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September 05, 2005

Paul Storms Remembered

I originally published this post last year, when I first started this Blog.  I'm choosing to republish this post today as today marks the 11th year I've had to miss a close friend.  I along with a few other close friends of Paul, Ken, Stu, and Linda will be at a Labor Day Bar-b-que this afternoon where I am sure we will be having the fun time we always have when we are together. I plan on hoisting a beer to Paul and letting him know he is missed, and that I consider myself fortunate to have known Lt. Paul Storms USMC.

Paul_storms_and_t34c A quote I remember about this friend, as he not so elegantly ran out a squib single in a softball game, was “It sure ain’t pretty to watch! But LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT ENGINE!” My buddy Paul Storms, a Marine’s Marine with a heart as big as the world and a devotion to his friends that was unsurpassed.

In the late 1980’s I was muddling my way through San Diego State University with the eventual goal in mind to become a United States Naval Aviator. I had no other plans, interests or alternatives in mind. To this day there is not much I do not know outside of actual experience about “My Navy.” I picked up a job working security for San Diego State’s Open Air Amphitheater (OAT). It was here that I first met Paul. Paul, though not tall, a shade under 5’11” can be quite an intimidating character. At 205 pounds… none of it hair! And a pair of footballs for biceps, Paul would not be one you want to cross. For a better image of Paul understand that his Marine Corps Aviator call sign was “Uncle Festor.” Yep, from the Addams Family. Just picture him as a little more “toned.”

Through a variety of incidents at the Open Air Theater, (we secured a number of not too serene acts: Agent Orange, Jaynes Addiction, Social Distortion, The Cult, James Taylor (oops how’d he get in there…) and a variety of others.) Paul and I worked with each other and gained a healthy respect for the other. For those of you who did not know me at the time, I did not strike the same intimidating pose that Paul did. Some would say, “Not even close!” I, although the same height, weighed a significant 50 pounds less than Paul but I apparently was woefully unaware of this fact. Let’s just say I wasn’t very easily intimidated when confronted by drunken buffoons. Paul always felt that I would make a great Marine in that, according to many in the Corps, “There are two primary requirements to being a Marine. Ya gotta be BIG and you gotta be DUMB!... But if you’re DUMB enough! They’ll waive being BIG!” Did I happen to mention I was only 155 pounds?

Paul reveled in the fact that he was regularly pulling my butt out of an overzealous ‘Mosh Pit!” and he always had a knowing grin acknowledging my solo attempt to break it up! Paul being the true Marine, liked my tenacity. And to be honest I appreciated his acceptance, not to mention his arm strength.

Paul, however was not just muscle, he had a mind like few others. He was a math major, and did quite well at understanding very complex mathematical principles. He and I regularly had debates on what we thought the “True Number” of … pitchers of Monty’s finest beer it would take at the Brian Whitaker show to prevent us from walking a coordinated line back to my apartment. Turned out, we were always wrong, but at least we “Proved it!”

I mentioned Paul’s Marine “Call Sign” of “Uncle Festor” earlier, but that was applied to him after college, we at SDSU all knew Paul as either “Paui” an accidental misprint on his security name tag that stuck, or more often “Woody.” Or if we were too inebriated to put two syllables together, “Wood.” “Woody” was derived from Paul’s vague resemblance to Woody, the lovable but not so quick on the uptake bartender at Cheers! Paul’s mannerisms really were the link to this moniker.

On the subject of inebriation, Paul was good at it. We always had fun in Paul’s presence! And on the occasions where we miscalculated the “True Number” we knew the result would always be fun. He was one of those “Happy Drunks” which is a good thing considering his size. It was the things he was capable of while “Happy” that always impressed us the most. (Mind you we were “Happy” too.”) I had never before encountered a person who was able to fire off the entire alphabet in a single belch! Or better yet, sing the Bumble Bee Tuna song in its entirety! We all tried to match his operatic prowess but usually fell short at “J,K,L” or “Bum Bum Bumble b… damn is that a french fry!?” (did I mention we were “Happy” too?). And amazingly enough actually threw better horseshoes the more we miscalculated the “True Number” at a different watering hole “Kelly’s Pub” on El Cajon Blvd. I still feel some sympathy for those two Air Force Cadets that took me and Paul on in a game of shoes. Navy and Marine Corps are still brothers under the skin, and we really didn’t think to highly of our competition. All I can say is that I hope those two are not trying to hit a target in the desert right now, because it is going to be a looooonnnngg war!

A great example of the fun to be had with Paul was at my sister’s wedding. Paul, my buddy Stu, my buddy Scott and I, at the rehearsal dinner, well attended by extended family members of both Kelly and Peter, as well as lifetime friends of our families; decided to serenade (in a way… well, in our way) the happy couple. We slipped out of the (damned nice) restaurant and headed out to the car, Hubba_hubba_hubba where earlier we had placed our “Uniform of the evening” in the trunk. Remember we’re all in ties or sweaters or something else as equally nice. But out of the trunk we pull 4 pairs of “Weighlifter Pants,” these are the noisiest, loudest most vibrant colored… best description would be “Clown Pants” you’ve ever seen! We don them and proceed back into the restaurant (did I mention that it was “Damned Nice?”) at a “Double Time Trot.” The whole time chanting in our best Bill Murray in Stripes fashion, “Boom Chuka-Luka-Luka, Boom Chuka-Luka-Luka, Boom Chuka-Luka-Luka, Boom!” We paraded all through the restaurant (Damn nice by the way) in this fashion, finally ending our jaunt in front of the “Bride to Be” and “Groom to Be’s” table. At which point in time, I announced to all of the gathered friends and family (and a more than few interested restaurant patrons) that we would like to dedicate a song to Peter, the future Groom. The song we chose was “Happy Boy” by the Beat Farmers! We sang it at a Parade Ground Level and had the whole restaurant singing the chorus! We had a ball!

