'Rainbows' and 'Pings'

In March 1968 I felt I needed a break from classrooms and professors’ lectures of all sorts. A need for men was reflected by the fact that in high school all boys took a U.S. Air Force Aptitude exam. The test score results were kept safe “somewhere” for future use.
After meeting with a recruiter, I was eventually sworn in and had a plane ticket for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. There we learned the basics, including how to properly march.
I recall our flight of 40 new Airmen didn’t quite perform as we should have. We were marching as a unit across a large field, including changes of direction and making turns as a unit. As we were precise and a straight line unit, the Training Instructor’s command “Flight, Halt!” was called. Evidently, the command was not heard by all. The back half of the unit did indeed halt, but the front half continued to march straight ahead for about 30 yards before one of them recognized the problem. Needless to say, it never happened again.
I didn’t realize we newbies were nicknamed “Rainbows” because of the variety of civilian clothing colors we had those first few days. Once we got our uniforms, our first stop was the barber which took two minutes and cost two dollars. Our second nickname was “Pings” – the sound of hair growing back!
After four years in the Air Force, and with the help of veteran benefits, I completed my college degree in technology as well as an MBA.
Looking back, I feel the Air Force was a great choice for me.

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