After I was put in charge of the Air Force One crew, it took me a long time to understand the men who worked and flew on our President’s plane. All the men were older than me. None had marched in formation since basic training years ago.
They never stood in line at the mess hall, it was always catered to them. Their mail was delivered to them, also their paycheck. They pulled no extra duties.
The five flights of 25 men in each flight lived in one large barracks, with two airmen to a room. All the men in my flight were Air Force One’s crew.
At the end of a day’s class, we usually had a softball game between the flights. At nights most men would go to the noncommissioned officers’ club that was nearby in the area.
There were always a lot of girls there. I was told by our instructors most of these women were looking for husbands.
I kept an eye on my flight and made sure they did not drink too much. I could tell some stories about a few of them who were away from their ladies. I also had to put a few of them to bed.
I found my flight was a very sharp bunch of men. Only the top five percent of them are assigned to Air Force One’s crew. It is also said that only the top five percent are sent to the NCO Academy.
We were later sent to Cape Canaveral for the first Gemini Space Capsule launch into space in October 1963.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)