As one group of airmen was departing the squadron, a
new batch of fresh faces was arriving from tech school. One of the new troops had bypassed school and was sent directly to
the 1369th Photographic Squadron from basic training. From a social standpoint, tech school isn't as hardcore military
as basic training and serves as a kind of decompression period into normal Air Force life. Martin Baumgarten arrived
at Vandenberg expecting more of the same discipline as at Lackland AFB. Many of the people who had been at the squadron
for a while found Martin's strict adherence to the military mindset amusing and would playfully pull rank on him
to watch his reactions. Gradually, he began pulling weird pranks of his own that kept his elders off balance. He developed routines and recurring characters over the years including Drill Instructor SSgt.
Montgomery, the Old Man, The Wimp and The Mole (shown below).
I first met Martin the night Jim Ereaux and I were photographing the STAR TRIX
sets on the back porch of building 7228. Since Martin's bizarre reputation preceded him, we hoped if we ignored him he would
go away. Not long after Jim's departure, I discovered that Martin and I had a lot in common (being from large families, growing
up in the New York area, liked STAR TREK, etc.). I soon became aware that a lot of his eccentricities were calculated stunts
for his own amusement. He was actually getting the laugh on the people who were laughing at him.