Boy does that send shivers up my spine. I first saw those orders [for us to report to the Academy] at the 1000 break on a Tuesday morning in the mail room at Cannon AFB, NM.
I was a two-striper and I had just been awarded my 5 skill level (fully qualified) as a bomb loader (46250). At that time, everyone got orders for Nam within 60 days after getting your 5 level. I had been turned down by the Academy twice before that due to my eye-sight (20-35) and was resigned to bombing what remained of Nam back into the Stone Age as a loader. To avoid that fate, I had decided to volunteer to be a gunner on AC-130’s; the only assignment that would get me out of stacking live bombs neatly in rows for 12 months, and getting rocketed every night.
I already had an appointment for that Wednesday morning at CBPO to put in my volunteer orders for gunner when those Prep School orders arrived out of the blue. It took about three seconds…go to Nam as gunner…go to Academy and get and education….go to Nam…. TIMES-UP!
I don’t know who put me in for the Prep School; I had never heard of it, or I certainly would have been trying to get there.
I’ve always said it was the best year of my life. It set the stage for everything that followed the next 20 years. I was one of the guys who had the least amount of trouble deciding to stay at the Academy. I can honestly say I never thought once about leaving. Nam had that kind of effect on me.
Thanks for the memories! (May 2008)