So there it was, a cold day in February 1966, and I just received a passing grade on the Selective Service physical. All I had to do now was wait for the draft. Not wanting to go in the Army, I enlisted in the Air Force in the middle of February. I boarded a bus from Wyoming, Ill., headed for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was bunked up with about 20 other guys thinking we were headed for Lackland AFB. Little did we know that at that time there was a spinal meningitis outbreak and all new airmen were to be sent to Amarillo AFB.
When the plane landed at 0200, we all boarded a bus and told we were headed to the barracks. When we arrived, the TI was taking the CONDEMNED/OFF LIMITS sign off the door. We were lined up and in military fashion, tallest first, and were assigned to our 3-man rooms. But first we had to carry our beds and blankets to our assigned rooms. We had to make the beds and got maybe an hour of rest when we were rousted out, formed up, and the TI said we were in for a GI party. It took us all the rest of the day to clean, polish and wax the floors, wash windows, dust and clean the latrine. At this point, we still had no uniforms. We were instructed on how to correctly make the bed, and were marched again to the chow hall for the supper meal. We were then given our handbook to read that night. The second day, we marched to supply and got our first set of fatigues and boots and other stuff.
As we progressed through basic, we jelled into a great flight of airmen. Our TIs were somewhat sympathetic to us because we were just the 5th flight of 40 airmen to come to Amarillo. We were the first flight to use the obstacle course they built, and use the M16, not the M1. This basic was only to be 4 weeks and then off to Tec schools. Our KP, so to speak, was to deliver and unload the bedding for the next wave of airmen to come in. I am not sure of the number, but we unloaded a lot of beds.
Some of the airmen came from Southern California, and when it snowed one day it was the first snow some had seen. The weather could be 40 one day and 70 the next. We all made it through and I was sent to Lowery AFB outside Denver for Weapons School. I have never run into anyone who went to Amarillo during my 5 years in the AF. Some I tell this story to still didn’t know that a whole bunch of airmen went through basic at a WWII condemned/off limits area of Amarillo AFB.