May 9, 2012

Patch-Wearing Wannabees

SrA Stogdill getting the NATO Medal
This picture is of me getting awarded some NATO ribbon in Bosnia for the third or fourth time.  If you think I look anything less than excited you'd be right.  Not only was this the 3rd or 4th time I've been presented this award, which was actually only earned once...and basically it is an "I was there" award, but the Commander had me woken up early from working the night shift to give it to me.  It was his idea to have the picture taken...he made a big deal out of it.

I'm basically using this picture to demonstrate a point in a story I was reminded of today.  Essentially I'm too lazy to take and scan my military ID card for a proper, if not tiny depiction to illustrate my story.

Back in the day I was stationed at Schweinfurt AIN, Germany.  The AIN stands for Army Installation.  If I had to do something regarding the "regular" Air Force I had to hop in a vehicle and drive as fast as possible (about 85 MPH) down the autobahn for three hours to reach Ramstein AFB (Air Force Base, for those keeping track).  Six plus hours of driving to get 15 minutes worth of work done kind of blows, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

One of those things you gotta go is get your Military ID card printed up.  I don't know about now, but back then you had to have the Air Force make your ID card, even though the Army used essentially the same ID card.  The only difference was that there was an Air Force seal on the left of the card.  I guess it was too much work to send some of the Air Force stock to the Army ID card printer.

Can you make out the uniform patches?
In the ID card there is a small picture, not unlike the one used in this header, but tiny.  This is probably closer to what it looks like.  The picture is smaller, but taken a bit closer.  You can almost make out my name and "Air Force" if you know already that it is my name and "Air Force".  In this picture I'm somewhat out of uniform because there should be an Army patch on my left shoulder.  That isn't the Air Force norm, but in my career field we got to wear our Army patches.  Left shoulder for currently supported unit and right shoulder if you went to war with a unit (Combat patch).  You can also make out my specialty badge on my left chest.

Back to my assignment to Schweinfurt.  We had two guys that had to drive to Ramstein to get the new ID badges.  These heroes decided to "patch up" and decorated their uniforms with all the 'high-speed" badges they could get their hands on.  These two guys, but Senior Airmen (same rank as I was in the above picture) had their unit patch but added combat patches, Pathfinder badge, HALO badge, Air Assault, and Combat Infantryman Badges.  I almost forgot the "important" badge they added, the Ranger Tab.  They hid the uniforms in the car and put them on when they got to Ramstein. After they got their pictures taken they'd simply remove all the badges from their uniforms.

You wouldn't be able to actually "read" the badges from their ID card pictures, but if you had any familiarity with the Army you'd know what went where and know most of what they were claiming to have earned.  Worst case you'd probably notice all the badges and think these here high-speed mofos.  Wouldn't mean squat to Air Force personnel, but when needing to show ID around Army folks it might get a few props.

Their assumption, pretty much a correct one, is that the "regular" Air Force wouldn't have a clue these guys were out of uniform or had faked it for their ID card.  They'd see the black beret and not think twice. What these geniuses didn't count on was an actual member of our career field, one of the few who actually worked with the Rangers no less, to be visiting Ramstein AFB that same day.  Ramstein is a big base and even running into someone you know while visiting is unlikely.

These guys were so busted.  One of them managed to make the competition team that year and at the banquet during the national competition he was called out in front of everyone to unofficially answer for his blunder.

Good times....

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