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SAMUEL W WOMACK

MY MILITARY SERVICE

My Military service started when I was sworn into the United States Air Force, Monday, August 10, 1959 at Little Rock AR. We, the other Air Force enlistees and I, were placed on a Trans Texas DC-3 (known in the military as the C-47 Gooney Bird), and flown to San Antonio TX airport. We were picked up there by buses and a bunch of yelling people known as Training Instructors (TIs). We were taken from the airport to Lackland Air Force Basic Military Training Center; and to a mess hall and fed breakfast at about 2AM. From there, we went to our assigned barracks and were allowed to sleep until 5AM; and then were rolled out for reveille. And then taken for breakfast again!! For two days we had to wear the clothes we went there with; and, I can tell you that after marching around all day in August in Texas you will smell a bit rank after two days. Finally, tho we were issued our uniforms and were no longer called "rainbows" (the term because of the different colors of clothing worn). We were then started on a very fast paced regimen of marching, physical training, classroom instruction and obstacle course running. We were called Flight 573. After four weeks, some of our people left for technical schools where they would finish their basic training while learning a skill. Some of us had to stay for another 7 weeks since our technical schools had no facilities for follow on Basic Training. Three flights were combined into one, Flight 573-75-77. Second phase was not as hard as the first four weeks. We had a lot more time to relax and in our9th week we were given town liberty. That meant we got to go into San Antonio for the weekend;coming back Saturday nite by 9PM then we could leave again at 9AM sunday morning. One of the guys I ran around with had a grandfather living in San Antonio on a 5 acre estate. He was a retired contractor from Ohio. He invited me and another guy to go with him to his grand parents. So, naturally we went... This place of his grandfathers was fantastic!! it had a lake, two small islands in the lake, one had a picnic area with BBQ pit and tables...rowboat..and at night had spraying water from a system the grandfather built and played colored lights on...many people stopped and watched and took photos. But am getting a bit ahead here....after we had been there about an hour; the doorbell rang. Grandma said, "That must be them." She had invited three young ladies over to meet us. One was my friends cousin, the others her friends...I ended up with the cousin but didn't mind as she was quite cute... We had a great BBQ, rowed around the lake and spent a lot of time getting acquainted. That evening, the cousin and I rowed out into the lake to watch the lights...we got better acquainted. The next day, grandpa picked us up again..the only girl that returned was cousin.. naturally I was pleased...that evening, believe it or not, we went to church with grandma, grandpa and the cousin. It was a bit embarassing but we were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves and where we came from. We did; and as we were leaving, a gentleman came up and shook our hands and told us it was nice of us to come to church on our town pass and told us if we ever wanted to again, to call him and gave us his card. We never paid much attention to the card untill later when were back in the barracks and the guy was the Staff Judge Advocate for Lackland Air Force Base!! A full Colonel and the top law for Lackland Air Force Base!! At the end of October, we graduated from Basic and were gived our first stripe, A3C, E2. We were given about 20 days leave to go home before reporting ot our Technical Schools. We went many different places. Some were assigned the same school as I, Radio Intercept Analyst training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, TX. The school was long, 8+ months, and hard. At the end of training, Jul 1960, we were promoted again to our second stripe, A2C, E3. We went many ways from training, some went to Germany, some to England, some to Crete, some to Paksitan, some to undisclosed locations, two of us were assigned to the 6929 Radio Squadron Mobile, Osan AB Korea. I arrived in Korea the last part of August 1960 after island hopping to Hawaii, Wake Island and then Tachikawa Air Base Japan. We had to stay about 2 days in Japan before an Air America plane took us into Korea. The plane was an old C46, forerunner of the C47 or DC3. I don't think I will ever forget the smell when I stepped off the plane in Korea..the smell of Korea I guess you would call it and hard to describe...charcoal burning, kimchee, honey pits, etc, all blended into a unique odor that was acrid and burned ones nose but soon gotten used to. My first quarters in Korea was an old quonset hut, heated by oil heaters; no air