It was a dangerous time in the world when I arrived at my first base assignment, fresh out of boot camp and security police training school. I ducked as a trash can flew over my head, signaling one of the fierce windstorms that swept this part of the country occasionally. The wind was so strong that trash cans were blowing through the air sideways. I hoped that wasn’t a harbinger of things to come.
Tensions in the world were rising rapidly as a renewed Soviet Union rose from its own ashes at the conclusion of the first cold war. The Red Army was on the march once again in its attempt to reclaim a lost empire. American President David Windsor was warning the Soviet premier against expansion into the Balkans after it had reoccupied the former Soviet satellite country of Georgia. The risen Phoenix had talons and they were being used.
The Soviet response was to launch a brand new advanced Typhoon class nuclear submarine, the Dmitrii Donskoy, armed with the latest missile technology. This sub and its sister, the Yuri Dolgorukii, represented an increased threat to world peace and constituted a direct challenge to the West and in particular, the United States.
American satellite intelligence spotted the movement of mobile Soviet ICBM launchers throughout the Ural Mountains, indicating planning and strategy for possible future use in a hot war. These missiles were capable of conveying nuclear destruction to any part of the world.
Additional activity observed by satellite intelligence showed increased activity at Soviet Spetsnaz bases, or Russian Special Forces. To all outward appearances, it looked as if the Soviets were getting ready for a war that could include all or a portion of their various force capabilities.
This was my welcome to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, during the late summer of 2012. I was young at only 19, with very short blond hair courtesy of boot camp, blue eyes, 6′1″, and 180 pounds of muscle. I was an expert marksman with both the standard issue M16 and 9 mm Glock handgun. I had scored proficient with the shotgun and M60, belt-fed, air-cooled machine gun.
Warren Air Force Base was a “SAC” base during the early years of missiles; however, the Strategic Air Command had been done away with by the Air Force and the base now resided in the “90th Space Wing” of the Air Force Space Command. Warren was a particularly important Air Force base to the American defense capability as it controlled 120 intercontinental ballistic missiles, each armed with multiple warheads capable of destroying a large nation with one strike.
My orders required that I report to the First Sergeant’s office upon arriving on base where I would be signed in, given orders, and assigned a barracks room. My first day or two would mostly be orientation of the base, my squadron, and the base police flight that I would be assigned to.
I was filled with nervous anticipation at what lay ahead. When I entered the Squadron clerical office, I observed at least seven airmen of different ranks involved in one task or another. I stopped an Airman First Class and told him I was reporting in for duty.
“Hey, Sergeant Davenport, over here, please. We have a new man coming on board!” the airman yelled.
“Thanks,” I said to the airman.
A staff sergeant came over to me and took my orders. “Have a seat over there while I look at your paperwork,” he said.
As I waited on the sergeant to finish, I began to fidget. I knew that I would have to formally report to the first sergeant and that was never a comfortable task for some reason. I suppose after being in an atmosphere of nothing but very low-echelon airmen, to report to a man who had seven stripes on his sleeves made me a bit uneasy.
“Okay, everything looks good. I’ll see if the first sergeant can see you now.”
My eyes followed the staff sergeant into another office. A man who must be the first sergeant took my file, glanced at it quickly and then said something to the staff sergeant, who came out of the office and told me to report to the man behind the desk.
I entered the office and stood at attention. “Airman Bryce Callahan reporting for duty as ordered, First Sergeant.”
“Callahan, good to have you with us. Sit down while I look your file over,” First Sergeant Peter Jordon said.
As I waited, I looked around the walls of the office at the many different citations and awards the first sergeant had acquired during his career. He was a senior master sergeant with only one grade left in the enlisted ranks of the Air Force unless he was made the first sergeant of the entire Air Force, which was a truly monumental task to accomplish. Sergeant Jordon looked to be in his late forties or early fifties, and was as fit as any airman in basic training.
“You graduated first in your Security Police training squadron, I see. Outstanding. We’ll put your talents to good use here at Warren. Your duties may be split between base law enforcement and security in the missile fields. You should have your top secret security clearance in a matter of days if it’s not already on base now. Tomorrow you will report to the Orderly room in the barracks for your briefings along with all the other new men arriving today. Uniform of the day will be combat fatigues and you will report precisely at 0800 hours. Any questions?”
“Yes, First Sergeant. Is there someone who can show me where the mess hall is so that I can eat dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning?”
“When you report in to the barracks, the CQ, or man in charge of quarters, will have someone take you over to the chow hall. He can also show you the other main buildings that you’ll need to know. My door is always open and that means if you have a problem, you talk to me or your flight commander. Understood?”
“Yes, First Sergeant.”
“Sergeant Davenport will have you taken over to the barracks. Make sure you’re on time in the morning. That’s all.”
