I ran into this issue’s vet of the month at the Pocono Mountain Bluegrass Festival, where he was hard at work ferrying band members and their equipment to and from the stage, directing parking, and generally ensuring the festival’s smooth operation. Standing close to 6’ tall, with a long wispy beard, he goes by the moniker Fred T. Buch.
Fred was a member of the Air Force from 1973 through 1993, dedicating twenty years to the service of his country. When he left the service, he had achieved the rank of Master Sergeant, E-7, spending most of his time enlisted as a carpentry technician.
During the course of his service, Fred was stationed in Saudi Arabia. He arrived prior to the first Gulf War, helping to build a camp from which stealth bombers would restock and take off on missions. “We were the first in and then last out,” he recalled. He said that the bombers would take off in the middle of the night, their engines so powerful that the ground would rumble. Luckily, he worked night shift at the time, so they didn’t interrupt his sleep.
After they completed setting up camp, but prior to the launch of the war, the troops had essentially run out of things to do. Fred recounts that they then proceeded to build a nine-hole golf course in the middle of the desert. He remembers during the planning stages for the course that “they were going to buy sand, and I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ ”
Fred’s best assignment, he said, was a tour of Europe, and being afforded the opportunity of learning to ski in the Swiss Alps. His worst experiences involved being assigned to clean up plane crashes in which the pilots were killed. He retold an event in which a plane hit the tip of a mountainous piece of rock and was completely destroyed. The pieces were stored in containers that, when placed end to end, were nearly a football field long.
At the end of the day, Fred is most grateful for the skills he acquired during his time with the Air Force. He was able to build his house from the ground up using what he learned as a carpentry technician. He is now retired, and spends much of his time enjoying Bluegrass events across the Northeast.