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by Diane Culp

I was a junior in high school stationed at Yuma Proving Grounds in the mid/late 80's. My father, was at that time, was in the Army. What he did? I couldn't tell you. At previous duty stations, he was away so often that it seemed his actual MOS didn't fit what he did.

Some friends (fellow brats) planned for a bonfire/marshmallow & weenie roast. It was to be a surprise celebration for the girlfriend of one of the planners. Weeks passed, and we were all looking forward to the excitement of something fun to do. YPG is 30 miles from Yuma proper. The only real means of entertainment fell in the summer, where, in spite of the 120 degree weather, the swimming pool was open and there was a place to go. Summer evenings and the rest of year presented a problem for us adolescents because there was a serious lack of entertainment out in the middle of the desert. Most of us didn't have licenses, and those who did, were only allowed to drive around the base, not the distance into town.

I should have had a clue when the girlfriend decided not to attend the very bonfire meant to honor her. Feeling sick to my stomach about going, I had told my parents I was staying at a friend's house that evening (she actually had a date and therefore did not plan to attend the "party"). That evening, I headed over to another friend's house to head off to the party location. When we arrived, there were chairs built out of sand, a huge fire, and cold drinks.

Oh, my - BEER! I was still feeling rather sick, so I didn't drink anything. However, the rest of my underage friends were getting fired up.

Oh, my - a BONG! I was shocked! Not a pot smoker, I had no idea somebody was bringing anything of that nature.

Oh, my - a GUN! Seems an almost dependent-no-more (he was 19 and had already graduated some time back) thought it would be cool to bring it and show it to some of the other guys. Like I wasn't feeling sick already!! I began to think about a way to get back home. Too ill to have any fun, I really wanted to leave.

It was about 11:30 p.m. After finding a ride back, as I was preparing to leave, when out of the dark desert appeared a light. Then two. Then three. Then there were headlights, and another set. Then there were MP's everywhere. Then THERE WAS MY DAD.

Seems a rat-brat who was invited but did not attend had told his dad, who told the MP's. This same person told the girlfriend. To this day, I still can't believe she didn't tell her boyfriend that we were UNDER SURVEILLANCE for weeks. My father never said a word to me because he didn't know I was going to be there, and thought I had made other plans.

Needless to say, we were all "detained" and brought back to base for questioning. Of course I was the last to be questioned, and was forced to stay awake until my turn, 7 hours after being busted.

There's a moral to my story. First, listen to that "sick" feeling. It's your sixth sense warning you that something's not right. Second, know your father's/mother's MOS. My dad was the Provost Marshal. Third, NEVER plan a bonfire at a Proving Ground.

Take my advice and your father will not end up arresting you and all your friends.


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