Drill Team – Korea 1953

Jerrold Foutz, Korea, 1953, Drill Team

Jerrold Foutz, Korea, 1953, Drill Team

The 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron was located at Kimpo Air Force Base (K14) in South Korea near Seoul and 17 miles from the Korean Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea. This is the most highly militarized border in the world now and possible then. Our mission was to process and interpret the aerial photographs and electronic intelligence gathered by the planes of the 12th (RB-26Bs), 15th (RF-80s and RF-86s), and 56th (F-51s) Tactical Reconnaissance Technical Squadrons flying their planes out of Kimpo over North Korea.

The development and printing of the rolls of aerial film taken from the aircraft were processed in a half a dozen trailers that could be hooked up and pulled out in less than four hours and driven to our backup facility in Taegu, K2, (now Daegu) 200 miles to our south. In our trailer we printed the rolls of film after they were developed. Our six-man enlisted crew was watched over by our crew chief, a staff sergeant, and we worked long hours, often seven days a week, doing our job. Even though we worked long hours, it was required we get one hour of physical training each day. At first we played volleyball for an hour in a court behind the trailers.

Our crew chief had some experience with drill teams, so he asked if he could form a drill team and let it function as the hour-a-day physical training. The six of us in the trailer were “volunteered” to be part of the team and he rounded up another six who actually were volunteers.

Our weapons were carbines, not especially suited for a drill team, but he was able to round up enough M1 Garand rifles to outfit us. We had some helmet liners painted white, rounded up some white gaiters and white gloves, and had some blue ascots made. We worked out daily in our fatigues, but when it came time to dress up we looked pretty sharp.

We have all seen honor guards and drill teams. They are part of our culture–from the inspiring changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solder to the honor guards at sporting events and in parades.

As far as I know we were the only Air Force Drill Team in Korea at the time, but there was some drill team action in Japan. We tried to get permission to compete in Japan but it never happened. The chain of command rightly determined that is was higher priority to continue to process the film that our pilots were risking their lives to get. More reconnaissance pilots were killed than any other pilot assignment.

But it was fun, and if we had gotten a chance to compete I think we would have kicked some ass.

Two Rooms With a View

The Old Giants Stadium, Next to the New MetLife Stadium. Both Sharing the Same Parking Lot With My Motel.

The Old Giants Stadium, Next to the New MetLife Stadium. Both Sharing the Same Parking Lot With My Motel.

I asked the secretary to book me a motel room at government Per Diem rates if possible. This was a nearly impossible task in the region of New Jersey where I was visiting a government contractor. She was able to accomplish this task — in fact, she got me a room with a view.

A very unusual view.

It was in the 1970’s and I flew from San Diego, California, where the Naval Ocean Systems Center was located, to the Newark Airport in New Jersey, and picked up my rental car. Asking for directions at the rental counter, they pointed me to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and said the motel was nearby.

I found the Meadowlands Sports Complex and the motel seemed to be at the edge of the parking lot to the Giants Stadium. I asked at the entrance kiosk if I needed to pay to get to the motel. The attendant said no and gave me instructions for reaching it on a perimeter road.

The parking spots in front of all the rooms were deserted, but there was a car by the side of the office and I entered the office, telling the clerk that I had reservations. Giving me a strange look, he called to the back saying some guy claimed that he had reservations. The answer came from the back office with a chuckle that some woman had called last week asking for a reservation and to give me the room.

Checking into the room I picked up the phone to call my wife with the government authorized safe-arrival-telephone-call. The phone was dead so I headed back to the front office get it connected. On the way out I noticed a film projector on the nightstand pointed at the ceiling. The ceiling was painted a smooth white that made a perfect projection screen. In the office, I noticed a selection of pornographic films on a shelf. Asked if I wanted to rent any, I found out I could rent a double feature for about the same price I was paying for the motel room. I declined and changed my four-day reservation to just the one night.

When I left the next morning, the motel seemed more than half full. A couple of cars were in front of rooms, but mostly 18-wheel trucks parked in a large lot behind the motel. I also noticed a break in the fence that allowed easy access to and from the stadium parking lot.

Later I found out from locals that the motel did a thriving business during sporting events at the Giant’s Stadium. Wives thought their husbands were attending a sporting event, while the husbands were holding their own sporting event with their mistresses in the motel rooms.

This was my first, but not last room with a view this trip.

I attended contractor meetings that day and then went looking for another motel.

This proved more difficult than I thought. Every room in every reasonably priced chain motel/hotel was book solid — all at much more than the government Per Diem rate.

Finally, on being turned away at the sixth hotel I tried, I pleaded with the desk clerk for anything they had, even a cot in a utility closet. Someone in the back office overheard me and came out to the front desk. He said he could let me have a room, but it had no television. I said that was no problem and I booked it for three nights.

The room had a rather cloying pink decor and a four-poster king-size bed in the center of the room with a scattering of heart shape pillows. It wasn’t until I went to bed that I noticed I had another room with a view. A mirror, the size of the bed, was  supported by the four-poster canopy,  The bed was lit by spot lights which provided an interesting view in the overhead mirror.

For two more nights I did without television, but I did have a room with a view.

 

 

 

 

 

You Sure Know How to Party!

Not the Party in the Story but Same Location – Squadron Party, Laredo Air Force Base, 1983. A former Oklahoma cowboy enthralls his listeners with his tales.

It was 1953 in the base photo lab at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas. I came around the corner from the lab into the washer/dryer room and found a Second Lieutenant looking at the photo prints circulating in the washer. He gave me a long hard look and then said “You guys sure know how to party!”

The party pictures he was looking at were from a pseudo-homosexual swim party of young men in compromising positions on the beach of one of the local lakes.

Trying to keep a straight face at his remark, I escorted the officer back to the front office and asked if I could help him, being careful to get his contact information.
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Airmen Entrepreneurs

T-33 jet trainer, Lockheed’s Shooting Star, Laredo AFB, 1953 – Photograph by Jerrold Foutz

The time was 1953 and the place was Laredo Air Force Base, Texas. I had just walked onto the flight line when the Air Police pulled up and asked me to place my photography case on the ground and step back.

The problem was that a Staff Sergeant and myself (an  A/3C) were making nearly as much or more money each month  than the Base Commander. To compound the problem, we were making all of it by selling pictures to the the cadets that the same Commander was responsible for training to be jet fighter pilots

One of the cadets complained that we were charging excessive prices for the photos and that started the investigation.
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Why I Drink Scotch

Kotex

K-O-T-E-X was a Clue

Kotex has something to do with it. I’ll explain.

In 1953 I was an Airman Third Class (one-striper) photographer at Laredo Air Force Base, Laredo, Texas. My assignment was to photograph, for the base newspaper, a dance being held at the Officer’s Club. I place my Speed Graphic camera at the end of the bar and the bar tender, an enlisted-man who worked the gig for extra money, ask what I wanted, it was on the house. They say you can’t smell Vodka on the breath, so I ordered a Vodka Collins and turned my back to people-watch and plan my photographs. I didn’t observe the making of the drink and it must of been a double-double judging by what was soon to happen.
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