Having signed my name on the dotted line, I soon found myself arriving in San Antonio, Texas to be herded onto a bus bound for the Medina Annex of Lackland Air Force Base. This was certainly an ignominious beginning for the career of the distinguished pilot I had hoped to become. It was the middle of the summer and my first visit to Texas. The heat was overpowering to a life-long New Englander such as myself. As soon as the bus unloaded at Lackland, I knew my life was going to be very different. I managed to follow instructions closely enough not to be singled out for excessive verbal abuse by any of the instructors and soon made friends with some of my comrades under distress. We quickly learned that the object of the game was to work together, cooperate, and form a cohesive unit which could withstand any of the abuse heaped upon us. We got a lot of practice. Military basic training is humbling, demeaning, and hard physical stress. In addition to rigorous physical training, officer trainees must carry a full load of academic courses.
Despite the seriousness of the whole situation, what the Air Force essentially had here was 300 reasonably clever people who figured out very early how to play the game ("yes, Sir", "no, Sir", "thank you very much, Sir"), but all of whom had only one goal in mind: get through this nonsense so we can go fly airplanes. We did a lot of pushups, ran a lot of miles, kept our dormitory cleaner than the average hospital operating room, and generally had no time for anything else. We had to march in formation everywhere we went and, above all, avoid laughing or even smiling when some stern-faced instructor said something incredibly stupid. Although we thought we weren't taking it very seriously, we actually were doing exactly what the Air Force was programming us to do; pull together to face the common "enemy". My Flight only got caught once in a minor transgression when the person who was directing our march back to the dormitory after classes used the command "Hippity Hop, Flight Stop" instead of "Flight, Halt". He was unfortunately overhead by a loser Captain (an Air Force Captain, who is not a pilot and is an instructor at OTS, is a loser by definition) who was somewhat outraged. Our punishment was 4 hours of "remedial drill" the day before graduation on pavement hot enough to melt the soles of our boots.
The transformation which is wrought by this process is amazing . By graduation, I, like my fellow officer candidates had gained an immense amount of self-esteem, self-confidence, and esprit de corps. We were ready to take on any challenge. Because of the nature of this training, I did not have much freedom with a camera and only a few pictures are available: