The Major’s Volkswagon

My first assignment as a young Air Force captain was as the Chief of Security and Law Enforcement at James Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas. I was a stickler for enforcing base traffic regulations, and vigorously backed my patrolmen on every ticket they wrote. One frequent violator was the Base Civil Engineer, a major. As a result, I was especially exasperated when the base commander, who just happened to be the Major’s next door neighbor, would call and instruct me to give the Major a break due to the unusual requirements of his job. My men would continue to write the Major parking tickets and tickets for leaving the keys in the ignition of his unattended automobile; the Base Commander would continue to call and instruct me to “take care” of the tickets.

The Major drove a vintage Volkswagen Bug, and as the Base Civil Engineer, he felt that he had not only the privilege, but the sworn duty to park wherever he pleased on base. We had recently had a series of automobile thefts on base, as a result of drivers negligently leaving their keys in the ignition of their vehicles when they left them unattended. To eliminate this black mark from the Theft and Recovery portion of my yearly law enforcement reports, I instructed my patrolmen to be especially vigilant for this infraction. The Major continued to be a frequent violator.

One morning, arriving early for the Monday morning staff meeting, I was quite irritated to find the Major’s vintage Volkswagen Bug, with keys in the ignition, parked in the Base Commander’s parking space. It was too much for a young captain to bear. I called the security police desk and requested that a patrol meet me at the base dump, which was located on the back side of the base. I drove the vintage Volkswagen bug there, parked it in a prominent location, and put a parking ticket on the windshield. I then had the patrol take me back to Base Headquarters, in time to take my seat just as the staff meeting started. My assigned seat, as the Base Chief of Security and Law Enforcement, was next to the Base Civil Engineer. As I sat down, he handed me a note:

“You don’t have to worry about my Volkswagen any more. I sold it to the Base Commander.”

Needless to say, I missed the rest of the Monday morning staff meeting.


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