The World of Mister 4x4
      I Gotta Be Me

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Grab something to drink, this will take awhile.

Where do I start? I guess your 'real' life begins at the end of high school...

Well, I graduated Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, June 1986 and had already joined the Air Force on the Delayed Enlistment Program during my senior year. I studied Drafting, mostly Architectural, to no end in high school and was skilled enough to compete through the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). I had won both Regional and State competitions, then placed third overall in the National Skill Olympics, held in Phoenix, Arizona in June 1986. I was also part of the Opening & Closing Ceremonies team from Alta, and our team had placed 2nd in Regionals, and 1st in State competition - for which we also competed in Arizona that year but failed to place - the other teams were just that much better.

I was promised a drafting career in the Air Force by my recruiter. As most military recruiter horror stories go, I got hosed by the Air Force. My color-vision test failures at the time prevented me from going into the drafting field for the Air Force, so my recruiter suggested I try going in under the Open General category. He had a friend at Lackland AFB (USAF Basic Military Training Center) who was in the career classification field who could authorize a waiver for my color vision and get me into the drafting field. When I got there, this guy was unreceptive to this 'exception' because his friendship with my recruiter had gone sour at some point that he had failed to notify my recruiter of. He had also decided that he would be in charge of my fate with the Air Force and determined that I would become a computer operator - against my wishes of now becoming a Security Policeman, and later an Aircrew Life Support Specialist - hey, like Tom Hanks said in Turner and Hooch, "If you're not involved in flying while in the Air Force, you'll be scraping bird shit off a runway in Guam or something." Ironically, I later passed those color-vision tests - probably not apparent by my choice of colors on these pages, though.

So, after getting my career hopes bent over the table by this toad, I completed Basic Training and was shipped off to Keesler AFB, Mississippi to learn how to become a computer operator. Keesler as a base is not the greatest, but not too bad. Mississippi on the whole wasn't bad, either...but I was there during the crappiest time of the year - December through mid-February. The weather absolutely sucks that time of the year. I'm also told by a good friend who lives there now that Mississippi pretty much sucks.

After Tech School, I was assigned to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, where I spent the next 2 and 1/2 years working in the last non-automated Communications Center in the CONUS Air Force - which sucked beyond all belief. The good news was that Alamogordo, NM (the town outside the base - way outside the base...) was too small, but adequate to pass the time. I discovered just how cool people from different parts of the country could be as I made many friends. I had some girl trouble in there that took awhile to get over and I also bought a 1982 Mustang and poured most of my meager E-2 and E-3 income into it, to transform it from the painfully boring stock model that it was, into the much better, sportier looking version you'll see elsewhere on this site.

I was initially unreceptive to going overseas, but after my Holloman best friend Larry Stirling had shared his experiences overseas with me, I was gaining a new interest in leaving the States. The end of my assignment at Holloman had me going overseas to Izmir, Turkey for 15 months. I had worked with several guys that had been to Izmir, and they raved about the place. Things were looking good, except that I would have to store my car - what a pisser.

August 1989, I reached Izmir and hooked up with another Holloman buddy, Howard Spencer (Spence), and we shared an apartment. I kind of hosed him because later I moved out on him because he was a slob. Of course, so was I, but not to his extent - sorry Dude. I moved in with a co-worker (Bob Earl) and discovered that we were both pretty much slobs as well - oh well, the rent was cheaper with Bob anyway. Hindsight would've told me to stay with Spence...3 words: location, location, location.

My tour in Izmir, was absolutely wonderful. I had a great time, lived like a king (slob) on E-3 and E-4 income, bought a monster stereo and furniture (which I left in Turkey because of the cigarette burns (thanks, Spence) and missed my car the whole time. I had actually put in to stay in Izmir another tour, but that got shot down and I wound up with an assignment to Ghedi-Torre AB, Italy. Cool. Ghedi was an Italian Air Base about an hour east of Milan and 2-3 hours south of the Swiss border just outside of a town called Brescia. My plan then was to come home, get my car, take it to Italy and have a ball living in Europe the rest of my career. Except that after Desert Shield started, I made a mistake at work and nobody caught it. This resulted in me receiving an Article 15 right before I was to leave Izmir. No problem - it was only a 6 month suspended 'bust' and I would be fine if I kept my nose clean during that 6 months. Most agreed that it was crap, but something had to be done and to somebody..."Everybody except Eric take one step back." Time to leave Izmir, and a major bummer... Hello, Italy?

