Whitesburg KY

Arson on Travis Air Force Base, California

n the mid 1960s during the Vietnam War, Travis Air Force Base starting having fires set by someone, all over the base — the base library, the base theater, our command post where all our planes were tracked 24 hours a day.

All the fires were set at night. Because of wartime, the base was on alert, and all activities were open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everyone on base was very scared of this arsonist, and some of the airmen started carrying small clubs with which to defend themselves.

My printing department was also open 24/7, and our doors were always open for the people who wanted printing done. A lot of ‘Top Secret’ work went on, day and night. The arsonist could very easily start a fire in our building, and with all the chemicals we had in our shop, it would burn in seconds.

After the arsonist was caught, we found out why he was trying to burn most of the base. He went home on leave to San Diego, Calif., unexpectedly and caught his wife with another man, and he went nuts.

The way he was caught was that he went downtown to the Ford dealership to test drive a new car. He told the salesman he would take the car and they filled the paperwork out for a loan at Travis Credit Union. A couple of days later the Ford people called him at work and told him that his loan was turned down. That night he went back to the Ford dealership and torched the car.

They found out that he was the last person to drive that car, and the Fairfield Police, along with the base military police, came to my printing department and put him in handcuffs. This staff sergent had worked for me for years, and was in charge of my collating department.

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