1956 Attempt #2
1957 Attempt #3
1958 Attempt #4 were all essentially phony ones. This was the time in America when every male was required to register with Selective Service at age 18 and would most likely be drafted into the Army. There were exceptions for those attending college, but I deemed it prudent to avoid the off-chance bureaucratic mistake or national emergency by having an active Air Force application on record at all times.
What I did was to go out to March AFB in Riverside, California to take the written test and physical for Air Force Pilot training (known as the Aviation Cadet Program), listing Pilot, Pilot, Pilot for my three choices. At that time, the Air Force would accept you for Pilot Training through a program known as Officer Candidate School (or OCS), providing you had 2 years of college.
I did this every year I was in college, turning down my slot when it came due -- then applying all over again for the following year. I sort of had to fudge it for applications #2 & #3 since I was just entering college for application #2 and had just finished my first year for application #3.
OCS was three months of misery at the conclusion of which you were commissioned a 2nd LT and entered Pilot Training, which lasted one year.
I would pass the test and physical; then tell them I wanted to enter OCS the following June at the close of the current year of college, just before my one year eligibility ended. When the time came for me to depart, I would decline my class date (which was permitted), wait for one month and redo the whole process.
The only limiting factor was that you had to wait one year between applications. This allowed me to be covered at all times and still continue my college education. Things were looking good--I would have my teacher's degree in my hip pocket and was assured of a pilot slot with the Air Force.
Other events: Although I wanted to, I simply could not afford to live in the college dorms, so I commuted every day between my parents' home and school.
1959 Attempt #5 was made during the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college. This was the big one. This time I was going to actually enter the Air Force at the end of the school year in 1960.
Other events: I proposed to Kaye, and she accepted, both of us knowing it would be two years before we could get married, since Aviation Cadets were not permitted to be married.
1960 Attempt #6 came during my senior year, in February, 1960, just months before I would enter OCS.
For quite some time I had been a member of Civil Air Patrol (which is another story) and I had taken to helping out part time in the local AF Recruiting Office. As noted above, my problem was that you were not allowed to be married before you entered OCS or the Aviation Cadet program.
The Recruiter told me about a new program called OTS (Officer Training School), which was set up for college graduates. You got treated a lot better than in OCS and, oh, by the way, you could be married. So I applied for OTS using my current application scores, once again specifying Pilot, Pilot, Pilot for my 3 career choices.
Here was the solution to my dilemma -- or so it seemed. I applied for OTS and was accepted with the proviso that I cancel my Aviation Cadet slot, which I did. Now things were on track for me to both get married and enter Flight Training. So, I completed my Practice Teaching and graduated, with both a BA degree and a California Teaching Credential.
Then, disaster struck again. Days following my graduation, as I was preparing to enter the Air Force, my wings were clipped. The Air Force sent me a letter. The decision had been made to cut pilot slots for that year and since I had applied 'Pilot Only' in my career field choice, my application was returned.
Not again! How could lightning strike me twice in the same fashion? I was devastated. I had bet it all on entering the Air Force after graduation and now had no prospects. Well, there was one prospect--my wily Recruiter suggested that I make local recruiting history by enlisting in the Air Force, thereby gaining the office three counters from the same person in one year.
My initial reaction was, "No way!". I was not interested in an Air Force career unless I was going to fly. But, I was out of other options, and the Recruiter convinced me that when I arrived at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas (where Basic Training took place), I could switch to an OTS slot.
I realized my one-year-wait clock had restarted in February and I had eight long months before I could try again. The Recruiter assured me that upon arrival at Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, the powers there would notice my college graduate status and shift me into OTS immediately. So I enlisted in the United States Air Force in June of 1960 and off to Lackland I went.
Other events: I left the Singer with Kaye and embarked on a three-day train ride to San Antonio, TX. New recruits were called "Rainbows" (due to the assorted colors of their clothes) when they arrived.
We were housed in old, World War 2 era, barracks. Although the regime was rigorous, I had attended several Civil Air Patrol (CAP) summer encampments and was, therefore, somewhat accustomed to the routine.
Due to my CAP training, I was enlisted as an E-2, which meant I had a stripe on my sleeve during Basic Training. Today, there are several programs which provide an entrance at the E-2 rating, but back then it was virtually unheard of.
Attempt #7 fizzled. At Lackland I was singled out and tentatively programmed for OTS, only to learn I still had to wait out the year before I could make a new application. I was returned to my Basic Training Squadron and advised to apply again at my next base.
Attempt #8 was another disaster. Following Basic Training I was assigned to Keesler AFB, in Biloxi, Mississippi, to attend Air Traffic Control School. I chose this field because I felt it was the closest I could get at the time to airplanes. Of course, my year was still not up, so no one would help me. I was told to wait until I arrived at my permanent duty station.
Other events: Interestingly, enough, in those days, lower grade enlisted had to apply for, and receive, permission from the AF to get married. Besides some paperwork, this involved meeting with the Base Chaplain for a series of interviews during which I had to attempt to convince him I was mature enough for marriage.
During a two week break in my training, in Nov 1960, I took leave and returned to California to marry Kaye, who had been patiently waiting all this time. We drove back to Mississippi in the Singer.
We were really jammed in tight, what with all our world goods packed in anywhere they would fit. There was a rubber boot around the gearshift where it met the floorboards. This had split and when we began driving at high speed for extended periods, the motor began leaking oil, some of which blew through the crack and covered Kaye's leg, ruining her long coat in the process.
Our trip quickly became a series of dashes, lasting an hour or so before we had to stop and replenish the oil which had blown out of the engine. Eventually, the seals swelled to the point where the oil leak stopped.
Upon arriving in Biloxi, we found a house to rent. We lived in a former slave's quarters, just a 1/2 block from the Gulf. It was a tiny, house, but we didn't care, we were together.
A constant problem was money. At that time, when you got married, the AF withheld a portion of your pay and mailed it to your wife. I do not know if that is still the case, but it was then. Our problem was that the supplement check did not arrive for some 6 weeks. In the meantime, we existed on what was left of my paycheck -- $6 a payday.