Almost 70 years ago, I was on a troop train on my way to Sheppard Fields, Wichita Falls, Tex., for basic training in the Army Air Corps. This was the first time this old hillbilly had been away from home.
At first, it was very hard for an old farm boy who hardly knew his right foot from his left, but I was a fast learner and was in the top 10 percent of my class.
After the 12 weeks of training, I was picked for radio operator’s school at Scott Field, Belleville, Ill. I would be one of thousands training in classrooms and on the B-17 Bombers.
World War II had just ended, and the Pentagon decided they did not need all those radio operators during peacetime. I was one of the students who was to be retrained into another career field.
I was called into the commander’s office and asked how old I was. He had papers in front of him saying I was underage. I was to be discharged from the military.
I was told later that my mom wrote a letter to the military, telling them I was 16 years old. My mom says she never sent that letter.
I was sent to a base outside of Champaign, Ill., for the 90 days it would take to process my discharge. I was assigned to the base hospital when they found out I could type.
The men returning from World War II were report- ing for physicals for their discharges before being sent home. One of my jobs was to check each man for scars and anything they had on their body that they did not have when they went into the military. I then typed up the information to be added to their discharge papers.
We had a few lowranking officers who were brought there in handcuffs by the Military Police. They did not want to leave the military. One captain was there twice. He kept getting away from the MPs.
I was there for 90 days, then sent home, and reenlisted when I was 18 years old, and stayed until I was 41 years old. I liked the military. I learned a lot, and had a great job in the printing career field.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.