In the early 50's, most of my friends and classmates joined the service upon graduation from high school. I was no exception as I joined the Air Force at the age of 17 following graduation in October, 1953. I was sent to Sampson AFB in Geneva,NY for my basic training. I was an Airman/Basic. That, in case you don't know it, is the lowest form of life on the earth. I didn't have any trouble remembering it because my TI reminded me of it several times a day. There were 60 of us assigned to Flight 2893. Our TI had a pet name for us. He referred to us as the biggest bunch of "Dip-S--ts" he had ever seen. I'm still trying to figure out if that was a compliment. I made it through basic training alright and put on my first stripe. I was now an A/3C and I was on my way to Keesler AFB in Mississippi for Technical School.
I arrived at Keesler AFB in January of 1954 and was happy to be somewhere that it was warm in January. I was to attend school for 6 weeks to become a radar operator. My Air Force Specialty code was 273. That designated an Aircraft Control and Warning operater. I was graduated from school in March of 1954 and received orders to report to Willow Run AF Station in Belleville, Michigan. I never thought I would ever see Keesler AFB again, but was to revisit in 1994 to see my son and his family, since they were now stationed there.
I took a 2 week leave before reporting to Willow Run AF Station and arrived there in April, 1954. This was the home of the Headquarters, 30th Air Division. Our responsibility was to watch the skies via radar throughout the midwest. I spent approximately 18 months there and left as an A/2C. I was now on my to Iceland for one year.
I arrived in Iceland in the summer of 1955 and was assigned to H3. This was a remote radar site on the southeastern corner of Iceland. It was just outside of a very small town called Hofn. The site was still under construction when I arrived and for 6 months, I did duty as an electrician's helper and a plumber's helper. Once the site was finished and we became operational, I resumed my normal duties as a radar operator. Our responsibilty here was to watch the skies for any unidentified aircraft heading for the states.There wasn't a whole lot to do up there, but we managed to make it through our year and for that we were rewarded with our base of choice. At least, the Air Force made an attempt to get you to your base of choice. I made out very well as I received orders for Hanscom AFB in Bedford, Massachusetts.My parents lived in Melrose, Massachusetts which was about a 20 minute drive from the base. I left Iceland as an A/1C.
I arrived home from Iceland in the summer of 1956 and took a 30 day leave before reporting to Hanscom AFB.Hanscom was and still is a research and development base. I was assigned to a crew that was working with some new-fangled radar that would actually be controlled by a computer, of all things. I was at Hanscom for two years before being reassigned to Eglin AFB in Florida. Leaving New England to go to Florida was not hard for me to take. I left Hanscom AFB as a S/Sgt.
I arrived at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach, Florida in the summer of 1958. This base is also a research and development base so we were still working with experimetal radar. We were also involved in the development of the "Bomar" missile. I was stationed at Eglin until November of 1960. At that time, I made the decision to get out of the Air Force and try civilian life. I still regret that decision, but thats life!
Please check out the links below. I've tried to put some interesting Air Force links on the page. Hope you enjoy them.
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