In January 1959 I joined the U.S. Army. I went from Rockingham, NC by bus to Charlotte, NC for induction. After a day and night we were sent on to Fort Jackson, SC by bus, for Basic Training.
After finishing Basic Training and a (10) day leave I had to report to The U.S. Army Corp of Engineer School at Fort Belvoir Virginia, just South of Washington, DC. We went through the Engineer Equipment Maintenance Enlisted School from 25 May 1959 to 2 July 1959. This school was for (396) three hundred ninety six hours. Then we were assigned to go to another School, the Engineer Equipment Repair Course. This school lasted from 6 July 1959 to 11 September 1959 and lasted for (440) four hundred forty hours.
Of fourteen in the class, thirteen of us were assigned to the Far East 8th U.S. Army (South Korea). We left Washington, DC by train to Oakland, California, and the trip took three days and two nights. We traveled through Maryland and into Pennsylvania, then to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. We crossed the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and into Kansas, the Rocky Mountains, Utah, Wyoming, and even saw the Great Salt Lake. Then we crossed Nevada and into California and after (3) days we arrived at The Oakland Army Terminal. We got to see and cross The Golden Gate Bridge. Here we were processed and received orders to go to Korea.
We were then taken to Travis Air Force Base for a flight to Tokyo, Japan. After we left and were out over the Pacific Ocean, the plane started having trouble with one of the engines. The pilot said everything was fine we would make it okay on three engines, but then in a little while we were informed that we had lost another engine and would have to land in Honolulu, Hawaii for repairs.
A group of about eight of us got a cab and went to the beach for about two hours just so we could say we had been to the beach in Hawaii. We were back at the airport before the seven hours needed for repairs were up.
We left Hawaii and went on to Tokyo. From the airport we went to Kishine Barracks where we were to stay until there was transportation for us to Korea. About four days later we were taken to Yokohama Port and boarded a ship for Inchon Korea, and three days later we arrived in Inchon and from there we went to Ascom City U.S. Army Replacement Center to be assigned to Engineer Units around South Korea.
I was assigned to the 45th Engineer Group (M&S) U.S. Army Engineer Depot Korea, and to the 82nd Engineer Det. Company. Our job was to process engineer equipment and send it to the units to use, and we also received and process new equipment as it came from the states to wait for units to order it. Also we had to do heavy repair to any of the equipment that gave trouble in the field.
While in Korea for thirteen months I got to see some of the country, Seoul, Pocheon, and I was able to see the DEZ zone the Port of Inchon. I saw a lot of the damage left from the fighting from 1951 to 1954 in the Korean War.
Also as I have written in another stor,y I was in Korea when President Eisenhower came to Korea and I got to met him. It was a great experience to get to see that part of the world.
After thirteen months in Korea we got orders to return to the United States. You better believe we were some kind of happy. We boarded the ship for home in the Inchon Korea Bay and then went to Yokohama, Japan to pick up some more troops.
The trip home aboard the ship was a long fourteen days. It was cold for a day or two, then was nice, but we were in a storm for three days. While traveling in the North Pacific Ocean we passed where we could see Russian Solders walking guard on the coast. Later we made an overnight stop in Adak, Alaska and then stopped in Kodak, Alaska to refuel the ship so we could make it on down the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. to San Francisco, California, and under The Golden Gate Bridge to The Oakland Bay. After we got off the ship we were taken over to the Oakland Army Terminal and checked through customs. Then I went to the airport for a flight to the East Coast. On the way we had to stop at Dallas – Fort Worth Texas, Houston, Texas, and Jackson, Mississippi, to Atlanta, GA. The plane was late getting to Atlanta and the plane that was going to Charlotte, NC was already on the runway getting ready to takeoff, but somehow the pilot made contact with the airport so that both planes stopped on the runway and six of us got off one plane and onto the other for the trip to Charlotte, NC.
When we arrived in Charlotte Airport, my Dad had sent my first cousin to pick me up for the trip to Rockingham, NC.
After a thirty day leave I had to report to Fort Belvoir Virginia. I arrived at the replacement center on Friday Morning and checked in. The First Lieutenant that was in charge at the replacement told us if we wanted a weekend pass to fill out the paper work and we could get one, I got mine and turned around and came back home for the weekend I had to leave on Sunday afternoon to get back to Fort Belvoir Va. In time.
In the next week I was assigned to the 87th. Engineer Bn. and I got settle in and were back to normal. This was in November 1960.
I found out that I might be able to go to Greenland for six months, because I had just over eighteen months left in the army. I applied for the opportunity and was accepted. We were going to build a two mile air strip and an airplane hanger that was 800 feet by 1,000 feet, and this had to be done in six months.
We were to leave the states sometime the last of May, on the weekend of the 19th, 20th, and 21st.
I went back to Fort Belvoir and we were busy getting ready to go to Greenland on May 29. We went to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey for the flight to Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. On the way we landed in Newfoundland and then on to Thule, and after we arrived we were move up to the base of the Ice Cap to a place called Camp Tuto Greenland.
This was where we were to build the air strip and hanger.
Since I was the top E-4 I was assigned to be the supervisor for the night crew. It was set up so that the day crew would work from 7:00am to 7:00pm and the night crew would go from 7:00pm to 7:00am.
I had twenty-nine men on my crew. We had to do PM maintenance on the equipment, service as needed and do major repairs. I also was on call for search and rescue when need on the Ice Cap.
While we were in Greenland the Berlin Crisis had come about and President Kennedy extended all the armed services tour of duty. I was one (1) of the lucky ones I only got extended for (2) two months and (3) days.
The Air strip and Airplane Hanger was finish sometime about the 1st. of October 1961, and people started going back to the states, I stayed until October 20, getting everything closed up and ready for the long winter. I got back to McGuire Air Force Base New Jersey and back to Fort Belvoir Va. on the 22nd. Of October 1961.
After we got back to Fort Belvoir Va. I was transferred back to the 87th. Engineer Bn. Where I stayed until I was discharged on March 28th. 1962.
I think you will agree that I did get to see a lot of the world in (3) three years.