Saturday, May 17, 2014

Memorial Day - Count Down

(excerpt from The Soldier) 
                Planning to join the US Air Force after graduating from high school was the one thing I had thought about for months before school ended in June of 1961. The US Air Force entrance test was scheduled for July in the Little Rock, Arkansas, recruitment center, where four branches of the US military services were located. On the day of the test, several hundred young men stood in lines to take the test to enter the military. We lined up by the branch of the service that we wanted to join and were led to a testing room and given instructions about the test. Then the actual test was placed on our desk with a pencil. We were given an hour to take the test, and upon completion it would be scored.

              After completing the test, we waited another hour to get our results. We were called one at a time to talk with the recruiter. I waited with excitement for my name to be called. Upon hearing my name, I walked to the desk and sat down with the recruiter, expecting to hear how well I had done on the test, but instead the recruiter told me my test scores were not high enough to join the US Air Force. But the US Marines, Navy, or Army, would accept me with my scores. The recruiter said that, he would recommend me to any other branch of the services. I thought it over for about ten seconds and told the recruiter thanks for his recommendation but, I didn’t have any interest in joining another branch of the military.

              It was disappointing not passing the entrance test. Failing that test had destroyed all my future plans. My plan was to join the US Air Force the same as my brother, Curtis had done. He was in the US Air Force and I had admired my brother my whole life.  Curtis and his family had been stationed in France for three years, and after returning to the United States, they came to visit us in Arkansas. I was twelve years old at the time and my four-year-old niece, Lei could speak French. It made such an impression on me that, I wanted to join the US Air Force, go to France someday and learn to speak French.

             On the US Air Force application there were questions about being stationed overseas, when asked which foreign country you would like to live in. Of course, France had been my choice. Going to a foreign country and learning another language was going to be exciting, adventurous, and interesting.  After failing to be accepted into the US Air Force, my chances of living abroad seemed to have disappeared. My belief at the time was that my opportunity to go to France would never happen, and I was stuck in Arkansas forever. However, my family rescued me from the bleak future I thought fate had in store for me. A few months later, I was on my way to Detroit, where my brothers and sisters lived.

             When I got there, I went immediately to the US Air Force recruiter’s office and took the test again, and this time my scores were good enough to be accepted into the US Air Force. I was seventeen years old, so I had to get permission from my parents to join the US Air Force. My parents signed the necessary documents, and I waited for my enlistment date.

            Most of the time was spent with my sister, Vicky and brother, James. My brother was building a cabin sixty-five mile from Detroit in Rondeau Bay, Ontario, Canada.  I helped him every weekend until it was time to leave for the US Air Force. I was so anxious to go, and it seemed like such a long wait before being sent away to basic training. I would go to the ’recruiter’s office every day to determine if he had heard anything about my enlistment date. I finally received the letter asking me to report for duty on December 5, 1961.