March 03, 2004

Air Force Blue (part 6)

Last time I talked about my very first day in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and my up-close and personal encounter with a military police dog. Ahhhhh, memories, eh?

This story needs a little set-up. Working around the nukes (which besides the actual weapons themselves includes the bombers, missile fields, maintenance shops, and storage areas), you are held to a higher standard. Quite rightly so, in my opinion. In those days, it was called the Personal Reliability Program (PRP), or maybe it was “Personnel”… doesn’t matter. The point being that you not only had to be a good guy to work those jobs, you had to be constantly monitored to make sure you were trustworthy around such important things. Even something like prescription medications could knock you temporarily off the PRP, and you’d be assigned to a less-sensitive job for a while. Getting into certain kinds of trouble was definitely a no-no…

“Airman Phipps, Grand Forks Security. State your location.”

“Grand Forks Security, this is Airman Phipps. I’m at one-Juliette.”

Long pause.

“One-Juliette, Grand Forks Security. Wait one.”


I’d been waiting for that call all morning. I could imagine the shit hitting the fan right then.

I was sitting in the Weapons Storage Area, near the bunkers where they keep the extra big-glowing-hole-in-the-ground devices, armed with my trusty M16 and 120 rounds of ammo.

I had been busted for drugs the night before.

There was no way I should have been issued a weapon and put on post. I figured I’d be steering a floor buffer for at least a few days while things got straightened out. So I sat there for a few minutes, until the Area Supervisor drove up in his truck. I was relieved of my weapon, read my rights (again), and transported to Central Security Control. Before too long, I was standing before the squadron First Sergeant. He asked me what the story was.

The night before I’d been laying in my bunk reading a book when someone knocked on the door, and then the door opened immediately. I looked up and saw a cop dog-handler, his K9 bud and the dorm chief.

Our dorm had two-man rooms with common latrines down the hall. My roomie wasn’t there that night, I don’t remember where he was. It wasn’t uncommon for the squadron to run the drug-dogs through the dorms.

The cop told me that the dog alerted on our door, and that he was going to search the room.

“Knock yourself out.” I really wasn’t worried. When I got this roommate I had been very clear about one thing: no drugs in the room. I couldn’t have cared less about what he did elsewhere, but don’t bring it to the room. Ever.

So I lay there reading my book. The dog alerted on one wall locker, and I unlocked it so they could search it. As I expected, the dog had smelled a loaf of bread in there and went right for it. They emptied the locker anyway. Nothing.

“Ah ha! Look what I found!”

That was an instant attention-getter. As I got up from my bunk, I was already mentally calculating how long I could keep my roomie alive while I killed him. The phrase “burnt beyond recognition” came to mind.

Over by the desk, the cop stood there with a triumphant look on his face, pointing into the pencil drawer. I looked inside and stifled a laugh. Forgetting that he had two weapons, the pistol on his hip and that dog, I made my first mistake.

“Are you an idiot?”

Not very diplomatic, and precisely the wrong thing to say. At that point I was busted, no matter what else was said. I could see that much in his eyes.

I looked back down at his ‘discovery’. It was a small plastic packet of pizza seasonings. At that time, one of the frozen pizza brands had a gimmick where you got a little bag of oregano and other herbs, mixed with some garlic salt and such. It was included in the box, and you sprinkled it on your pizza before popping it into the oven. The packet was about two inches square.

“Do you really think drug dealers are going to heat-seal that little baggie closed?” I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing, which just pissed off the cop even more.

As I laughed, I noticed the dorm chief was looking pretty doubtful about this bust. I tried to explain about the pizza thing, but the cop ignored that, read me my rights, and put the suspicious ‘dope’ into an evidence bag. He then searched the dressers, mostly by emptying drawers onto the floor. He did that last just to get even for me laughing at him. The dog was bored, mostly just staring wistfully at the locker containing the bread.

After they left, I wondered why they didn’t arrest me. Something wasn’t quite right about the whole thing. Still chuckling about the ‘dope’, I cleaned up the room and went to bed. The next morning I went to work as usual, which is when they had called me.

At this point the First Sergeant sent me out into the hall to wait while he called in the K9 handler, I assume to hear his story. The cop glared at me as we passed, I just smiled back. I stood there for awhile, and wondered how bad the chewing-out was going to be for screwing up my arrest. Someone would catch big-time hell for me being issued a weapon and put on post, I was just glad that it wouldn’t be me.

A few minutes later, I got called in again. Standing at attention before the First Sergeant’s desk (K9 cop beside me), he told us that the lab results had come back on the evidence. Looking at his notes, he read it to us.

“Oregano… Parsley… Garlic… Onion…”

I managed to keep a straight face. Inside I was more than a little relieved, and made a mental note to let my roomie know just how close to death he had come. Just in case he needed reminding.

