MSGT, USAF, Ret.
Jul 1967 - Jul 1969
©2014 by Author
Contact the Author
(14 Jan 2014)
I graduated from the Academy of Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia, in June '56 and joined the Air Force on 17 July ’56 at age 17 years and 6 months.
Upon arrival at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, we were in-processed at the "Green Monster" As the Military Training Instructor (MTI) was marching us to our barracks, he pulled me out of the flight and ask "where did you learn to march I replied, "Two years JROTC in high school". He asked if I had ever marched as Guide. Again I replied in the affirmative, "My senior year". He told me to "assume the position". I did, and remained Flight Guide throughout basic training. He NEVER provided instructions and NEVER corrected my performance as guide. The senior MTI was an A2C (E3) Johnson from Texas and his assistant was an A3C (E2).  Airman Johnson was delighted that all of the recruits in the flight were from the south.  He said it was his first flight of "Southerners".
After completing basic training at Lackland, I went to Keesler AFB, Mississippi, for 292X1, Radio Intercept Operator School.  After graduation from the radio intercept school, I was assigned to the 6925th Radio Group Mobile (RGM) at Clark Air Base, Philippines.
I arrived at Clark Air Base, PI, in Mar '57 for an 18 month tour.  In August ‘57, we were informed that Detachment 1, 6925th RGM at Shu Linkou Air Station, Formosa [officially named Taiwan], had operators working beyond their DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas Station) due to lack of operators to relieve them.  Volunteers were solicited for the 15 month tour at Shu Linkou.  We were to be given credit for our months at Clark toward the 15 month tour.  Almost our entire flight at Clark AB volunteered for the transfer.  An Air America aircraft transported us from Clark AB to Taipei, Formosa.  We then had a "treacherous" bus ride up the mountain to Shu Linkou.  When we arrived, we were divided into two (2) shifts, working 12 hour shifts (12 hours on duty, 12 hours off duty).  Because of the complaints, our schedule was changed to six (6) hours on duty and six (6) hours off duty.  As more operators arrived, a third shift was formed so we then worked 12 hours on duty with 24 hours off duty.  I was promoted to A2C(E3) while at Shu Linkou.  I received orders for HQ USAFSS, reporting in Jul ’58.
While home on leave in Jul ‘58 I married Trudy, who had just graduated from the same high school from which I graduated.  We were married the day after her 18th birthday and I was 19 years old.  My sister had introduced us.  Upon arrival at the HQ, I cross trained into the 702X0 (Administrative) field and was assigned to the administrative office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCS Ops).  The office complement consisted of two (2) Colonels, a Major, a MSgt, a GS-15, two (2) secretaries, and two (2) A2Cs, of which I was one.  I was promoted to A1C (E4) during this assignment.  Our first two children, Bill, Jr., and Cindy, were born at the Wilford Hall Air Force Hospital at Lackland AFB in Sep ‘59 and Nov ‘60 respectively.  After re-enlisting in Jul ‘60, I requested retraining into the 292X2 field at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.
We went to Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, TX, in Jan '61 for my retraining into the 292X2, Non Morse Intercept Operator field.
After graduation, I was chosen to go to the NSA for a 90 day TDY to attend a Signal Analysis School, enroute to PCS at Misawa AB, Japan.  Trudy, Bill, Jr., and Cindy lived with her parents in Augusta, Georgia, during my TDY.  After the school at NSA, I was awarded a "K" prefix to my 292X2 AFSC.
Our third child, Pam, was born in Dec '61 at the University Hospital, Augusta, Georgia, while I was home on leave.
I arrived at Misawa in Dec '6l for a three year accompanied tour.  Trudy, Bill, Jr., Cindy, and Pam joined me in Mar '62.  As an A1C (E4), with over four years of service, I was assigned as an Assistant Controller over 10 operators on the "A" side of the printer section.  My friend, Dick Herndon, another A1C (E4) was the assistant controller on the "B" side.  It was a fulltime job of being on OJT for my five (5) level, writing Airman Performance Reports (APRs), and promotion recommendations every 90 days.  I was selected Squadron Airman of the Month for November '62 and promoted to SSgt (E5) in Jun '63.  I completed my seven level training (29272) in Jun '64 under my supervisor, SSgt Melvin Hudson.  I was NOT awarded the seven level because my tour was unexpectedly curtailed six months early for an assignment to a SPECIAL PROJECT at HQ USAFSS.  We re-enlisted in Jul '64.
