Of the tens of thousands of people who go through training each year, maybe one-quarter of 1% of those people end up as a holdover. A holdover is a person in limbo, in a way. Someone who has completed training, but for various reasons is not yet approved to move forward with training. I was a holdover. I remained in my training squadron for months as I underwent tests for a heart condition that ultimately led to a medical discharge. But in the meantime I stayed with senior flights of females and this experience gives me what I feel to be a highly unique perspective of the happenings in training squadrons.
As a trainee, instructors are scary, imposing and mean. But they are also strong, compassionate and alluring. They are powerful and hold your future in their hands. It’s a heady combination, and while you spend weeks with this person, getting to know them and where they came from while they learn the same about you, bonds develop. Silent friendships. Because as instructors and trainees, we all know full well that we are not supposed to be friends. But it happens, and more.
I find myself both saddened and frustrated at the scandal. If any woman was raped, then I do feel for her. It is despicable to forcefully abuse a person in such a manner. But, there is this thing that happens after someone comes forward. My friend and fellow holdover put it best. Mass hysteria. As women start getting questioned in a pressured manner about their sexual dealings with a superior, in a manner that could directly affect their livelihood, details start to become hazy, and what was once a consensual act becomes a blatant act of abuse.
As a holdover, I had relationships with people I wasn’t supposed to, left the base when I wasn’t supposed to, and did things I wasn’t supposed to. I did it because it was dangerous and exciting. Because I felt powerful, and because it felt absolutely amazing to be wanted by these men when there were thousands of other women surrounding me.
I had consensual sex with instructors, with more than one instructor, and I am friends with many more of them. Some of them are strictly friends, and some of them were among the wanted and wanting. I don’t apologize for it, and neither do they. I can feel for their situation, having been in such a unique position. I could interact with them in a way trainees could not, because I was a graduated Airman. I worked by their sides, had conversations with them about life that you couldn’t as a trainee and wouldn’t as a regular graduate who has moved on to other training. I had a deeper understanding on how much work they did on a daily basis, how little time they were able to spend with their families and how stressful it could be to deal with the emotional distractions of trainees and their many, varied needs. I worked hard to please them, and I loved the vast amount of respect I received for it.
As a side note, I was the go-to person for stripping and re-waxing floors. I was awesome at it. Totally not kidding. You have no idea how important it is to have perfectly waxed floors in the squadron.
I could also watch and listen to trainees as they objectified their masters (I use that deliberately), as they systematically strove to become that one special trainee above all others, in the vain hope that they could get something a little extra. It occurred in every single flight I lived with, without fail. And sometimes instructors caved to the will of these women. It was an extreme risk for both parties, but sometimes all those crazy emotions just take over. It was a hardcore environment that you cannot understand unless you have been through it.
Another thing that needs to be understood is how difficult it is to carry on such a tryst in those settings. Constantly surrounded by people and by cameras. Protocols put in place to keep two people of the opposite sex from being alone with each other. As a holdover, I worked with the trainees, and you may be amazed at how often male trainees attempted to be alone with me, or attempted to seduce me. In the laundry rooms when I was cleaning, or in the linens room where I distributed the bedding for flights. It was nuts. But it happened everywhere I went, even after I was transferred to another squadron for the completion of my discharge.
So where am I going with all of this?
I just want people to know and understand that consensual relationships, though explicitly forbidden, do occur far more frequently than shared in the Air Force training squadrons. If someone was truly harmed, which I believe did happen, then the person or persons responsible should be subject to severe punishment. But to ruin another person’s life as revenge for a tryst not ending the way you wanted (like someone choosing to stay with their spouse), is ridiculous and cruel. I would never consider doing that and neither would my holdover friend.
The shock value in the reports is so high as to instill a belief that no one has sex ever, when it is simply not true. I want to dispel some of that shock so that those of you who have never been there can have a better understanding of the true reality of life in the training squadrons. But not only that, I want to enlighten you, so that as more and more reports come out, you can look at them with a discerning eye, because innocent people will likely be caught up in the fallout and their lives ruined, because all anyone will ever think is that no one has sex ever. So if someone is caught having sex, obviously it is assault and the person should be condemned, but it may not be true at all.
Please keep that in mind, that is all I ask.
Now that I have finished, please link up your WW below and visit some fellow WW contributors! If you find my story interesting or eye-opening, I would love for you to share it, so that others could be enlightened as well.