Sunday, August 28, 2005

My father and the Air Force

In the early 1950s the draft was in effect, so my father joined the Air Force so he wouldn't be drafted and risk end up being a foot soldier in the Army. We moved from Missouri to Texas for a while, then to either St. Louis or Kansas City, I don't remember which. I was just a baby, then, so this is something that was told to me. My mother didn't like the big city (and she really hated Texas), so she eventually moved back to her parents' farm and my father visited us when he was on leave.

My father had to be in the Air Force for quite a while. I think it was four years of active duty and then four years of reserve, where he might be called back again. I remember one time on the farm when he came home on leave, watching him in his uniform as he walked, grinning, across the yard.

I was glad when he finally finished his active duty and could stay with us.

I remember watching him, later, probably sometime in the mid to late 1950s, as he used a razor blade to cut the stitches holding his Air Force emblems to his uniforms. He was going to use the uniforms as work clothes. We lived in town at the time.

While in the Air Force, he had become a sergeant of some kind. One of the things he did was teach classes in something. He was given a gift of appreciation by the people he had taught or been otherwise associated with, I'm not sure which. It was in the form of a dark blue toy truck with a long flatbed holding an airplane, with lots of cotton behind it representing clouds. There was also a banner on it saying something about that it was in appreciation for his services to such-and-such number such-and-such division or unit or squadron. Something like that. We kept it for a long time. We moved several times over the years, though, and one time, decades later, we discovered when we took it out that bugs had gotten into it and made a mess of it. After looking at it, we reluctantly decided to throw it away.

I wish now that we had kept it.

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