I was dismissed, and the First Sergeant told the K9 troop to stay for a little talking to.

That wasn’t quite the end of it though.

I didn’t keep the story quiet, it was too funny not to share. I’m sure it got back to the K9 cop, which must have been pretty embarrassing for him. I had no hard feelings, because he was young and inexperienced. He, on the other hand, was holding a grudge, as I was to find out.

A few weeks later, I got called in to see the First Sergeant. Never a good thing, I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong this time. I knocked, presented myself, and waited at attention.

“Airman Phipps, we have a report that you had your personal vehicle checked by a drug dog on (some date I don’t remember). Any comment?”

Oh jeez. “Yes sir. I bought a used car, and figured it would be smart to have it checked right away. I went over to the kennels and asked a friend to run a dog through the car as a favor. It was clean, sir.”

“Why would you do that?”

I reminded the First Sergeant about another Airman who bought a used car and got busted at the main gate when a drug dog alerted on it. As far as I knew, that person didn’t smoke dope, so whatever was found was probably there when she bought the car. He knew who I was talking about, and knew she was a good cop too, so what I had done made sense in that light.

I did ask where the First Sergeant got that report, but he wouldn’t tell me. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out though.

Not long after I had another direct confrontation with doggie-cop. I was on duty with my team, and we had just come out of the chow hall. At the street, I turned right to go drop a letter into the mailbox, while the rest of the team continued on towards our truck.

A police car was parked at the curb, and just as I walked by the driver’s door opened and K9 cop stepped out and glared at me. I just kept walking towards the mailbox.

“You! Halt!”

I turned around slowly, and sure enough, the nitwit was pointing at me, he also had one hand on his sidearm.

“My dog alerted on you! Halt right where you are!”

“Your dog alerted on me? You’re kidding, right?”

“There are drugs in that envelope. Freeze!”

I’d had enough of this stupidity.

“You’re dog alerted on me. From inside a car with the windows rolled up. As I walked by. Because I have drugs in a sealed envelope. Go to hell, you idiot.” And with that I turned around, took the final few steps and dropped the letter in the mailbox. When I turned around, K9 cop had his weapon out and was shaking because he was so pissed off.

Since his weapon was drawn, I didn’t argue any more. Hell, my team was witnessing the whole thing. He disarmed me (M16, I was on duty), put me on my face spread eagle (for being ‘belligerent’), and we waited for backup. I snickered when my team was called to attend the situation. Fastest response ever.

I stayed calm until I saw the First Sergeant again, then lost it a little bit. Apparently he agreed with me this time, because I didn’t get into any trouble (not that I had done anything wrong, which didn’t always mean you weren’t punished), and I never saw that K9 cop again.

Posted by Ted at March 3, 2004 09:37 AM
Category: Boring Stories

Two questions: 1) Who was the letter to? 2) Have you ever smoked oregano?

Actually, your tale somewhat reminds me of a story from my college days. In my first-year dorm, I had a kid on my floor who was something of a pain-in-the-ass; as a result, he was the object of many rude pranks and practical jokes on our floor. At one gathering, this kid said he wanted to try cocaine, so three of us trotted off to a separate room. We took out a mirror, poured some baby powder on it, and started pushing it around with one kid's student ID to form lines. We, of course, thought it would be quite hilarious to see Mr. Pain-in-the-ass snort baby powder.

Of course, while we were preparing the powder, our floor's Resident Assistant walked in on all of us. He made us throw it away, and lectured us about drugs. We tried to tell him the real story, but really, who would buy that? He never busted us, but the rest of the year, he was pretty cool toward the three of us.

Posted by: TL Hines at March 3, 2004 01:47 PM

1. no idea. 2. nope, never smoked oregano. I'm so boring. LOL

Posted by: Ted at March 3, 2004 02:10 PM

I really enjoy reading Ted's Air Force Adventures!

Posted by: Susie at March 3, 2004 11:59 PM

Actually, your story is nothing but shit. Everything you say can't be true. Nukes haven't been at Grand Forks since 1997 and the military doesn't speak using 10 codes such as "10-4". You also don't say Grand Forks "Security". You don't state your job on the radio. Anyways, you're an idiot and shouldn't write lies

Posted by: Paul at July 6, 2005 11:03 AM

ROFLMAO Paul, I love losers like you, dropping in and trying to stir up trouble. Imagine this, the story happened *before* 1997, in fact, way back when the SP's still used the 10 series codes. You got me though, on the "Grand Forks Security" call sign. Actually, the official call sign for them was "CSC", which stood for "Central Security Control", which anyone could find out by looking in the base phone book. Or by calling the base operator.

So how's it feel to be bitch-slapped by an idiot?

Posted by: Ted at July 6, 2005 11:23 AM
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