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Military/VIP Confusion - About 1966 +/-


The Bergstrom/Austin Council that I helped to create had- many positive sides, one of which was the trips to the Fire Power Demonstrations at Eglin AFB in Florida. After watching the newest and best that the Air Force had, it was one particular return trip that turned out to be fun-and interesting.

One of our Austin members of the Council was Rex Shields, the distributor of Jax Beer in Austin. The brewery for this fine product was in New Orleans. Rex asked me to ask the Brass out at Bergstrom if they thought that they could arrange for an overnight stop on the way home in New Orleans. If so, he would arrange for the Jackson Brewing Company to host us for a dinner and tour at their brewery.

Bergstrom officials checked on an Air Base at which to land and park the plane, so long as we would take care of our own hotel bill. I knew that our folks wouldn't mind that, so the plan was put in place.

Traffic was bad leaving the Fire Power Demonstration (there must have been 250 buses there), so we were a little late getting to our plane. We also had to wait in a pretty long line to take off. The Colonel flying the plane soon realized though that we would not be able to keep our New Orleans schedule if we landed at the Air Force Base because it was quite a distance from downtown New Orleans and the Jackson Brewery. So his mind started working.

He checked his maps and found a Navy base that was close in, and called for permission to land there. Permission was granted. In order to further expedite things, the Colonel and his crew all changed into civilian clothes which they wanted to wear for our visit to downtown New Orleans and the brewery. He also informed the Navy Base of the really important VIP's that he had aboard, and asked them to have sedans waiting for us when we arrived. I think we needed seven cars, and they were waiting for us when we got there. Most were driven by Naval Officers, since regular drivers were off for the day.

I think that the personnel at the Navy Base were somewhat surprised when an Air Force plane landed on a Navy Base, and nothing but civilians came out. But as requested, they drove us to the brewery, and stopped out front, seven military cars in a row. The tourists and natives looked at us with a bit of surprise when they sawall these civilians getting out of military vehicles and walking into a brewery.

But - I suppose stranger things have happened in New Orleans.

Vic Mathias - September 23, 2009