When Johnny Cash was drafted, he would be taking basic training at the new base opened to train men in the eastern United States. The Korean War broke out in June 1949, and the Air Force opened a couple of new bases to train new men they needed for this new war.
Dec. 19, 1949, I was one of the first to report to this new base, Sampson Air Force Base in Geneva, N.Y. After my three years in Texas, the deep snow and very cold weather were hard to take. Basic training started in February 1950, and thousands of recruits had arrived the first two months.
The first time I saw Johnny Cash was at our NCO Club. He was entertaining base personnel, singing some of his songs. He had a lot of people hanging around him, some of them civilians from Nashville, Tenn.
My printers and I got a chance to talk with him and when he found out I was from Jenkins we had a long chat.
After basic training, Johnny Cash was assigned to Special Services to tour other bases with his music.
During this time Willie Nelson was taking his training at Lackland Air Base in Texas. They would later tour together the year they were in the Air Force.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.