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The Hat Club:
Friends and Gamers at RAF Bentwaters, 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, 1981-1982

We weren't really a game group, now that I look back. We were really just a group of friends who lived in the same barracks and spent a lot of our free time hanging out together and playing Dungeons and Dragons. I don't have many clear photos of us actually playing games, so this page of photos is more a tribute to my friends than a game group album.

I was stationed at RAF Bentwaters, near Ipswich in England, from November 1980 to September 1982. Most of these photos were taken between June and September 1982. Most of us lived in the same building, although a few guys lived in the building next to us. I can't remember any of the building numbers. I believe we were all in the 81st TFW, but were in different squadrons. I can't tell you what our jobs were, if I told you I'd have to shoot your computer.

We didn't have a name for our little group. Looking at all my old photos from that time, I noticed nearly all of us were wearing hats most of the time, so I've come to call our posse "the Hat Club."

Phil Prough. Last I'd heard, Phil married a German girl and moved back to Oklahoma with her.

Bob Sparks. I'd forgotten we could smoke in the barracks back then.

Bill Patterson on the left. For some reason, I always thought of Bill as the leader of our little group. Partly because he was the one who suggested we start playing D&D (most of the rest of us had never played it before) but mostly I think it was because Bill had a girlfriend. The guy on the right was our admin guy, but unfortunately I can't remember his name.

Proof that we actually did play games. Note lots of polyhedral dice, some partially painted 25mm fantasy figures, an SPI Dragonquest GM screen posing as a D&D DM screen, and a big can of Cheetos.

Ed Taylor, probably running the game. I think he was from Michigan. I got a few letters from Ed after we got out of the military, but he didn't include a return address and the postmark was smudged, so I never found out where he ended up.

Steve Woods, from Massachusetts as I recall, and a fellow Judie Tzuke fan. (He's lighting a cigarette, not sucking his thumb.) Steve was the one who told me about the concept of "the Dead Zone": according to this theory, in the United States there was New York, New England, and New Jersey on the one end, and California on the other end. Everything else was "the Dead Zone."

That's me, in 1982. Jeez, those 70's style plastic glasses are huge. I think I still have them around here somewhere. I know I still have the hat, although it's been through a number of interesting adventures since then and isn't nearly as stiff as that. Or as clean.

Ed and Peggy. I'm not sure I ever knew what Peggy's last name was.

Todd Coburn. Todd was Bill's roommate, and our only other experienced D&D player.

Another shot of Ed Taylor. I'm guessing, from the background, that this photo was taken in my room in the barracks.

Steve sticking his head in my room to find out what we were up to. Steve was a member of the Hat Club, although I never actually saw him wearing a hat. Even when he was supposed to be wearing a hat.

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Last updated: June 11, 2016