In 1969, while at Wisbaden, Germany, I was asked to visit the three bases in England where we had printing departments on British bases.
I flew out of Rhein Main Air Field, Germany, and was in England in three hours. One of my printers picked me up and took me to the barracks I would stay in for the two days I would be there.
That evening we went to a club on base to get something to eat. A couple of British pilots were sitting at the next table and kept looking at me. One of the men said, “We know you, you are the Dutch guy, Van something, who played basketball with us in Rantoul, Ill. In the late 1946s while we were going to pilot training.”
I was sent to Rantoul when the B-17 bomber I was flying in was grounded after World War II. I was waiting for my discharge after being in the military for a year.
We talked about the Korean War that started in June 1949, and the Chinese pilots who also trained at Rantoul that would now be fighting the American and the British pilots.
I was asked to come to their club the next night. I met other British pilots I knew who had played sports at the base gym together in 1946. The next morning I flew back to Germany.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)