Thunder Thornton

Once upon a time, there was an officer in the Guard with me that everyone called "Thunder."  I had no idea what or why was the origin of that nickname for almost a year.   On our first night in Camp at Camp Ripley, Minnesota I found out.

A little background here is that the base camp at Ripley was a series of tin buildings near a cinder block mess hall for each company/battery sized location.   They were just 2X4's covered with a tin covering.  They were a little better than sleeping outside, but not by much.

After an evening of our first day in camp activities and a little beer drinking we went back to our building to go to bed.  I started to say go to sleep but that is the rest of this story.  After what was a short time period, Thunder made his first snore.  It was something like a person being choked to death with someone holding his nose.  Gwaack was the first half and then silence.  For about 15 seconds, he held his breath and then coughed out what sounded like a lung.  Then the Gwaack sound again in full volume.  The again silence for a short period and the coughing again.  I am pretty sure that today he would be diagnosed as having sleep apnea but back then it was just a terrible sound that caused many of us to move our sleeping location to another tin hut.  Oh, I left out a step.  By the third sequence of the snoring,  we all went from wondering if Thunder was going to die to hoping he did.

At the end of Camp, several of us took a hammer out of the Carpenter's tool chest and presented it to Thunder.   He was also given a work order from the Camp Facilities office to tell him that he needed to go to our hut and re nail all the tin back down as he had rattled them loose.

Not too long ago, I heard an ad for the United Way on the radio and low and behold it was Thunder and his wife talking about the work they were doing for the Untied Way.  Way to go pal.


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