Category Air Force

Spared by a Barbarian

It was 1969. I had just finished language school in Monterey, California, and had been sent for Intelligence Training to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. It was a six-week course, but we were a week late and had to wait five weeks for the next cycle. So we had five weeks of […]

Draft Dodger

August 31, 2004 I was a draft dodger. I know this because early in Air Force Basic Training, as my aptly named “flight” stood in formation, my T.I. boomed out, “You are all draft dodgers!” None of us cowards said a word in reply, so it must have been true. At the time, the summer […]

Harry’s Three Vacations

August 13, 2006 This is a story about Harry Cross, who I worked with at a civilian agency when I was in the Air Force. Harry went to the dentist every six months, had perfect teeth. He would flash a toothy smile when returning from his check-up and say, “Perfect.” But he also prided himself […]

DLIWC

In November of 1968, after six weeks of Air Force Basic Training, I was sent to the Defense Language Institute, West Coast branch, at the Presidio of Monterey. There I would study Serbo-Croatian.  DLIWC, a.k.a. “dilly-wick,” was a mystery to me, but I was so grateful to be leaving Basic, I gave no thought to […]

My Old New Glasses

November 5, 2005 I’ve never been able to throw them away, the wire-rim glasses I bought in San Angelo, Texas, in 1969. I could never look at them without a pang, a rush of fondness, a smile for an old friend. So they have followed me for 36 years, through a succession of dresser drawers […]

My 30th Anniversary

April 13, 2002 Today is my 30th anniversary. Thirty years ago today, on a cloudy morning not unlike this one, I was honorably discharged from the United States Air Force. It was, and remains, the most glorious day of my life. My freedom came six months early, due to a Pentagon budget cut and a […]

Haircuts

Haircuts were frequent in the Air Force, and at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, there were two Mexican barbers who saw to our neatness and military bearing. While cutting, they chatted in Spanish. At this point in my military career, I had purchased new silver wire-rimmed glasses from a friendly optician in […]

Basic Training, 1968

  The morning I went into the Air Force — September 26, 1968 — I started at the Entrance Station in Buffalo, New York, the same place where I’d had my draft physical a few months before. My parents dropped me off, and as they drove away, I saw my mother crying. I didn’t understand […]

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