I was in charge of all printing in Europe. I was picked to go with the general inspection team of 10 high-ranking noncommissioned officers to all eight of our bases in England. We would be gone a week.
The second base we inspected, the printer had worked for me many years stateside. The rest of our team had other parts of the base to check out. We would all meet at the flight line to leave for the next base at 2 p.m.
At lunchtime, we went to the mess hall to eat. As we walked through the chow line, someone called my name. My buddy Dickie Anderson from my hometown of Jenkins, who had come into the military when we were young teenagers, was standing in front of me, serving food to the troops.
He came to our table to talk with us.
I never met many guys like Dickie. He could talk to anyone, and say anything to them. I had been shy and quiet all my life.
Eight of us had left Jenkins wanting to fly in the military. Six of the guys left the first night before they swore us in, and went back to Jenkins. I will not name them and embarrass them.
I was sorry for Dickie, rank was slow in coming to cooks. As I was a sergeant and the because of the job I had, I could tell he was very impressed. I was the only one who ended up flying.
During our last few days of basic training, I was marching my flight to Red River Valley Bivouac Area in western Texas and this big truck came roaring up this dirt road, tooting his horn for us to get out of the way. Dickie Anderson was in the back of the truck waving at me.
I said he could talk himself into anything.
He went to cook school, and I was flying in a B-17 bomber after basic.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.