Military personnel did not stay long at the same base or in the same command. I was the exception. I was in the same command at three different bases for 15 years, and 11 years at Travis.
My boss was a full colonel from a little town in Virginia, and came into the service in 1937 with the U. S. Calvary.
Officers and enlisted men did not pal around together much. We were together for 15 years, and I did a good job for him and we liked each other. Over the years I taught him how to bowl, shoot pool, and to pitch horseshoes. He was on my bowling team.
Because I knew everyone in out unit, he had me on all his boards — promotion, Airman of the Year board, and picking the top 5 percent of the NCOs to go to the NCO Academy in Orlando, Fla. for five weeks.
He even had me go to the barracks on inspection day. He had already sent me to the academy a few years back, and he asked me to bring him back a jug of moonshine, which I did.
He knew we had one of the best print shops in the Air Force, and he was always getting letters of appreciation from all our units on the West Coast and Far East for the excellent printing jobs we did for them. It made him look very good.
We both lived on base and he would call me at my house some mornings and ask me to pick him up. I would drive my Model A Ford to his house, and he would ask me to move over, as he wanted to drive.
In April 1965, the C- 141A, nicknamed the ‘Golden Bear’ touched down at Travis. It marked the turnover of the first Lockheed Starlifter to an operational airlift unit of the United States Air Force. The entire base and many local dignitaries celebrated the event. My boss picked me to go on the maiden flight with the C-141A aircraft to Japan and return on this famous plane as an additional crewmember. That plane is now restored and sits in front of the base hospital.
My boss retired with 30 years of service. We kept in touch with each other. We always sent Christmas cards to each other.
The Christmas of 2009 I did not get a card from him. Four months later I got a call from his daughter. She told me that she had got my card and that her dad had passed away six months ago at the age of 93.
She also told me that her dad thought that I was the best thing that had happened to him in his military career. He told her many times that I was like the son he’d never had.
I knew him for 54 years and he was like a father to me. That was the first time I’d cried in years.