18 September 2023

"Screamin' Meemies"

A teacher is someone you normally hold in high esteem.
If they're good at their job they give you information you can use to make your life better...
And that information may put money in your pocket, or even be used to save your life.
I suspect we've all had some good teachers and some not-so-good teachers.
I certainly have.

My first (primary) teacher/instructor in flight school was a Viet Nam Veteran, and he was a GOOD teacher. He taught me for two months and from him I learned the basics of flying a helicopter.
I learned quickly, and he sent me solo around the traffic pattern before most of my classmates.
My next instructor at Ft. Wolters, TX was NOT such a good teacher.
He was also a Viet Nam Veteran. But for the next two months I had to deal with a guy shouting and belittling me while I tried to learn the more advanced stuff I needed to know; (formation flying and confined area landings and takeoffs.)

In spite of his abusive instruction I satisfactorily completed the course.
And at the end of the course it was customary to gift your instructor with a bottle of the good booze of his choice.
I don't remember what "bad instructor" wanted as his gift. Heck, I don't even remember his name.
I DO remember he invited me and my "stick buddy" to a get-together at his apartment in Dallas, almost an hour's drive from Mineral Wells, Texas.

The two of us showed up at bad instructor's home and the caps from several bottles of alcohol were removed.
"Ever hear of 'Screamin' Meemies?'" asks bad instructor.
I had not. Nor had my stick buddy.

Turns out Screamin' Meemies is sort of a party game. A "shot" of alcohol is poured into a metal shot glass. A match is hovered over the shot of booze until it is set afire. Then the object of the game is to drink the shot of burning (whatever), then lick the bottom of the shot glass clean so that no drip of the alcohol will fall from the shot glass if it is inverted. If the shot glass drips, the procedure must be repeated.
I failed at the task until I finally realized how much trouble I was in and refused to play anymore.
By the time we left bad instructor's apartment I could barely walk to my new Oldsmobile 442 even though I had an hour's drive to get back to my home.
I don't remember much about that drive. I did not get stopped by police. I did not hurt myself or anyone else.

Without a doubt this sort of behavior happened MANY times to those of us headed to Viet Nam.
Without a doubt MANY of my contemporaries didn't make it to Viet Nam due to this sort of stupidity inflicted on us by "bad instructors".

Four months later I finished my flight training and was awarded my Silver Wings. A year later, upon completion of my tour in Viet Nam
I returned to Savannah, Georgia as a Flight Instructor.

I hope I was NOT a bad teacher..


Old NFO said...

I think we all encountered at least one of 'those' instructors at some point in our careers... And many were alcoholics as a way of dealing with their demons, because there was no way they were going to talk to the doc and get grounded.

Flagg said...

Just stumbled on to you Blog and saw you were another victim of the famous Flaming Memmie. While I was not a pilot I was a Spec5 door gunner on B/C model gunships. 2-1/2 years on two tours withe 116th AHC out of CuChi. Being a E5 allowed me access to the NCO and real alcohol. The flaming Deaths were just challenges as the night got later. The other little challenge consisted of the call Stinger Toast (Stingers being the gunship platoon) and everyone had to chug whatever they had in their hand at the time. Very bad things happened over the years. I would be curious who you flew with. Glad you made it home. Just so you will know I tell people the two groups I respected more then ourselves were Infantrymen and Dustoff crews. Very tough breed! Take care Sir!

Greybeard said...

Wow George.
Wonderful comment!
I landed at Camp Enari in Pleiku in November of '68 and was assigned to the 4th Division Support Gun Company, the "Gambler Guns". The Division CO looked around and saw that 40 pilots had arrived in his Division in one month and he DID NOT want to lose all those pilots one year later. So he infused a bunch of us to other units around the country.
I ended up with the "Warlords", the Gun Support unit for the Americal Division at Chu Lai, initially flying Charleys but transitioning to Snakes four months before my Deros.
Best thing that ever happened to me! We were housed right on the South China Sea and had a beautiful view out the back door of our hooch.
Welcome home Sarge! THANK YOU for keeping us alive, and also for your comment.