Open foot..Insert Mouth
Quick story time today as I am all over the place this week.
In late 2002, Billy G was the Training Officer for the Squadron. At that time, I was still the Pilot Scheduler. I say still because I was an absolute train wreck as a scheduler. I can be a detail guy but the schedule was in constant flux and my talent isn’t being anal and keeping up with all the changes. So invariably, something would change and I wouldn’t update the schedule properly and either someone would show up to fly and not be on the schedule or they wouldn’t show up and they were on the schedule. Honestly, it was a deficiency of talent combined with a poor attitude.
Anyway, I walked over to Billy’s office and he was reading a training report for a new pilot that had finished UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training). Billy asked me to close the door and I sat down. We only closed the door for three reasons. The first was if we were going to talk about the airlines. The second was if we wanted to vent about the leadership. The third which was the most usual, there was something to joke about. We closed the door because it was in poor form to be caught having fun.
Billy handed over the report and I read it. The student was a guy named LT. Shy. Before I even read it, I asked if it was the guy with a brother who was a crew chief. We all knew and loved his brother, he was a quiet guy but always smiling and he was a great guy to take on a trip. We all assumed that the apple had not fallen far from the tree when we hired Lt. Shy. I scanned the report looking for the usual deficiencies but there were none. His daily flying scores were excellent; his check rides went well. His academic scores were good too. His Flight Commander ranking was low but we all knew that the guard guys were always at the bottom because it was a more meaningful ranking for the active duty guys. I finally got to the notes section and there was a comment that “Lt. Shy was extremely demonstrative in and out of the airplane.” But there were no other details other than that single comment.
I asked what that meant and Billy said he had no idea but we would find out when Lt. Shy finished school in the late spring. What neither Billy or I knew was that when Lt. Shy returned from training, we would all be deployed and we wouldn’t meet him until six months later.
Lt. Shy eventually became Shy Dog as I called him that sometime in his first rotation in the fall of 2003. Shy Dog first crewed with Billy on that rotation and as Billy told me got a missile shot at them on Shy Dog’s first takeoff out of Baghdad. In the heat of the moment, Billy dived down towards the ground from the altitude of 100 feet. Richie was the engineer for Billy on that flight. He said that Billy was pulling the shingles off the roofs of the houses because he was so low. They got shot at just as they pulled the gear up and in the heat of the moment, Shy Dog never raised the flaps. Billy commented that he couldn’t get the airplane to accelerate faster than two-hundred fifty knots.
Richie figured it out quickly, it was because the flaps were still down. Billy was going to slow down as the danger had passed, when Shy Dog raised the flaps over the screams of “NO!” from Billy and Richie. The damage had been done and they returned back to our base for a series of flap inspections. For the next ten minutes, Billy learned what the Flight Commander meant when he stated that Lt. Shy was demonstrative as Shy Dog brutally dog cussed himself. That is why I called him Shy Dog.
Fast forward two years later and Shy Dog, Richie, Carl D., Patrick, and Anita were sitting at the dinner table enjoying a grilled cheese sandwiches as Shy Dog for some reason started talking about his favorite Aircraft Commanders. Billy was his favorite, but he loved flying with Russ, Toney, SeaBass, Morgan, Mikey, Pauly, DCM, Jody Jack, Scotty, and so on. As he listed off all of the Aircraft Commanders, Richie kneed me under the table. I looked at Richie and he couldn’t wipe the smirk off his face. I looked at everyone else and they all were holding back their laughter.
I nodded because he had left off one person from his list; me. Everyone knew it except Shy Dog. Carl D. looked at me and we smiled. Patrick looked at Richie and he winked. Anita was holding both hands over her mouth trying not to laugh. But Shy Dog never noticed, he just kept going until he had listed every pilot in the Squadron except me. Richie finally broke the silence. “I guess you don’t like flying with Robbie.”
We all broke into laughter and Shy Dog realized what he had done. He tried to back pedal and say that it was a list of everyone not sitting at the table. He said that iIt should be obvious that I was at the top of the list. Speaking quickly, his face grew redder until he couldn’t hold back the tidal wave of inappropriate words. He cussed himself, he cussed us and he cussed the people he didn’t know at the other tables. He cussed the sky and he cussed the ground. The more we laughed, he cussed. The more he cussed, the more we laughed.
It was the gift that kept giving for the rest of the rotation as someone would tell me that they didn’t think I was as good as any random person in the world. Shy dog would explode on demand and we always laughed. I see Shy Dog from time to time and he always tells me that he didn’t mean to infer that he didn’t like flying with me. Right this second, I am texting Billy and I told him that I am writing this article. Billy says “Excellent. We had some good times. He (Shy Dog) is a great guy to the core.” We all feel the same way about him.
Until next time, keep on rockin.