Whitesburg KY

My printer went AWOL

April 1949, our boss put me in charge of the base printing at Lackland Field, San Antonio, Tex. I told him the only thing I was ever in charge of was Old Jack, the mule I plowed with back in Kentucky.

He did not think it was funny.

June 1949, the United States declared war on North Korea after it invaded South Korea. The Pentagon froze all discharges for one year.

Three of my printers were to be discharged in a couple of months. They had jobs waiting for them in civilian life making a lot more money than they made in the military.

I was also getting out of the service that year, but I went to personnel and reenlisted for three more years and received the $360 bonus, the most money I had in my hands at one time.

I went downtown and bought my first car, a 1938 Ford sedan.

One of my printers who was due to get out in a couple of months had a job waiting for him at the San Antonio newspaper. He asked for a three-day pass to visit his grandparents in Mexico. I gave him the pass.

Two days later his mother, who lived in San Antonio, called me and said that her son had called to tell her he would not be back. That coming weekend that young man would be AWOL, and in a lot of trouble.

The mother called me again Friday and said the kid wanted to come back, but had no way to get home. She asked me if I would go to Mexico the next morning and pick him up.

She wanted to go with me to make sure he came back. I had never been to Mexico and I wanted to try out my new car, so I said okay.

It was 155 miles to Mexico, and I drove it in four hours and picked the kid up. He was AWOL for one day.

I pulled some strings and he got off clean. He never forgot what I did for him.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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