Memories of...Doolie Recognition

Flip Piontek

I don’t know if you remember any of our “unofficial” recognition rites, but in several squadrons, recognition meant nothing until the upper class put you through THEIR recognition ceremony.

In Stalag 17 as a wad, you were nothing until the 3-degrees sent you to “press a ham” at the cadet command post in the middle of the night. At the time you were deemed ready (normally a freezing day in the middle of the dark ages), a "double horned-back growler" appeared in your room in the middle of the night with instructions to press your cheeks on the command post windows immediately and return to the squadron. As we looked back upon it later, we should have realized that the nights they selected were when 17th Squadron upper classmen were on duty and waiting for us! It all seemed to go surprisingly well until we actually got to command post, dropped our trousers, and all hell broke loose: cameras, whistles and a pant load of scared wads running around the quad like chickens. By the time we got back to the squadron, many of the upper class were waiting for us and were laughing so hard it was a terrific way to lighten the winter.

As a 3rd degree in 24, we were recognizing the smacks with a double-horned-back-growler in the order the firsties determined. They thought it was hilarious when my roommate Larry Crenshaw and I introduced the two-toned, double-horned back, and unfortunately I still have a slide of this grotesque sight (the flash is usually what woke up the next set of unsuspecting smacks)! Since Dino was a slight bit heavier than me, the horns always happened to be white! I will send the slide, but I would expect it will need the same editing as the infamous “squadron shower-spas.”

Fred Basin

As you may recall, we were recognized 4 weeks earlier than any class before us (on 15 April 1972). The announcement was made the weekend prior to the Recognition Dance that it would not be mandatory – and then changed on Wednesday night prior to taps. I decided if I had to go I was going to take a date. My date was 6-year old Miss Laura Crawford, daughter of Major Robert Crawford (USMA '59), my Math instructor. Luckily, he had a prior dinner engagement and didn’t arrive with her until just as the receiving lines were closing at 9. One-star Wally and his wife were VERY interested in this situation and came over to find out what was going on. A friend from CS-08 (Steve Vargo or maybe Steve Chimelski) was dating Laura’s babysitter, so we were double-dating.

We had gone for punch and Steve was returning just as Wally arrives. Wally was informed of her name and that she was a cadet’s date, at which point I walked up and gave her the punch. He was not amused, and they followed us around for most of the time we were there. He even had a table pulled into the center of the floor so they could sit there while we were dancing!

At some point one of the photographers told me Mrs. McComas was looking for me in order to meet Laura, so I walked over to say ‘Hi’. She was standing outside the Officers Bar area, and almost killed a couple of guys making her way to us. She was bending over talking to Laura when six officer’s wives encircled us, at which point a photo was taken. That would never do, so Mrs. McComas had the six wives stand in a semi-circle behind us as I stood at attention holding Laura’s hand. That photo, and the guy who took it, were never seen again to my knowledge. I ended up leaving shortly after that, as she was picked up at 10 pm.

The next morning at chapel, I walked out right next to Wally’s car and made direct eye contact with his wife. I took the escape-walkway to CS-34 and noticed his car slowly cruising the line of cadets going to brunch, down and back, to the mess hall. I wonder who they were looking for? I spent years trying to find that photo to no avail, right up until I left in June of 1974. If anyone ever got a copy of it, I think it was General Clark’s wife. She thought we were cute.

That’s my story – and except for 5 of 6 semesters on Ac Pro and flunking out (while getting two A’s that semester), that’s my only claim to fame. I was Mitch McVay’s roommate for most of my 2 years in CS-36 and we were each other’s Best Man. I pretty much lost touch with the class after his death in 1985. I finally finished my BSME in 2001.

Gary Janelli

Early in the morning of our official recognition day, the first classmen in our squadron woke us up way before the rest of the wing to take us on a run. They had spread themselves out from the old dorm to way down to the athletic fields. This way us doolies had to sprint for the entire run as the firsties ran us in shifts.

They appeared very upset and angry at us. They sprinted us down to the baseball field, had us line up shoulder to shoulder with our backs towards the dug outs. Then some of the first classmen proceeded to rip us a new one. We were given the order to about face, and when we did the other first classmen were standing there with our prop and wings and bottles of champagne that the two classes shared together. With prop and wing in hand we then walked back together to our squadron before the rest of the wing was awake.

Later that day I missed the official recognition ceremony for I had a varsity lacrosse game to play.



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