Whitesburg KY

USAAF — A great way of life

The senior men in the shop had a special joke we would pull on the new guys. We went with our tools to the aircraft we were going to work on. Then we’d start looking through our pockets and say, “Oh no!” I forgot the ignition keys! Go back to the shop and tell Sgt. Husky to give you the key to aircraft number 238.” Husky would send him to production control. They would send him to the superintendent’s office. He would send him looking for an hour for the non-existent ignition key. He would be very confused by the time he got back to the flight line.

New men are very curious. I was too. One day during the lunch hour, I climbed up on the wing of the fighter. There was a push-lock panel that said, “Hydraulic Tank.” I opened it and looked in. I opened the lid to the tank. I didn’t even notice the warning printed on the plane, “Depressurize tank before removing the cap.”

Red hydraulic fluid gushed out, going all over the engine inside. I got away from there fast. I didn’t want anyone to know what I had done. When they found all that hydraulic fluid dripping out the bottom of the plane, they got excited. We had to pull the engine from the plane. No leaks. They looked for two months for that leak, and never found it. I never told anyone what I had done

An aircraft loaded with dummy rockets was put on jacks. They were testing the landing gear. A new man was put into the cockpit, and he was told to raise and lower the gear, and not to touch anything else. He pushed in the armament circuit breaker and pulled the trigger. A rocket went through the front of the aircraft, through a metal door, through the welding shop, and through the window and stuck in a dirt bank. The man was demoted one stripe. It’s a wonder no one was hurt or killed.

Just as we were getting off work one day, a plane was taking off. It lost altitude and the engine cut off. I looked up to see the plane smack into the ground and explode. The pilot ejected on the ground, and fell back into the flames. He lived three days. We had a parade in his honor.

At quitting time one day, I saw a strange-looking plane in the parking area. Two air policemen were guarding it. The next day, I watched it take off. It was a MIG-15 that was flown into Germany and surrendered to the U.S forces by a Polish pilot. They took it to California for testing.

For a long time, I felt the calling of the Lord to start preaching. I kept putting Him off. When I told my wife, she said, “You start preaching and I’ll leave you.” (Her father, Tim Boring, was a preacher.) Finally, from 1990 to 1995, I preached to the deaf in my church.

One day on KP, I met a new cook. It was my old enemy, my Air Force recruiter from Whitesburg. I told him off about lying to me and my buddy David. He was a cook on the base. After that, every time I had KP he would give me an easy job.

One day, I saw my cook buddy loading turkeys into the truck of his car. He put seven frozen birds in a box, covered them up, and closed the trunk. I asked him where he was going. He said, “I’m taking these home to Neon . They ordered too many to cook here for Thanksgiving and told us to get rid of the extra ones.”

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