After basic training and wanting to fly, I went to radio operator school. I was soon training on a B-17 bomber.
World War II had just come to its end, and the military did not need all those radio people. I had a chance to go home after a year. As I was very homesick, I took my discharge and went home.
The only full-time job I could get in Jenkins was in the coal mines. I went back into the military for three years, and as I had finished radio school I was assigned as a radio operator and crew chief on an Air Sea Rescue Service plane.
I loved my job, but I knew I could not do that work back in Jenkins when my three years were up. I would need a trade I could use back home.
The military needed printers, as they were leaving for civilian life where they could make a lot of money. I signed up for “on job training” in that career field. It was the best move I ever made in my young life.
As a go-getter, I was the best printer in the shop after my first year there. When new equipment came into the shop, I was the first to learn all about that equipment. I would then teach the other men how to operate it.
In June 1949, the war started in Korea. I was picked to open the new base in New York State to train the young men we would need for this war. Sampson Air Base would train men from the eastern states. Parks Air Base in California was opened to train them in the west. The Korean War would last almost five years.
I would then go to bigger and better jobs, sometimes printing for a whole country or a quarter of the world where our military was assigned, and many of them knew of me.
Then it came down to my last 14 months when I returned stateside and was assigned to the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world, and I was to be in charge of the largest communication center in the world.
I knew that it was time to make a big change. I put in for retirement, and was out in 90 days.
The military was good to me. I was taught many things, and it made me the person I am today. I’ve been to many places, and have seen things you would not believe. I’m very proud of my service to my country.
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force wrote me a letter and gave it to me at my retirement, saying that I had climbed the ladder to the very top during my 27-year career.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.