I think one of the most coveted jobs in a flying squadron is the Operations Officer job – the Number 2 guy. The “Bad Cop,” of the “Good Cop – Bad Cop” scenario. If you saw the movie “Top Bullshit” – oh, I’m sorry, “Top Gun,” he was the bald guy on the ship…
I was very fortunate to have had some great Ops Officers. Col. Mac., Polecat and Grady were three of them. All 3 were ‘aviators.’ They led by example, not necessarily by regulation. Sure they knew the regs; but more importantly, they understood the spirit and intent of our regulations.
I knew I was going to like Grady the day we had a problem with San Antonio radar going down. Because their system was down, we had to cease flying. (When I went through pilot training – at Randolph – we had no stinking radar. We had to really use the concept of ‘see an avoid.’) As the conversation continued, Grady eventually offered his perspective, “I think we should be entitled only to the area we can defend!” Made sense to me, but it sent the careerists up the wall!
Anyway when it came the time for Grady to leave our squadron, considerable consideration was given for a suitable ‘going-away’ gift. I just happened to be privy to a conversation one day wherein he was lamenting about leaving. “One thing I won’t miss, is my office next to the squadron’s men’s room. I think I have listened to everyone in the squadron take a crap at one time or another!” he said. And then I had the answer.
I went into that men’s room and took the door off the stall next to his office. Then I put it on an easel in my office, and ‘put the word out’ for folks to come in and sign it. Soon it became a piece of art!
DP went on a cross-country mission with Grady once. Riding in the rear seat, at 37,000 feet or so, DP asked Grady to the heat down. Instead of reducing the temperature, for whatever reason, Grady opened the Ram Dump switch – instantly depressurizing the cockpit. Immediately realizing his mistake, he (knee-jerked) closed the switch! That instantly pressurized the cockpit. Sure am glad I wasn’t riding with him that day! Gawd Grady, what were you thinking? Anyway, DP found a T-38 Air Conditioning and Pressurization panel to add to the door.
There were all kinds of comments added to that door – even a few ‘heartfelt’ ones! And, it was very well received. I have wondered over the years, if Grady still has that door…
On the Monday morning, following the party, I was called into the commander’s office and told that I had to replace the door. I was informed that if I didn’t, I could be charged with destroying government property. In ‘military terms’ we call a guy like this, an ‘asshole.’ I didn’t need to hear the specific regs, or the specific charges – all I needed was to be asked to replace the door… not a big deal.
The thing I thought about as I walked out of his office was the entry someone put; “Grady, thanks for taking it up the ass for me so I could look good!” signed, RRR. Appropriate.