We met in the Air Force at the beginning of Security Training. It was a sort of find your battle buddy situation. We needed to group up for particular training phases. He seemed a little crazy, but I assumed that since he got through the Basic Training portion well enough, he must be stable. He was pretty smart, at least doing better than me on tests and challenges.
He was from Missouri. He talked about his life as a kid growing up there. I believe he was one of the first people I heard calling it Misery instead. There apparently isn’t much excitement going on there. But he tried to make the best of it as much as he knew how. He said he lived in the country and that they liked to fight out there every so often for entertainment. They would line up or circle their cars around a makeshift arena and have a fight. I don’t how it went exactly, but it did sound too hostile to me.
We both went through the first portion of Security training in Lackland AFB near San Antonio in February and March. The weather was beautiful and not too hot. I remember one odd thing he did towards the end of training was signed up to donate $25 of his paycheck to charity. I never believed in donating to charity and was astounded that he would do such a thing with such little pay at the start. It seemed for anyone to do. We got paid twice each month, if I remember correctly. But maybe it was. Weekly, I forget.
Either way, we finished up in Lackland then were flown to Fort Dix to train with ARMY Rangers to learn war techniques. It was significantly chillier there I noticed. Me and Joe hung out a little more and he came up with many ideas for getting into trouble. One weekend we took a taxi to Seaside Heights which was outside the range we were allowed to travel from Fort Dix. But it was pretty cool to see, even though it was risky.
Joe kept getting into all kinds of trouble with the Army Rangers and I was guilty by association. One of the Rangers pulled me aside and mentioned and told me that I should keep my distance from Joe because he is too much trouble. I didn’t feel like I was really involving in the trouble directly. I just followed it along without any real participation in it. But that was it.
At the end of training, we graduated and went to our separate bases. I was stationed in Louisiana and he was was stationed in Florida. We talked on the phone a couple times. He mentioned that we should meet up sometime. He said something about driving to meet each other. I thought about doing it for some time, but it just didn’t make much sense to drive so much for doing very little in a strange part of the country. I declined and that was the last time we talked.
Later at my second base, I talked to a Sergeant who knew Joe in Florida. He told me about how he robbed some liquor stores and was put away in the brig for a long time. I couldn’t believe it, but it made sense. Joe seemed a little crazed for some reason. I didn’t understand it. But he kept things interesting during training. He just pushed his limits too much.