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We broke the lock


I left Lackland Field, Texas, on December 17, 1950 for Sampson Air Base, New York, driving a 1946 Olds, arriving a few days before Christmas. I drove into the town of Geneva, New York, and stopped at a service station to ask for directions to Sampson. No one could tell me how to get there. Sampson was a Navy base during World War II. A policeman came by and gave me directions.

When I arrived, the snow, high grass and weeds were everywhere. A couple of airmen were standing near the gate with their hands in their pockets — it was very cold. The gate had a big lock on it that looked like it was on for years. I got a tool out of my car, and broke the lock and no military police to show us where to go.

Someone had been there before us, they had come in through another gate. They had the heat on in the first building we came to, which turned out to be the base headquarters. It was some time before anyone else showed up.

A Captain Satulla asked the seven of us that came into the base the first hour it was opened what department each of us would be working in. I was the only one who would be working for the Captain, as he would be the officer in charge of print, publications and special orders.

He showed me where I would be working, a closet with one printing press in it. I turned the press on, and it walked all over the floor.

He asked me if I could type. I told him yes, and he asked me to type up promotion orders for all the 37 men that had arrived at this time. There were some very happy guys when I gave them their orders, including myself.

Basic training began in two months. I had eight offset presses, four mimeographs, a large paper cutter, and the first platemaker that was rented from Haloid Corporation, now Xerox. There were a lot of bugs in the platemaker, and we helped them iron them out.

Four years later, talk was that Sampson was going to be closed. The war was over, bad location, and the weather were the reasons given. I did not want to get caught in the mad rush of people getting out of there, so I put in for a transfer and got Parks Air Base, California, as its noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of Reproduction Services. After a year at Parks, the same talk about closing started and I put in for overseas and got Hickam Field, Hawaii, which ended up being one of my best moves in the military. The people liked me, and I was with this headquarters overseas and stateside for the next 11 years, as NCOIC of its printing department.

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