Today's date stole up on me. So today is the 37th anniversary of my US Air Force career beginning; it's also the anniversary of when I put in my retirement papers twenty one years later.
October's weather in Beckley, WV was classic fall, a blue sunny sky over trees starting season's change. My long brown hair was curly, lending to the nickname 'Shirley Temple' by some. I pinned it up under my hat for some sports and games but wasn't consistent about it and weighed one hundred forty pounds, lean and muscular from track, wrestling, football and construction jobs. A sparse fu man chu mustache and goatee gave me character or 'looked like I had dirt around my mouth' if you were my mother, and an invitation to battle if you were my father. I wore faded, holed, bell bottom blue jeans and a red, white and blue shirt showing flags in fractured geometric patterns. Bumming a ride with Dad on his way to work, I reported at 7 AM loaded with a small suitcase with clothing and toilet items for three days. Dad shook my hand before I exited the car.
My girlfriend and her friend skipped school and saw me off from the blond brick recruiting building in downtown Beckley at Noon. (Yes, I showed at 7 and didn't leave until 12, my first experience with military planning.) I was put on a Greyhound bus and headed to the airport, a contingent of a dozen recruits but the only one destined for the Air Force. Two hours later, I boarded an aircraft for my first flight, arriving at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas around ten PM.
My second experience with military experience was that this was a Friday and there weren't enough recuirts to fill my flight (which required 50) so we wouldn't begin training until the following week. Thirty strangers were put into a Korean War era quonset hut and given beds. We were not allowed to speak to one another and formed up in squads and 'marched' to breakfast, lunch and dinner at the dining hall, a group in Air Force basic training speak called 'rainbows' because we had our civilians clothes.
October 4th, 1974, the start of my travels (and my weight gain and hair and muscle loss). In August, 1975, while stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio in my first duty assignment, I married the girlfriend who put me on the bus. After being stationed around the world, we now live in Ashland, Oregon.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com