Lackland Air Force Base 1962

Memories of David Ullian Larson

Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, is where basic training is held for new recruits to the United States Air Force.  I flew a commercial plane from Chicago, Illinois to San Antonio: Braniff Airlines propeller airplane. I had never flown on a large plane before.

When we got off the airport bus at the Basic Training Welcome Center, the folks who greeted us handed out a postcard to everyone. The idea was to fill it out and send it back to family. I still have mine.

The Training Instructors TI's often remarked that they hadn't asked us to come there. So, since this was out idea, we should do everything they said. For several weeks we were at different times humiliated, insulted, ignored, berated, admonished, and discouraged in general. I wonder if it is the same way, now? Road guards out! My picture of the day seems more like a mug shot in a police lineup.

After the first few weeks of marching, cleaning, and running, things got slightly better. We then had time to relax occasionally. But we went right back to fire alarm drills in the middle of the night, night marches, tear gas mask training (what a bitch that was), and toilet cleaning details mixed with KP details. One time I was in formation. The TI asked for volunteers. I was a squad leader. No one was volunteering. So I did the step forward thing with another couple squad leaders. After all, if the TI needed a couple guys, we were there to do what they needed done. The TI said that those who had volunteered were excused for the day and could do what they wanted. The balance of the flight went off to do KP in an near-by mess hall. This was the one and only time, I am sure,  when a volunteer got a good deal. 

I signed up for the Drum and Bugle Corps while I waited for a seat to open at language school.

The language aptitude exam was held in a large room. The proctor would play a recording. Then it was up to us to pick from the next four audio files which matched the original one. With the help of Latin in high school, I believe, I passed the test and was selected for Syracuse University East European Language Program.

While in San Antonio, I visited the Alamo and went down town only once. I do remember going to the movies three or four times on the base every Saturday and Sunday. But mostly I remember being yelled at continuously. Everything wasn't bad. Just mostly.

Under construction. Please return after January 1, 2003 when I expect this page to be complete.


My military chronology interspersed with events of the day.

1961 February -  signed up for the military draft in Joliet, Illinois.

1961 June -  graduated from high school in New Lenox, Illinois

1961 September - went to University of Illinois. Everyone in my college house was fearful about the draft in light of resumption of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons and the closing of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

1962 January - finished first semester of college and quit. I wasn't doing well and had a fear of the draft. No army for me.

1962  February - enlisted in the USAir Force and was sent to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. I got my draft notice while in Basic Training. Such a close call.

1962 April - went into the Drum and Bugle Corps while waiting for language school slot to open for me somewhere.

1962 June - Syracuse Sky Top SR 9-6-62 class.

1963 March - graduate language school

1963 June - Kennedy with German in Berlin "Ich bin eine Berliner"

1963 June - sent to Goodfellow AFB for security training in San Angelo, Texas

1963 August - Zweibrucken 6901st Spec Comm Group

1963 November - Kennedy shot.

1964 January - started SAWD-2 OPN-AW Northern Area

1964 August - Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in Viet Nam

1965 January - Paris for me

1965 March - Marines went ashore in Viet Nam

1965 November - Ia Drang Valley Battle

1965 December - US Forces 184,300 in Viet Nam

1966 January - Discharged. Just in time. Many other airmen were being extended and sent to remote outposts. 

A side comment: Pretty much everyone hated the war in general and veterans in particular. I was made to feel ashamed to even admit that I was a veteran to most people. So I hid out for quite a few years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Being a veteran wasn't accepted as a good thing for many years after Vietnam. Only a person released from active duty in the late 1960's early 1970's can explain this reaction. Everyone has their own stories. Being a vet wasn't fashionable until about the 1980's. Now we can admit to being proud to have served. What a bitch.

From time to time the Air Force job was difficult. But mostly the problem was being in the military. That was not my favorite part. I did complete a few days short of four years. I never received a bad report and was awarded a good conduct medal, sharpshooter medal, and an honorable discharge. The GI Bill did provide me with educational benefits for about a year which helped me return to school.  All in all I had a great military experience. No regrets. I'd go back if they needed me. But all the guys who never did go would have to go ahead of me. I still resent anyone my age who was capable to serve,  but got excuses for any reason except for medical. Kind of a closed mind on that one for me.

Further, I believe that everyone today should have to complete military service or community service to be a citizen. There is plenty that needs to be done. Born here? Spend 500 hours on community service before getting a drivers license. Immigrant? Spend 500 hours on community service before being granted citizenship. All ages. Everyone can do something. Even the 70 year old ones. That's kind of rough. But, hey, we can all have ideas. Life is an average. Let's compromise at 250 hours if necessary.

I'm sure there is someone from the Lincoln-Way Class of 1961 that went to Vietnam and died or is MIA. And I am sure there are people who never did see military service for one reason or another. All I know is I had to go. I was ready for anything. I did what ever I was asked to do. And I lived to tell about it. Down from the soap box, here. Cheers:>)

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