Life Before AF
Reared on both a small farm and in a small town of about 400 in deep Southern Illinois. High School class was only 29 at graduation. Our homes had no running water or electricity with two seat outhouses in the back yards. I learned to hunt and fish early, in order to provide for the table. I studied at night using an oil lamp. Does anyone else remember the Aladdin lamps? I graduated third in my class from a high school which had no science or language courses. My sons don’t believe any of this so I won’t hold it against anyone that doubts my truthfulness. I worked in a furniture factory for almost a year between high school and joining the Air Force in Jul 1956.
Attended basic training at Parks AFB, CA and was assigned to the Weather Observer School at Chanute AFB. Il. After graduation, I spent about a year and a half at Eglin AFB, Fla. as a Rawinsonde Operator sending up weather balloons. From there I moved to RAF Fairford, England as a Surface Observer. While there I also did duty as assistant Chief Observer, weather equipment repairman and Detachment Clerk as additional duties. I extended there long enough to meet Elizabeth, get married, make SSgt with one year time in grade and get an assignment to OCS. I was initially assigned to class 63-B, but got a delay to 63-C because our first child was due in Jul 62. I still love England and visit often.
Memories of OCS
I had not received any information about uniform requirements so I fell out to the first formation with SSgt stripes on my sleeves. That was the first of many times I learned that I was a “heinous clod.” I remember sweating in the closet with all of my uniforms on—WHY?, morning runs, standing and eating at a brace, steel heel taps and white glove inspections. I will never forget (though I have tried) my most important job as protector of the First Class while they watched horror movies. And finally, on the anniversary of the Navy running down the Air Force I had to run around the Officer Training area, carrying the ship and rammed plane while singing anchors away at the top of my lungs. Oh yes, I must not forget the First Class “hate sessions”, both ours and our First Class. What great fun!!!!!!!
Good jobs and big jobs. I always seemed to perform better than I thought I was able. My bosses had more faith in me than I did myself. For those in the know, I even spent four to five years in the Palace Vista program until I shot myself in the foot by accepting a no-nothing job in Defense Logistics Agency. REALLY, REALLY BIG MISTAKE! Navy Captains can’t write AF OERs worth a damn. That is why my email addy is afmaj instead of afltcol or something better. However, I do have some great things to remember my Air Force service by—a paycheck every month, a Bronze Star Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals and two Commendation Medals. My legacy to the AF is a son doing the same type of job I did at HQ MAC (now AMC). He is a SMSgt and AMC Chief, KC-10 Refueling Standardization and Evaluation. I expect him to make CMSgt within the next year.
After attending the basic Transportation Officer’s Course, I was assigned to Biggs AFB, TX as Trans Sqdn Cmdr. From there to the Sqdn Cmdr job at Glasgow AFB, MT then to the Trans Staff Officer’s Course while on my way to Viet Nam. I spent about 10 months as OIC of Air Freight at the Cam Rahn Bay Aerial Port and then four months as Det Cmdr at the Tuy Hoa Aerial Port. From there I moved to Rhein Main AB, Germany as Cmdr of the largest AF Transportation Squadron in USAFE. After four years I was reassigned to Hq SAC as OIC of the Air Operations Branch for three years. Then I made the move to “death valley” as far as promotions were concerned. The three years I spent in St. Louis, Mo working in DLA were a nightmare. It was a “position” and there was not a damned thing to do with a bunch of civilians running everything. My skin is crawling just thinking about it! After that, I just about decided to retire.
However, a call from BGen Griffith (OCS graduate) requesting that I take over the Trans Cmdr job at his worst unit in SAC, put me on an unaccompanied tour to Andersen AFB, Guam. I did a job on that squadron and Gen Griffith asked for me at MAC Hq. I did six months in War Plans until the job opened as Chief, Transportation Standardization and Evaluation. My team and I traveled all over the world for the next two years. By then I was near the 26-year mark and having experienced a bunch of promotion failures (thanks DLA), I decided to retire. Who knows, I might have made LC in the primary zone if I had spent one more year. Yeh, who knows?
Where I Am Now
Along the way, I obtained my BA in Business Management and after retirement, I got my MS in Education plus a Specialist in Counseling. However, I never taught school. Instead, I started a construction business and built duplexes and houses for awhile. I then switched to residential/commercial electrical work and kept 7 men employed for almost 10 years. I sold the business at the end of 1992 and moved back to my home town where I have spent the past 8 years as an elected Trustee of the town, doing volunteer work wiring houses for Habitat for Humanity, helping with Red Cross Blood Drives, and working some in the local Veteran’s Hospital. In my spare time, I fish, read and travel. I am totally retired and haven’t had a job since 92. I just haven’t had time to work! My house, cars, truck, and boat are paid for and we shop for the cheapest airline tickets we can find. I went from running 100 miles a week from 1970 to 1982, to 20 pounds overweight and find that my workouts in the Health Club get harder all the time. My prostate is the size of a bowling bowl, but no cancer, thank God. Just don’t get between me and the bathroom. Elizabeth says my snoring is getting worse all the time and I spend many nights on the couch or a spare bed. At 65, and 42 years of marriage I can put up with a little time alone. Besides, I get up between 4:30 and 5:00 am every morning to go fishing and would pay through the nose if I bothered her!
Plans For The Future
You have probably guessed that my future does not include work. We have a two-year-old granddaughter in California that we try to visit every 4 months or so. We just heard yesterday that a second one is on the way so we will be doing what we are doing as long as we are able. For me, it will be: fish, read and travel. Please don’t anyone offer me a job. I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up then dash them to the ground. (:->) Oh yes, I plan to stay bald and not get the facelift my wife wants me to get.