General Discharge

It started a couple of months before my discharge date of 27 June. I had turned my entire office in to the U.S. Air Force Inspector General because I believed I was putting live at jeopardy by not following regulations.

We had a new commanding officer in the Environmental Health Office. He had yet to complete his 11-week course in the field but was none the less in charge.

He directed me to take several bottles of bleach with me various missile silos we had identified as containing algae growth in the sump. The sump is a large cement basin filled with water, that turns to steam when the missiles rockets are ignited.

Without the water for steam, the rockets heat up the missile, causing it to burn in its hole. This posed a threat to the lives of the missilier’s sealed inside the control room.

After protesting this procedure, I called the GI’s office at Offutt AFB, the headquarters of Strategic Air Command at the time. They sent an inspector to check into the situation.

In the meantime, I had erred. I had gone out side my chain-of-command and I was now being punished through the use of letters of counselling and warning. In the month of April alone I was give six letters all citing various infractions.

Then came the big one. I was sent on emergency leave by my C.O., after he decided I needed to go home and be with Dad, who had jus’ been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Jus’ before leaving I was asked to house-sit a Staff Sergeant’s home while he and his wife were on leave. I watched the house for a few days and then gave the keys to the NCO’s subordinate.

A few days later, while in Klamath, I called my co-worker and friend, Dave Barber. He told me I was accused of having taken stuff from the Sergeant’s home.

It was 01 June when I returned to Warren AFB. Twenty-six days later I was given a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions, having been accused finally of misappropriation of personal property.

It was the only charge they could muster against me after I requested a court martial. Anything else and they’d have to honor my request.

After spending an extra night on base, sleeping on Dave’s floor, I left Warren AFB one last time. I spent one more night in Cheyenne sleeping on the couch at my friend, Deanna Hurless before catching a Greyhound heading west to California.

I learned quickly sometimes doing the right thing comes with a very steep price.

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