Bring more than a good plan

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Larry Glassford
  • JSUPT Class 10-07
Up until a few weeks ago I was just like almost every other pilot trainee in the Air Force, thinking that I would never have a driving under the influence of alcohol charge. 

I have always been good at planning in advance for a ride if I was going out for the evening or taking my turn as a designated driver. Now, I am writing this as a warning to everyone about how fast things can change. 

We hear warnings and briefings about this all the time and although they may seem boring and redundant at times, they do serve a purpose. They are constant reminders to keep us out of harm and trouble. 

I urge everyone to step into my shoes for a moment and realize how easily something like this can happen if you start to get complacent about the dangers of drinking and driving. 

I had just moved from Pensacola, Fla., to Enid, Okla., in late June and was already headed back to Pensacola on leave to see the Blue Angels. The Angels got stormed out last year and I was determined to see them this year. 

I caught a ride out to the beach with my old neighbors and met up with some friends on a sandbar. The sandbar was crowded with many boats and thousands of people and I had the perfect plan -- or so I thought. 

It was a hot sunny day on the sand bar with good friends, beer, inflatable floats and I had already arranged for a ride home. My old roommate brought a wave runner out to meet us and tied it to a nearby boat. He was the only one in that group that drove out and so he was also the only one in the group that stayed sober. 

The weather was perfect and the Blue Angels showed up right on time. After the performance the party slowly started to dissipate and most of the group was headed back to their condo. 

My roommate was going to take his wave runner out of the water but needed an extra hand. He called a couple people out on the island but there was no answer. I was the only person there that had ever helped him load the wave runner. This is when a good plan took an unexpected change and a lack of good judgment ruined the day. 

I thought, "All I have to do is get this wave runner a short distance to the boat launch and wait there until he backs in the trailer and then we are done." Afterwards he can even drive me to meet up with my old neighbors for my ride home. 

We were very close to land at the time and he could get his car from there, but the boat launch was a little further down. I knew I had been drinking but I felt safe enough to drive the wave runner to the launch. 

I assured my roommate that I was fine and as he made his way over to his car, I drove the wave runner towards the boat launch. There was a parade of slow moving boats and a police boat docked nearby. 

The police were pulling over any boat making a wake, and as I moved by him he pointed at me and motioned for me to pull over. It was that quick. My life changed forever. I was ticketed for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. 

I have always been a strong advocate of designated drivers and having a plan, but I am now a living testament to having more than a plan. The dangers of drinking and driving should be so ingrained in our nature that driving is unfathomable after drinking, just as if the car or boat keys are lost after that first drink. 

If I had this mentality with me that day, I wouldn't have driven that wave runner. I challenge you to carry this mentality with you if you go out drinking. 

I had a plan and a designated driver, but when the situation changed, complacency got the best of me. I urge you -- don't let it get the best of you.