I joined the Air Force in March 1966, destined for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
An outbreak of spinal meningitis at Lackland dictated that many, including myself, be sent to Amarillo Air Force Base in the Texas panhandle. Amarillo was reactivated to receive basic trainees and the facilities were, to say the least, woefully inadequate.
We began training under the supervision of Airman First Class (three stripes back then) Sam Behymer, an air refueling specialist who was drafted into the Instructor Corps and none too happy about it.
My fondest memory of basic training would have to be my instructor. A1C Behymer hated the job and it was evident to all of us. He made things somewhat more pleasant for us in his own way. I saw him while I was awaiting orders and spent some time talking with him. He was a decent guy caught up in the system. I will always remember him.
Since the Vietnam conflict was raging at the time, basic training was scheduled for only 24 days. We received only one day of weapons training, and everyone qualified with the M-14 - whether they did or not. Prior to our arrival, someone was badly injured on the confidence course, so the course was closed for investigation. We marched; we ran; we were inoculated against the world's diseases; we were inspected, screamed at, made to feel genuinely worthless and subjected to all the other indignities that were part of basic training. When the day came, we all graduated. Even the most inept among us magically met the requirements.
Next came assignments. Most of my gang went on to technical school, but a few received directed duty assignments to an active base without benefit of school. Since I was tested and subsequently qualified as a vehicle mechanic, I fit the latter category. Unfortunately, I spent three additional weeks at Amarillo awaiting an assignment. I had no duties per se — an occasional detail, but no specific place to be on a daily basis.
If I have to have an unpleasant memory it would be the almost interminable wait for my assignment. Long, boring days with no direction and nothing to do made the wait almost painful.
Finally, my assignment came and I immediately decided I could have waited at Amarillo indefinitely for something better. I was being assigned to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., not a nice place, not even a marginally decent assignment.
Oh, well, basic training was over and I left.
March 2016 was the 50th anniversary of my enlistment, and I remember basic training as if it happened yesterday.