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I've come to understand that in more ways than one and agree with it 100 percent. In this story, I've got to have a little preface, that being that I'm a rather slight individual. In my youth, I'm probably five foot nine inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. I wasn't much of a Texan, but I was one. In 1967, I joined the United States Army and later after my joining day in basic training, I was sent to Keisler Air Force Base to undergo air traffic control training.
I successfully got through most of that until the very end. At the very end, I was at a lunch line one day when I overheard another friend of mine from Texas named Lewis. He was talking to another private about a situation, and he said, Jackson's been picking on me, and I don't know why. I said, boys, let me inject myself here for a second. Why don't you just take and slap upside the head, that big boy, and explain to him in that way that you're not going to take any more of his guff? And Lewis said to me, well, he's six foot two, and I don't know why. Well, he's six foot two, and I'm five nine and a half, and I don't want to get killed. And I said, well, you're not going to get killed because a bully, and that's what he is, a bully.
They don't want to fight. They want to just humiliate smaller individuals, and you're a smaller individual like me, and he doesn't want to fight. So the other guy, the other private said to me, he said, well, Latham, why don't you go over and slap him upside the head yourself?
You're so tough. And I said, well, he ain't picking on me, so I see no reason to go start something, but it's not my style, but you know, I think that Lewis here ought to go take a shot. About that time we went through the lunch line, and that big Jackson boy, about six foot two and 220 pounds standing next to me, and I told him, Jackson, I hear you're trying to pick a fight with old Lewis over there, and I just think I ought to give you a little warning. He said, a warning?
What are you talking about? And I said, well, there's something about him you don't know. He said, yeah, what's that? I said, well, he's from Texas. He said, what's so big about that? I said, well, you're not. Well, he saw my comment on that, and he said, how do you know so much about it?
I said, well, I'm from Texas too. Well, he pushed me real hard, and I pushed him back, and we split off, and he went one way, and I went the other and went through the lunch line, and then later in the evening, he went to dinner, and I didn't. I was ready to take a shower and go to bed, so I went back to the barracks and took a shower and was standing by my locker in my skivvies when this big guy Jackson walked by me, having finished his dinner, and he gave me a real hard look. Well, I reciprocated in kind, and he said, who are you looking at? And I said, well, I guess I'm looking at you. He said, you think you're so tough.
Why don't we step outside and teach me all about Texas? And I said, well, I can't right now. All I have on is my skivvies. I said, we can go upstairs if you want to scuffle, and he said, all right, I'll go upstairs. So we climbed the stairs in the old Army-style barracks, and all the rest of the crew, the soldiers that heard that followed us, and he squared off, and I squared off, and he punched me and knocked me down. Well, he could hit pretty hard, but I jumped up, and I squared off again, and I threw a punch and missed, and he hit me and knocked me down again. I jumped up, and I'm determined, and I'm going to go back at him, and he hit me again and knocked me down. And this time, I kind of stunned, and I'm kind of shook up a little bit, and I noticed his two feet were on either side of me, and I glanced up, and he had his hands drawn back like he was going to hit me in the face while I was down. So I darted between his legs and popped up on the other side and turned around to face him.
When he turned around to face me, I did the most beautiful kick I've ever kicked, and I kicked him right in the testosterone generators, and he fell on top of me. And he said, in a very odd way, in a kind of a gasping way, you want to quit? And I said, hell no, I ain't quitting. You started it.
You have to quit. He said, I quit? So I crawled out from under him, and I'm walking back downstairs, and all the rest of the soldiers are patting me on the back saying, way to go, Latham. He's been picking on all of us, and you straightened him out. So we went downstairs, and the big boy had to go take a shower, and I laid down in my bunk. I'm going to bed, and the lights are starting to turn out, and this big boy Jackson's walking by me, and real loud so everybody can hear it, he says, yeah, Latham, we'd like to put a picture of your eye on the bulletin board tomorrow. And I said, in equally loud tone, yeah, we can put next to a picture of your testosterone generators. They're all flattened out now, and the whole barracks busted out in laughter.
I mean, it was like I was doing a stand-up routine, and everybody loved it. He was slinked off in there, took a shower, went to bed, and I never heard from him again. He never wanted to fight again. Well, that was the end of that story, except henceforth and forever, I always thought about the fact that every time, because a bully is always a bully. A bully is a state of mind, just like Texas is a state of mind. And he's going to pick on somebody else, but I guarantee you, sometime in some air traffic control tower, he's going to be bullying somebody else, but before he does it, he's going to say to that individual, are you from Texas?
Because if he is, he's going to leave him alone. That's a true story. 1967. And we love to tell listeners stories here on the show. If you have a story, any story, send them to alamericanstories.com. You are listening to one of our listeners and regular contributors, Roger Latham, telling a Texas story, a Texas state of mind story, and a good job on the storytelling and production and editing by Greg Hengler. And again, send your stories, listeners stories to alamericanstories.com.
They are indeed some of our favorites. The story of a Texas boy versus the air traffic control bully, here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith, and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told, but we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do, please go to alamericanstories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot, help us keep the great American stories coming.
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