Whitesburg KY

New job was overwhelming

My headquarters returned stateside to Travis Air Force Base, California in the mid 1950s when Strategic Air Command (SAC) handed over the keys of the base to Military Air Transport Service (MATS) as well as the West Transport Air Force (WESTAF) as my boss, Major General Russell Waldron, took command.

We set up shop at Travis, overseeing four bases including Travis and a slice of the globe from Florida to Saudi Arabia, which included 37,000 miles of military air routes. Even though its East Coast bases were reassigned, the land between the Mississippi River to Saudi Arabia was still a big chunk of territory.

The base hospital was expanded to accommodate thousands of wounded troops from the Korean Conflict.

The first mission by a Travis aircraft to Southeast Asia took place in 1954 when, in the aftermath of the disastrous French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, ten of the base’s C-97s collected 509 French soldiers from what was then called Indochina and flew them to France and Algeria.

In ten years, Travis would be back, and the place would have a new name — Vietnam.

I was assigned to Travis Air Force Base for 13 years. I never worked so hard in my life.

( The late Eve re t t Vanover, a contributing writer for many years for The Mountain Eagle, was born in Jenkins and lived in California.)

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