I was assigned to HQ Air Force Special Communications Center (AFSCC), at HQ USAFSS, to set up a new project called RIRAK (Remote Intercept Recovery Activity Kelly) which later evolved into the 6993rd Security Squadron at Medina Air Base in San Antonio.  I was the FIRST person assigned to the project.  When I arrived, the personnel office had never heard of RIRAK and did not know where I was to report.  I mentioned an individual’s name with which they were familiar, so they then knew where to send me.
We spent two or three months gathering equipment and materials.  The 6923rd Personnel Processing Squadron (PERPRON) had been relocated to another building.  We renovated their old building, installed equipment and built a security fence around the building.  We began operation in the fall.
I did not like the rotating shift work required in RIRAK.  Major Bill Hines and CMSgt Carlisle was the OIC and NCOIC, respectively.  In Nov '64, I requested transfer to the Air Force Special Communications Center (AFSCC) Commander's Administrative Office (SCA) in my 70250 AFSC.  My request was initially denied because RIRAK had a shortage of operators; however, Major Hines assured me that as soon as RIRAK had obtained 100% manning, he would approve my request.  At the unit Christmas party in Dec '64, Major Hines and Chief Carlisle came to our table and told me that RIRAK was 100% manned and for me to resubmit my request.  I did.
In Jan '65, I transferred to SCA in my 70250 administrative AFSC as the Chief Clerk.  Major Gladstone H. Mathison and CMSgt Raymond E. Lucas were the Center Administrative Officer and Center Sergeant Major, respectively.  I obtained, and was awarded, my seven level (70270) and attended the USAFSS NCO Academy at Goodfellow AFB, TX, during this time.
In early '67, I was alerted for a remote assignment to NE Cape AK.  My wife and I prepared for the separation.  In the meantime, the decision was made to close the unit at NE Cape.  Those orders were cancelled and I subsequently received an assignment to Karamursel Air Station, Turkey, for Jul '67.  Before informing my wife, I found out that Karamursel was an "accompanied" tour.  We were delighted.
My orders indicated that I was being shipped as a 70270.  This pleased me because I preferred administration.  (No shift work, straight days, holidays off, etc.).  BEFORE leaving for Karamursel, I gave my completed 29272 OJT records (CONFIDENTIAL) to CMSgt Lucas and told him that if I had not called for them within six months, he should destroy them.  (I didn't want to return to the X2 field).
We shipped our car, a 1964 Rambler station wagon, from Norfolk, VA, to Istanbul, Turkey, before I departed.
I was awarded my FIRST Air Force Commendation Medal for my job performance as Chief Clerk at the AFSCC.
Prior to my arrival, the Karamursel personnel office had received a message from HQ USAFSS Personnel (PDC) directing them to change my Primary, Control, and Duty AFSCs back to 29252.
I arrived at Karamursel around midnight after the ride from Yeşilköy.  I obtained a room in the NCO barracks and had just gone to sleep when there was a loud bang on the door.  When I opened the door, TSgt Melvin Hudson was standing there.  (The same SSgt Melvin Hudson that had been my supervisor and OJT trainer in '63/"64 at Misawa).  He had been at Karamursel for a while and was the senior X2 controller on one of the flights.  He said that he wanted to talk to me before I reported to operations the next day.  He needed an assistant controller on his flight and ask me to request assignment as his assistant  I did.
I obtained off-base housing immediately and two weeks later, my wife and three children joined me.  We lived at 8A Kibris Sokak (street), Kat (floor) 2, Yalova.  (Second floor of a four (4) story apartment building).  We could see/watch the ferry landings from our balcony.  The apartment was beautiful, compared to most at which I looked.  The winter was difficult.  We heated with fuel oil and had to "chase down" the fuel oil truck whenever we needed fuel.
