I was scheduled to be inducted into the Army on July 1, 1966. Instead, I decided to sacrifice two more years of my life and enlisted in the Air Force and went in June 30th. I often rue the extra two years, but I was convinced that had I gone into the Army, I probably would NOT have made it back home.
The interesting thing about those early days was the amazing cross-section of personalities I was exposed to. We had college guys, thugs, service brats and mostly, guys like me – from all over the country, just trying to survive.
One of the guys I’ll never forget was Steve Lansing. He loved airplanes, and though just a lowly enlisted man, dreamed of being a pilot. I would look up in the sky and see a silver glint against the sun. Steve would see the same moving speck and tell you what type of plane it was, the serial number and whether the pilot had shaved that morning.
I’m exaggerating of course – but you get the idea. I didn’t have a super power like this to share with my fellow Airmen. I had superficial knowledge of both sports and music, but lacked the confidence to speak out about either subject.
After 3 short months however, I realized my niche. I had a bit more common sense than most of them. That knowledge and keeping my mouth shut served me well.