In 1947 after being out of the military for a year and not finding work except odd jobs, I reenlisted in the Air Force at Langley Air Base, Va. I was in the 9th Air Force and they assigned me to the Air Sea Rescue Service, where I would be working on aircrafts.
I was also put on flying status and I was so proud of my crewmember wings that I wore everywhere. I would be flying with all enlisted pilots who were heroes in World War II, where they flew L-4 and L-5 aircraft in Europe, looking for German targets that our fighters and bombers would then come and destroy.
They were the craziest bunch of guys I ever met. Our job was to fly over the Atlantic Ocean along the Virginia and North Carolina coast, looking for downed aircraft, wrecked boats and people in the water who needed to be rescued. Often these pilots would act as if they were dogfighting in our small planes and scare the pants off of me.
One other duty we had on hot days was to spray the base with DDT to get rid of the biggest mosquitoes I had ever seen. Our barracks were old World War I shacks with a big pot-bellied stove in the middle of the floor. These pilots would fly down over our barracks and spray into the open windows and the men would run outside sometimes with nothing on but a towel and shake their fists at the pilots.
When we received our first helicopter I was picked to go to Georgia with the pilot to pick it up. We picked the helicopter up late, and wanted to get back before it got dark. That aircraft shook so badly I could hardly stand it. We had been flying a long time when we saw that the fuel gauge showed us we were low on fuel.
The pilot had to find a place to land, and all we saw was farmland with crops growing. We were somewhere over North Carolina, and we were looking for a cleared spot to put down.
We found a place next to a farmhouse and landed. The owner of the farm came to us as we got out to find out why we landed almost in his yard. He was very nice and let us use his phone to call our base and tell them what happened.
It was getting dark and our base said that it would be the next day before they could get someone there. The farmer fed us and gave us a place to sleep that night.
Next morning while we were having coffee, a man from the factory landed next to our helicopter with fuel and checked our helicopter out and said he could find nothing wrong. By that time every farmer from miles around showed up in their old pickups to see their first helicopter on the ground.
We took off and made it back to our base by noon. It made headlines everywhere, and I had my first picture in the newspaper. Whitesburg
I still remember where they all lived even though the houses are all gone. Someone asked me the other day, wonder why they didn’t keep the houses repaired and rent them? Some of the houses were real nice and some were small, four rooms and a porch instead of a bath. You can’t tell now there were every houses there. I can see most of it from where I live now.
I try to keep in touch with all the people I can. So many are gone now.
Thank you, Shirley Breeding, for the poem you sent me. You were right, it did make me laugh, but it all hit home for us senior citizens. I’m enjoying being one. It’s better than being old, isn’t it?
I’m getting to get my big bandages and the boot off my foot Monday and the stitches out of my toes and the pin out. It’s been bothersome, but I’m glad to have it over with. It hasn’t been painful like I thought it would be. I’m looking forward to having straight toes again.
Emma Lou Engle, if I had been there, I would have liked to kick that garbage can of yours for hurting you and Red. I hope you are OK now. I just thought, I couldn’t have done any kicking because of my toes. I’ve been intending to call you, but so far I’ve not got around to it. I don’t know what goes with the time. I don’t seem to have any spare time and yet I don’t get anything I have planned done.
My son Rob Hatton has been in Lexington. His son, Dr. Kevin Hatton, is having foot surgery. I hope he is doing OK. I think it was outpatient surgery.
Late happy birthday to Maggie Cook on Feb. 5. Also happy birthday to my sister Kathleen Brock on the 8th and my sister Betty Tyree on the 10th.
My sympathy goes out to the family of B.F. Adams. He was one of Clyde’s hunting buddies and his wife Clara is a friend of mine. I went to the funeral on Thursday and saw all his hunting buddies there. It was good seeing Imogene and Billy Eugene Smith there, and also Geneva