When I was in the Active Air Force, I got sent to Osan AB, in the Republic of Korea, about 50 miles south of Seoul.

My duties mostly involved operating and fixing computers, radios, and other electronic equipment, but from time to time I'd have to carry stuff in a canvas bag from the shop to another place, do things with it, and carry stuff back to the shop. The nature of the stuff required that there be two of us, and that we be armed.

My friend Don and I got picked for one of these excursions. We signed for and were issued Colt .45 self-loading pistols (the good old M1911A1, with the grip safety and a fairish kick), got handed the stuff, signed for it, put it in the canvas bag, got handed our special badges for the trip, and headed for our destination.

When we got there, we showed our badges, signed in, got escorted to the room we needed to be in, and I started in on that part of the job. About 3 minutes into the work, I heard the ABSOLUTELY UNMISTAKABLE "Shick-Clack!" of a M1911 action being worked, and the "Clunk!" of an unfired round hitting the floor. I heard it two or three more times before I could get to a stopping place. Then I turned.

"Don! What are you DOING??", I asked. I may have used additional words, since I was just the least bit excited. Another "Shick-Clack!", another "Clunk!"

"I can't find the safety", Don replied, standing in front of me with the pistol pointed down at the floor, hammer back and one in the chamber. At least he didn't have his finger on the trigger. I took a deep breath.

"Don, put it down. Step away. Please!" He did. I picked the thing up, dropped the magazine, ejected the round in the chamber, and locked the slide back. Then I took a few more deep breaths and gave Don Uncle Mike's 2-minute flash course on the M1911A1.

Our glorious shop chief, secure in the knowledge that everyone had been through the weapons familiarization course on everything in the shop (including the M1A1 Safe Destroyers, but that's another yarn), hadn't even bothered to ask me or Don if we were qualified on the weapons. I was, and knew the M1911A1 (and M1911) from long experience, but this was Don's first time with one.

Don bought me a beer after work.