conditioning in summer. The latrine and showers were in another quonset hut about 50 yards from my sleeping quarters...ok unless you really needed to go; and in winter a bit much when you went to shower and etc...We later got concrete block buildings with the outhouse and showers inside!! In September of 1961, one of the other guys and I were sent TDY(temporary duty) back to Goodfellow Air Force Base for a Mission Indoctrination Course..we received briefings for 5 days and gave reports on our activities in Korea...after that we both returned to Korea for our second tours. We flew from Japan to Midway Island and then Hawaii and then into California... I had some good times in Korea....most I will not jot down here as I would have to name names to have any affect; and I won't do that......Leave it to imagination and to say that I had a good enough time that I spent 26 months, and a few days, there..... In October of 1962, I received my third stripe, A1C, E4 then(Now E4's are Sgts). It was later backdated to September of 1961 by a correction of military records action. In December 1962, I left Korea for the final time. I met some of my friends,that had left a day before me, in Japan and we partied hearty in Tokyo for a couple of days. Some were getting out when they arrived in the United States..and we knew we probably would not see one another again. But we all knew that the friendship and kamaraderie we shared would live with us all forever. I was reassigned from Korea to the 6910 Radio Group Mobile in Darmstadt, then West Germany. I landed in Germany in the midst of the 1962-63 winter that was so cold and when heating fuel of all sorts was in short supply. I don't think that I saw the sun until sometime in March!! We lived on an Army installation with our site about 10-15 miles out of town..so you either had a car or rode the work bus..I didnt get a car until I had been there for awhile... I met a friend that I had known in Tech School that had about 6 months left of his 3 year tour. He took me to places off the beaten path and introduced me to many German people that I would not have met otherwise. Quaint little Gaesthauses away from the normal GI gathering places... I arrived during Fasching, the German equivalent to Mardi Gras...and I can assure you it was a blast! The costumes, the parties, the dancing, drinking, carnivals, etc almost around the clock thru the day before Lent--then all stopped....I was told to take my time clearing into the unit; they didnt see me for about 10 days!! I met my first wife in Germany and we went together about 13 months before we married. Our first residence was on the third floor of a house at Pfarrer May Str 1, Darmstadt- Pfungstadt, Germany...small one bedroom, sloped ceilings and all! We lived there until about February 1965. Her parents had finished the third floor of their house and the second was available. So, We moved in there at Frankfurter Land Str 50, Darmstadt-Arheilgen, Germany. Our first child was born in April 1965 at the US Air Force Hospital Wiesbaden, Germany. 18 months later, our son was born in the same hospital. I extended a year over the normal 3 year tour in Germany; making my tour there 4 years. When I got married; I was assigned to the 6910 Support Group, where I processed passport applications for newborns, renewals for others; marriage paperwork for those marrying foreign wives; then the visa paperwork, birth registration of US Citizens born abroad; in addition to a number of reports and the credit union applications!! Busy busy to say the least... In December 1966, I drove my car to Antwerp, Belgium to ship it back to the US. Since I had not shipped one over; I was not allowed free shipping back...I then had the opportunity to ride the TEE train (Trans European Express) from Brussels to Mainz, Germany, where I changed trains for Darmstadt.. On Jan 23, 1967, we left Germany from Rhein Main AB, Frankfurt, Germany and flew into JFK at New York City for refueling....and then on to Charleston Air Force Base, SC...We had to remain there from Monday to Thursday until my car got off the boat and delivered to us... We then left there and went to Arkansas where my parents met their daughter-in-law and new grandkids for the first time.... From Germany, I was assigned back to Goodfellow Air Force Base TX to the 6940 Support Group, Formal Training Unit...obtaining quotas for refresher, lateral and other training and sending people to those courses...in July of 1968, I made my 4th stripe, Staff Sergeant (SSgt E5)....I was then assigned to the reenlistment, separation and retirement unit as NonCommissioned Officer in Charge(NCOIC)...Upon leaving, I was nominated for and received the Air Force Commendation Medal, first award. In January 1971, I made my 5th stripe, Technical Sergeant(TSgt, E6) and in May 1971 left Goodfellow for the Combat Support Group