Changing from smartass to airman

During my second week of Air Force basic training in 1960 at Lackland Air Force Base, I was still a smartass.
While most, if not all, in my squadron were "scared to death" of the drill instructors yelling at us personally or as a group, I still considered their insults a joke.
Once, when the squadron was taking marching drills, the drill instructors berated us about how lousy we were. At one point a drill instructor yelled, "Do any of you think you can do a better job at this?" Well, because I was inconspicuously in the middle of the group, I yelled, "Yes, sir!" Everyone else had replied, "No, sir."
The drill instructor heard a "yes, sir" and demanded to know who it was, but I remained silent. This was repeated two more times until he repeated his original question and I again said, "Yes, sir." As soon as I said it another drill instructor had now located me and I was told to take over the marching of the troops.
As I now faced the squadron I proudly and loudly commanded them to left face, forward march, column left and column right. All went well and the troops were giving me extra effort to make me look good.
We were getting close to a highway, and I wanted them to reverse their direction, so I commanded them to "about face" instead of "to the rear march." It was right out of an Abbott and Costello movie as they all went in different directions.
I was given a few evenings of mopping floors and the other recruits were mad at me for causing them extra punishment. It gave me time to think, and I realized I had better stop being a smartass because it affected the others. I then became an airman.
My "buddy system" friend Dave Krug still repeats this story to my kids and friends.

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