Around Oct '67 our vehicle arrived from the states.  Life became easier with the car but the drive to/from Yalova and Karamursel AS during the winter was no fun.
Yalova was in an agricultural area.  An abundance of fresh vegetables was always available and the bazaar (farmer’s market) was only a block from our apartment.  We often visited the bazaar for fresh vegetables.
My wife had shipped some candles from the U.S. in glass containers.  During the shipment, the candles has softened and lost their shape.  I place one of the containers in our oven so the warmth from the pilot light would soften the wax and allow the candle to reform to their original shape.  SHE was NOT aware of what I had done.  She later ask me to go to the bazaar.  While I was gone, she turned on the oven, not knowing the candle was inside.  Needless to say, the wax started burning/smoking.  My son found me in the bazaar and told me the apartment was on fire.  I ran back to the apartment building.  The fire department was already there and had everything under control.  They started asking a lot of questions for their report.  Fortunately the family that lived on the first floor was Turkish.  The neighbor, "Savas", worked for the Tumpane contractor on Karamursel Air Station and spoke perfect English.  He translated for us.  We were required to answer questions about our parents family history.  Date/place of birth etc.  Savas told me later that we could have been charged and fined for the incident but that he talked them out of it.  We remained friends until we moved.
A Turkish family lived across the street from us.  The gentleman was the manager of the Four Seasons store (a part of AAFES) on Karamursel AS.  During this time, our son was involved in the "Match Box Car" craze going around.  We started a collection for him; however, it was very hard to get the cars before the limited supply was exhausted.  The manager started giving me a "heads up" about a shipment coming in and would allow us to go into the warehouse and make our selections before making them available to the public.  It was good to have friends.
TSgt Hudson ask me about my OJT records.  He commented, "As your trainer, I know you completed your seven level OJT before you left Misawa in such a hurry."  He then stated, that if "we had the records, he could have my seven level "awarded" since there were no testing facilities available".  I explained where they were and requested they be sent to him.  Within a couple of weeks, they arrived and I was awarded the X2 seven level based on my earlier completion of OJT.  Working for him again turned out to be a great advantage.
On Sunday before labor day in '67, our flight was working a mid.  When I arrived for duty, the Operations NCO, SMSgt Don Maddox, was there.  He normally worked straight days so I was surprised to see him.  (As a TSgt, he had also been my senior X2 controller for a short time at Misawa.)  He said, "Woody, I don't know WHO you know but the Wing Commander has directed that you report to his office at 0730 on Tuesday morning.  As of now, you are relieved of duty from this flight".  I had been on flight for two (2) months.  I went home and went to bed.
On Tuesday morning, I reported as directed to Colonel Ralph L. Smith, Wing Commander, TUSLOG Detachment 94.  He was very cordial, asked me to be seated, and asked if I knew why he had sent for me.  I replied in the negative.  He then explained that Major Mathison (my OIC at AFSCC (SCA)) was a personal friend of his and that he had received a handwritten letter from the Major informing the Colonel that I was enroute to Karamursel and that if the Colonel ever needed an administrative NCO, then he should consider me.  Colonel Smith further explained that his Wing Sergeant Major, a MSgt Wilson, was being air evacuated to the states for a medical emergency and that he would not be returning.  He said, "I need a Sergeant Major and if you will accept the position, it is yours".  I questioned whether it would be appropriate for a SSgt to be the Wing Sergeant Major when the Base Sergeant Major was a MSgt and the Personnel Sergeant Major was a CMSgt, since their units were subordinate to the Wing.  He said, "YOU are the person I want in that position."  I accepted, although I later learned that it was to be a 90 day TDA, Temporary Duty Assignment.  In November, since I was technically still assigned to operations, I was recommended for promotion to TSgt in my 29272 operational AFSC.
Colonel Ralph Smith was the Wing Commander, Colonel Craig Teller was the Wing Vice Commander, I was the Wing Sergeant Major and the Secretary was June Tinsley.  June’s husband was a Captain and was the Base Supply Officer..
One day when June came to work, she started laughing and said her husband, Captain Tinsley, had made a comment at the dinner table the night before that he had no idea what we did in "Operations" but he supplied us with more toilet paper than six-ply paper to.  He wondered why our airmen spent so much time in the latrine.  She said she gave him her biggest smile.
