The Pentagon found out early that basic training at Sampson Air Base in New York would not go well in the wintertime. This new base that was opened to train new Air Force recruits was not a good training center.
The rumor that was going around on base was that a person fell into a snowdrift and was never seen again.
This new war in Korea was not going well. We were not the only country to send troops there. When the Pentagon started the draft, a lot of our young men headed for Canada, again.
During the winters of World War II, the Navy, which used Sampson to train troops, had the same problem with the very deep snow. They built five large buildings to train the men inside. The Air Force did the same, used the large build- ings to train the troops.
Johnny Cash was caught up in all of this wartime stuff. He took it better than I thought he would.
During his last week of training, he asked if my men and I would come to his graduation. Because of the bad weather, he didn’t know if any of his friends would be coming.
Five of my printers and myself went. It was the first time I saw Johnny with a cap on. He always had it in his pocket.
Johnny would start his new job in two days. I saw very little of him after he graduated. They played other bases a lot.
The last time I saw him was when he came by to tell me he was going to miss his old buddy. I never saw him again.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)