God Bless Those Georgia Gate Guards

Media was reporting yesterday on an incident down at Robins AFB, Georgia, where base administration had come under fire because the contract civilian gate guards were, upon checking entrants’ identifications, waving them on with a cheerful, “Have a blessed day.” As you could well expect, some disgruntled airman contacted a civilian organization, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which was founded and now managed by a disgruntled former Air Force officer and now lawyer, “Mikey” Weinstein, who are now raising a stink. Yep, know what you’re thinking: The dude wants to be taken seriously in matters of great legal and spiritual import, and he calls himself Mikey?

Reading that news account brought back a memory that has made me laugh for years every time it pops back into my mind. I was a pharmaceutical sales manager handling field sales operations to the military, a job which took me to almost every military installation in the continental U.S. and some foreign located American bases. One of my calls was the Pentagon and to gain access to that huge facility on a routine and repeat basis, one needed to get a laminated photo pass which had stamped in large letters on one side PEN, which I quickly learned was an almost magical “Go Pass Go” identity card. From coast to coast, down to Puerto Rico and Panama and over in Germany that PEN identity card gained me unchallenged entrance to hundreds of military installations. Civilian German gate guards actually snapped to attention clicked their heels and saluted. That Pentagon pass became my magic key that got me onto military installations everywhere.

Until the morning I pulled up to the gate at Robins AFB, GA, the same facility now under media fire. A contract guard in full southern cop regalia right down to the Smoky Bear ranger hat with its brim aggressively cocked down over his face, reached out for my proffered Pentagon pass and gave it a quick glance before pointing to the visitors’ center and snarling, “Git over there and git yourself a visitors pass!”

When I protested that the piece of plastic he was holding permitted me to enter the Pentagon, the military holy city, its Mecca, he thumb-tipped his brim up very slightly, pulled his Sam Brown belt up over his substantial belly and in the perfect image of Buford T. Justice, explained reality to me, “Sonny, that there is a Pentagon pass an’ this here is Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Now git your ass over there and git yourself a visitors pass.”

As ticked as I was at having to go wait in line for a visitors pass, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony that out of all the gate guards from coast to coast and overseas who had breezily waved me through because of that Pentagon pass, it took a good ol’ boy, Georgia cracker to correctly recognize that a Pentagon pass is good only for entrance to that great five-sided circus, not Robins Air Force Base nor any other military installation.

It’s good to see those ol’ boys apparently haven’t changed much, God bless ‘em.

Media was reporting yesterday on an incident down at Robins AFB, Georgia, where base administration had come under fire because the contract civilian gate guards were, upon checking entrants’ identifications, waving them on with a cheerful, “Have a blessed day.” As you could well expect, some disgruntled airman contacted a civilian organization, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which was founded and now managed by a disgruntled former Air Force officer and now lawyer, “Mikey” Weinstein, who are now raising a stink. Yep, know what you’re thinking: The dude wants to be taken seriously in matters of great legal and spiritual import, and he calls himself Mikey?

Reading that news account brought back a memory that has made me laugh for years every time it pops back into my mind. I was a pharmaceutical sales manager handling field sales operations to the military, a job which took me to almost every military installation in the continental U.S. and some foreign located American bases. One of my calls was the Pentagon and to gain access to that huge facility on a routine and repeat basis, one needed to get a laminated photo pass which had stamped in large letters on one side PEN, which I quickly learned was an almost magical “Go Pass Go” identity card. From coast to coast, down to Puerto Rico and Panama and over in Germany that PEN identity card gained me unchallenged entrance to hundreds of military installations. Civilian German gate guards actually snapped to attention clicked their heels and saluted. That Pentagon pass became my magic key that got me onto military installations everywhere.

Until the morning I pulled up to the gate at Robins AFB, GA, the same facility now under media fire. A contract guard in full southern cop regalia right down to the Smoky Bear ranger hat with its brim aggressively cocked down over his face, reached out for my proffered Pentagon pass and gave it a quick glance before pointing to the visitors’ center and snarling, “Git over there and git yourself a visitors pass!”

When I protested that the piece of plastic he was holding permitted me to enter the Pentagon, the military holy city, its Mecca, he thumb-tipped his brim up very slightly, pulled his Sam Brown belt up over his substantial belly and in the perfect image of Buford T. Justice, explained reality to me, “Sonny, that there is a Pentagon pass an’ this here is Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Now git your ass over there and git yourself a visitors pass.”

As ticked as I was at having to go wait in line for a visitors pass, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony that out of all the gate guards from coast to coast and overseas who had breezily waved me through because of that Pentagon pass, it took a good ol’ boy, Georgia cracker to correctly recognize that a Pentagon pass is good only for entrance to that great five-sided circus, not Robins Air Force Base nor any other military installation.

It’s good to see those ol’ boys apparently haven’t changed much, God bless ‘em.