Shortly after the 1st of Jan '68, Col Smith said he wanted me to remain in the position permanently  Over Hq USAFSS (PDC) objection, but with their approval, he changed my PAFSC, CAFSC, and DAFSC from 29272 to 70270.  Shortly after, I learned that I had been selected for promotion to TSgt (E6) although it wouldn’t be effective until Feb '68.  We re-enlisted in Jul '68.  I remained in the position for the duration of my tour.  Although there was "some" resentment to me being the Wing Sergeant Major, my interaction with the Base Sergeant Major and the Personnel Sergeant Major was always professional.
One day Colonel Smith called me into his office.  We had a contract with a local farmer to collect all the garbage (foodstuff) from the dining hall/officer/NCO and airmen clubs.  He paid for the privilege to use it on his farm (fertilizer?).  Trash (paper/cans/etc.) was to be kept separate.  Colonel Smith handed me a letter from the farmer complaining about the "quality of our garbage".  His complaint was that paper/cans were being mixed in with the garbage and made the garbage unusable.  I contacted the Base Sergeant Major and informed him that the base's "garbage was too dirty".  We both had a laugh about it but the matter was resolved.  The base facilities cleaned up their garbage.  The Base Sergeant Major called a few days later and said the "garbage is so clean we are thinking of serving it as "seconds" in the dining hall".  Again, we had a big laugh..
I had noticed that every morning, as I was leaving Yalova for Karamursel, there was a Turkish Naval Petty Officer waiting at the bus stop for transportation to the Turkish Naval Base at Karamursel (the town).  One morning I stopped and offered him a ride as far as Karamursel Air Station.  He spoke fairly good English and with my limited Turkish, we were able to communicate very well.  He offered to be our guide if we wished to do any traveling around the countryside.  We later decided that we would like to visit Bursa.  He readily agreed that they would accompany us and that he would be able to get us "great prices" on anything we wanted to buy.
On the appointed day, I picked up him and his family and brought them to our house for breakfast.  In our ignorance, we did not know that the Turks do not eat pork.  We had prepared the normal breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, etc.  We learned very quickly that pork was taboo, but they did eat everything else.  (Probably didn’t realize the eggs were cooked in bacon grease.)
We went to Bursa.  His wife had a sister living there and they insisted that we stop at her house for lunch.  The house did not have screens on the windows and the flies were rampant.  They were everywhere including the food on the table.  The CPO and his family did not seem to mind but we were very selective about what we ate.
When we went to the local bazaar, he suggested that we walk ahead and if we saw something that interest us, then he would come along and barter with the merchant.  It was a laugh.  Every price he was given was higher than the price the merchant had quoted to me or my wife.  After we returned to Yalova, I dropped my family off at our apartment and then took him and his family home.  He remained in the car after his wife and children had gone into their house.  He then ask me if I would buy some cigarettes for him at our BX.  I firmly replied "NO, it is not permitted!"  He became very angry and said some things in Turkish that I did not understand.  I never saw nor heard from him again.  He was never at the bus stop again.  (Could it have been a test?)
We moved into base housing after about eight (8) months in Yalova.  As Wing Sergeant Major, I had the luxury of having a telephone in our quarters.  The telephone installer told my wife that he did not know of any other SSgt having a telephone in base housing.  I frequently received official calls pertaining to my job.  The telephone was also a blessing.  My wife’s father was injured on his job in Georgia.  Her brother was able to call us directly to inform us of the injury.
Our fourth child, Brian, was born at the USAF Hospital in Ankara in Mar '69.  My wife had some difficult medical problems, pre-natal and post birth, so we were glad to be leaving Karamursel in Jul '69.  Again, the telephone became a blessing because I could talk to her while she was in the hospital in Ankara.  Before leaving Karamursel, I had applied, and was selected, for special duty as a Military Training Instructor (MTI) at Lackland AFB, TX.
I was awarded my SECOND Air Force Commendation Medal (1st Oak Leaf Cluster), for my job performance as Wing Sergeant Major at Karamusel AS.
