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February 8, 2023 at 10:01 pm #3573user_524319Participant
In 1965, after informing my parents that I had enlisted in the Air Force and was leaving for the induction center at Whitelhall Street in New York, my father gave me three pieces of advice: 1. Don’t ever volunteer. He gave an example. If your drill sergeant asks if any one knows how to whistle and you raise your hand, he will tell you to whistle “Dixie” while you are cleaning the latrine. 2. You can be as happy as you want or as miserable as you want. It’s all a matter of attitude. 3. If you want to meet a nice girl, go to church.
I witness the first piece of advice almost immediately upon arrival at Lackland during basic training. After the TI had encouraged us to sign up for our servicemen’s life insurance policy, he asked if anyone in the unit had run track. A number of hands went up and after he narrowed the volunteers down to one, he handed the paperwork to the “volunteer” and told him to “run” the paperwork over to HQ while the rest of us took a break. The other two pieces of advice were to be followed after we finished basic and I was to receive orders to report to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo. Upon receipt of the orders, I called home to let my parents know where I would be stationed for tech school. When I mentioned San Angelo to my dad, he laughed and laughed and told me that he had been at Goodfellow when he was in the service during World War II. He said that it was so hot that for shade they used to lie under the wings of the aircraft for shade. He also said that there was really nothing to do, so for entertainment, the used to take a blade of grass and stick it down a tarantula hole. When the tarantula grabbed the blade of grass, they would walk it over to an ant hill and drop it to watch the ants devour the tarantula.
Since I arrived at Goodfellow in November, the heat wasn’t as bad as my dad had warned me. My first weenend, I went into town and on Sunday morning I attended the service at the First Methodist Church on the corner of Beauregard and Oaks. After the service was over and I started to leave, a family came up to me and asked me if I was stationed at Goodfellow. When I said that I was, they asked me that if I had no other plans, would I like to come to their home for Thanksgiving dinner. I became involved with the young adult group at the church and as a result, I had something to do all of my free time from Goodfellow and I did meet several nice girls. When I was on base going to school, etc. I did hear a number of the guys (especially the ones from bigger cities) griping and complaining about nothing to do in San Angelo.
After finishing tech school in June and awaiting our PCS orders, my group at the church had planned a weekend camping trip. The week before the camping trip, we were told that there was to be a GI party in the barracks and a standby inspection and that all leaves and passes were canceled for the weekend. I immediately called the church and explained that I would not be able to go because of the inspection and apologized. Two days later, I received a call from the 6941st School Squadron commander to report to him. When I arrived, he asked me about the church group and I told him that I had already canceled. He said, “Don’t worry. You go on that camping trip.” The following Monday, my buddies asked where I had been and after I told them what happened, the next Sunday, the whole barracks ended up going into town to church.
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