The first time I met Lyndon B. Johnson was when I escorted the first Air Force master sergeant Vietnam casualty to Arlington Cemetery for burial.
They had an Honor Guard for the sergeant, and Vice President Johnson came by and shook my hand. We talked for a short while.
Later, I was one of the top five percent to be picked to go to the Non- Commissioned Officers Academy in Orlando, Fla., for the five-week course. I was made the flight leader of Air Force One’s crew.
In the next 12 years before I retired, these guys kept in touch with me. They never forgot what I did for them. We won the award for having the best marching flight, and we also won the award for winning every softball game while there.
When Air Force One visited the base where I was assigned, the crew at least took me to coffee.
I was at Travis flight line when then-President Johnson landed on his way to the funeral of the Australian Prime Minister.
He was there an hour while Air Force One refueled. When he saw his crew members shaking hands with me, he came over and shook my hand. Some of the crewmembers were trained by me at the academy, and they told the President what I did for them.
The President told me he appreciated so much for what I had done. He shook my hand again, and went to the VIP Lounge to meet the base commander.
His crew and I all went for coffee before taking off again.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.