December 10th, 1996 at the NDANG


Victor called. He was willing to work this evening.

Once at the air base I had the security guy get us into building 220, "We don't have a building 220." I dug out the map and point out the State building, "Oh, that 220." Ha ha. Once in it was obviously all the fixtures were wrong. I called the security guy. I had him, look at my map, "Are there any other buildings we could get into?" He said the offices of 223 (Corrosion) were doable. He got us in and pointed out the areas we wouldn't be allowed in, "Those doors lead to the Prep room and the north hanger."

Looking through the window I could see the empty hanger had Metal Halide fixturess- no need to go in there. Victor and I did the locker room, turned on the TV to watch CNN.

I told Victor I was impressed with the security guys, they were friendly and professional- how I was going to send a letter thanking them.

When we finished the office and halls, I decided to check the shop to the east. It was getting late and I was tired but I wanted to check the fixture. I was tired of going into buildings only to leave because the fixtures were new. The fixtures in question were 3-lamp explosion proof strips. It was a difficult fixture because they were up 12 feet and I couldn't see. I had the lights off; the door open to the locker room. Victor was helping with the lamps. I heard something, "That isn't a silent alarm is it?" Victor thought it was nothing- a fan or something.

The fixtures contained the Goldstar Ballasts we were replacing. I was in the process of putting it back together when the door opened. Victor went to see who.

"Get down off that ladder, right now" the security guy said forcefully. "Let it hang." I asked about my ladder, "Leave it." I did pick up the wing nut which I dropped. At this point I thought we being escorted off the base.

The Sergeant from the Armory vault showed up and took over. He explained this was a secured area. We apologized over and over. We didn't know it was connected to the hanger until we got in. I certainly didn't know about motion detectors. (I definitely wouldn't have gone in if I did.) Victor thinks when he walked in front of my ladder it tripped the motion detector in hanger which could see into the shop.

Our friendly security guy said it wasn't serious and even apologized, "...but we have to respond to all alarms." He had us write down our names, social security numbers and date of birth. Then he stayed while we put the fixture back together.

He was willing to stay longer, but I wanted to get the hell out. We packed up and left. We shared a nervous laugh in on the way back.


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The "Happy Hooligans"NDANG


Possibly no other Air National Guard unit has a nickname as well known as "The Happy Hooligans". Where did that nickname come from? How did it come about?

Our 178th Squadron Commander in the mid 1950's was Duane S. Larson (Brig. Gen., Ret.). Because of his fatherly instincts, (then Major) Larson became known as "Pappy" to his entire squadron. His men were dubbed "Hooligans" for their mischievous antics. Locally they became known as "Pappy and his Hooligans". Because of his striking resemblance to the Steve Canyon comic strip character, "Happy Easter", the squadron was soon known as "Happy and his Hooligans", and later shortened to "The Happy Hooligans" (around 1958). Soon everyone around the base was using the nickname "Happy Hooligans" to describe the squadron.

In the early 1960's, the North Dakota Air Guard was searching for a motto to set them apart from other units (similar to the Pittsburgh motto: "Have No Fear, A Sam Is Near"). A contest was held to choose an official nickname; no names received topped "The Happy Hooligans", so it was officially adopted as our unit's nickname.

In 1964, during the ANG Rick's Trophy competition, "The Happy Hooligans" was painted on the unit's F-89J's. This was the first time it appeared on the aircraft, but since then each North Dakota Air National Guard aircraft has carried that motto prominently displayed.

After our nickname gained national renown, the question was raised concerning a cartoon character bearing the same name. Some investigating turned up the following facts:

The comic strip "Happy Hooligan" was created by Frederick Burr Opper and made its debut in Hearst's Sunday comic sections in New York and San Francisco on March 26, 1900, and ran intermittently until 1932, when Happy Hooligan had to be abandoned by its creator because of his failing eyesight.

Happy Hooligan was Fred Opper's classic Irish tramp with the tin can hat and distinctly ruddy nose. He was portrayed as the simple innocent whose impulsive undertakings nearly always landed him in the hands of the law. Despite his continual ill luck, Hooligan lived up to his name by remaining always optimistic, and his enormous smile became a quick symbol of the new comic strip art form to millions of readers.

Frederick Opper drew comic strips for Hearst papers from 1900 to 1936. He was born on Jan. 2, 1857, and died on Aug. 29, 1937. He also did illustrations for, among others, Mark Twain.

In 1899 one of the most extraordinary and prolific artists of that age in which good artists were so numerous made his debut in the comic-strip world. His name was Frederick Burr Opper, and his first strip was called "Happy Hooligan" Happy Hooligan is a clown‹but a sad clown. His amorphous face, his resigned smile, and the empty can that serves him as a hat plainly stamp him as a victim. He is the quarry of children, the target of hooligans, a goat for all and sundry. His tribulations are as ludicrous as they are pathetic, and while he manages to survive, his ephemeral triumphs are only illusory. In the person of Happy, we can already recognize the tentative outline of the "little man" later made immortal by Chaplin. Among Opper's numerous other creations, "And Her Name Was Maud!" and "Alphonse and Gaston" (both of which date from 1905) are worthy of special note.


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