I went home on leave in November 1990, and got my car out of storage. Because I had never stored a car before, I forgot to have my lifelong best friend Bob occasionally start it and drive it around, so when I got home 15 months later, things were going to be bad. All of the engine seals had dried out a bit, causing leaks and all sorts of other problems that had surfaced. So, instead of taking $700 to rebuild the engine and get the car back into shape, I figured I'd save a bundle of money and buy a $7000 4x4 truck. I always have sucked at math...

I got the truck a few days after an NCO called me from Randolph AFB - the Air Force assignment capitol. He asked me if I remembered my assignment to Italy...I asked him what he meant by "remembered..." and he informed me that it had just been cancelled - that Article 15 had just bit me in the ass. He also asked me if I wanted to amend my "Dream Sheet" (assignment preference worksheet) over the phone, and I told him to put down Dyess AFB, Texas, since my pal Bob was currently assigned there - what the Hell, it would be fun to hang out with Bob again.

A few days later I get the call to report to Goodfellow AFB, TX - to which the guy who called me, being in San Antonio, TX, had no idea where exactly Goodfellow or San Angelo was. Nice.

I piled everything into my truck and drove to Dyess to visit Bob and his Fiance', Kim, who was visiting for the holidays. After a few days of visiting with Bob and his buddies, I drove to San Angelo, Texas - home of Goodfellow AFB. This was January 1991, and I've been here since.

Goodfellow on the whole from day one, was a disappointment since the base is an Air Force training base. Everybody I had encountered in my career to that point had said, "whatever you do, don't get stuck on an AETC base." Pissed about losing my assignment to Italy, I soon discovered what they meant by that statement.

Case in point, I was here almost 10 month before the rocket scientists at the Traffic Management Office (household goods shipping) finally figured out how to get my stuff to me (monster stereo, clothes, and everything I owned that I didn't have on or in my truck when I got here). After the packers took what they wanted from my crate, I had lost about $4000 in electronics and various other things from my stuff. They had put the things they wanted on page 2 of my shipping documents and never turned page 2 in to the shipping office in Izmir. Clever. Never got reimbursed, either. Oh well, it's just stuff.

I let a friend borrow my truck while I was on leave later that April attending Bob and Kim's wedding, and came back to a blown clutch, broken window, and missing stereo. That could've been avoided if his friends hadn't blown him off and somehow gotten my truck back to the base, but no - they were too busy having fun and it wasn't their car. He generously payed to repair the clutch, and my insurance company covered the stereo and damage - after some major problems...GEICO was the insurance company - FYI.

Shortly after that, I started seeing this somewhat disagreeable woman I had worked with - we bickered on a daily basis when I first starting working in the Communications Center. I guess what they say about Opposites Attract actually might have something to it. Eventually, things got serious enough for the supervisors to notice and I was moved to a new workcenter - which was a good move from the CommCenter.

After several changes of heart, break-ups, reunions, and overall weirdness that she is more than ready to remind me of to this day, I finally asked her to marry me. This was 7 years to the day when I first wrote this, and despite the occasional 'normal' oddities, worth every day of it.

I would introduce you to her, but she's a private person and I want to make sure we choose the right stuff to post - it's her decision what gets put on this site about her and that's only fair.

About a year and a half after we got married, my Mom was having some financial problems back in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she had taken over my Grandmother's home after she passed on in the fall of 1991. These problems were in no small way attributed to the group of people I'm supposed to call a family. Between moving in and out every few months, not helping with bills, bilking her for money when they could, helping themselves to what little she had without recoup, and trying to make her feel guilty because she wasn't doing more to help them, I pretty much dropped the axe on any relations with these people - mostly because of the crap they put my Mom through, but also as a little bit of future self-preservation - I'd hate to fall into the same situation my Mom did trying to help family members and getting taken advantage of. I won't put up with nearly as much as she did. I know it sounds cold, but when you've been there, you'll understand.