Another young airman showed me to the barracks and introduced me to the sergeant on duty. It was his job to assign me to a room and get me anything else I needed for the immediate moment. I thanked the airman and started the process for signing in to the barracks.
“Here are two towels, washcloth, and soap. Everything else, you need to supply. In fact, if you want decent towels, you need to buy your own. I’m putting you in a room by yourself for now, but that won’t last so don’t get used to it. You’re in room two-twenty. Chow is from five to seven- thirty and you’ll need to present this meal card to get service. Briefings begin at 0800. Don’t be late.”
I took the towels and found my room. It was nothing fancy by any means. It held a bunk bed, two desks, two dressers, and two closets, and had one window. The floor was without carpeting and the room was painted white, like the rest of the barracks. It had the distinct smell of cleaning solutions and floor wax. I unpacked my duffel bag and tried to make the room seem less institutional by putting some personal things out on my desk and dresser. I took the bottom bunk; if I had to share the room one day, he could take the top.
As I didn’t have very much to put away in the first place, it took no time to accomplish the task. The biggest issue was trying to get some of the wrinkles out of my uniforms that had been folded up in my duffel bag. It was just after 1600 hours – 4:00 – and I decided to take a short walk around the base. As I left the barracks I noted that the wind had died down to a reasonable level and I was no longer in danger of getting hit by a trash can or some other flying object. I headed over to the base theater to see what movies were in and coming soon. From there I walked past the Police Station for the base and noted cars coming and going. I was so caught up in seeing everything that I passed a second lieutenant without saluting. You would have thought the world had ended.
“Airman, didn’t you see the bars on my shoulders?” the young lieutenant asked with an indignant glare.
I came to attention and saluted the officer. “I’m sorry, sir. I just arrived on base and I guess I got caught up in looking at everything.”
“Very well. Don’t let it happen again, airman. Carry on.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied as I gave a second salute and walked away.
Young lieutenants were very mindful that they were owed a salute by all enlisted men. I would come to learn in time that new lieutenants could be one of the greater pains in the ass to any enlisted man. I walked pass the NCO club that was strictly for non-commissioned officers and which I would not be allowed to enter until I had two more stripes added to the one I had now on my arms. This would take probably another two years to achieve.
I noticed that it was now time for dinner so I headed back to the dining hall to eat. The food was very good, as it had been in basic training and technical school. Comfort was one of the things that the Air Force was known for and which certainly didn’t detract from my decision to enlist. I ate by myself and turned in my tray after I was done and headed back to the barracks. Once there, I put on jeans and a T-shirt and headed down to the common room where a television was located. The furniture was in good shape and I found a couple of guys in there watching the news. After a few hours of watching TV, I headed up to my room, planning on taking a shower and hitting the bed early, as I was quite tired.
When I entered the shower I was alone, but a couple of other guys came in after I had started. I continued to wash while stealing a peek at my barracks mates. They were guys like me; young and in good shape. I didn’t stare at them but took a quick peek at the goods and was rewarded with the sight of a couple of fine-looking asses. I left the shower and dried off before heading back to my room. After setting my alarm clock for 0630 hours, I climbed into bed and went to sleep.
I got up, went to breakfast, and was in uniform in the day room by 0800 hours. I was not alone; I counted fourteen other new airmen. Two master sergeants entered the room and began briefing us about the duties performed on the base by the security policemen. If you were assigned to the missile fields, you worked four days on and three days off. If you were assigned to base police, you worked a five-day workweek. The missile security duties required you to stay those entire four days at field locations, traveling from there to the various missile sites.
“Gentlemen, you have arrived here at Warren at a difficult time in world affairs. The new Soviet Union is rattling their vodka glasses all over the place and making plenty of people nervous around the world. We here at Warren, and our other sister missile bases, are the fist that will pound back any aggression from our adversaries that requires nuclear weapons. Because of the tense times we now live in once again, I urge you men to get your shit together as soon as possible. Learn the procedures and security protocols for whatever areas you are assigned to. You men are the ground combat troops of this base. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I know this: No one can top the United States Air Force! No one. Is that clear?”
We all answered, “Yes, Sergeant!”
At the end of the briefing, everyone’s name was called out and assigned to a particular security squad known as “flights” in the Air Force. Everyone but me, that is.
“Callahan, you will be assigned to both missile security duties as well as base police duties and therefore you will be assigned to two different flights. See me when this briefing is over.”
Everyone turned their heads around to look at me and wonder why I was different. So did I. As I came to find out, because of my graduation status at the top of my squadron, I was being utilized in both capacities here on base just as the first sergeant had told me. I eventually found out that any airman who graduated at the top of their class was assigned to both types of police duty. If nothing else, it would provide a variety of duties for me to perform and alleviate any boredom that builds up from performing repetitive tasks. I also saw distinct career advantages to being trained and experienced in both fields.
