Laundry Duty Made Memorable                               Rick Boyd

Looking back on a life (mostly) well spent, it’s hard to choose from among the multitude of experiences at USAFA and in the “real Air Force.” But, I believe the following vignette will resonate with the majority of ’74 grads:


I spent my doolie year in CS-40 – among Ali Baba and 40 Thieves! (As later discovered during the honor scandal of 1971, “40 Thieves” was a most appropriate epithet for some members of the upper classes in CS-40 at that time). We lived at the extreme west end of the New Dorm (now Sijan Hall), on the second floor.  One of the duties of the squadron doolies, you may recall, was to retrieve laundry/dry cleaning weekly and return it to the squadron area.  For CS-40, our pickup point was on the ground floor (underneath the dorm), at the eastern end of the New Dorm (close to Mitchell Hall).


One fine early spring day in 1971, C4C Boyd and another member of our class were assigned laundry pickup duties for CS-40. We dutifully reported to the designated pickup point at the proper time, and retrieved our wheeled racks of hanging clothes. We started our trek back toward Ali Baba country, pushing those racks of clothes while appropriately “braced.” We hadn’t gone far, however, when the spirit moved us - there were no upperclassman in sight - and our military bearing devolved into an all-out skating match with the laundry carts! I believe I was leading as the ‘vators to the CS-40 area came into view.  Unfortunately, just as we approached those ‘vators, the most feared firstie in CS-40 appeared above the terrazzo railing and shouted down, “YOU MEN, STOP RIGHT THERE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE, I’M COMING DOWN!” As terror struck our hearts, we did what any other doolie would have done at that point: we pushed those laundry carts as fast as we could to the next ‘vator, hoping against hope that we could deliver them to the CCQ and escape to the safety of our rooms before facing the music for our egregious infraction against Fourth Class conduct! Alas, fate was not on our side, as the offended firstie emerged from the ‘vator and confronted us. He was outraged that any squats could have dared to engage in conduct so unbecoming of a USAFA fourth classman – so outraged, that as punishment, he ordered us to report that afternoon for a special inspection (SI) to the most feared third classman in the New Dorm!


Resigned to our fate, we dutifully reported in Class A and under arms to C3C X at the appropriate time for our 15 minutes of hell. As he closed the door to his room, we sucked in a deep breath in anticipation of the worst experience of our doolie year to date. Imagine our surprise, as soon as the door closed, when we were told to relax! C3C X said, “What you guys did shows a degree of courage that should be rewarded, not punished. C1C Z is a real jerk* (note, actual expletive deleted), and this SI will reflect how I actually feel about your actions today.”  For the next 14+ minutes, we had a completely cordial conversation about USAFA, the fourth class system, and our future lives in the “real Air Force”! And, C1C Z was never the wiser, as he was assured that the two miscreant doolies had been punished severely!


Bill Van Horn

9491 South Johnson Court 

Littleton, CO 80127


303-948-8435   work

303-596-3615   cell


USAFA Class of '74 - published a book of our experiences for our 40th reunion!



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USAFA '74 Class Reunion Book