Not long after my arrival in Virginia and I took my place on night check, Andy called me with the news that he had bought a bus ticket and would be arriving shortly after Valentine’s Day. I immediately began to panic as I was not a high enough rank to live off base. Andy did not drive or have a vehicle and me getting him to and from work feasibily highly limited his employment options.
The weeks that lead to his arrival caused my anxiety to continue to raise over where we would live, but I was otherwise estatic over his arrival. I seemed to be settling into my new position on night check fairly well and had just gotten the routine down when my supervisor told me at shift change the following Monday I would be checking into FRAMP school, which was located in a small hanger across the parking lot from my command. I was perterved at having to change my schedule back to day time hours but I was excited to gain new skills to enhance my career, and I wanted to make my command proud.
The following Monday I reported to FRAMP as instructed and reported to my assigned classroom. Our instructors introduced themselves and I was informed the first class in charge would shortly become my new lead petty officer of our shop after my class graduated; I had to make a good impression. We were divided into new duty sections and given a breakdown of our instruction over the next several months. Some of the topics seemed interesting, but most were very dry. I left that first afternoon semi happy to be on a school schedule but missed my night check buddies.
I quickly made friends with others in my class and we began spending time together out of class. We decided to go camping one weekend so I bought camping supplies and off we went. Many adventures were had during this time and I was relieved to have a distraction until Andy arrived. We went kayaking across the Bay, hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, camping at Crabtree falls, going to the gun range, or spending time in our favorite local pubs and breweries. Andy did not usually seem to mind my trips and I loved being off base.
I was doing well in my courses and time was drawing closer for Andy to board his bus when I got a call from my former college roommate, the one that introduced me to Andy. She was in town visiting her dad and wanted to get together. I of course responded that I would pick her up after class that afternoon. I could not wait to see an old friend and I was eager for class to let out so I could go get her.
When I arrived at a nice upper middle class neighborhood in Virginia Beach to pick her up I quickly realized why she had so much animosity toward her father. Her mother’s home was a small townhome and nothing special. She came running from the house and jumped in my car excitedly. We began to catch up as I drove towards a friend’s home; to secure alcohol as we were both 19.
Her favorite drink was always tequila and I never had any luck with it. Reluctantly she talked me into drinking some with her for old times sake and eventually Andy called to check in. He was not thrilled about my company or the fact that I was near black out drunk at another males home. We began to argue and my friend tried to grab the phone to speak with Andy. When she did, I tripped and my foot remained under the couch I was standing next to. I went flying face first down the hallway and got carpet burn all over my face and arms.
I had no idea how bad my injuries looked until the next morning when I woke up still intoxicated and had to drive to base for school. I arrived to class reeking of alcohol and my future LPO shot me a disgusted glance. He asked me what happened and I stammered, “Roller blading accident, Petty Officer,” as my cheeks burned under my scabed and swollen face. He clinched his teeth tightly and said, “Go home, airman!” I looked at him shocked and in horror. I knew I had messed up but I had not meant to make my future supervisor disappointed or angry enough to send me home.
I vowed to become a better student and gain back his respect over the next several weeks. It was fairly easy to do, I thought, but sometimes first impressions are for good. I did not know it then, but I had tarnished myself in his eyes before he ever became my supervisor. It would ultimately become a large part of the reason I did not re-enlist and it absolutely stagnated my naval career.