Why not, Minot?

After receiving my masters degree in 1967, I enlisted in the Air Force hoping to fly. I was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training.

At the time, the gateway into the service for potential officers was Officer Training School, it was the time of the great pilot shortage and that is where I wound up.

It was the usual mix of discipline and marching, with some academics thrown in. My whole class was in pre-flight, and we were all looking forward to flight training.

About halfway through the program, I developed a nasty case of hay fever, which resulted in a mandatory trip to the flight surgeon. I was promptly disqualified from flying, and had to be reclassified.

Upon reporting to the classification office, I took a seat outside with the other officer candidates in a similar situation, and heard a great deal of swearing coming from the classification major's office.

In order to get into the Air Force without risking combat, some percentage of the cadets self initiated elimination (SIE) after completing enough of the program to ensure they would not wash out back to be drafted.

As a result, the crusty major responsible for reassigning the SIE's was most unhappy. He was giving them assignments to the Dew Line, Wake Island, and the ultimate punishment, missile launch school. This involved a year of training, followed by 4 years underground in a missile silo in Minot, ND, with only the Bears and Moose to keep them warm at night. I was terrified.

When my turn came, I entered the room, and immediately launched into my rehearsed speech, how much I wanted to fly, the flight surgeon wouldn't allow it, and so on. The major cut me short by asking "you have a Masters Degree, don't you?" After responding with a resounding "YES", came the words of salvation: "how would you like to be an engineer?".

He continued that the job was at McClellan AFB in Sacramento, California. And there I went, and served as an engineer for the next 4 years.

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