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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Believe Bob Wacaster is Our Future...

One of the interesting things about America’s military is that we make every effort to build leaders as early as possible, and at every level in the chain of command. So even in Basic Training, the instructors will assign different folks to be element leaders or put someone in charge of a detail to do laundry and such. These are things that won’t get anyone killed, but will hopefully build some confidence and experience in the event that some young guy has to take charge.

I will never forget the very first person I was assigned to supervise: Airman Robert E. Wacaster. Make no mistake, at age 18, we are all goofy (regardless of how cool we think we are), and even at the mature, worldly and sophisticated age of 22 or 23, I know now that I was a total goofball. Some would argue that I still am, but that isn’t the point. So when given the order to lead, I genuinely took it as a necessary mission and an honor to mold this kid into the real professional that I for some reason thought I was. Oh pity the young airman who is thrown to the wolves in the form of a first time supervisor.

I shan’t share the gritty details, but oh the stories I could tell about Bob’s antics, mostly very funny in retrospect. I think there is some sort of Doctor – Patient or Lawyer – Client confidentiality that must be observed when we supervise people, so I’m probably bound by that for at least several more years. But I will tell you that my supervisors at our Air Base in southern Italy were constantly on me to convert Bob into their ideas of what an airman should be.

My second subordinate was a girl name Estell. She was slightly crazy as I recall. At one point, I ordered Estell and Bob to get married because I felt like as a couple; they would be easier to supervise. I guess they asked around and found out I wasn’t exactly authorized to order them to marry, so the nuptials were never solidified.

Anyway, this was all back in the mid to late 1980’s and there was a popular Whitney Houston song out called “Greatest Love of All”. The opening lyrics to the song go something like:

I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way, Show them all the beauty they posses inside.”

Well being the creative genius I am, I adapted Whitney’s song and sang a slightly different version:

I believe Bob Wacaster is our future, train him well; put him in charge. Motivate him and someday he’ll become a Sarge.”

So when my superiors would call me up and ask how things were going with Bob, I would routinely begin singing this little tune to them. It was funny the first few dozen times, but soon become old. Even when I wrote additional verses to include such topics as vomiting on people, illegal birds in dorm rooms, and refusal to iron one’s uniform, the leadership did not appreciate my levity.

Okay, so why do I bring this up now, twenty-something years later? Just the other day I was sitting at work chatting with a co-worker and I began to sing my version of Whitney’s song and one of my colleagues asked whatever happened to that Wacaster guy. Yes, we do tell war stories where I work, Attorney - Client privilege or not.

I whipped out my Google and typed in the name, Robert E. Wacaster and just as I thought, found that he had gotten out of the Air Force after his 4 years were up, moved to Las Vegas and began life as a Black Jack Dealer. I knew that much from mutual acquaintances.

What I did not know was that Bob went on to write several books and can be found on Amazon. Yes, I’ll be making a purchase and who knows, perhaps he will autograph one for me with some sort of thoughtful inscription, “To Dave, My most influential supervisor” or some such nonsense.


Robert Wacaster said...

Wow. Influential supervisor, huh? You'd never recognize me now. As of today (May 5, 2010) I've been clean for 15 years. No, I don't mean I bathe now (I actually do) but I haven't had a drink in 15 years. If you do order some of my books, read Frigate: November. Yes, it's a navy book, but you'll recognize an airman.


now i'm going to have to read bob's book...why do I think i'll like it..

Maureen said...

Very cool.

Dave said...

I ordered both Frigate and Casino, so well see if I can recognize any nuggets from the past.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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