Source: Copied from a Story called “Fiddler’s Green” attributed to the United States Field Artillery Association and adapted to fit the other guardians of peace, United States Air Force Ammo Troops.
(Submitted by Mike Roylance)
We Ammo folks are indeed a very privileged group. In addition to the protection of our Patron Saint, St Barbara, during life, we can look forward to our own special heaven after the sounding of Taps. I refer, of course, to Ammo Alley.
Down through the ages, all purveyors of the fire and members of the ancient profession of Bomb Builders better known as Munitions Maintenance Specialist aka Ammo Troops have discussed this special place in the hereafter, where someday each of us will be privileged to roam. There are as many tales of the Alley as there are of old Ammo Chiefs. The stories are rich with the smell of gunpowder and campfires and flavored with a taste of jungle juice.
Imagine, if you will, a starry night in southwestern Kuwait just after the first Gulf War. Nestled in the shadows of the hangers is a line of loaded trailers staged for the night. As the campfires dim and the flasks of rum and lemon empty, the conversation turns to life in the hereafter. A rugged, old Ammo Chief making his rounds is surprised to learn that all present have not heard of the special destiny of departed Ammo Troops. As the young Ammo pups listen intently, he shares with them the legend of Ammo Alley.
It is generally conceded, he explains, that the souls of the departed eventually end up in heaven or hell. Heaven lies about six miles down the dusty road to eternity, and Ammo Troops get there by turning left at the first crossroad. From this same junction, hell is about eight or nine miles straight ahead. The road’s easy to identify, it’s the one paved with good intentions. A little way down the road to hell, there is a sign pointing to a trail that runs off to the right of the main road. It reads Ammo Alley, Ammo Troops Only.
When Ammo Troops die, their souls are assembled in the munitions storage area where they are turned in to Munitions Supply (FK) to be accounted for. As precious as a silver bullet some are then reissued as new ammo troops at tech school. Others linger in storage igloos until eventually they are told to load their belongings on to a trailer and point their Bob Tail down that long road to eternity and move out at the respected speed of 25mph.
Like most crusty old airmen, they face the call to eternal damnation and pass by the turnoff to heaven. But unlike the others, Ammo Troops are met by a road guard at the next turnoff, the one and only road to Ammo Alley.
The road to hell, which lies beyond, is crowded with Load Toads, Security Police, Red Horse and other maintenance types from all AFSC’s, not to mention the droves of soldiers, sailors and Marines (of course non-Ammo types). But at this point, Ammo Troops bid farewell to their old comrades and those of other branches and services, and wheel their tractors down the trail to the Alley.
The Alley nestles in a large valley spotted with trees and crossed with many cool streams. One can see many earth covered igloos, revetments and several large magazines in the center. Laughter can be heard from afar. At the entrance are several long convoy lines waiting to enter and be unloaded. Those trucks will wait forever as there will be no Frag built tonight.
There is a representative of the MAJCOM Ammo Chiefs on hand to scan the rolls of orders and to attest to the fact that all who are seeking entrance are true Ammo Troops and have attained at least a 3-level. Once certified true Ammo Troops they are met with open arms and immediately given a generous bowl of that immortal nectar jungle juice.
Ammo Alley is a unique place. It is believed to be the only heaven claimed by a professional group as exclusively its own. (Even the Security Police, who didn’t choose Ammo for a career can only claim to guard the gates of someone else’s heaven.)
The Alley is a gathering place of rugged professional airmen. Their claim to fame is that they served their squadrons well and each other selflessly while on earth. The souls of all departed Ammo Troops are camped here, gathered in comradeship. In the center of their countless tents and campfires is an old BX package store where liquor and beer is free.
There are NCO Clubs with dance halls and live music. Credit is good; no questions asked, no club cards needed. There is always a glass, a friend and a song. At any hour of the day or night, one can hear old NCO’s singing Ammo Road and everyone yelling IYAAYAS. Duty consists of full-time R&R. There isn’t even a standby roster. Everything is strictly non-regulation. The chow is plentiful and good, and there is no waiting in line. The main pastimes are dancing, drinking and singing all day, dancing, drinking and singing all night. The Alley flows with beer, rum, whiskey and pleasures known only to a few on earth. The Chiefs, NCOs, and Crew Daddys down through the last ammo pup, all are here. Many are even reunited with sweethearts of their youth.
Periodically, an Ammo Troop feels a compulsion to continue down the road to hell. He bids farewell to his comrades, ties down his gear, fills his canteen, makes adjustments to the placards on his tractor and departs for the main road, turning south toward hell. He was not forced to leave the Alley, but felt he must of his own accord and guilt. But don’t despair! Not a single Ammo Troop has ever made it all the way to hell. His canteen of jungle juice would be emptied long before he made it, and he’d return to the Alley for a refill never again to leave.
The legend of Ammo Alley has been aptly summarized in a brief poem:
Halfway down the trail to hell,
In a shady meandering lane,
Are the souls of many Ammo Troops
Camped in a beautiful valley.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Ammo Alley.
Though others must go down the trail
To seek a warmer scene,
No Ammo Troop ever goes to hell,
Ere he’s emptied his canteen.
And so returns to drink again,
With friends who never tell.
The campfires die out, and the troops doze off to sleep, knowing Ammo Alley awaits them and all their bomb building brethren in the life hereafter.
This, then, is the story of Ammo Alley. There are many versions. This one is representative of them all, compiled from available written and verbal accounts. Of course, occasionally stories circulate to the effect that the Alley is shared with Weapons Loaders, Security Police, etc. Don’t you believe it! Only the NCO’s and airmen of the noblest arm, the Ammo Flight, could continue to enjoy the comradeship and spirit of their most honored and traditional branch after death. Just as in life, where not all are privileged to be Ammo, so too, after death may only these privileged few enjoy the rewards of a special heaven that is uniquely their own.
So fellow BB Stackers, as we march and begin our road into the 242nd year of service to our nation, we can proceed with confidence. Protected by Saint Barbara, we need fear nothing. And even if we should collide with the rocks of temptation or bog down in the quagmire of sin, remember: your comrades will be waiting by the campfire in a peaceful meadow in the middle of Ammo Alley.