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My good friend in Hawaii was an Air Force general


When I was assigned to Hickam Field, Hawaii, in 1954 I was a staff sergeant in charge of printing for the Headquarters Pacific Division (PACD). He was a captain and aide to Admiral Williamson, our commander. Half of our staff was Navy. We both were in our mid 20s.

The officers would play the noncommissioned officers in softball once a month, and we would put a whipping on them.

In 1956, our headquarters would move back stateside to Parks Air Force Base, Calif., waiting for the length of the runways for our transport planes and making room for us at Travis Air Force Base as we were to take over command of the base and all of the Far East as Headquarters Western Air Force (WESTAF).

For the next 13 years when my friend would visit Travis, he would come by the printing department and ask me, “Van, are you still here? Have you been anyplace else?” He would have another rank, and I would have another stripe. He would take me to coffee.

During my three years in Germany, he was a major general and commander of 22nd Air Force at Travis. I kept tabs on him.

When I retired in December 1972 at the Pentagon and returned to California for the job waiting for me, I went into the Travis Credit Union to get money to buy a house. One of the workers came to me and said the manager wanted to see me. When I got to the office, the manager was my old pal of 66 years. He had seen me from his plate glass window. He had also seen my name as one of the first members of Travis Credit Union 50 some years earlier.

He lost his wife years ago, but is now remarried, and says he is happy. When I visit the base I run into him now and then. In all the years I have known him, I have never flown with him.

(The late Everett Vanover lived in California.)

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