The Misadventures of Airman Snuffy McDufflebag and Master Sgt. Johnny Mentor

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- I usually have lunch with Master Sgt. Johnny Mentor every other week and he tells me the stories about the Airmen he supervises. He has five Airmen and according to him most of them are good, hard working people. Occasionally he says he has to "kick them in the pants," I toned it down since we have children who read our publication, but for the most part he says they work hard to try to learn and enforce Air Force standards. 

Unfortunately for Sergeant Mentor, he has an Airman which he calls, "a habitual line stepper," named Snuffy McDufflebag. 

Before the Fourth of July weekend, Col. "Tip" Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander, informed the base of the recent rash of car accidents which occurred across U.S. Air Forces in Europe, including one involving an Airman who had just PCSed from here. 

Sergeant Mentor held an informal office call with all his Airmen and told them that Incirlik had seven minor vehicle accidents in recent weeks. He also reiterated what the commander mentioned about driving safety on his weekly radio show, Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. Shameless plug, I know, but good music and topics ... I digress. 

Anyway, Sergeant Mentor also informed his troops that motor vehicle incidents continue to be the single greatest threat to our USAFE and Incirlik family. According to Sergeant Mentor, more than 65 percent of the mishaps in the command are caused by either excessive speed as it relates to the road conditions or by drivers not paying attention. He told them to watch their speed as they travel and that defensive driving and vigilance remain the primary countermeasures against accidents. 

He told me he asked them all individually what they would be doing and told them all face-to-face to be safe and come back in one piece. 

Well, everyone returned in one piece except one, Airman McDufflebag. While at a barbecue at a friend's house, Airman McDufflebag was asked if he could go and get some ice from the Shoppette. He thought since he had only drank a couple of Zimas that he would be fine to drive to the Shoppette and back. While at the Shoppette, a friend of his bet him he could beat Snuffy back to the barbecue by taking A Street while he took D Street. 

Snuffy thought back to what Sergeant Mentor told him and could only remember that he only had a 65 percent chance of winning unless he sped excessively while on offense. This seemed right to him so he accepted the challenge. 

Airman McDufflebag jumped in his Suzuki Sidekick, it's a Jeep or at least some sort of imitation of a Jeep, and started to race back to the barbecue. He flew through the streets of Incirlik narrowly avoiding pedestrians and bike riders. Sergeant Mentor was out walking his dog in Phantom Housing when he noticed Snuffy's blue Sidekick turning the corner. Unfortunately, young Airman McDufflebag lost control of his vehicle and rolled it three times into a ditch. 

Luckily for Airman McDufflebag, since he was at least smart enough to wear his safety belt, he walked away with minor bruises. He didn't have to go to the hospital because he already had ice in his car from going to the Shoppette earlier. But now his license is revoked, his vehicle is totaled and he has to figure out a way to pay to ship his car back or turn it over to the Turkish government. 

Sergeant Mentor said Airman McDufflebag was also fortunate that he only injured himself and no one else. One unwise decision, led to a very bad weekend, even with all the facts and being prepared to make a wise decision, Sergeant Mentor's Airman still chose to do the wrong thing. "You can lead a horse to water ... but you can't make them mow the lawn," Sergeant Mentor said. Wha? 

Anyway, I thanked Sergeant Mentor for sharing his story with me. Being informed about driving safety and the consequences helped me to be a better sergeant and hopefully it will help you too. Unfortunately, I have a feeling Airman McDufflebag will probably be at it again, because as you know he is a "habitual line stepper."