Back in the mid '80s and early '90s I was stationed at Fairchild AFB. I was a navigator and then a radar navigator (bombardier) aboard B-52s. Besides 7-14 hour training flights, usually twice a week, our main mission was to live out at the base for a 7-day stretch, once every four weeks (one week on - three weeks off). We lived in the "alert facility" and would start our alert tour (shift) on a Thursday morning and end it the following Thursday morning. The alert facility was next to our nuclear-weapon-laden B-52s.
Every alert tour, or so, the klaxon would sound and we would run out to our planes, start the engines, decode the messages and then shut down the engines, refuel the planes, and go back to our normal alert routine. The rest of the seven days, we would have some classes to go to. Sometimes, we would be used as a rent-a-crowd for retirements of people we did not know.
As you might guess, we would find ways to occupy our time. Often we would hang out at the base's Buger King, The Burger King was having an "Alf" promotional, and I bought an Alf hand puppet. We placed him atop the rotating beacon on the roof of our six-passenger (6 pack) pickup truck. This truck was used to travel at break-neck speeds back to the bombers, if for some reason we were not at the alert facility when a klaxon occurred. Flashing lights above the streets would warn motorists to pull over because we could be coming their way. Somehow, we were all pretty good at being positioned far away from the alert facility when a klaxon sounded so we could drive at 100 miles per hour up the runway and into the area where our planes were parked.
Alf quickly became an alert force mascot. Soon, like all celebrities, he became a target of extortion and even kidnapping.
I was going through some old papers yesterday and I found this ransome note:
Yesterday, I also found Alf while spring cleaning. His hair grew back. He hasn't aged at all and has settled into a nice retirement. I must have paid the 100 beers.