Whitesburg KY
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Mostly cloudy

My biggest challenge

Many men and women from every state in the union either left Travis Air Force Base in California or returned there when their tour of duty was over from the Pacific. The base was known as the “Gateway to the Pacific.”

Travis Air Force Base is currently the home of headquarters, the 15th Air Force, one of two numbered Air Forces constituting the Air Mobility Command (AMC) 60th Air Mobility Wing, the largest airlift organization in the Air Force.

Travis covers 6,250 acres, ample room for its two 11,000-foot runways, and employs approximately 10,000 military and civilian personnel.

This base traces its roots to an isolated airstrip with tarpaper barracks and maintenance hangers established on windswept California in the midst of World War II.

Ten years later, my headquarters at Hickham Field, Hawaii assumed command of Travis from Strategic Air Command (SAC).

My boss, Major General Russell L. Waldron, called me into his office. He said, “Sergeant Vanover, you and your men will move all printing equipment from all squadrons on base and put them in the big building we have for you. You will be the NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) of all printing from the Mississippi River to Wiesbaden Air Base in Japan.”

The most people I had working for me was 17, during the Korean War. Now I would be in charge of printing in two bases in California, two in Hawaii, and two in Japan.

This old hillbilly had come a long way in 10 years. In October 1968, I left for three years in Germany as NCOIC of all printing in Europe.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)

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