C D
I was walkin' down the street on a sunny day
G C
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
C D
A feeling in my bones that I'll have my way
G C
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

CHORUS:
F
Well I'm a happy boy (happy boy)
C
Well I'm a happy boy (happy boy)
D G G7
Oh ain't it good when things are going your way, hey hey?

My little dog spot got hit by a car
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Put his guts in a box and put him in a drawer
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
CHORUS

I forgot all about it for a month and a half
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
I looked in the drawer and started to laugh
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
CHORUS

There was a lot of singing in those days for all of us, not much of it in tune or on key, but there was a lot of singing. From Jimmy Buffet songs at the Sing Along oriented Brian Whitaker Shows to Paint Your Wagon tunes as we headed off to class (mind you, these are the only allowable show tunes heterosexual males are allowed to sing! Especially in public and sober.) We were also known to bid farewell to concert goers at the OAT with a wonderful rendition of Roy Rogers’ “Happy Trails.” Let me tell you, we put smiles on a lot of people’s faces with our blatant disregard for self-respect.

After graduation from SDSU, unfortunately for me, my sole lifetime goal of becoming a Naval Aviator was not to become a reality due to congressional budget cuts. I moved to Florida for a short time to lick my wounds a bit after having to identify what I wanted to do with my life. Paul however headed into his beloved United States Marine Corps and attended flight school in Pensacola Fl. Paul kept me Paul_storms_in_t34c informed the entire time as to what stage of flight training he was in and what difficulties he was having. He even gave me credit for my knowledge of aviation and asked a number of questions of me for his clarification. Paul although his desire was to fly the fast movers, F-18’s or Harriers, had a bit of trouble in his ability to keep his lunch down during his aerobatic training. And although not uncommon in flight training, it is something to note. He was selected for helicopters, which after all is what the Marines mostly fly. He although initially disappointed in his assignment to helos quickly developed a liking for the low to the ground and land anywhere capabilities. As usual with Woody he found a way to have fun (a lesson to be learned there). He completed training in February 1994, received his wings at NAS Whiting Field and was detailed to a Heavy Lift Helicopter Squadron at Tustin, CA. Woody always said he was detailed to CH-53Es because that was the only helo that could lift his big ass off the ground. He bragged that the 53 as big as it was, was still the fastest helicopter in the sky! To which he would always quote my infamous accusation at the softball field of “It sure ain’t pretty to watch! But LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT ENGINE!”

Paul loved his career path and tackled whatever came his way, his spirit was insatiable and his zest for life infectious. I had moved back to California, Ventura now, to take a position at Technicolor. My life was beginning to look better, and Paul loved to encourage me to keep on plugging! He was always the cheerleader, the coach, the confidant. Paul even at this young time in our lives understood and taught the nobility of “Duty over self,” to this day when I find myself being a bit too selfish, I hear Paul’s encouragement of “Duty over Self!” Paul led by example

Pauls_commisioning On September 5, 1994, Paul and some of his Brothers in Green, were returning from an excursion to Lake Tahoe for the Labor Day weekend. They had rented a Cessna from the base flying club at El Toro and flew it up there. On the return trip, departing out of Truckee the plane stalled on take-off and crashed back to earth killing all on board

I lost a very close friend that day, I and about a thousand others. Some had known Paul, some have come to know Paul through a number of our tales, and some who never met Paul will miss him and never know it, we should all be so lucky to have known a Paul Storms. I was fortunate enough to have known "The Paul Storms."

I miss him...

He is buried at: section 39 site 491, Barrancas National Cemetery Naval Air Station,
80 Hovey Road Pensacola , FL 32508

September 5, 2005 in Biographical | Permalink

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Like Mike, I also knew Paul in high school (Paint Branch in Burtonsville, MD to be exact). It is good especially on this Veterans Day to see "Stormy" here. Thank you for a fitting cyber tribute.

Posted by: Kirsten Bray | Nov 11, 2014 6:28:29 AM

Mike,

It is nice of you to leave a comment. You might have the right Paul Storms, I do know he went to high school in MD. His father was a Navy Captain at that time if that helps. I'll try to dig up a photo of Paul and Post it sometime soon. That should help a bit.

-JC

Posted by: J. Carmichael | Feb 12, 2006 2:50:59 PM

I hope I am talking about the right person. I am an old acquaintance of Paul Storms' from high school, Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, MD. At school, his nickname was "Roper" based on his resemblance to the character from Three's company.

I called him "Stormy Weather" from when I ran indoor track with him. For a big white dude, he was pretty fast! Stormy was always an upbeat, happy go lucky guy, with an upbeat, positive, unflappable personality people many only begin to appreciate as they themselves grow and mature. I myself was still maturing then, and didn't fully appreciate the fine qualities of the individual who grew into the man you describe in johncarmichaels.typepad.com.

I wasn't the closest friend of his, but I heard about his untimely death a decade ago and thought of him today. The last time I saw him was about 20 years ago while we were both still in school!

I googled him and this website popped up! From what you write about him I'm pretty sure you knew "Stormy" and I'm glad he lives on in cyberspace. Please write back to tell me if I have the right guy!

Posted by: Mike Roberts | Feb 10, 2006 4:18:18 PM

Just a quick hoooooraaaah for/to Pauy.

Posted by: Stu | Sep 5, 2005 7:14:58 PM

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