"A Good Old Army Additional Duty Assignment"
by Terry Hicks, CWO3, USA, RETIRED. Former 05K-20 NMSDOH, Tract C, late 1968 - mid 1970

NOTE: This story was kept as clean as possible without destroying the intent. All those in remembrance will surely fill in the gaps.

I was in a Burger King on Hickam AFB not too long ago when I heard a retired military guy talking about a Kagnew sticker he just saw on a vehicle out in the parking lot. I turned around and said that rig belongs to me. After introducing himself, he went on telling me how he knew of Kagnew Station back in the ‘60s when he was in the USAF. Kagnew was part of his TDY circuit for his AFSI (MOS). He said, “after getting off of the C-141 at the Asmara Airport, we used to stop by the Oasis Club, Top Five, and Class Six to store up on booze to resell to the GI’s stationed along our circuit, who were stuck in countries that didn’t allow alcohol. We made a killing!” I’m sure he did.

He went on: “We usually had a circuit out of some home base in Germany, then down to Wheelus AFB in Libya, on to Asmara, on to Iran, Turkey, etc, etc, then back up to Europe. Sometimes it was so hot in Asmara with the high altitude and all - that the C-141 couldn’t take off due to density altitude. Hell, all that meant was a day or two more to party! The whole TDY trip took ten days or so. We did this, usually making our rounds every three to four months.”

These guys were usually a USAF AFSI Medic, and alias part-time you know what. The Army had their equivalent MOS 68W20, or who also doubled as the Graves Registration guy. When business was down, they all reverted to the extra “extra duty” coined: “Ye Ole’ Pecker-Checker.”

“The main role of the 68W10 in the United States Army is to provide medical treatment to wounded soldiers. Whiskeys are staples in the functionality of the US Army, as every squad is required to have a whiskey in attendance when going on any hazardous mission. They are found in every stage of medical treatment in a combat zone. Whiskeys initiate medical treatment at the accident or injury location, maintain medical treatment during evacuation to healthcare facilities, and provide medical treatment in the medical facilities themselves. 68W10s are highly trained to perform medical duties in hazardous and challenging atmospheres.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/68W from Wikipedia.

Hey, that was us! Especially the “hazardous and challenging atmospheres” part. Ha!

So anyway, one day my trick chief assigned me with the additional duty of being the movie projector guy. Yeah, I had to attend a special training course to operate this piece of junk. Sort of an extra duty to keep the pukes off my back since I was a big SP/4(P) at the time. They still thought I was going to reenlist and convinced me that it was good career move! Right! This training was much like if you had to mow a lawn on post. First you had to take training on operating a simple-ass lawn mower. They gave you license on it! The Army!

At Kagnew, and once sobered up, the pecker guy, either Army or Air Force, would have to schedule a “Commander’s Call” training session that we in the ASA had back then. This was usually held in the the Roosevelt Theater. It seemed to always come when you were working “Swings,” so you had to get up early from a thunder-run down town, which ended around 4 a.m. or so, and having to attend. Actually worse yet was after a “Mid” when you had to stay up until ten or eleven a.m. This was after you already partied from 5 p.m. the night before, and on until you had to report for work at roughly 11 p.m.

We never had to form up and march over. We just showed up at the theater and signed in. The “training” usually started out with the commander saying his bit up on the stage, then me activating the projector. Then on to a Johnny Crawford “Special Services Safety” flick, and progressing into the good stuff. Once started, the flick went right to the jugular explaining the effects of STD’s and full color pictures of “cheese d--ks,” then onto the female private parts. The “Full Monty” looked more like a vegetable patch of cauliflowers than anything else. Hey, think twice about snorkeling into that one!

Taking full advantage of the video, I made sure the projector malfunctioned at just the right moments. I lived to hear the reactions, all the hissing and jeering from the audience. I really got off on it! Remember, women weren’t integrated into the military at that time (except for the Nurses and WACS, which I never saw once) and it was all 100% guys, at least in our theater. No punches pulled! I’m sure many a Dependent got his or her ears full while innocently passing by the Roosevelt Theater at the wrong time on their way to the Commissary.

So, the idea was to gross you out so much, you wouldn’t even think of doing this activity down town. Yea right! That lasted about five minutes! My trick was just going on break after my last projector detail, and we already had “thunder-runs” scheduled down town in and Massawa. But it sure was a blast while it lasted, listening to the unauthorized comments emitted from of the peanut gallery. They were grosser than the training flick, turning into a real gross-fest. Of course the commanders didn’t like it but they got right the hell over it!

By the time I got promoted to SP/5 and got “short,” becoming a double-digit midget, my trick chief ordered me to find someone ASAP to take my place. I was allowed to OJT the lad, at my new rank and all. So, by the time I went ROD, everything was STRACT. I think the morning I left, another training flick was being shown. By that time I could “free-fall off a dime” and didn’t care because I was going back to the World!

Anyway, back to the show, errr, I mean training. It all ended with one or two off-duty guys traipsing over to the post medical clinic and doing the “drop‘em and show me your root” routine. The rest staggered over to theTop Five Club or the Oasis Club just in time for lunch, to continue the discussion with their buds, girlfriends, or wives.

All in all, if you think your MOS petered out (no pun intended), just think of these poor old TDY pecker guys!

- - Terry Hicks