When I was a young man… I spent some of my years guarding nuclear weapons and working in restricted areas in which our job was to shoot at people when they entered our areas incorrectly. Yea, Remember when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that college-age kids were not responsible enough to deal with firearms? Yea, well, he’s full of poop because when I was college-age, I was guarding, not only those nukes, but I was securing high value aircraft, moving National Security materials around the country and protecting VIPs with rifles, grenades, machine guns, mk-19’s and deciding if others lived or died, some of them merely because they got too far away from each other while working on nuclear bombs (Two-Man concept); but I digress…
As any outstanding unit does, us young troops had a ruthless, torturous, stern, senior Enlisted guy whom we all feared. In my unit’s case, it was a hardcore, scary Master Sergeant named MSgt Watkins. He had us all terrified, but he used to yell some of the most odd comments at us when someone messed up (or thought about messing up). It was like he had a comment for everything, even the things you did right. And I wrote down some of my favorites one night while on a desert patrol at 0330 hrs one morning.
While going through some paperwork in my house recently, I found the list. Now this little 3×5 card has survived numerous moves around the world for over TWO DOZEN YEARS…. Damn (I’m getting old)! And here’s the list of the Top 10 Things Watkins Says:
FORGIVE THE LANGUAGE — IT WAS HOW THE MILITARY WAS THEN.
10 — “That’s Bullshit, That’s Bullshit!”
[…He’d yell this at you when you made a stupid mistake, or for minor offenses like a dirty rifle or if you didn’t check your truck’s oil before you started driving it. You could see his blood pressure rise as he yelled it. Now alot of people say, “That’s Bullshit”, but he’s the only person who ALWAYS said it twice in succession whenever they did. If you made him mad enough. Spit just might exit his mouth and hit your forehead on the “B”…]
9 — “No More Brainfarts!”
[He’d yell this when you couldn’t remember stupid information such as weapons ranges, or structure locations. Basically when you annoyed him, but it wasn’t a mistake worthy of his getting angry over, he’d throw this one out there. It was his way of saying “fix yourself” (which he also used to say). This meant, he was going easy on you because he knows you knew the information, even though you’re messing up at any particular minute.]
8 — “I got an application for BK for you!”
[He threatened alot of people with Burger King Jobs for some reason. And every time he did, it was hilarious! Even if you couldn’t laugh about it because he’d attack you if you did, you still wanted to laugh. You just looked straight forward, avoided eye contact, and thought about something serious because you didn’t want to piss him off by even chuckling. That didn’t work out so well for the people who did.]
7 — “Bottom Line!”
[He used this hourly as a means of calling you stupid, while ensuring you understood him. EXAMPLE; “Bottom line, you need to spend more time on your uniform.” (which means that you looked like a shitbag). If he figured you were too stupid to understand something he was telling you, he would explain it more basically by starting off with “Bottom Line” because you were apparently not understanding what he was saying.]
6 — “No More QC Failures!”
[Quality Control of security around Nukes must be perfect, so you train all the time, take tests, and have training exercises to ensure you know your job. QC failures mean ass-pain for EVERYONE (especially after a FAILURE-because there were fewer people to do the job). He would say no more QC failures prior to any ACTUAL QC failures. It was like a pre-failure threat! ‘and you didn’t want to be that guy who failed. The only thing worse… is if you couldn’t shoot (or if you lost a fight with Soldiers Or Marines and made the AF look bad!]
5 — “If You’re Out There Riding With Airman Snuffy!”
[“Airman Snuffy” was some generic partner that will lead you to do stupid stuff. Example: “If you’re out there riding with Airman Snuffy and he decides lose a grenade, you better be on all on all four right next to him looking for it…” Airman Snuffy is your partner that you shouldn’t trust. He’ll fall asleep and you’ll both end up in correctional custody (read: JAIL)]
4 — “If You Question My Controller, I’ll Cold-cock You!”
[The Controller is an alarm and camera monitor-dude. He tells you where to be, where to go, what to do, and where to aim… as they sit in an armored bunker miles away. ‘Watkins hated when you didn’t do what the controller said or questioned their sometimes stupid directions. Even though you might be right, it was a general rule that you’ll be getting shot, instead of telling the controller “no” (or negative).]
3 — “It’s My Way, Or The Highway!”
[He yelled this term before it became famous… or is it that Watkins HIMSELF made it famous?! Hmmm! This was used to reaffirm his alpha-doggedness amongst a group of people who were alpha dogs-in-training.] You did what he said… or you’d disappear from flight, or be put on a crappy post where you won’t be seen on… It was Watkins’ way. (period)]
2 — “I’m Tired Of Gett’in Fucked In The Ass and Fucked In The Ear!”
[This is for when someone outside our unit finds out something that happened inside the unit… ALL dirt (fights, illegal activity, whatever) is to be dealt with at the lowest level in the Chain of Command possible and that is generally within the flight. when the Old Man (our Commander) finds out, he gets pissed, and he yells at Watkins, and Watkins gets pissed, and yells at us!!! This is the shit that rolls down hill. And if you thought the above ‘Number 8 quote was hard not to laugh at when he’s looking right at you… You don’t even know how funny having this yelled at you is. Especially, when he was angry and ready to beat someone…]
1 – “If It Happens Again, I’ll Make Your Head Spin Off And Fly Up Your Ass!”
[What?! I don’t even know how he created this, but it was pure gold. It was crazy-hard to not laugh when he was yelling it 2 inches from your face and you were too scared to even smile. This means he is pissed. When he got to this level, someone is one step away from being banished, to a jail cell, or remote radar sight in Alaska (… Yea!). If he said this at you, you compromised security in some way. You fell asleep, misplaced your weapons, or someone snuck up on you and took your weapon and handcuffed you (again, hilarious). If you hear this… You are one step away from that Burger King job].
In the end
This was before some of these terms came to vogue and before cussing within the military became mean (and this was nothing). MSgt Watkins was truly an innovator. But not only was he a stern, kinda ruthless, father figure-type guy… He was a figure that helped make me who I am today. He challenged me and made me get better. He looked out for me, and all of us ‘youngins, who were 18-19, and still cooking into men. He helped us deal with those confusing times where people in our unit died… or when people in our unit committed suicide. He sorted us out when we were not acting as a 60-person family should… and he did so with patience, experience, timing, and yes, that bit of fear! I’ve long accepted that I’ll remember him for the rest of my life since I haven’t forgotten him yet… It’s apparent that this one Master Sergeant made an impression on me like no other boss I’ve ever known!
Weird Huh? The things that make us whom we are…