When I arrived at Hickam Field, Hawaii in March 1955, Hawaii was not yet a state. The military was getting overseas pay. I was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Division (PACD) Military Air Transport Service (MATS) in charge of printing from Hickam Field to Japan.
Less than two years late, classified messages started coming in from the Pentagon that our headquarters would be moved stateside to Parks Air Force Base, Calif., the base to which I was assigned before I came to Hickam Field.
Rumors were everywhere.
My headquarters was made up of more than 750 Navy and Air Force personnel, and all our aircraft would have to be moved.
We had many high-ranking officers, with a two-star admiral in command. The planes would be moved to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., 75 miles north of Parks Air Base, which had no runways. Travis was to make room for our headquarters within two years.
When the officers found out I was at Parks Air Base before I came to Hawaii, they wanted to talk to me, but knowing all this was classified at the time, they had to be sneaky about it. In the next few weeks, I got to know a lot of officers.
After all this was declassified, I was asked by my boss to take a list of 25 military people who needed housing at Parks Air Base as I knew the landlords of the apartments outside the base. My family lived there before I went overseas. I flew into Travis and they had a car for me to drive the 75 miles to Parks. The owners of the apartments were glad to see me as some units at Parks had moved to other assignments and many apartments were ready for move-in.
A year later, my headquarters would take over command of Travis Air Force Base, and is there today.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)