End of June Milestones____
The last days of June always bring back memories of my military days....it seems lots of the final days of this month are days which I remember as milestones of sorts:
June 28, 1968....After a night of bar hopping(18 year olds could drink beer back then, legally) my friend Doug Giesige and I spent our last night of freedom in downtown Columbus. Doug was getting inducted in the Army, I had joined the Air Force, rather than taking a chance on the draft. We hit a few bars, pool halls, and other nightspots, before being shipped off to different locations via the Columbus Airport. June 28th, 42 years ago, was the first time, at the age of 19, I flew in a plane...a 707 from Columbus to Dallas, and then on to Lubbock, and then a small puddle jumper to Amarillo, where I was to spend the next 7 weeks are so in Air Force Basic Training....I would fly many times to many lands and far away places over the next 4 years....and have flown many times since. But I have to say, I do not enjoy it, don't like flying, don't like airports, but sometimes it is necessary.
June 30, 1969(41 years ago today)....1 year and 2 days after my induction in the AF, I was on another place...actually several planes in the next 36 to 48 hours or so. From Dayton to Chicago, then on to San Francisco. After getting orders cut, I would clime on board a Braniff International Airlines Jet and head for Hawaii, and on to Guam, the Philippines, then on to Saigon and Tan Son Nhut Airbase....after an overnight stay at TSN, I was off to Nha Trang, Air Base, in a Air Force C-130....I would spent the next 6 months at Nha Trang, playing Law Enforcement, before heading back to Tan Son Nhut, where I would work Security for the final 6 months of my Vietnam Vacation. Before I left however, I would fly back to Hawaii for a 5 day R&R on the beaches of Waikiki.
On June 29th of 1970...my tour of Vietnam was completed, and I climbed aboard an American Airlines 727, and headed back across the Pacific Ocean. Looking forward to my 39 days(including travel time) of leave, before heading to Upstate New York for my final 22 months of Air Force duty....I said at the time, and will say it today. If I had to do it all over again, I would have finished my tour of duty, in Vietnam. Life, despite it's dangers, was not so bad for an Air Force Security Cop..we had beds to sleep in, real food in the chow hall(at least twice a day), and NCO Club to drown our sorrows, and free access to Downtown Saigon(and Nha Trang before that), where we could unwind....life, even in the Air Force's 2nd most dangerous field(flying over those jungles, now that was real danger), next to being a pilot or flying crew member, was not all that bad.....my tour in Vietnam, especially at Nha Trang, was my favorite time in the Air Force. The Chicken Stuff was at a minimum, and the duty, although boring and somewhat dangerous, was not all that bad.
So there you have it....the final 3 days of June, at least those of some 40 years ago, stand out in my memory banks, like they happened yesterday.....now let's bring on July!
Photos-My Basic Training Squadron at Amarillo AFB, Texas, 42 years ago, with the late SSgt Joe Prokop as my TI...I would see Joe again at Tan Son Nhut, where, after his stint as a TI, he went back to becoming a Security Cop....sadly Joe, a great guy, died a few years ago before I could find him. The night before I left for Columbus and the induction...I believe this was June 27th of 1968, my neighbor and high school buddy, Bob Jones with me on the left, all 135 pounds, my how that would change in short order...Bob joined the Navy and left a few days after I was inducted into the Air Force. A Braniff International Jet, much like the one I flew on going across "The Pond" to Saigon....and another photo of my skinny ass days at the Honolulu Airport in April 1970 on R&R...I was getting ready to board the Jet back to Tan Son Nhut for my final 10 weeks in Vietnam.