The end of World War II and rapid demobilization contributed to many changes in the military.
Personnel were leaving the service in droves. Many veterans were having trouble finding work in civilian life, and those who stayed in the military found that promotions were hard to come by.
When I turned 18 years old and could not find work in Letcher County, I reenlisted in the Army Air Corps. I wanted to be trained in a career field that I could use in civilian life when my enlistment was up.
Most everyone wanted to fly or work on aircraft. With only a high school GED, I was very lucky to be assigned to the Air Sea Rescue Service where I would be a crew chief on one of our rescue planes. I would also fly with my enlisted pilot on all of our missions.
On 23 June, 1948, the Soviet Union announced that it would no longer allow the Western Allies access by land into West Berlin, East Germany. This resulted in the massive Berlin Airlift, also known as ‘Operation Vittles.’
Between 26 June, 1948 and May 1949, everything had to be airlifted over the Russian-occupied zone of East Germany by our transport planes. My Air Sea Rescue Service Unit had orders to be assigned to Rhine Main, Germany to be on call if any of our planes went down enroute.
Our commander called me to his office to tell me my assignment for ‘on the job training’ in the printing career field I had applied for had been approved, and he gave me my orders for Lackland Field, Texas.
That was one of the best decisions I would make in my 27-year Air Force career. I became one of the best Air Force printers for my next 24 years.