“Okay, listen up. I’m now going to assign you to a partner for security duty. As I call out your name, come up front and meet your teammate,” the sergeant announced.
“Callahan: Your teammate will be Sergeant Todd Claymore.”
As I turned my head, I found myself watching a young sergeant of about twenty-five years of age walk into the room. He was extremely handsome with sandy-colored hair, green eyes, about 6′2″, and looked to weigh about 175 pounds. He had three stripes, which meant he was a “buck sergeant,” or the lowest-ranking sergeant in command. He nodded his head to me and shook my hand. I felt my dick twitch in reaction to meeting Sergeant Claymore and thought that maybe being stuck in the field for four days at a time wouldn’t be so bad after all.
We were dismissed to join our new partners for lunch and to get acquainted with each other. Once we got our trays of food and sat down at the table, Claymore began to describe what our duties would be.
“First of all, our four days in the field aren’t that bad considering we get three days off afterward. We drive out with one other team to our facility where we stay during the tour of duty. The site NCOIC will assign each team to a twelve-hour shift and it’s our responsibility to visit each one of our missile sites during the tour of duty. We go out, enter the site, check and make sure everything is secure, and then we leave for the next site. The only change would be if there was an alarm at a particular site, and then we respond to that location. We’re going to be doing a lot of traveling by truck, so get used to it. We sleep at the same time so we are rested when we go out. We eat right there at the facility.”
“Is there a cook there?”
“No, there will be prepackaged meals that are prepared on base, frozen and then sent out to the field. We nuke ’em and eat ’em. Considering the way we prepare the food, it is surprisingly good. I’ve never had any complaint with Air Force food.”
“Well, that all doesn’t sound too bad. Are there weapons on site for us to use?”
“Negative. We go to the base armory and check out weapons. We each get an M16 and a nine-millimeter sidearm and extra ammo. We each have a radio and that’s it.”
“What are the orders if we find anyone on the site?”
“We shoot to kill. They are classified as national defense sites and deadly force is authorized. Now, if we find a couple of kids on site who just climbed over the fence, then of course we don’t shoot ’em. We arrest them and they get turned over to the FBI.”
“When do we go out?”
“Tomorrow. Be at the armory at 0600 hours and draw your weapons. Do not chamber a round in the M16. That doesn’t happen until we are out in the field and ready to make rounds. Prior to that, the safety remains on, so that all you have to do to fire is flip the safety to single fire or full-automatic fire, and then pull back the charging handle, which as you know puts a round into the chamber. Just like in security police school. Eat breakfast before reporting to the armory. We’ll stop for coffee somewhere on the road before we get to our destination. You look a little nervous. Are you?”
“Not really; more excited than anything. I just hope I don’t screw up with the codes or anything.”
“Just relax and remember your training, that’s all. But with everything getting tense over the new Soviet Union, we need to be precise in our code use. If you aren’t sure, ask me.”
“What happens if I screw up with a code on one of the missile sites?”
“You do not want that to happen! Security control automatically calls a strike in on us, which means that a helicopter full of other security policemen will be dispatched to our location. That is extremely embarrassing and we would both get chewed out by the wing commander, who is a two-star general.”
“Oh shit. I hope I don’t fuck up.”
“Just think before you act, and you’ll be fine. By the way, what do you think of the barracks?”
“It’s a barracks. At least it’s clean and relatively quiet at night. What room are you in?”
“I don’t live in the barracks. I moved off base a couple of months ago to my own place. That way, this is more like a regular job than a way of living. Plus, as an NCO, I get extra money to help pay my rent, although it doesn’t pay all of it.”
“Wow. That’s pretty cool. I guess you can have all the girls you want over and no hassle from barracks life, huh? Or are you married?”
“Yeah, well, I get to have a personal life this way and I love it, and no, I’m not married. In time, you can move off base too. You’re allowed to live anywhere you want as long as you can report to the base within thirty minutes of a recall order. But you don’t make enough yet to be able to afford to make that move. Save your money and then move.”
“How long have you been here at Warren?”
“I got here seven months ago. It’s not bad considering if I had been assigned to a bomber base, I’d have been humping around an aircraft day or night, and in all weather conditions. Missile duty is for sure the way to go.”
“What’s next for today?”
“Nothing. We’re both off until 0600. Don’t forget to bring your toothbrush, and any other personal stuff you’ll need, along with extra uniforms and stuff. Most guys just use their duffel bag and that’s what I suggest you use. I gotta get going, as I’m meeting someone, so if there isn’t anything else, Bryce, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Sounds good, Todd.”
When he took his tray and walked away from the table, I checked out his impressive-looking ass and once again reminded myself to watch where I looked. I was very careful in basic training and had to continue to be careful now. I got rid of my tray and headed back to the barracks and changed into civilian clothes, which was allowed when not on duty. A couple of the guys asked me if I wanted to go to the movies to catch the matinee and I was happy to say yes.