“LA Center, this is Austin P. Decker, III, on Guard!”

I don’t know when I first heard the story of ‘Austin P. Decker, III;’ maybe in the fall of 1970 just after night flying in Tweets (T-37s)?  That’s when stories like this were told.  They are funny in and of themselves, but when you add beer as a ‘multiplier, they become hilarious!

As the story goes, Austin P. Decker, III was a UPT student at Williams AFB, AZ.  If everything on a flight went ok, you hardly heard anything from him.  However, in T-38s, if he had a problem of some sort, the first thing he would forget was his call sign.  Not good.  LA Center’s first indication that there was a problem with Austin usually came in the form of a radio call, “LA Center, this is Austin P. Decker, III, on Guard (243.0.)”  In a high-pitched voice.

At first LA Center would reply, “Calling LA Center, go ahead;” and Austin would relay information about his ‘problem.’  Going out over ‘Guard’ frequency, an IP would often hear the radio call and subsequently help Austin resolve it.  Then Life was good again.

According to the story, one time Austin contacted LA with, “LA Center, this is Austin P Decker, III, on Guard;” to which LA replied, “What now Austin?”

The ‘crown jewel’ of his anxious radio calls to LA Center was, “LA Center, this is Austin P. Decker, III – I’m declaring an Emergency, and I’m about to step over the side!”

“Hold on Austin,” LA Center countered, “what’s wrong.”  When Austin described the nature of the problem, it was soon resolved by another Willi IP and Austin once again, picked up his solo call sign before returning to base.

I don’t know if this story is true or not, but after night flying, sitting around drinking beer, it was funny as hell.  And I have told it many, many times over the years – because, if you have ever been associated with UPT, it is funny!

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