HOME IS WHERE YOU LAY YOUR HEAD
We lived in Hawaii for one year in 1950 before being transferred to Johnston Island. Our Home in Hawaii was on Wheeler AFB in a duplex. I remember that we had a banana tree in the back yard. Dad was stationed at Hickham AFB about ten miles to the south.
Mom and dad had tons of pictures from Hawaii that I can not locate. Ardice and I got to visit Wheeler AFB in 2008 and the old duplexes are still there. One thing that has changed in a major way is Waikiki Beach. Note the Royal Hawaiian Hotel without all of the high rise hotels that are there now.
We left Honolulu for Johnston Island around 1950 much to my mom's dismay. Johnston is a man made island that was built during WWII as a refueling base. The government brought over barges filled with dirt and dumped it onto a coral reef to make the island. It was about one and one fourth miles long and a quarter of a mile wide. Flights had to be scheduled in during low tide as the runway would sometimes be under water at high tide. You can locate Johnston about six hundred miles west of Hawaii.
We lived in a quonset hut and I went to school in one as well.
Our home is on the left and our one room school is on the right. Life on the island was not the greatest for the civilians. Activities consisted of playing tennis, occasionally going fishing and the officer's club. Only officers were allowed to have families on the island and there was only one vehicle on base that my father used, a jeep. The school had only one teacher and she taught grades one through seven at one time. I went to the first grade there and received straight A's but had to repeat the first grade after being transferred back to the states.
We left Johnston for Chanute AFB in Illinois where we lived in Rantoul for a short time before being transferred to Dobbins AFB in Marietta, GA. in March of 1953.
We lived on Springdale Drive for a short time before moving to Tolliver Street.
I attended Lockheed grammar school here and have fond memories of
Marietta. Mom loved it here and it was close to Montgomery where all
of dad's relatives lived and not much further to Thomaston where mom's
As commander of the Special Air Missions squadron, dad flew a lot of Third Army Brass around and was personal pilot for General Hickey, commander of the Third Army based out of Fort McPherson. On one of his missions he had the occasion to fly Doctor Werner Von Braun out of Red Stone. Dr. Von Braun provided dad with autographs, one for me and one for my brother, Bobby.
We left Marietta in September 1957 for Montgomery where dad attended Command and Staff School. We were there until June 1958 when he was transferred to Vandenburg AFB. The year in Montgomery was the only time that we lived near our relatives and got to see them on a regular basis. When he got his orders for Vandenberg he had about thirty days of travel time and two more months of leave. We spent three months traveling from Montgomery to Vandenburg which is just north of Santa Barbara. Dad purchased a travel trailer that he soon replaced with another. We lived most of the time in a sixteen foot Shasta trailer that did not have a bathroom and had only an ice box instead of a refrigerator.
We traveled west through Mississipi, Texas and New Mexico before turning north through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. From there we went west through Idaho and southern Washington State before going south on US 1 through Oregon and California. It was a trip I'll never forget. Especially the drive up Pikes Peak (14,110 feet above sea level). Dad drove up on a very hot day in our Buick to find snow at the top of the mountain.
July 1958 thru August 1960
When we first arrived at Vandenberg our base housing was not ready. A number of Air Force personnel were staying in trailers at Lake Cachuma. We lived there for several months and I attended a local school before getting on base. I'm sure life there was not so great for our parents but Bobby and I loved it in spite of the cold showers and shared facilities in the camp ground. The picture at the right is the backyard of our home at 720 Oceanview on Vandenberg.
Living at Vandenberg was some what exciting. The USAF was training the RAF with Thor rockets and the base also had Titan and Atlas rockets. Rockets were being launched every week. We went to school the first year on base in buildings dating back to WWII that were used as an Army Hospital (Vandenberg was originally Camp Cook). The next year in school was in Lompoc. A progressive school and I got my first exposure to the Arts there.
September 1960 thru July 1964
When we were transferred to Offutt base housing again was not ready. They were in the process of building new, Capehart, housing and we again lived in the Shasta in the backyard of a farm house that friends, Jim and Vera Webb (Parents of Senator Jim Webb), were renting near Plattsmouth. I attended school there for a short time before dad found a place to rent in Bellevue while waiting on base housing.
We eventually moved into our base housing in Capehart. A duplex with four bedrooms upstairs (one we used for a den). While in Nebraska in 2009 I found that the whole complex is in the process of being torn down and replace with new housing. I graduated in 1964 from Bellevue High School and went on to the University of Nebraska for two semesters before joining my family in Marietta.
Military life offers many rewards and some draw backs. In 1963, when I was a bit more liberal, I had the honor of shaking the hand of John Kennedy who was visiting SAC Headquarters. The down side of being a military brat is that everyone at some time ends up going to the four corners of the earth. It is difficult to maintain friendships under these circumstances. However, our class reunions have helped many of us stay in contact and when you see an old friend it is as if no time had passed.
I was exposed to flying at an early age. The picture below was taken when I was a year old and dad took me up in a J-3 Cub. When I was eighteen, dad asked me if I would like to learn how to fly. I've been flying ever since.
Do you have a favorite pet name? Almost every cat we have ever had was named Snowball or Ebony. Below is our first Snowball. Looking at the picture I'm not sure how we came up with the name.