I graduated from Highland in May 1967; the Vietnam War had broken a few years earlier. By July I was signed up for the United States Air Force on a short delayment, until my sister Dixie got married. I left for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Aug. 10 1967. I finished basic training there, and was transferred to Chanute Air Force in Rantoul, Ill., for tech school. I started out with single engine jets; in the 1960s Chrysler was testing a turban-powered car. I thought at least I may be able to get a job with them when I got back home.
Three months into Personal Awaiting Training, I was called into the office. I was told they were moving me into Minute Man Missiles (nukes) Ground Silo Fired Inter-Cantonal Ballistic Missiles (Minute Man 1).
My first main base was France E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo. I spent three years there, I took a year and early out and re-enlisted, for $4,000. I later transferred to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., where I stayed until I got out in February 1974.
I worked both in the shop learning more on testing the truck that packed the Minute Man 1 out to the site. After a year or so, I asked for field duty.
After about half of my enlistment, I asked for a transfer to Malmstrom. The country was a lot more for looks than Warren, but a lot colder.
Not much for war stories being stateside, but here we go! I won’t say which base I was at; as assistant Team Chef we were getting ready to go out to the site. The Team Chef and I received codes to enter the site - before we left job control we had an airman come and tell us they gave us the wrong codes for the site.
I went and traded mine for the right ones; we got to the site and my team radioed the L. C. F. (Launch Control Facility) and read off his codes, the L. C. F. radioed back and said OK, but hang in for a few minutes, they were having some problems.
Next thing we knew, we were surrounded by M-16s who checked our IDs and asked who was next in charge. One of the guards escorted me down into the soft support building to read off my codes - OK! you're Team Chef today.
Another incident: we were out on site, the Mobile Launch Control (B-52s) was in our area doing their checks. As we finished with our site and were backing out, we pulled our safety lock out, and the ground Launch Control Facility flipped our site to ARMED and forgot which switch he flipped. We forced our lock back in, asked the L. C. F. officer where he was sitting; once we knew where he was sitting, we told him where to look, he located the switch. We were able to back out of the site safely!