Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Illicit Hardware

In a recent classmate chat via email, someone asked how we ended up with a TV in our cadet room back in the day, and just today, the Academy announced they were shocked, yes, shocked that inspections of cadet rooms had turned up, booze, unauthorized electrical devices, pharmaceuticals, explosives, and weapons. Fifty years ago, I had four of the five in my room and Bob Beverly had cherry bombs, a .45, and a foot long Bowie knife at least two and a half of the four years.

The TV is a more than a short story down a slippery slope.

At the beginning of our third class year, I was rooming with Mike Gilliom, and Duane Andrews and Bill Forbis were rooming together. At the first grading period, Capt. Gentry blew a major vessel and decided Bill and Duane needed help and flipped us. I was with Duane and Mike with Bill.

Turned out that Forbis was beyond help & Duane needed no help. By the by, the three top scores in our squadron on the GREs were, in no particular order, Snapp (no surprise ), Fisk (no surprise), and Andrews. I think Duane got to meet with both the Dean & Commandant vis-a-vis his GRE score, his class standing, and his level of application, but that's Duane's to tell.

So anyway, Duane and I were roommates from then on. The mess hall started selling potato chips by the giant container and cokes by the case. Soon, we were hooked. Turns out, that very greasy chips eaten in great quantities have an alarming digestive tract result. We liked our snack so we switched to popcorn. In three years we ran through six poppers. Four burned out, one was confiscated (five demerits). We used to hang things down the maintenance hatch by the desks to hide them. Once, we came back after a SAMI and found three shoes, the afore mentioned popper lying on my desk along with a note to see Gentry and with string still down the hatch with a bottle of vodka tied to it. Why he quit pulling on the string I have no idea. We were glad to settle for the demerits. One was left hanging down the maintenance hatch by the cord for the next set of cadets when we graduated. A LOT of popcorn.

Back to the first semester of third class year. We discovered that Gerry Holmes had a liquor collection in a spare janitors closet. He wasn't the sharing kind, so we started keeping booze in our room. A great combination: popcorn, Cuba libras, and vodka with Mt Dew. But something was missing: entertainment beyond our country record collections.

Then, Glenn Coleman (he was up in one of the higher # squadrons) got caught with this TV built into a stereo case. Along with his Class II, Glenn was told to get rid of the TV. Being enterprising, he felt selling it was within the definition of getting rid of it.

For the mere sum of thirty dollars, Duane and I became proud owners of a lousy eight inch TV with even lousier reception. We had it all: illicit booze, illicit electrical appliance, and an illicit tv. By our second class year, we started drawing crowds. Once, Duane, Jim Evatt, one other (Gary Bryan, I think) and I were sitting there after lights out watching TV, drinking booze and eating popcorn. Then the door slammed open and the Officer of the Day stood there. I'm not sure who was more shocked. He surveyed the room, went tsk, tsk, and slammed the door shut. Apparently popping popcorn makes a powerful smell. I have no clue why he didn't write us up.

We continued on with our hard life until the end of our second class year, when Dick Deilke, a first classman at the time, reported our TV (5 demerits for unauthorized electronics). To this day, I think he turned us in because we wouldn't let him watch some show.

The TV was confiscated, and Gentry had it in his office. He wanted to watch the World Series on it. I had managed to take a tube out while walking the box to his office. Voila, the tv no longer worked! He was pissing & moaning & threatening, so Ken Snapp, Gary Fisk, & I went out about two AM & collected all the TVs from all the squadron day rooms, yes all 24, picked the lock on the AOC door, and put them in Gentry's office, somehow plugged them all in, took a picture, re-locked the office, and we all tried to be hanging around that morning when Gentry opened his LOCKED office. Much smoke & fireworks! Somehow he settled on me as the likely culprit and ordered all the TVs returned forth with.

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