It took a long time to understand the crew that worked on and flew the president’s plane. It is said that only the top five percent of Air Force military are assigned to the Air Force One crew.
They never stand in line at the mess hall; it is catered to them. Their paycheck is delivered to them. They never do any extra duty.
During the five weeks I was their flight leader, I had to teach them how to march in formation, as most of them had not marched since basic training.
At the NCO Academy we had five flights of 25 men for a total of 125. Sometimes there would be a couple of women. The large barracks had two members to a room, and each flight had their own wing to stay in.
At the end of a day’s class, we had a softball game. At nights most would go to the NCO Club that was nearby. There were always a lot of women there. I was told by our instructor that most of these women were looking for husbands.
I tried to keep an eye on my flight and make sure they did not drink too much. I could tell some stories about a few of them who were away from their families. I also had to put a few of them to bed.
I found my flight were a very sharp bunch of men. They were all older than I was.
Some of us stayed in touch with each other, and when they flew into a base I was assigned to, we went out for lunch or had a coffee break.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in touch with any of them.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)