The transition from Lackland AFB to Lowry AFB included events which will always be burned into my memory. The flight into Denver-Stapleton was VERY rough – people puking, constant up and down, extreme turbulence, and a HARD landing. That is one of two flights I have been on where passengers were using the “air-sickness” bags. I held my own, meaning I did NOT throw-up…but I was close. Upon arrival at Lowry on March 24, 1970, I was told that the next cycle for Air Intelligence was in two weeks. My home for the next two weeks was a two-story wooden barracks that was heated by a coal fired furnace – coal that was stored outside and brought into the barracks by the personnel assigned that duty. I had to lug in coal in the mornings a few times.
Now was the time that we were told, in no uncertain terms, that the new trainees fresh from Lackland were the low men on the totem pole, the bottom feeders, the nobodies. The NCO over-seeing our time in “limbo,” advised that the next day, we would be starting “Commander’s Week,” and our squadron of one-stripe airmen with nothing to do, would have PLENTY to do, commencing the next morning with an 0300 wake-up call – for a WEEK of KP. The barracks was very clean and comfortable, but not as nice and well-equipped as the dormitories at Lackland. I actually started to wish I was back in Basic – at least you knew your schedule from minute-to-minute. No uncertainties about anything. When we awoke at 300 am for the start of KP, there was a blizzard in progress. We were told to arrive at the Dining Hall at 0400…and we waited outside in the blizzard for 40 minutes before someone showed up and let us in. No apology. But things can always be worse…right? The following day with the weather clearing, the view to the west was my inspiration for the remainder of my time at Lowry – the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains. My duties during KP were interesting and pleasant – making salads, serving food, operating the dish water, general cleaning. The worst jobs, pots and pans, and trash detail, were never assigned to me. If you’re are not sitting down for a meal with the rest of the KP crew, you were kept busy. 12 hour shift, go back to the coal-warmed barracks and get some sleep. One of the smells at Lowry was coal-smoke. During the spring snow-falls, when the streets were wet and the air was damp, I actually enjoyed that smell. After our week of KP we would be dispatched to other details – painting, trash pick-up, cleaning barracks, drill. My class cycle was about to begin. I was moved into the training squadron barracks, two-man rooms where you were allowed stereos, shelving, a mirror and a view of the Rocky Mountains. Within days, I was in the real Air Force, learning a new skill. And we also filled out our “dream-sheet,” where we wanted to be stationed after tech School.