Max Schuermann


Prior to Joining the USAF

I was born in Enid, OK on 21 December 1936 and grew up on a farm in north central OK. My first through 8th grade was in a one-room country school. I attended high school in Medford, Oklahoma.

During my senior year in high school I joined the Navy Reserves and after graduation in May 55 I went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Illinois for boot camp.

In June I went to the New Orleans Naval Base and was assigned to an APD as an Apprentice Gunners Mate. By the end of the cruise I had figured out I could fly farther than I could swim and as soon as I got back on dry land I headed for the nearest Air Force recruiter. I told him I wanted to fly and to get me out of the Navy and in to the AF.

Enlisted Experience

1 Oct 55–17 Dec 55: Lackland AFB. I was informed by my friendly AF recruiter that having been through Navy boot camp I would only have to go through the three week basic for reenlistees. By the time I convinced someone I didn’t need to go through AF basic, I had completed it.

18 Dec 55–21 Jun 56: Keesler AFB, MS. Airborne Radio Operator school.

22 Jun 56–4 Sep 59: Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Was assigned as an airborne radio operator but was immediately retrained as an air traffic controller in the Flight Service Center. Hated air traffic control and got an early out in Sep 59 to go to school.

4 Sep 59–30 Sep 61: Was in active AF Reserves at Tinker AFB, OK while attending Oklahoma University.

1 Oct 61–2 Jul 62: Reserve unit reactivated. Applied for OCS after recall.

Memories of OCS

My main memory of OCS is that it was a day to day survival process. I do know that I had Joe Scarlett to thank for getting me through academics. I guess I should also thank Ed Sanford from 63A for not kicking my butt out when I wiggled my ears at him. He had me on the wall telling me I better “get tight” and, being able to move them, I laid my ears back flat against my head. The second I did it I knew I was in deep trouble. He just stared at me for a second, turned red and walked off. I’d still like to know what he was thinking.

After OCS

Dec 62–Dec 63: James-Connelly AFB, TX. Completed Navigator School.

Dec 63–May 64: Castle AFB, CA. KC-135 tanker Combat Crew Training.

May 63–Mar 66: Ellsworth AFB, SD. Was assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing as a navigator on KC-135s. Did the SAC “mole hole” thing and hated it with a passion.

Mar 66–Sep 66: Takhli RTAB, Thailand. Attached to the 355th Tac Fighter Wing as a “Young Tiger” tanker crew. Flew 325 hours in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand refueling the F-105s, EB-66s and F-4s. Would have stayed there forever if they would have let me.

Oct 66–Mar 67: Ellsworth AFB, SD. Did everything I could think of to keep from returning to Ellsworth and SAC. Finally called a guy at MPC at Randolph AFB and asked him how I could get out of SAC. He told me if I would send in a volunteer statement for “Project Jungle Jim” that he could have me out in 90 days. He said I was volunteering for the Air Commandos and that I would go back to Thailand. I said “great” and sent him the statement. That was in January 1967 and in March 1967 I left for Eglin AFB, FL for training.

May 67–May 70: Howard AFB, CZ. I ended up being assigned to the 24th Air Commando Wing at Ft Kobbe, Canal Zone. It was like flying for the Air Force Museum. I logged time in C-46s, C-47s, AC-47s and A-37Bs. Our mission was advisors and mobile training to all the Latin American countries. I was in every country in South America, Central America and most of the Caribbean. Also received a regular commission during this time.

May 70–Mar 73: Kirtland AFB, NM. Upon returning from overseas I volunteered for a high altitude reconnaissance unit flying RB-57Fs (a twin engine version of the U-2). Spent three years flying recon missions in a full pressure suit at altitudes of 60 to 70,000 feet and loved every minute of it. In March 73 we delivered part of our airplanes to NASA in Houston and the rest went to storage in Arizona. They told us we could go anyplace we wanted as the unit was being deactivated. I picked F-111s at Cannon AFB, NM.

Mar 73–Oct 77: Cannon AFB, NM. Checked out as a Weapons Systems Operator in the right seat of the F-111D and stayed there until I retired as a Major on 1 Oct 77.

Where We Are Now

I’m proud of my military career and would do it again in a heartbeat. All good things must end though and after retirement in October 1977 I returned to Medford, Oklahoma as a bachelor father with two boys to raise. I leased the local airport and opened a maintenance shop and aircraft rebuild operation. In 1984 I married my local bank teller and we became an instant family of 5 – with three teenagers. In 1986 the local Aviation Maintenance School asked me to instruct the airframe portion of their school until they found another instructor. In 1994 I told them it was time they found that other instructor because I was retiring again. In 1995 we moved to Grove, Oklahoma on Grand Lake of the Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma.

Plans For The Future

Our plans are to enjoy our retirement. We still have an airplane and I do some flying every chance I have. Our youngest son is chief pilot for the Simmons Food Company in Siloam Springs, AR which is about 40 miles from here. I make occasional trips with him as his copilot. Our oldest son has an engineering firm in Tulsa and also owns his own airplane. I also fly with him. Ole dad is also a pretty cheap mechanic when the airplane needs work. Our daughter lives back in Enid and has given us two grandchildren. As a member of the local Airport Authority Board I manage to stay fairly busy. All in all, life has been good. I have been blessed with good health and can still stay an active pilot and my family is all pretty much in “the local area”. What more could a person want.