9th AVRS - Frank Iava

I had just graduated from high school in June of 1950 when the Korean War broke out. After a few months into the war I began to think that I could be drafted into the Army soon. A couple of my friends wanted to enlist in the Navy. My response to that was, ďNo way will I enlist in the navy!Ē I went to see an Air Force recruiter and he assured me I could be leaving within a month. My parents were not too happy with my decision only because my brother had been in the 8th AF during WWII and flew many missions over Germany, etc. I could remember them worrying so much for him. I convinced them that if I didnít go in the A.F. I could very well be drafted and sent to Korea in the Army. That seemed to bring back memories to my Dad because he got drafted in WWI into the Army and fought in France.

My orders were to report to Lackland A.F.B. in December of 1950. About the time that I was ready to leave I was placed on hold because Lackland became over crowded with recruits. I waited for 2 more months and was sent up to Sampson A.F.B. in upstate N.Y. in March of 1951. This was a former Navy Training base in WWII, situated on one of the finger lakes. The Air Force, to lighten the load on Lackland in Texas, took over the base to train men. I made it through my basic training and all I can say about it is that I never experienced such cold weather. After basic I was sent to welding school ( not by choice; I wanted radio school ) in Prarie, Mississippi. It was part of Mississippi College Trade school. I completed the course there and was sent to Auto Mechanicís School in Longview Texas, Letourneau Tech. for 8 weeks training for auto mechanic. I enjoyed this school because I always messed around with my fatherís trucks and car. At least here I learned how to do mechanic work right. Our class finally graduated at the end of September 1951 and we were given a 14-day furlough and had orders to report to Camp Stoneman, California by mid-October to be assigned to overseas duty. I met up with my school group there and soon learned we were to be sent to Okinawa. However I believe about 8 of us were held back from the first group to leave. Finally after about 2 weeks I got my orders to go to Okinawa too. We were placed on a ship named USS Brewester, and I can remember being sea sick for 3 days ( see why I said no to the Navy?). We spent Thanksgiving on this ship also. Finally we arrived on Okinawa.

To my surprise I caught up to my friends who I had been training with. I was assigned to the 9 A.V.R. S. also. The only draw back was that we had to bunk in our day room until our permanent barracks was refurbished for us. We lived there until after Christmas of 1951.

My duty station was the GMC Shop and my tour of duty was from Nov.1951 until October 1953. At first I was upset with having to stay for two years, but, believe me, it seemed to breeze by because we were so busy working. I worked on the night shift for a while and can remember watching the B29ís take off for their missions and wonder how many would really make it back. Our shop area was near the flight line!

Before long my tour of duty was over on Okie. My next duty station was with 32nd Air Division located at the municipal airport in Syracuse, N.Y. This was only 250 miles from my home in Connecticut. Needless to say I made many trips home on week ends. I was discharged in March of 1955 . I returned home and a month later I married my high school sweetheart. We raised 4 children ( 3 girls,1 boy ). My wife was a Registered Nurse with 40 years of service when she retired. And I worked for Southern New England Tel. Co. as a field service Engineer with 38 years of service when I retired. We have made a few trips to Europe for vacations. Then 14 years Ago, from out of the blue I received a telephone call from Don Rhine asking me if I would be interested in having a reunion with some of the guys from the 9AVRS. I agreed and our first reunion was at Donís home in Delphi, Indiana. It was a great beginning. Those attending were John Mieres, Kansas; Julian Walterschied, Texas; Ted Raines, Texas; Phil Smith, Indiana; Don Rhine, Indiana; Bill Anderson, Connecticut; and Frank Iava, Connecticut. And naturally all our wives. We decided then to meet every year after that and gradually found more of our old group. Although some have passed on and some canít travel any more we still managed to meet somewhere in our beautiful country for the last 14 years.

For this reason I have never regretted my service in the A.F.


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