Thankful Strother's story of his life experiences is moving and profound. He does a remarkable job of bringing the reader into his world. While reading his stories, I felt like I was in the room with him and he was sharing the details of all of his adventures in the south and in Europe with me. I felt every emotion as I read the book. - Sydney LeBlanc
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 theLittle Rock,Arkansas, recruitment center, where four branches
of theUSmilitary 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 theUSMarines, 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 theUSAir Force and I
had admired my brother my whole life. Curtis and his family had been stationed inFrance for three years,
and after returning to theUnited
States, they came to visit us inArkansas.
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 toFrancesomeday
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,Francehad
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 toFrance would never
happen, and I was stuck inArkansas 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 toDetroit,
where my brothers and sisters lived.
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
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.