I was standing in line at the Travis Air Force Base Credit Union. This master sergeant kept looking at me. When I finished banking, he was waiting to talk with me. I then see this fellow had worked for me many years ago. We have each other a big hug.
When the Vietnam War started in the early ‘60s, my printing department went from seven printers to over 20 overnight. This master sergeant standing in front of me was a young 17-year-old kid, right out of basic training and looking like he’d rather be someplace else.
The first big change in our shop was we would be open 24/7. Most of the young “want-to-be printers” were assigned to work nights. Something told me that this one kid would need some extra help from me. He would work the day shift where I could keep an eye on him.
Over the next few months, I not only taught him to run the equipment, I taught him to repair it. I noticed this young man to be way ahead of the other new printers. With me on the promotion board, I made sure my men were promoted when ready.
Eight years later, I was picked to be in charge of all printing in Europe for the next three years. I ran into many of my printers who had worked for me at one time.
I never saw the young man I helped train over 25 years ago until that morning at the credit union. I was later told he was one of the best printers in the Air Force. I’m proud to have trained him.
He is now retired, and owns his own shop in his home state.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)