Anyway, we offered her the chance to regroup by coming to Texas and live with us while she got her life back together. We finally moved her here in August 1994. Over the next few years, this caused some tension with all of us, since Mom took this as her opportunity to relax and did nothing to better her situation. She had somewhat of a bad attitude when she got here because now she was living with us and had to adapt to our way of life, instead of us hers. This caused tension between us and even threatened to ruin our relationship as we were not getting along.

Somehwere in there, I also had problems with my Nissan truck and had to get rid of it. I wound up with a basket-case '78 Blazer, which was nothing but trouble and expensive - and definitely not appreciated by my wife - can't say I blame her now, either. I will chalk the Blazer up as a major learning experience - I had never torn a vehicle apart to the point I did with the Blazer up til that time...I guess I wasn't afraid of making it worse or something. But it was a valuable learning experience, and if nothing else, a major confidence builder in my automotive skills. After only 8 months, I found my Jeep and ditched the Blazer.

After about 4 1/2 years, we finally "kicked Mom out" on her own, made her get her own place, job, and life, and she's been doing fantastic ever since. I've actually been feeling a whole lot better about the situation - she had strained our relationship by putting the responsibility of her support in my lap - and we've made the efforts to repair our relationship - well, the problems were mostly on my end because I felt let down that my Mom had basically given up on living life for herself, and felt that I now had the job of making sure she had a good life - and she was only 50. Needless to say, things are better with my Mom and I.

Sometime during the summer of 1996, coming up on the ten-year point of my Air Force career, my wife and I made the decision for me to get out. I was still an E-4 Sergeant and testing for E-5 one last time, to determine if I would continue my mediocre career or get out under the Air Force's new "High Year Tenure" program - which caps all E-4's careers at 10 years. And honestly, if you haven't made SSgt by then, well - you kind of should get out anyway.

Anyway, I took the test, didn't pass (didn't study... didn't care), and received a Severance Pay package on the way out. This helped pay some bills and get us set up to buy a house. We had been renting the whole time we've been married, and that had gotten way old with some of the problems we had with a few of our landlords. Meanwhile, a close friend had a job opening with his company that worked to maintain one of the computer systems on the base, and he offered it to me with the promise of training. I took the job, got the training, and worked in that job for around 9 years, in one capacity or another. I'd changed companies like 5 times as contract obligations change, even though my duties and even my desk remained in-place. In May '04 I took a shot at Civil Service duty for a year... which didn't pan out because of budgeting issues at the base. Another contractor had a presence in the office, and offered to hire all of us temp-hires... which worked out to keep paying the bills for another 2.5 years.  I'd been working toward getting another shot at a Civil Service slot and it came along when the office Chief moved on to a new position with the Comm Squadron, but the squadron went a different direction, despite my unique qualifications for the job. I'd also applied for another position in the Training Group Special Security Office... and somehow actually got it.  Did NOT see that coming, but it turned out to be a much better deal than what I was wanting at the time.  I've been in the position of Information Systems Security Manager since September 2007, and I can honestly see myself retiring in that position, if not moving one step up before I'm finally done. 

My wife is no longer active duty and we'll be here until something comes along to make us move away, so things are working out pretty well for now - except I've long since grown tired of West Texas. I've always wanted a change of scenery, but things have worked themselves out to where I just can't imagine moving away right now - things have worked out to where we're pretty comfortable and I've found some pretty major things to keep me occupied in the way of my involvement with the San Angelo Community Band and Ice House Brass.  I also have a LOT of really awesome friends here, and I can't imagine leaving them any time soon either.  So... I guess I'm stuck... OK maybe more like, pretty comfortably secure in everything I have going on.  I'll never claim Texas as 'Home,' but I certainly don't hate being here anymore.

We bought our house and moved into it right after Christmas 1996 - nice Christmas present, eh? My wife had also suggested I buy another truck, since it was getting old borrowing truck services from friends so equipped. I was worried about having to ditch my Jeep, but she insisted I keep the Jeep and get a 'beater' truck - I chose another 1985 Nissan 4x4. It worked out well on timing since I blew the Jeep's transmission shortly afterwards. Soon after that, her '88 Grand Am was showing its age and we decided to get her another car. We picked out a '96 Z-24 Cavalier, and it was awesome. Then later the next year, after I almost had the Jeep back together, I blew the engine in the Nissan. So in 1998, I learned and practiced new mechanical skills by rebuilding the truck's engine and the Jeep's transmission. Everything's good now.

