Military Life

Decades later, I fondly recall the really fine holiday noon meals every Christmas and Thanksgiving dished out by the chow hall at Hahn Air Base in Germany during three years serving my “friends and neighbors” in the Cold War.

To be fair, and counter the legends about military chow, the food there was rarely poor, and ranged from OK to “pretty good”  more days than not. But the cooks turned out a really great spread for the two traditional late year holidays.

Turkey, ham, roast beef, dressing, sweet potatoes, even shrimp cocktail, butternut squash, cold jellied cranberry sauce, pumpkin, apple and mince pie, strawberry the works. And the high point of the day, if you were on duty and had to return in less than an hour to humping a flight line of fighter jets in the snow and/or frigid cold for another four hours (or more} with an M-16 on your back.

The chow hall holiday spread was so outstanding that older, married low ranking enlisted guys who intended to stay in the service (“lifers”  we called them} and lived off base “on the economy” in small German towns and and villages would bring their families.

For a nominal fee per head –I’ve forgotten how much — their (sometimes) homely wives and chattering kids could share the great food.

OK, fine.

My last Christmas at Hahn, as my luck would have it, I was pulling duty on a day shift in Area 9 (the “special weapons” storage site) and the other guard and I assigned to “the sterile area” were not relieved to go to chow until near the end of the lunch cycle.

Of course, all the turkey white meat, the cranberry sauce and mince pie was gone.

There’s a phrase in bastardized GI German — “mox nix” — that covers   the situation:

“It don’t matter.”

It means the same as  “S— happens.”

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenny Holston via his Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery, aka "Monty," packed it in a few years back after 38 years as a reporter with the AJC, covering mostly crime and other forms of public insanity, such as political campaigns, strip club crackdowns, and the Georgia legislature. His career includes coverage of zanies that run the gamut from Lester Maddox and J.B. Stoner to Larry Flynt, and crime reporting that followed the 1973 Alday family killings in South Georgia to the execution of ringleader Carl Isaacs 30 years later, and the 20-year saga of Palm Beach millionaire James V. Sullivan, who hired the murder of his estranged wife at her Buckhead condo by a gunman packing a pistol in a box of roses. Montgomery lives in a Decatur condo with his wife Linda and their Boston terrier.