We arrived at Lackland in Aug '69.  After completing MTI school, I was assigned as NCOIC of Training for the 3280th Student Squadron (Crypto), 3275th Tech School.  We lived off base for a short time and then moved into Lackland base housing at 802 Fairchild St.  I was promoted to MSgt (E7) in May '71 under the new Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS).
One day an airman came into my office holding a wet rag on his head.  When he removed the rag, he had a knot about the size of a golf ball on his forehead.  He said that he was cleaning his room and had placed the waste can, upside down, on the floor in the doorway.  He was dusting the ledges above.  He stepped back into the room ,contemplating his next move, when a friend called him from down the hallway.  Instead of moving the waste can, he jumped over it, striking his forehead on top of the door frame.  I had another airman accompany him to the hospital for treatment/observation.  About a week later, I received a request from the "Ground Safety Office" to explain how the "accident" occurred and what I had done to preclude a recurrence.  I completed the form, as required, and in the narrative wrote, "All personnel in the unit have been made aware of this accident and that, in the future, they should all look before they leap."  I expected repercussions from Ground Safety but never heard a word.
I applied, and was selected, for Recruiting duty in Feb '72.  The Recruiting School was on Lackland AFB so we remained in base housing while I attended the school.  Upon completion, I was assigned to Anderson, SC.  We re-enlisted in Jul ’72.
I was awarded my THIRD Air Force Commendation Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster) for my job performance as NCOIC of Training, 3280nd Student Squadron).
I became the AF Recruiter for northern Anderson County and all of Oconee County which included Clemson University.  I completed the Senior NCO Academy Correspondence Course during this time.  "Recruiting" did nothing to enhance my AF career except to accumulate Time In Grade (TIG).  Career wise, it was a waste of my time.
We re-enlisted in Jul '76 and I accepted an assignment to Robins AFB, Georgia, as Asst. Chief of Administrative Services at the 19th Bomb Wing (SAC).  Up to that point in my career, I had NEVER worked for a female NOR a civilian.  In this assignment, I had the misfortune of having a civilian female as my supervisor.  She was like a fish out of water.  She was totally incompetent.  About six months into the assignment, we had a SAC Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI).  I was embarrassed and disgusted with her performance during the inspection.  After the inspectors left, I had a closed door meeting with her and emphatically told her that she, or I, needed to find a new job.  She retired thirty (30) days later!.  Since it was a civilian position it took a long time to replace her.
In Jan '77, I received a freeze notice for an overseas assignment.  My wife and I decided that, because of the age of our four children, we were not going overseas again.  In Mar '77 I received orders for Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  When I inquired of Senior NCO Assignments at Randolph AFB, I was told that I was going to be the Base Sergeant Major at Ramstein.  Although we considered taking the assignment for career purposes, we declined the assignment and I submitted my retirement papers, retiring on 1 Jul '77 with 21 years of active duty at the age of 38 years and six months.  The day I left Robins AFB, the promotion list was released and I was on the list for promotion to SMSgt (E8).
I was awarded my FOURTH Air Force Commendation (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster) for my job performance as Assistant Chief of Administrative Services at the 19th Bomb Wing (SAC), Robins AFB, Georgia.
We returned to our home town, Augusta Georgia, and I went to work for the Postal Service thirty (30) days later.  During my time with the postal service, I was a part-time flexible clerk, rural route substitute carrier, regular city letter carrier, 204b (supervisor during postmaster's absence), and Officer In Charge of a post office.  I retired from the Post Office in Jul '02 with 25 years of service.
Fully retired now.  I am the Poll Manager for the largest precinct in Richmond County, GA  I only work when there is an election.
My wife and I have been married over 55 years.  She and the children accompanied me to Japan, Texas (3 times), Turkey, South Carolina, and Georgia.  In the total of 21 years active duty we were married for 19 of those years and were only separated for a TOTAL of six months during those 19 years.
Our health is such that we can do most anything we wish.  Our four children have blessed us with ten grands and ten great grands.
LIFE IS GOOD.
Bill & Trudy Wood
2712 Barclay St.
Hephzibah, GA 30815-6491