In 1956, not long after enlisting with the United States Air Force, 19-year-old Hunter S. Thompson landed a job as Sports Editor for The Command Courier, Eglin Air Force Base‘s newspaper, and immediately began to ruffle feathers. The memo below was sent the next year, at which point his exaggerated reporting and rebellious attitude were causing problems.
A few months after the memo was sent, Thompson was relieved of his duties at the paper. Just before leaving, keen to have the last word, he drew up a fictional news release — also seen below — and had it published in the Courier.
AIR PROVING GROUND COMMAND
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
ATTN: Base Staff Personnel Officer
Personnel Report: A/2C Hunter S. Thompson
23 Aug 57
1. A/2C Hunter S. Thompson, AF 15546879, has worked in the Internal Information Section, OIS, for nearly one year. During this time he has done some outstanding sports writing, but ignored APGC-OIS policy.
2. Airman Thompson possesses outstanding talent in writing. He has imagination, good use of English, and can express his thoughts in a manner that makes interesting reading
3. However, in spite of frequent counseling with explanation of the reasons for the conservative policy on an AF base newspaper, Airman Thompson has consistently written controversial material and leans so strongly to critical editorializing that it was necessary to require that all his writing be thoroughly edited before release.
4. The first article that called attention to the writing noted above was a story very critical of Base Special Services. Others that were stopped before they were printed were pieces that severely criticized Arthur Godfrey and Ted Williams that Airman Thompson extracted from national media releases and added his flair for the innuendo and exaggeration.
5. This Airman has indicated poor judgment from other standpoints by releasing Air Force information to the Playground News himself, with no consideration for other papers in the area, or the fact that only official releases, carefully censored by competent OIS staff members, are allowed.
6. In summary, this Airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy or personal advice and guidance. Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members. He has little consideration for military bearing or dress and seems to dislike the service and want out as soon as possible.
7. Consequently, it is requested that Airman Thompson be assigned to other duties immediately, and it is recommended that he be earnestly considered under the early release program.
8. It is also requested that Airman Thompson be officially advised that he is to do no writing of any kind for internal or external publication unless such writing is edited by the OIS staff, and that he is not to accept outside employment with any of the local media.
W. S. EVANS, Colonel, USAF
Chief, Office of Information Services
NEWS RELEASE, AIR PROVING GROUND COMMAND, EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA
EGLIN AFB, FLORIDA (November 8)–S/Sgt. Manmountain Dense, a novice Air Policeman, was severely injured here today when a wine bottle exploded inside the AP gatehouse at the west entrance to the base. Dense was incoherent for several hours after the disaster, but managed to make a statement which led investigators to believe the bottle was hurled from a speeding car which approached the gatehouse on the wrong side of the road, coming from the general direction of the SEPARATION CENTER.
Further investigation revealed that, only minutes before the incident at the gatehouse, a reportedly “fanatical” airman had received his separation papers and was rumored to have set out in the direction of the gatehouse at a high speed in a muffler-less car with no brakes. An immediate search was begun for Hunter S. Thompson, one-time sports editor of the base newspaper and well-known “morale problem.” Thompson was known to have a sometimes overpowering affinity for wine and was described by a recent arrival in the base sanatorium as “just the type of bastard who would do a think like that.”
An apparently uncontrollable iconoclast, Thompson was discharged today after one of the most hectic and unusual Air Force careers in recent history. According to Captain Munnington Thurd, who was relieved of his duties as base classification officer yesterday and admitted to the neuropsychological section of the base hospital, Thompson was “totally unclassifiable” and “one of the most savage and unnatural airmen I’ve ever come up against.”
“I’ll never understand how he got this discharge,” Thurd went on to say. “I almost had a stroke yesterday when I heard he was being given an honorable discharge. It’s terrifying–simply terrifying.”
And then Thurd sank into a delirium.