Major ‘Booger’ Malone

(Caution: Explicit language: ahh, more ‘explicit’ than usual…)

There were 70 of us who found our ways to Room 45 in Hanger 12 at Randolph AFB, TX on the morning of 24 April 1970.  This was our designated reporting point for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).  Our class, 71-07, (71-G), consisted of 3 captains, 1 1st lieutenant (me), and 68 2nd lieutenants.  We were all kinda excited and anxious at the same time.  It was an exciting period in our history, as the Vietnam War was still raging.  So there we were; all in crisp khaki uniforms and ‘crew cuts.’  As one might imagine, the room was alive with incessant chatter as we introduced ourselves to our immediate neighbors and speculated on the year to come.  UPT in those days was 52 weeks.

And then in walked “Booger.”

“AT-TENTION!” someone shouted, and we all came to ‘the position,’ staring straight ahead.  When I mustered the nerve, I snuck a glance down and caught my first sight of  “Booger.”  He was a slightly overweight man, about 5’10” or so.  His uniform was a little bit ‘frumpy’ and he was wearing yellow ‘shooter’s’ glasses.  He reminded me of the Southern Sheriff character on the old Dodge commercials at the time.  When he said, “You boys – you take a seat now, heah?!”, I knew it was the Sheriff from the old Dodge commercials!  Without any wasted effort, we all sat.

“ I am Major Booger Malone,” he said, as he paced the front of the room.  “I am the Chief of Academics heah, at Randolph Air Force Base.  You boys can all call me by my first name; – ‘Major.’”  It was real quiet in the room at this time….

Booger then launched into a well-rehearsed speech; rehearsed from having been given to many classes which had preceded ours.  I am fairly confident that the following is quite accurate as he had my full attention that April morning….

“As the Chief of Academics, I want to welcome y’all heah to Undergraduate Pilot Training.  You college boys might have heard that 80 ‘par-cent’ is passing heah.  I want ya to think about 1 thing though.  Think about being up over Hanoi some dark night as a copilot in a B-52 jet bomber.  With an 80 par-cent average in academics, that’s what you are gonna get – a B-52 jet bomber.  You’re sittin’ over there in the right seat when a 50 caliber bullet comes up through the bottom of that bomber and blows the fricken brains of the Looo-tenant Colonel in the left seat; right out the top of his head.  It’s night, the AC is dead, the bomber is shot up, you are scarred as hell, and there are a lot of Gomers down there, still trying to kill you.  Do you think that 80 par-cent is going to get you and your crew home?”

“What in the Hell have I gotten myself into?” I, along with 69 other guys, asked ourselves!  About this time, the classroom door opened and in came 2 more 2nd lieutenants… “Holy chit!”  Booger went nuts!

After he regained his composure, Booger asked, “Who’s the Class Leader heah?”

“I am, Sir,” Captain Ken Anderson smartly replied.

“Well Capt. Anderson, I want ‘dem boyses names after the meeting heah.  I’m gonna have a piece of der asses….”  What a great way to begin UPT!

Next, Booger told us, “Take a look at that sum-bitch sittin’ next to you…. Come next year this time, he ain’t gonna be heah!”  Of the 72 guys we began with, we graduated with 36 of the original class.

There were perhaps 8-10 classes that followed us before UPT was shut down at Randolph.  Every 6 weeks, you could walk by Room 45 of Hanger 12, and not help but think of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as Booger got into the part of his orientation speech about the B-52 over Hanoi!   It almost could bring tears to your eyes…

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