Don Chapin

Reading “The Cost of Loyalty” by Tim Bakken, a professor at West Point, a book which largely dealt with upper-rank military malfeasance with a good deal of the same within the ranks of military academy students,, despite their sworn motto of honesty, somehow reminded me of one of my own situations in school.

After gambling a second four-year enlistment for the program, I had been accepted into the USAF Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP), and was on-campus at Oklahoma State University along with a slew of other military, some AECP like myself (still enlisted) and a number of commissioned pilots, sent to the university to get their bachelor degrees under a new edict that all officers had to have at least a bachelors degree.

A school requirement was for all engineering students to pass two chemistry courses and I had already suffered through the first one (chemistry IS NOT “my thing” 🙂 when the senior officer on campus struck a deal to have a retired professor conduct a two-week summer cram course for the second course requirement toward the BS.

The professor started the course with a test to see “where we were” on the topic, then did the best he could to convey a semester’s course material to us during the next two weeks. I learned that the officers had daily study sessions together, but, of course, being the only enlisted student in the class, I wasn’t invited and did my best to study the material on my own.

End of course test time. The very first glance I had of the final test, it all became clear because it was exactly the same “test” the professor had started the course with “to see where we were.” The officer/pilot group wasn’t studying the course material, but reassembling the test and studying THAT, “forgetting” to invite me to their sessions since I was still an enlisted troop, while they were commissioned.

That was OK, since I did get a passing ‘C’ grade for the course… most likely the only ‘C’ of the course and probably awarded by the professor in a moment of pity. 🙂

Is it any wonder why I refer to my own later commissioning as a 2Lt, from an enlisted SSGT rank as the only “demotion” in twenty-plus years?



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