By Jerold L. Wanek

It was August 1960 when I checked into Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City. I had been in the Coast Guard a year having spent three months in "boot camp" and nine months going through "AT-N" School at The Naval Air Technical Training Command, Memphis Tenn. I received my Third Class "Crow" when I checked in.

The first week or two as a "newbee" was spent as a "Gofer" and getting familiar with the aircraft and how it is equipped. The "older Salts" in my duty section were real helpful with the questions I had about the aircraft. At the same time they enjoyed playing their pranks on the "new guy." (This is not the exclusive province of the Aviation Branch –jack) I had been around aircraft since I was a teenager so a lot of the stuff they tried to pull such as sending me to get a bucket of "Prop Wash" and other joke jobs I didn't sucker for.

I had been on board about two weeks when an aircraft returned from a night flight. I was assigned to the ground crew and was in the process of doing my job of post checking the aircraft as we tied it down for the night. I was on the starboard side of the plane. After I completed my tasks I walked around to the port side of the aircraft. I noticed the other four guys looking at a puddle on the ground directly under the port engine.They were discussing what the fluid was, either hydraulic fluid or fuel. It was fairly dark so we couldn't see the color of the liquid to identify it. Being the efficient person that I was, I reached down, swiped my finger through the fluid and passed it under my nose to smell it.

Well, to make a long story short, it wasn't gas and it wasn't hydraulic fluid. They finally got me!

We will leave it up to the readers to draw their own conclusions.

Return To Coast Guard Stories