I've since sold the Nissan, and bought a '97 Dodge Ram 4x4 to replace it after one company change landed me a $7,000 raise. I love the Ram and plan to drive the wheels off it... then glue some new ones on and drive it some more. Back in 2002, we had some severe weather that wreaked $27,000 in damage on us, including over $5K damage to the Ram, totalling her Z-24, and the rest in damages to the new car and house. The first storm forced us to sell the Z-24 and pick up a new car. We found a nice 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix GT, which is just what we need - sporty and bigger, but not a 'middle-age' car. But then the third storm damaged it and our roof as well. We've gotten it all fixed, but still tense up a bit when the storm clouds roll in. The weather in West Texas sucks... plain and simple.  Actually, I have to update and say that I've since sold the '97 Ram, and I'm now driving a 2012 Ram - same truck pretty much, just not 4WD.  I've also restored a 1971 Mach 1 Mustang, which I continue to finish doing little things on it, but mostly enjoy taking it to local car shows and taking joy-rides around town.  Still have a few things to finish up, but it won't take much longer.

All in all, my life has been pretty uneventful up to this point, despite the little nuances that come with the package deal. If given the opportunity to do it over again, I'd have to say No, unless I could change only a few of the crappy things that happened (the whole Drafting thing with the recruiter, the girl trouble, the Article 15, moving my Mom in, stuff like that...), but otherwise, I guess I'm pretty happy. Every now and then when I get down, I think about those who are not as fortunate as we are (you're on a computer surfing the 'Net and reading this after all - which is pretty fortunate if you really think about it), and I feel way better about my life. I've also joined the San Angelo Community Band and Ice House Brass Band, in effort to reclaim some enjoyment from the days when I was in the school band. I've also purchased a couple of horns, so I have my own instruments finally and I'm having a lot of fun with the groups. I see this continuing for many years to come.

Summer 2006 also marked 20 years since graduating high school, and the planning of our class reunion moved right along with the aid of the website I made to help bring the classmates together and get the information out. The reunion was a blast and we had lots of fun. I won an iPod Nano as a prize for having driven the farthest to attend and had fun catching up with a bunch of my old friends. Lots of fun to be sure, but I couldn't help but notice how most of the same people congregated right back toward their little groups.  It was interesting sitting back watching that all unfold.  I guess I really never 'belonged' to any one particular group after all, but rather seemed to get along with just about everybody.

My hopes for the future, other than winning the lottery and making it to work on time, are to eventually be able to move back to Salt Lake City, Utah - as it's on the top of the list of places I want to live - according to my limited geographical experiences. I used to think that was the most important thing on my list, but I think I'm more resolved that I don't want to move back until after I'm in a position where a comfortable income is not an issue.  I haven't ever really lived in SLC while I had to work, after all - pretty much just all been leisure time.  All-in-all, I'm starting to not worry so much about where we end up as long as life stays good. Hopefully, I'll also find a way to become less long-winded as well.

As you read this, please understand that this is only a sample of some of the things that have gone on since leaving the "nest." And since we always key in on the significant stuff that can seem bad, I've forgotten to add the really good stuff here. Here's a lame timeline graphic that hopefully puts this monster novel into perspective. Soon, all of the sections will be linked HTML pages so that you can pick and choose what to read about. Plus, I think it's a more accurate depiction of what's gone on, since this jumps around a bit. Thanks for reading.

    Occupation Job Description Marital Status Housing Non-Professional Affiliations Vehicles    
  USAF Contractor DoD Daily Driver        





3C0X1 Comm. Computer Operator













Holloman AFB, NM






1982 Mustang GL




























Izmir, Turkey


































Goodfellow AFB, TX







1985 Nissan 4x4




















Rental Homes














































1978 Blazer








Wing COMPUSEC Manager
















1980 Jeep

















Concho 4 Wheelers










Hardware Technician










Purchased Home



1985 Nissan King Cab 4x4





















































































ACS Defense

























Lockheed Martin







Concho Valley AITP

1997 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4
















316 TRS










San Angelo Community Band

Ice House Brass

1995 Honda Civic VX





General Dynamics
























17 TRG

Site Info Systems Security Manager




































1971 Mustang Mach 1













































2012 Ram 1500


























































































































































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