An airman at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas 1970

Photographs by Michael Broschat

I’m rather surprised that I didn’t take more pictures while at Goodfellow than I appear to have taken. Evidently, I borrowed my wife’s Canon 7 (a fine rangefinder camera that was almost certainly among the last produced—except by Leica, which created that kind of camera), and took a series of portraits with the 100mm lens she had for it.

Among fellow Chinese linguists, you’ll see Richard Blackwell, Tom Barrett, Mike Van Dzura, and John Koomen. Stuart Becker had grown up in Germany and, I’m sure, passed the German test without going to language school. He learned radio usage at Goodfellow. A future co-worker of mine worked with Stu in Germany. Stu realized a teenage dream while at Goodfellow—he bought an old Thunderbird. He used it one night to take three or four of us to our first porn film. Today, that film could be used as a lingerie ad on network TV but in those days it was hard core. The other two gentlemen are only vaguely but namelessly familiar.

Richard was a friend by fate. We were together at Oakland Induction Center in November 1969, and soon learned that we were on the way to the same place (well, everyone had to do Basic but I believe he also had the voice job guarantee that I had). So, we did Basic together, language school together, and airborne together, ending up at Kadena on Okinawa. We were not on the same crew but of course worked together a lot when on a Torii Station shift. And I owe Richard a tremendous favor.

When we arrived at Kadena, we were given a group tour of the facility at Torii Station (our workplace when not flying). I remember one of the sergeants in charge of paper work, a career airman, telling us that although they made their best effort to keep track of the various aspects of individual careers, mistakes happen. He said that most of these records were of importance to career folks, which flipped a little switch in my head turning off whatever else he said.

I got out a couple months early to begin school at the University of Washington, and when I went to register an official there asked me whether I'd served in Vietnam. “Well, I have the Vietnam Service Medal,” I replied. He asked to see my DD-214, which I showed him. “Nothing here,” he noticed. I looked, and he was right. All the Air Medals but no mention of the Vietnam award. Knowing Richard was still flying at Kadena, I quickly wrote him and asked him to get a letter from Hank ??, the AMS of our crew when I left. He did so, Hank did so, and I was rewarded with the Washington State bennie for Vietnam veterans—tuition at the level it would have been in 1967 or so. The end result of this benefit was that I would attend school at UW for a minimal fee and also receive four years of GI Bill (which I would have gotten anyway). Thanks, Richard and Hank!