at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR. I served in a number of capacities: Officer assignments, transition counselor, reenlistment and separation again, then NCOIC of the Transition Unit as we phased it out of the Air Force. After that, I was made the NCOIC of Testing, providing promotion and aptitude testing for the base. I also served as a Disaster Preparedness Support Team member; and Alternate Base Disaster Preparedness NCO. And for awhile, was assigned to a fly-away mobility team. In October of 1974, I was reassigned to the 432 Combat Support Group, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand as Assistant NCOIC of Promotions and Testing...for the tour in Thailand, I was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster (second award). I was reassigned from Thailand back to Arkansas, Blytheville Air Force Base, Blytheville AR. to the Combat Support Group...NCOIC, Promotions and Testing; and later NCOIC, Quality Force Section...In April 1977, I made my 6th stripe, Master Sergeant (MSgt, E7). I had on extra duty that I did like while there at Blytheville--that if a Wing Exercise Evaluation Team member, assigned to the Base Inspector General during alert exercises, etc...lot of work, but fun also... I'll never forget the time that they asked me to use my SSgt as a part of an exercise. I asked what they wanted me to have him do. They told me to have him come in in old fishing clothes, bring a rod and reel and bait...we had him go to small fishing area on base and fish...the object was to see when they moved the nuke to the bomber, if the cops would go check them out as they are/were supposed to do...they didn't. And, by the way, he and the other guy assigned to fish caught some catfish for themselves also!! After I had been at Blytheville almost 4 years, I was becoming eligible for a Base of Preference assignment. Headquarters Strategic Air Command had already approached me to come to Offutt Air Force Base, NE to run the Promotion program for the command...I said I would think then went to the computer terminal and input a volunteer statement for Williams Air Force Base AZ as I had already been told that there were no openings available. That was to buy breathing space to see if I wanted to go to Columbus Air Force Base MS (NO!); Bergstrom Air Force Base at Austin TX, or back to Little Rock Air Force Base...Well, in 10 days, I had an approved assignment to Williams!! So, on September 29, 1979, we left Blytheville and after a few days at home with parents-- left for AZ...arriving the first week in October. I had been told that I could get base housing almost immediately upon arrival. That was a myth---so we lived downtown for about 4 months until base housing was available....At Williams I was assigned as NCOIC, Promotions and Testing and at times served as NCOIC, Quality Force Unit in the absence of the Officer in Charge. Williams was an Air Training Base, and I must say that after being assigned a SAC base or four years; it took some getting used to.....Believe it or not, I was told, after being there almost 6 months, that I had been on probation to see if I could handle the job I was assigned to; one I had worked in mostly since 1972!! Also, after I had settled in a bit, an opening they had to fill for a member of the Base Exercise Evaluation Team came up. Being the new kid on the block, so to speak, they assigned me..then they told me I had to go to a weeks training to learn how to do the job...I asked them if they had read my performance reports from Blytheville where it showed I had served almost 4 years on the same kind of team--they hadn't bothered and still made me go anyhow....However, the team leader was a neat person and most of the people on the team worked real harmoniously together so we had a pretty good time of it... On July 1, 1984, I retired from the Air Force; having served 24 years, 10 months and 21 days. Medals and citations earned were: Good Conduct Medal (old Army style); Air Force Good Conduct Medal, one silver and 1 bronze oakleaf cluster; Expert Marksmanship Ribbon; Air Force Outstanding Unit award with two bronze oakleaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with one oakleaf cluster; Air Force Longevity Service Award with one silver oakleaf cluster. There may be another or so, but probably inconsequential or could remember them... So there you have it! Nothing fancy, nothing earthshaking, no kewpie dolls!! Left the farm at age 17, got to see a bit of the world and retired at age 42....an opportunity most people had if they had so chosen it... I look back with some regrets; mostly because I feel I have lost contact with a lot of friends. Not for missing the hustle and bustle of the military regime as many do. Looking back, I would do it again, but only in the same time era that I did. Today's military leaves much to be desired... SAM WOMACK