During the Viet Nam War, I received a message from the Far East asking for help with their printing equipment.
My boss, General Cunningham, asked me to print orders on myself for the Far East, that I was leaving that night. The orders that I printed allowed me to fly as an additional crewmember.
I was then told that the only plane leaving Travis Air Force Base that night was a SAC B-52 Bomber.
When I boarded the aircraft on our flight line and stored my gear, there were seven crewmembers wondering who this master sergeant was who would be flying with them. I would fly with them to Hickam Air Base, Hawaii, where one of our MATS (Military Air Transport Service) Aircraft was standing by to take me to my destination.
I went up front to the cockpit where I would sit behind the pilot and copilot during my trip. I got the surprise of my life.
The pilot looked around as I took my seat, and I saw General Jimmy Stewart, who had been recalled to active duty for his war. He had been told that I would be flying on this trip with him.
He took my hand and introduced himself to me, and I told him who I was. I had never been inside a B-52 Bomber before. I was amazed, seeing all the controls on this largest United States bomber.
We took off before dark and in no time we were flying over the Golden Gate Bridge. The plane was very fast. I had flown in the back seat of a fighter jet once on my way home to Jenkins that took me to Wright- Patterson Field in Ohio, but nothing compared to this aircraft.
I had my radio on, and General Stewart started talking to me. At first I was tongue tied to have a great movie star and the man I thought the world of, who now was talking to me man to man, to this old Kentucky hillbilly.
He wanted to know all about me and my career in the Air Force. I told him about my growing up on a farm in the mountains of Kentucky, and of my enlisting in the old Army Air Corps as a young teenager, and of the job I now had as the NCOIC of all printing from the Mississippi to the Far East. He told me he was very impressed.
He told me about some of the movies he had made and all the people he knew in Hollywood. He said that after the war, even though he loved flying and the Air Force, that he was thinking about retiring from the military.
We talked most of the way to Hawaii. He asked me if I’d ever been to Hawaii before and I told him I had been there eight times. The time had passed so fast for me, talking to my idol.
When we landed, we stood under this big bomber and talked for awhile. He then shook my hand and told me that he enjoyed our talk, and we said so long to each other.
I then boarded the plane that was standing by for me. I never saw him again, up close in person, but I will always think of the plane ride I had with this great man.