Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
1:14 pm EST
Sunday, January 17, 2021

In the Villages: ‘Off we go into the wild blue yonder…’

Air Force service was filled with fun and frolic.

Story: Joe Angione

Recently, while cleaning out my garage, I found my old Air Force uniforms. They were 50 years old and too decrepit to keep. But they got the memories flowing about five years of Air Force service during which I never flew a plane, dropped a bomb or fired a gun in anger. 

As I demilitarized the uniforms (removed the buttons bearing the shield of the United States – you’re supposed to do this), I began remembering the “good old days.” They brought tears of joy to my eyes… so much travel… so much sightseeing… so much free time for new cultural experiences… so much low-cost living and benefits… all paid for by Uncle Sam for both my wife and me. 

I felt, then, that I was dallying and not doing anything to serve my country. But what could I do?  Military assignments are “at the needs of the service.” And so, I received no flight training. Instead, they sent me to Officers Training School, then to supply school, and then to West Germany, to a Communications Squadron. 

My job for three and a half years was to help keep Air Force navigational aids running smoothly.  I had airmen and German nationals to do the work. But I was their supervisor and so the Air Force made me responsible and liable for a hundred million dollars’ worth of air traffic control equipment. If any got stolen or damaged, I’d be liable for the replacement cost… out of a salary of $222.20 a month! Man, was I lucky!

My last year and a half was with the Air Force Orientation Group at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. My job was displaying Air Force art and equipment exhibits across the nation, and I often traveled with them… more great sightseeing at government expense.  

To those who think military duty is nothing if it isn’t combat with plenty of blood and guts, they’re wrong. Most military work is sitting around doing lots of repetitive, routine things. No war stories to tell the grandchildren. For every man on the front lines of war, there are a dozen behind the lines supporting him… including me.   

I’m sure there are many ex-military here in The Villages just like me. We prepared for war, but it just didn’t happen. But like the English poet John Milton wrote: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” 


Joe Angione loves to share stories of his adventures.If you want to contact him, email joeangione@aol.com.

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