Memories of...French Air Force Academy Cadet Exchange Program (L'École de l'Air)

Scott Baxter

I didn’t go to France, but merely hosted Bruno Berthaud and helped him on the rare occasions that he needed it. His command of English was excellent and he had no difficulty adjusting to the Academy or the United States. I recall one of his comrades was very excitable and got upset more than a few times over minor things. Bruno and I have maintained contact over the years. We visited them in Paris once and they came here once. We recently received an invitation to go to his son's wedding in January and I would love to do that but don't think we will be able to go. – On a funnier note, one day several of us were walking down one of the corridors in Vandenberg and one of the French cadets spotted a sign outside a Firstie’s room. The sign read "CONS." The French were flabbergasted and asked what it meant. I explained it to them and they reciprocated by explaining to me that, in French, it’s a vulgar word for a female body part.

 

Jim Carlson

CS-33 hosted Bruno Dauchet from the French Air Force Academy. Jon Ball was his roommate and sponsor. One day, as Jon, Bruno, and I were walking to the athletic fields, and crossing the ramp behind the old dorm, Bruno suddenly got the case of the giggles. We asked him what he thought was funny, and he pointed to the black-on- yellow road crossing sign. It said “Ped X’ing”. “So?” we asked. Bruno then proceeded to inform us that in France, “ped” was slang for pedophile.

 

Colt Mefford

At one point, Bruno Dauchet hung around with us and another of his French Cadet buddies (Dominique Jamaux or “Domi”). Either Bruno or Domi decided that he needed a shaving kit – something a bit more sophisticated than the blue nylon five-and-dime Dopp Kit bags we were issued. So, a bunch of us headed downtown to the Citadel Mall on our way out to paint the town blue. I think it was me, Jon Ball, Mike Narkiewicz, Terry Kemp and the two French guys.

We dropped into the main “anchor” store (Macy’s?), and rolled over to the Men’s section and Toiletries. Domi, I think, then leaned over the counter towards the quite attractive young lady behind it, and says in his best, sexiest, accented voice, “I would like a douche-bag...” One very confused sales girl . . . and immediate panic on the part of us ‘mericans around him . . . with four guys simultaneously talking . . . all saying something to the extent of, “Ah . . . no, what he wants is a shaving kit, a Dopp Kit . . .” Eventually the confusion was resolved. Domi couldn’t be blamed. As cadets, we called our shaving kits “douche-bags” – semi-rude and insulting, and in keeping with most of the cadet lingo. This of course, made perfect sense to Domi and the other French cadets, since the word “douche” in French means “shower.” They were again rather surprised at the language differentials, especially on finding out the true purpose of an American douche-bag.

 


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