After reading all the classified reports coming in from the Pentagon that the base at Sampson, N.Y. would close, I knew I had to get out of that place before the rush. With the location and the weather, the Pentagon was unhappy it opened the base in December, 1950, to train airmen for the Korean War.
I asked for and received my assignment to Parks Air Base in Dublin, Calif., another base that would soon close as the war in Korea was winding down. I would be the new noncommissioned officer of the base’s printing department. Parks was opened the same time Sampson had opened. One would train airmen in the west, the other trained them in the east for the Korean War .
My closest friend I grew up with was Rodney Gallion. We went to Burdine Grade School for eight years, and we did everything together. We played team sports together. I was with him soon after he found out that his dad was killed in a mining accident. It not only broke his heart, it also broke mine. I felt so sorry for him and his large family.
I’ve always been proud of Rodney’s older brother, Slick, who stepped in and took care of the family.
My first week at my new job I was told my good buddy was a military police instructor on base. I went looking for him. His first ser- geant told me where he was working, and when I drove up next to him I thought he would faint.
I had not seen or heard from him since I left Jenkins High School before I graduated and went into the military, seven years earlier.
Rodney told me he was unhappy in his job. I did not want to brag to him, but I told him I could get him the job he wanted. He wanted to get into the education career field, and I knew the officer in charge of that department.
The next day when I opened up my shop, the education officer came in with a big grin on his face. He had orders for me to print for Rodney to report to him the next day. I took a handful of the orders, looked up Rodney and gave them to him. I never saw anyone so happy.
We were both now in the same squadron and worked in the same building together. We had lots of coffee breaks together.
I was soon assigned to Hawaii. We never saw each other again until we both retired.
He stayed in the career field he loved so much for over 20 years. I visited him in Jenkins three times before he died about three years ago.
I lost my best friend. His late wife and my late wife were friends also.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.