I realized he didn’t know I was calling to him, so I walked up to him and asked if I could look at his pick-up. He was pleased that I asked and told me he had just bought it; the first vehicle he had ever owned.
“Why are you pumping high-test?” I asked
“There’s a difference?” He wondered. So I explained he didn’t need the expensive gasoline - and how to get in and out of a military gas station. While I was explaining, he told me that he had only been in the service for six days. So I asked him what he was doing in the Air Force. “I’m a nuclear physicist, [or some sort of physicist],” he responded.
This really surprised me as I thought if the Air Force could capture a physicist, they would give him a direct commission to captain or major.
During our chat, I asked him if he was planning on applying for pilot school. He said, “no, I’m on a DDA [Directed Duty Assignment] for the next two years.” I was surprised he knew what a DDA was, but told him that pilot school trumped any DDA and he ought to give it a try, if he was physically qualified.
He said, “I think I’m in pretty good shape, but don’t they have a height requirement?” The young man, whose name was James Haus, looked to be in good physical shape and about 5’ 6”, but I said: “Your height would not be a problem but you have to have good eyes, no trick knees nor any kind of asthma. Plus you have to have a certain kind of balance, kind of like gymnasts have helps a lot.”
“I was on the gymnastic team at the University of Florida, so I don’t have any trouble with my balance.”
“Left handed guys are more spatially aware and do better in jet fighters.” I said.
“I’m left-handed” he said.
“How about your eyes, can you see okay?” I asked.
“When the Air Force checked them, they told me I was better than 20/20 in both eyes in near and far vision.” I noticed his eyes were gray and gray-eyed people are the ones who usually have the best long distance vision, called combat eyes [and yes, I know that Ted Williams had brown eyes].
James seemed enthusiastic about pilot school, so I told him how to apply. Later, he telephoned me he had taken the tests, passed them all and was waiting for a class assignment.
I was attending College on the GI Bill in San Antonio and finished my course of instruction and left the area for home, up near Lockhart, Texas. It was several months before I returned to San Antonio, but when I did, I called his number and no one knew who he was. I’ve often wondered if he had gone off to pilot’s school.
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