Weatherford Democrat

December 23, 2012

SALUTING OUR VETERANS: Former airman recounts his service days


Weatherford Democrat

By SALLY SEXTON | ssexton@weatherforddemocrat.com

Karl Moore grew up amid the oil rigs in West Texas. But his journey through military took him overseas and back, before he settled in Weatherford.

Below is his written version of the trials of the U.S. Air Force:

I had just graduated from high school in the summer of 1966 and all was good then. I had just landed a great job and was not thinking about the future.

All of that changed in July, when I received a letter from Hazel Petty, the executive director of the local draft board, to report to Abilene. I was to take a physical for the draft.

Two weeks after the physical, I received orders to report to Abilene for induction into the U.S. Army. I knew it was my time to do my duty and to serve my country. Fortunately, my boss had a son in a similar situation as mine.

Roger had joined the Air Force and his parents said he really enjoyed it.

I called Roger to see how he was doing and to get his thoughts on the Air Force. The conversation helped persuade me to join the Air Force.

I informed my parents of my decision to join and by Sept. 2, I was on my way to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. I have five other brothers, but for various reasons, they were not drafted and did not go into service.

My twin brother [Charles], being married with a child, decided to join the Air Force 18 months later.

In September, I was sworn in to the United States Air Force, which would become my home for the next few years.

After basic training, I was sent to Security Police Training School at Lackland.

Following basic, I received orders to report to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, about 25 miles south of Miami. Assigned to the 8th Air Force 19th Bomb Wing Security Police Squadron, I walked the flight line for about four months. I was then assigned to training for a year, then to base law enforcement for 10 months.

Because of my hearing, or lack thereof, I was reassigned to the Supply Services Squadron — first the Clothing Sales Store, then to the Salvage Yard.

During that time, Homestead Air Force Base was designated as a Tactical Air Command Fighter Training Base. Because of this designation, my status opened up for deployment to anywhere.

Within three weeks, I received orders to Da Nang Republic of Vietnam and a 30-day week of vacation. I was to report to the 366th SVC Sq. (PACAF) APO SF 96337. Our squadron designation was the 366th gun fighters.

I was assigned to the Ration Breakdown Warehouse. Our job was to deliver food, including fresh vegetables, frozen and canned foods, to the four dining halls every other day. On the days we weren’t making deliveries, we would go to the Naval Depot at the Port of Da Nang to pick up supplies and return to the base, unloading our trucks for the next day’s shipments to the dining halls on base. Sundays were our only days off.

Having an off-base pass, we were destined to explore the surrounding areas, but all of the areas that we traveled were safe zones, guarded roads and trails.

We would go over to Monkey Mountain, a marine encampment on the side of a mountain overlooking the South China Sea. We would also go to Marble Mountain, where the Army encampment was located.

On the way to visiting these encampments, we were able to see how the Vietnamese people lived and worked. Their homes were made of clay bricks, plywood and cardboard. The cardboard was from the pallets that came from some of the Air Force supply ships, used to bring supplies to the men and women in the service. Sometimes the homes were built only from the cardboard.

On Mondays, it was back to work.

Nights were sometimes the worst. Da Nang was called Rocket City because of all of the rocket attacks through the years. The base was hit by rocket rounds fired from the mountains surrounding the base. This would happen two or three times a week and sometimes, a month would go by before we would be hit again.

The night before I left Vietnam, there was a rocket attack and a fuel tank, holding about 500 gallons of jet fuel, was hit by a rocket, creating a huge fire ball.

I thought to myself, “this could be the end,” but things quieted down and we were able to fly out of Vietnam around noon the next day.

On Feb. 2, our airplane flew from Da Nang to Hawaii, and we flew from Hawaii into Norton Air Force Base in California, where the next day, I was discharged.

Six of us had rented a taxi to take us to Los Angeles International Airport, where we caught flights to our different destinations.

I returned to my hometown of Odessa, where I went to work in a chemical plant that produced plastic, some of which was used to make Tupperware products.

For the remainder of my career, I worked in and around the oil field in West Texas until my retirement in 2008, when I came to Weatherford.