Over at the Thunder Tales blogspot Blogger Ed Rasimus has a photo of Gov Rick Perry at 22 and President Barack Obama at 22. Actually, I think it is probably Gov Rick Perry at 23, but lets not quibble.
The thing to note about Governor Perry, then 2nd Lieutenant Perry, is not the shiney T-38, whose ladder he is standing on, nor the "go fast" pants he is wearing (aka G-suit), nor the parachute, nor the brain bucket (aka helmut), but the pocket on his left sleeve. That is a pencil pocket, where right handed aviators put their pen or pencil. In a bygone era F-100 pilots had very small models of Samuri Swords, which they could pull out and puncture their one-man life rafts, should they inflate out of their storage place below the pilot, forcing him into the top of the canopy.
But, back to Governor Rick Perry. What is that white thing sticking out of his pencil pocket (OK, to be fair, in the day there was also a zippered compartment that was just right for holding cigs.). To me it looks like a spoon. Do you think that he knew, when this picture was being taken, that he was going to be a truckie, a trash hauler? That is to say, he knew he was going to give up the supersonic T-38 for a job in the front office of a C-130? Probably.
And why a spoon? Because of the Inflight Lunch, the contents of a white cardboard box, about 4 inches high and 5 inches deep and about 8 inches long, filled with food from the Inflight Kitchen, a small operation down on the flight line of many Air Force Bases. The Inflight Lunch is also know as the Barf Lunch, for reasons I will not go into. Airlift pilots (and navigators) tended to make sure they had a spoon handy for consuming the Inflight Lunch, in case one didn't show up with the food. Thus, the ever present "spoon". The other indication of an airlift pilot or a tanker pilot or a bomber pilot was a knife pocked on the left leg of their flight suit, at thigh level. Fighter pilots did not have knife pockets on their flight suits, since the survival knife, with the riser line cutting blade open, was in the G-suit (you can see it on Lt Perry's G-suit—that little vertical bulge on his left leg, above the knee). In the day, for a fighter pilot to show up at the bar with his knife pocket still on his new flight suit was considered déclassé.
Yes, sadly, Governor Rick Perry was a trash hauler back in the day. But, still a step up from law school student, I guess. (I should note that in the case of my youngest son, law school was, for him, a step up, because his previous job had been as computer systems admin for a unix based system down at State Street Bank, in Boston. We all know what we think of the computer sys admin, don't we? And he got to spend three years in San Diego, and then, for a while, had a job in LA.)
Regards — Cliff