General Mosley Likes Doritos

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.

“Hey Boo-Boo lets go steal a pic-a-nic basket on the Air Force Academy.” “Gee Yogi what about the Security Forces?” “Don’t worry Boo-Boo I have a plan.”

This could have been an exchange between two of the most famous bears in the country if they had decided to go a-visiting the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Part of our adventure with moving from Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma to Colorado Springs, Colorado was spending time in the RV campground on the Air Force Academy.

As you drive the busy streets of Colorado Springs you could be in any strip mall town in America. However, when you pass through the south gate of the Air Force Academy it is like you just drove onto a National Park. For all the land on that base there are very few buildings and most of them are spread out with lots of open country between each structure.

The RV campground is wonderful. I now understand why military people make the Academy campground a vacation destination. Being in an open area, the Academy has it’s share of wild life. You can see deer almost every day as you drive around. In fact, they will wander right into the campground.

The Academy is in the mountains and that means there are also bears. I was advised that the berry crop was not very good this year and the lack of easy food has driven the bears down into the human populated areas. We had a black bear come into the campground during the day. A family was tent camping and left a plastic tub with food sitting on the picnic table while they were out of camp. The bear knocked the tub over, found a bag of Doritos and proceeded to eat them.

That evening at the bathhouse in camp, I met the family. The dad was telling me all about the bear. Then he advised me he was a JAG officer (lawyer) at Space Command.

I told him he needed to watch the 1993 movie Jurassic Park. I believe the wildlife ate the lawyer first. The camp staff put out flyers to warn us about the bear, but some people left food out and the bear struck again the next night. The morning of the second bear visit the Colonel was out walking our dogs just after the sun came up and she walked within 100 feet of the bear. No incident between dogs and bear, but she set a record for getting back to the trailer.

The entire camp was a buzz about the bear. I commented that having a bear on a military base was like having a visiting General Officer. “Have you seen the General today?" "Have you seen the bear today?"

I decided to name our uninvited guest General Mosely after the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. This way Yogi and Boo-Boo would have a friend in high places. But this General-bear thing is too coincidental. If a General is on base he can go anywhere he wants, so can the bear. Everyone is constantly talking about the General; what he is doing, where he is visiting and what about all the base personnel that are redirected from daily work schedules to track and support the General. Where is the bear, what is he doing, get some people out there to make sure he does not do any damage?

Of course, you could never discuss the damage part about a General officers visit.  One difference with the General’s visit is you can not print up flyers and put them on everyone’s door to remind them of the danger in the area. In most cases the bears will wander away and leave the base population alone. You never want to let a visiting General wander anywhere on his own.

I will admit that the General’s food intake is better managed than the bear’s and of course he does not have to bed down in the forest with nothing but the fur on his back. Maybe if he did have to sleep in the woods he might have a better appreciation for some of his deployed air groundsmen.

When the bear and the General finally go away life gets back to normal on base. When I was at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska two bears came up to the window of a conference room. The bears proceeded to make baby bears right there in front of the entire staff. Talk about a meeting stopper. Try getting serious about discussing the military mission after witnessing nature at its finest.

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Copyright 2007, 2016 by Major Van Harl USAF Ret. All rights reserved.