Mama always told everyone that I couldn’t keep a secret, and if there were any family secrets, don’t tell me because I’ll tell everyone. Lately, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. But a few years ago, that wasn’t the case.
I was in the Air Force from 1955 to 1976. During that time, I was stationed on the Pacific island of Guam 1971-1972. I worked in base headquarters, and was the officer of the day. I was a TSgt. in charge of nine administrative offices of the base commander. The wing commander’s office was just a few doors down the side of the building. (That wing commander has now passed away, so now I can tell this story.)
Just before Christmas 1971, the chief of the printing shop came to me and laid some Christmas cards on my desk. There was the wing logo and a silhouette of a B-52 on them. I asked if he had printed these, and he said he had been ordered to by the wing commander, who was a full colonel. We looked it up in the Air Force manual about printing, and it said that the printing of Christmas cards was strictly prohibited in Air Force printing shops.
We showed the cards to the major who was in charge of us, and he said, “Go ahead and print them.” I protested to him that it was against Air Force regulations, and he told me to shut up and mind my own business. I told him, “I’m in charge of the printing shop supervisor, and this is my business.” He laughed at me and told me to get out of his office.
Four hundred cards were printed and delivered to the colonel. But in the meantime, I asked that two more be printed and given to me. I took one to the base inspector general and explained the situation to him. He said he would take care of it, and would not mention my name.
For the next two weeks, nothing I did was right. The major found fault in everything I did. I heard him on the phone to personnel, looking for another office to send me to work. I had to work overtime every day. Every dirty detail that came up, I was put in charge of it.
I went back to the inspector general and told him what they were doing to me. He call the major into his office and told him to “lay off.” The major asked me that afternoon if I would really send a letter to my Congressman. I told him I would, and that I would send a copy of the Christmas card with the letter. He searched my desk while I was out of the office, but he never found it. I hid it good.
Things didn’t get any better in the office, so I went back to the inspector general. Within two hours, the major was called to his office. That afternoon, everything was back to normal, and he left me alone to do my job.
The colonel had to pay the Air Force back $400 for the Christmas cards he had ordered to be printed. He made the statement of the sergeant major (a friend of mine) that if he found out who it was that turned him in, he would hang the man.
The major and the wing commander were reassigned. I got along well with my new supervisors. When I left Guam, I was presented my first Air Force Commendation Medal.