You’ve Got to EARN the Right…

Doing some ‘spring cleaning’ today, e.g. looking for my damn gloves in the closet, I ran across my old flight jacket hanging in the back of the closet, and thought y’all might get a laugh out of this trip down memory lane…

This is the front of the jacket I wore, less the TACCO patch on the right sleeve…

And the back of the jacket…

In the early 80’s when I went through AOCS to become an NFO, we had to attend ground school at VT-10 in Pensacola.  Most of the instructors were young Lieutenants just off their first squadron tours, and had maybe 5-6 years in the Navy.

We had this one particular LT who’d been in a West Coast A-6 squadron who liked to wear his flight jacket when he instructed…

One day one of the young Ensigns asked him a question about one of his patches.  He went into a detailed description of the patch and how he’d ‘earned’ it, and on and on…  He finally closed with the comment that, “You’ve got to EARN the right to wear a flight jacket with patches on it, and not a one of you in here has EARNED that right.”

The WO and I looked at each other, and the ex-Coastie sitting behind us said, “THAT is a bunch of BS.”

After class, we adjourned to the club for a libation or three, and it turned out we all had our “Fleet” flight jackets with us.  Now at this point, I had 11 years in, 9 years in the Fleet; the WO had 19 years in, 14 years in the Fleet; and the Coastie had 11 years in and 9 years for flying as a SAR crewman and C-130 crewman in places like Kodiak.  

Looking at the schedule, we found we would have this particular LT again two days later right after lunch, so we decided we’d all bring our “Fleet” flight jackets and wear them to his class…

So… Two days later, we meet in the parking lot, change to our “Fleet” jackets and hustle into the class room well ahead of the rest of the students and staff…

Since we sat near the back of the class, only a couple of folks noticed what we were wearing and that ALL three of us had more patches than the LT did; and I saw a few smiles as some folks figured out what we were up to.

The LT came in and started his lecture and for the first 15 minutes or so didn’t notice anything. Then he saw the WO’s jacket and literally stopped in mid-sentence, walked back to where we were sitting and asked us whatinthehell did we think we were doing.  

I said something to the effect of, we were just wearing what we’d EARNED, just like him; and he went off!  He told us that we weren’t allowed to wear ‘those’ jackets, we were disruptive, and we were to go see the Ops O right now…

So, off we went to Ops, and into the Ops O’s office.  He looked up and asked what we’d done now, weren’t we supposed to be in class?

So I explained what had gone on, with concurrences from the WO, and the Coastie…

OBTW, both the WO and I had known the Ops O for about 8 years, having flown with him in a previous squadron 🙂

He just started laughing, looked at us, shook his head, and said, “You assholes know better than to screw with the instructors and you know this school is NOT set up to deal with people like you!”

So he took us back to class, and called the LT out in the hall and had a ‘chat’ with him about the fact that there were people in classes than HAD been in the Fleet, and probably much longer than he had, and he’d better watch his comments before they come back and bite him in the butt…   

Needless to say, we were ‘closely’ watched after that, and our class tended to get the senior instructors!

In spite of all the BS, we all made it through, and ended up with successful careers as officers 🙂


You’ve Got to EARN the Right… — 21 Comments

  1. Have you ever read Admiral Dan Gallery’s novel Stand By-y-y-y To Start Engines!? The first chapter of that book takes place in Pensacola and concerns the comeuppance a flight instructor gets from the Blue Angels. Your story reminded me of that.

  2. Always nice to have an OD in your pocket. It’s amazing what experience and respect gives you!
    This reminds me of the movie Clint Eastwood starred in as Gunny Highway!

    “I guess we chewed some of the same dirt, sir”!

  3. Bob- Yep, read it MANY years ago… 🙂

    drjim- Thanks!

    MSGT- Who ME??? 🙂

    Danny- Yep, pretty funny AFTER the fact!

    Andy- That was a joint US/ROK ASW exercise back in the early 70’s.

    Les- No kidding!

    Earl- Yep 🙂

    BP- Thanks!

    Murph/SS- 🙂

    MC- How about RED 🙂

  4. I loved guys like you when I was an instructor. Always loved it when the OCS guys would be able to debate real world versus text book with the young officers who hadn’t been out in the world yet.

  5. We had a sexual harassment training course in my squadron and when the legal officer stepped up to start the lecture my chief raised his hand.

    “Lt,” he said,”is this a ‘should not’ or a ‘how to’ kind of class?”