The draft notice said, "Report to Ft Douglas, Utah for induction into the US Army on Sept 9, 1953." The day before, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, and then joined Aviation Cadet Class 55-I for pilot training.
My service is best described by the word "waiting." Waiting in the alert shack with my parachute and helmet in the cockpit of an F-89 or F-102 to launch when the buzzer sounded to defend against an attack coming across Canada. Waiting on alert in Germany with a nuclear weapon on a F-105 or F-4 to drop on a target in East Germany if the alarm sounded. Waiting in a cell in North Vietnam for that war to end.
I went to Vietnam a fighter pilot. I came back a "born again American." I love freedom. I love America. I learned to never give up. I learned to appreciate the simple things.
Helene Maw thought her kids didn't understand the price of freedom. This motivated her to write a book about service men with unusual war stories. She interviewed a couple of dozen of us. She wrote the book. Chase Peterson, one of the Doolittle Raiders and a POW in China most of World War II, said to her, "Freedom is for those willing to defend it." That's what she named the book. That was her message. She died. Now it's my message. Freedom is - for those willing to defend it. Thanks to those who serve now. They volunteer.