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Mowing Grass The Air Force Way!
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Mowing Grass the Air Force Way!

Ah, the days of yesteryear. As I peer out my front window and watch the neighborhood come to life, I observe some of my neighbors preparing to mow their lawns. It takes me back to a memory I have of Myrtle Beach AFB in the late 1980's. I had just been stationed there, and while awaiting a training slot and dorm room, I was put on the infamous grass cutting detail in our squadron. There were six of us that were tasked with mowing grass, weed eating, and edging the sidewalks, and of course picking up any trash that had landed in the grassy areas.

On the first day of our detail we all gathered together and waited for the supervisor to hand out job assignments. It was a sunny day with temperatures in the mid eighties, zero chance of precipitation, and a slight westerly breeze stirring up the air. Not a bad day to be on this detail, or so we thought. After all, it was a beautiful day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and spring had sprung. What could possibly mess that up? Right?

The Staff Sergeant (SSG) in charge of our detail arrived and began giving out assignments. My assignment for the day was to use a push mower to get close to the buildings and around the hedges closest to the buildings. As we all started to look over the equipment we were to use, the SSG started talking about something called "PPE", and we had to ask what that was (darn jeeps, I swear). This was an acronym for "Personal Protective Equipment". He next handed out ear plugs, ear defenders, (think of a set of headphones without speakers), goggles, and toe caps. Now I had never even seen toe caps before, so they were interesting enough by themselves to me. They essentially were steel covers with an attached mechanism that covered the toe of the steel toed boots I was wearing. The concept was to wear them to keep the toe of your boots (or your toes) from getting cut off if they accidentally went under the deck of the mower. They were quite heavy and felt like I had donned an old knight's boots of armor on my feet.

Well imagine if you can, a guy standing there with goggles on, toe caps on, ear plugs in, ear defenders on and trying to push a lawn mower around obstacles for eight hours that day. It was difficult at first, then later it became easier. But it had gotten considerably warmer as the day progressed. After lunch it was around ninety five degrees, and with all that gear on I was sweating a blue streak. I kept thinking to myself, "man, I signed up to fix fighter aircraft, not mow grass". That day, I began to understand what being a one stripper was all about.

So, while thinking the next day would have to be better, I put away the PPE, and mower then was told to report again for the same detail the next day. That day was not better, it was much worse. On the second day I got tasked with painting grass and rocks the color of olive drab. Now this was a real eye opener for me, it seemed like a great waste of paint to me, so I unwittingly voiced my concerns, but, I was informed by the SSG that if he had wanted my opinion he would beat it out of me.

So, off to paint the grass and rocks I went. (At least I didn't have to wear the toe caps that day.) Later, I learned that a General was visiting our base to judge it for the cleanest base in the Air Force. He also did not like seeing random rocks jutting out of the grass. Thank grace the third day I had my training slot and was not put back on the grass mowing detail. Funny times in the USAF sometimes.


Street Talk

The military does come up with some weird things to do don't they. Thanks for sharing.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Your welcome, and thanks for reading, John.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

LOL...I do remember a few of those days...I was on a sub and was a torpedoman asigned to the forward room...Torpedo doors are made of brass on the outside and plenty of other brass around them....always had to have plenty of Brasso around for the big Brass visits...ha... Out on the deck above each compartment on a sub there is a small plate made of brass identifying each compartment. These are for emergency purposes with pipes leading into each compartment and painted same color of the deck, not shiny. One Ensign wanted the paint scraped off and the plates shined up, so we did. Captain of the sub came on board and had a fit...You really don't want anything shiny that will reflect light on top of the sub...Another half day with the red lead and deck paint to paint them again...lol I'll have to write an article soon on my service experience. Enjoyed your article Rodney..

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Hey Kevin I was on subs also. We'll have to compare notes some time

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Gonna have an article on my sub experience later tonight or tomorrow...

  
  about 8 years ago

Yep, I too have had to use the Brasso many time also, Kevin. I look forward to your article.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Joan S  

"I was informed by the SSG that if he had wanted my opinion he would beat it out of me." That strikes me as so funny. I hope they didn't ruin Myrtle Beach for you. I've never been in the military, and am quite sure they wouldn't want me either. Civilian life is easier. Though corporations are a lot like the air force these days. Nice story Rodney.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thanks, Joan and no it didn't ruin any of it. I agree of the corporations thing though.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
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