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Numb Skull PDF Print E-mail
on Sunday, 27 July 2008

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Published in : , Short Stories


Corey Prentice

819th and 554th

 
My first assignment was with the 819th RED HORSE at RAF Wethersfield in the United Kingdom. I was a green, wet behind the ears Airman Basic who was in awe of the “old” guys around me. I was quick to volunteer for any assignment that came along and was eager to perform to the standards set by the Horsemen around me.
 
I always seemed to come up short when it came to getting respect from those around me. I knew it was not from a lack of trying but I never seemed to be able to open the right door and feel that I was part of the team.
 
I had one project under my belt when a chance came to get on another project at RAF Woodbridge. One of my mentors was the ranking Equipment Operator on the project so I threw my name in the hat to get on that project. I bugged my Flight Sergeant everyday asking if I had been put on the team. He knew it was killing me and waited until the last minute to tell me to pack my bags.
 
It wasn’t long before this project felt the same as the last. I was working as hard as everyone else and studying at night to improve my skills. On the job site I didn’t wait to be told to do something, I just did it.
A month had gone by and still I was shunned, off duty and picked on at work. One sergeant in particular was making my life miserable. I had just put on my first stripe and was still the lowest ranking troop on the project and this sergeant helped me remember that fact routinely.
 
My day finally came when my mentor looked down into the drum of the concrete truck we had on the project and found about a quarter yard of concrete set up in the bottom. There were only two operators for the truck, myself and the sergeant who was so fond of me. My mentor knew that I had not operated the truck in several days and that the sergeant had operated it the day before. Needless to say my mentor had a few words with the sergeant.
 
The sergeant’s duty that day was to crawl in the drum with a form stake and two pound hammer and remove the excess concrete. If you have ever done this work you know it is not easy to do.
The sergeant used the access door on the side of the drum to crawl in and start work. I walked over and helped him get in then I went back to prepping forms for the next day’s concrete pour.
 
At lunch my mentor told me to go get the sergeant so we could go to lunch. I walked over to the truck and stood looking up to the access. The truck was parked about forty feet from a well used base road and there was a chain linked fence between the truck and the road. I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled at the sergeant. It took a couple of times to get his attention but he finally said he was on his way.
 
I turned to walk away when I heard and felt something hit my hard hat. The hat flew off my head and left me a little stunned. I quickly realized the sergeant had thrown the form stake out of the drum access without looking. I knew the hammer would be next and started to yell at him to stop but it was too late. I never saw the hammer come out of the access but I sure felt it hit me. The handle landed on the top of my head and I felt my knees get weak. I stumbled back a few steps until I felt the chain linked fence on my back. My vision was blurred and my knees felt like they were going to give way any second when I heard a voice coming from the road behind me.
 
A passer by had saw the entire show and was asking me if I was ok. I looked up towards the truck and saw the sergeant crawl down the truck with his back to me. I looked back at the passer by and said “I am ok but that sergeant ain’t”.
 
I cleared my head and straightened up then walk quickly to the sergeant. He had just stepped onto the ground when I stepped up behind him. He turned around with a huge grin on his face but then saw what was coming. I hit him with everything I had. The smile disappeared and he took a quick seat on the ground holding his nose. I walk back to my hard hat, scooped it up and casually walked to the crew van and had a seat in the back. No one said a word until the sergeant got in the van. Then the entire crew started ragging him about holding us up for lunch and his stupidity of leaving the concrete in the truck.
 
It was then that I felt a shift in the respect given by the crew. I was still the youngest and the lowest ranked but I had finally made my stand where it counted the most.

Last update: Sunday, 27 July 2008

   
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