Whitesburg KY

In memory of my Air Force printer

This story was written by me many years ago about one of my printers who worked for me many years ago for a newsletter that was never printed. He was recalling his basic training at Sampson Air Force Base in the cold winter.

“Late at night on Oct. 1, 1951, Sampson AFB provided the gateway to a long — and for the greater part — an enjoyable Air Force career. Our flight arrived at the Geneva, N.Y. train terminal about 2200 hours and was bussed to Sampson. The screaming by the drill instructor began on the bus ride and continued approximately 12 weeks. Stopping at supply, each member was issued two sheets, two blankets, a pillow, and pillowcase. We were bedded down in one of the drill halls with four other flights. Imagine the part with 400 roommates. About the time we crawled into bed we were awakened by screams and beatings on the bed rails.

“I was off to the chow hall in a speedy run, then afterwards to in-processing. The chaplain spoke and delayed departure until each of us had written to our parents providing the required information to write to us along with the proper channels for personal contact.

“I still have vivid memories of Sampson including bivouac and the field kitchen which was set up by the lake. The sea gulls qualified as experts, hitting our mess kits with their droppings. The second day our flight was allowed to dine in the mess hall. I’ll never forget cadence songs we all sang to count cadence as we marched so proudly, such as ‘Call a doctor, call a nurse, Sampson weather is getting worse.’ Many of those song lyrics should not be printed. Daybreak, after my dead-of-night guard duty, revealed that I had guarded a cemetery.”

Many of our Letcher County young men went to Sampson for basic training during the Korean War. I was assigned there all four years it was opened. The above printer worked for me eight years.

( Columnist Evere t t Vanover lives in California.)

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