Hoeller Photography LLC
I was in my first year of college and I was in the bookstore where people are buying supplies and a lot of the veterans were buying things for themselves and their friends. And I learned that if you have been in the service, you could get your college paid for or at least help with it, that's a good deal I thought and it sounds like an adventure too. So, I went to my job, which was a part time job at the dime store and I had seen a lady in there in a navy uniform and she looked pretty nice and I thought, boy, that's where I want to go, to the waves. At the time it was waves, not regular navy it would became regular navy later while I was in active duty. So anyway, I joined and I went to the Great Lakes where training for, you know, the new troops coming in. And when I had an opportunity to choose what training I would take, I decided to go for whatever was the longest and one I could learn the most from. So, I started with airman preparatory school, went to Florida for that. From there I went to aviation electronics training, which was about 27 weeks. The first two weeks was just in Morse code alone, Dadada Dadada 'hahaha.’ And I learned I had to pass 15 or 25 words a minute in that before I could go on to the rest of the program. So, I made it through and eventually became a third-class petty officer. My assignment when I began to work in my job was at the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. My job was to help in a classroom with the aid of a training device where something floats over this big tank of water and the sound travels through the water to a map on the bottom of this tank. And that would be picked up in the form of a video on the scope for radar and the pilots and air crewman were supposed to do that in order to search for enemy submarines at sea. And that's what I did for the most of that time.
I was born at the right time, so I was lucky to have survived World War II and the Korean War. I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1946 until 1949 in the Quartermaster Corps. Most of the time I was deployed in the state of Virginia, stationed in Camp Lee, south of Petersburg and the scene of many battles. It was common sight to pick up mini spent balls from the former battle fields. I was not drafted. I enlisted for three years because I heard about the GI Bill being willing to pay for a large part of college expenses. I had various summer jobs, but I needed more income to pay bills. The Army found out I was good with typewriters and some shorthand, so they sent me to Clerk School, Advanced Clerk School, and 13 weeks in a stenographic school. I did well and maintained almost straight; A’s, something I never did in high school. My evenings were filled with studying and socializing. I still felt lonely at times. I joined the NCO Club (Non-Commissioned Officers Club). The NCO boss hired me as a bookkeeper and clerk to handle their paper work. For this, I was paid fifty-cents an hour plus tips. Working there enabled me to earn a little more money which I badly needed for college. The Army gradually increased my pay checks as they assigned me to various highly regarded positions. First was my assignment to three personnel officers, a manor and two captains. Then I was assigned to various officers in the Brigadier General’s west wing of the building. Believe it or not, my new position was that of Assistant Post Sergeant Major with the rank of Sergeant on the payroll. And I was only 21 years old and entrusted with vast sums of money, maintaining the duty rosters for Officer of the Day as well as misc. tasks. I was the envy of nearly every soldier in the Camp Robert E. Lee. I did not see combat. My memories are like those in the movies, especially “Saving Private Ryan.” In that film, you see the day to day experiences of these dedicated soldiers. I can’t imagine what it would be like. I’ll take that back. Because of the excellent film coverage, I can see and mostly hear what is happening to our young men. As a member of the QM Corps, I was involved with the safe delivery of food, clothing, shelter, weapons and ammo for our young men.
I saw my life flash before my eyes. We were doing a training exercise and we're flying in, they call it an air assault, we were flying in helicopters and it's supposed to be flying in a formation. There were three helicopters, I was in the lead, staggered formation and suddenly, the chopper on our left came up almost side by side with us and suddenly it went spiraling right toward us. And I was on right side of the helicopter, and I'm just watching it and I'm like, not much I can do. And then the pilot got control again and made an emergency landing. Here something broke on the helicopter. But it was probably less than 50 yards from hitting us.