Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

The Great CU Seed Mission – 1962

by Pat McAdoo

The stadium was dark, and there was little activity nearby as we set up lookouts atop the stadium and the seed-sowing team assembled on the playing field – University of Colorado , Folsom Stadium. It was early morning, 4th of November, 1962.

Things were really quiet, and no wonder. The Buffs had just lost to Oklahoma 62 – 0. And it was their last home game until November 24, when they would play Air Force to close out the season.

The sowing crew had rehearsed on the Falcon's practice field and would spread the seed between the yard lines like a skywriter formation would do. The goal was to have a big, bright “AFA” right at mid-field for the big game almost three weeks later. We had vetoed spray paint, as they would find it unless we sprayed just before the game and the campus would be busy, security tightened, groundskeepers working, etc.

I was the main security lookout ( think Larry Colvin was the other) and we had some old walkie-talkies for comm. Our wheelmen from class of '63 waited closeby. Two other yellow tags decided to help with the seeding process. The “seed” team infiltrated the stadium easily and began their well-rehearsed walks across the field between the planned yard lines. Each had a bag of pre-sprouted seeds we had gotten at a feed store in Colorado Springs. We had soaked those seeds for a few weeks to spout them in order to enhance success on the stadium turf, which was torn up by the game that had just ended.

Ace Rawlins describes the caper:

“This was probably the most highly organized and best executed caper from this group. We were no longer Doolies, but we didn’t have wheels to get there so we had to enlist the help of the 3rd Sqdn Firsties to drive and provide the wheels. We were headed into and behind enemy lines so we needed surveillance and security to protect the planters. And we needed communication to carry all this off.

Once again McAdoo took up the challenge and procured the walkie talkies for communication and put together the security team. The purpose was to patrol the area in the autos and let us know on the field if the campus cops were headed our way so we could “get the hell outta Dodge” and meet the autos at the rendezvous points. Luckily that part of the plan was not required.

The germination was going well we thought so we put together the team and had at least one practice run-through down on the practice field. We thought the best approach would be box letters for ease of application and speed of delivery. Each line had one sower. There were 4 guys for each A and 3 for the F plus 4 cars with drivers. We moved onto the field, took up our positions at the appropriate yard markers and on command we sowed our wild seed in short order. At the practice it all went like clockwork so we knew we were ready for the big time.

And so it happened that one night in September about a month before the game we waited for the cover of darkness and after Taps we gathered the team and the support Firsties at the Cadet parking lot and began the convoy to CU.

It was right out of the Mission Impossible playbook. It went like clockwork. The theme song was playing and we were stunning. Sometime around 0300 hours Mac had the perimeter sealed off and gave the all clear ( two walkie-talkies on top of stadium and one with the seed crew). We immediately ran onto the field and took up our positions and began sowing our seed. Just as we were finishing Ken Helmig came running up to me and said “Ace, I think I screwed up.” Ken was responsible for the top horizontal part of the F and he had sowed it on the base rather than the top. So it was now going to read “ABA” or “AFB” or something along those lines. I gathered the field team and we all got down on our hands and knees and began to search for the seeds. A lost cause. We gave up. As a last attempt to correct the situation we gathered around the miss-sowed spot and liberally peed on the seeds.

Forward to game day. As per always the wing was bussed to CU stadium arriving there about an hour before game time. You can only imagine the anticipation by the seed team. We literally ran to the Press Box side of the field and looked over the edge down into the stadium from above. Talk about a letdown.

There was nothing. Oh, one little green area where we had all peed. I guess the team was short on Aggies. Or maybe the temp in the steam tunnels was a few degrees off.”

Ken Helmig provides his perspective (Helmig and McAdoo were roomies that semester):

“We used winter wheat seeds -- I bought them at the C-Springs seed company. Remember how all the trunks smelled like breweries when we got to CU? The yellow-tags had the cars, and two volunteered to help with the sowing - Butch Verdier and Kyzma Butt.

We actually had primitive tactics in the plan as well as the one practice run north of the gym. We all wore black and used our laundry bags for seed carriers. E&E'd into the joint from three different directions and started based on the security "go" on those ginormous WW II walkie talkie contrapulators.

Headed out individually and direct to our previously practiced yard and hash mark start points -- hut, hut, plant.

At my end point, I was supposed to see Kyzma Butt, HOWEVER, Butch Verdier's smiling puss was there! Nightmare! What the hell! Thought Butch screwed the pooch and so did he. But I reoriented tops and bottoms and realized that the first Mr A would in fact be tango uniform. No time for awshits. Wiped out 500 attaboys right then and there. Some black shadows joined the huddle and we dove to our hands and knees, noses about two inches from the turf, for a first attempt at picking up about seven billion Winter Wheat seeds, one at a time, in two minutes flat, in the dark. No way Jose. By now the whole damned farm club was there. Used what was available, and that was a lot of Air Force “tigerpiss” after that drive to Boulder. Only gridiron group to do that in the history of Folsom Stadium as far as I know. Then somebody replanted the top dash using various bag leftovers. I flunked Farming 101. And midnight map reading.

Marched on per usual 2 weeks later. Saw nothin'at grasshopper height. Yeeeah Falcons, rah, rah lizard spit -- BREAK. Mac and I sprinted to the top of our little corner of Folsom and looked left to about the 20 yd line. Nice bright green tigerpiss dash right where our, um, noses were two weeks earlier and the rest was Nada. Said awshit out loud and "whew" kind of quiet like.

P.S.: Urea is equivalent to 46-0-0 fertilizer. That's a lot of nitrogen and that's no bullshit. “

The Great CU Seed Mission was the best-planned, best-practiced and best-executed one our group in 3rd squadron ever had. Too bad we weren't farmers or painters.

Mission participants included at least the following:

'64 Blue tags:
Ace Rawlins
Pat McAdoo
Ken Helmig
Larry Colvin

Yellow tags:
Butch Verdier
Kyzma Butt

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