After my three months of basic training at Sheppard Field in Texas, I was assigned to Scott Field in Illinois for radio school. I was picked to take fast speed Morse code on a typewriter.
Others would learn the slow speed code while flying on aircraft. I was very unhappy.
Some of my classmates at Burdine Grade School knew code, and we would talk to each other.
During the start of our class we would learn code first, then learn to type.
There was a holiday coming up and we would all get a three-day pass. It was a long way to Jenkins, but I was very homesick and wanted to see my family. I started hitchhiking home.
In those days we had to wear our uniforms everywhere we went. I made real good time getting home.
I wanted to visit all of my friends in the short time I was home. I knew I had to be back for my class in two days.
I took the Greyhound Bus to Whitesburg to find a good spot to start my trip. I met a young lady from Jenkins I did not know on the crowded bus, and she asked me to sit with her.
Those were my shy days and she did most of the talking, telling me how nice I looked in my uniform. She wanted to know if she could write me, and I gave her my address.
I was late getting back to my base the next morning, and missed roll call. I had to report to my first sergeant.
I was on his basketball team and he transferred me to slow speed code that I had already mastered, and I was assigned to a B-17 Bomber.
I was in hog heaven to be flying. I was so proud to wear my crew member wings as a young 16-yearold boy.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)