Will the real Sgt. Birdwell please stand up?

On July 14, 1964, I entered the United States Air Force. I was flown to San Antonio for basic training, where I met Airman Coffey. Coffey was a Southern-speaking young man trying to communicate with me, a New England-born teen from Bristol, RI. It was difficult. Coffey had this unique ability to impersonate almost anyone and fool almost everyone. One day my Sgt. Birdwell yelled my name from his office high above our barracks: "Piemontese, get your butt up here and make it quick!" I was scared - what did I do to deserve this command from the sgt.? I knocked on the door and a voice said, "get in here, you piece of dog s---, and make it fast!" I opened the door and there was Coffey laughing his butt off. I joined in the joke and we both left the office with a smile. Later that week I was summoned by Sgt. Birdwell, again with the same request and similar demand, and oh-so-familiar frightening tone. This time I yelled back, "OK, you loudmouth I hear you." I finally knocked on the door and heard the familiar command, "get your butt in here and make it fast." I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming." I opened the door and to my surprise there stood Sgt. Birdwell with a scowl that I would never forget. That is how Sgt. Birdwell finally met Airman Coffey and his unique ability. What a day!

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