Biographical Notes
Relating to
The Earl E. Myers Story

Chapter 32
Closing Thoughts and Commentary

Page 2 of 3 Pages

Part 2 of Steve's Comments:

Madrid, Spain April 1961

My family and I stepped off the plane at Torrejon AFB after flying all night. The sun was warm and the sky brilliant blue. I looked along the flight line and saw numerous B-47s and KC-135s lined up in neat rows. At another area of the flight line I observed numerous fighter jets also lined up in orderly rows. This appeared to be a really neat base to me. Fighters were taking off and landing. The roar of their engines was awe inspiring to me.

We were transported to a hotel in downtown Madrid and all of us immediately went to bed at 3 in the afternoon. This was very strange I thought as I wasn't even tired and I wanted to go out and explore my new surroundings with my sister. Within minutes I was asleep. The next day I awakened and as we went outside my sense of smell was overwhelmed with the fragrance of olive oil being used to cook the Spanish foods which we all grew to enjoy. We settled into a house which my parents located about 5 miles outside of Madrid.

I was registered for school and attended an on-base school for American dependents. In some of my classrooms I could see the flight line and watched the numerous takeoffs and landings each day of various military aircraft. I day dreamed of flying the jets as my father did. He would frequently be gone for a week or two. All he would say before he left was that he was flying to Turkey or Morocco or other far away countries. When he returned he always brought back exotic items such as Persian rugs, brass pots and trays. On returning from Turkey, pistachios that were sun dried in sea salt were my favorite gift. I wondered what my dad did on his trips to these strange lands. Did he just fly there for fun and go shopping? Little did I know that these were just bases where his aircraft was prepared for reconnaissance flights into Russian territory. I didn't know of the danger that he faced on each and every flight. I just knew that when he returned, it was like Christmas. My mother and brother and sister would be so excited as his return approached.

On several occasions we would go to the air base and wait at the flight line and watch his plane approach the runway and gracefully land. The huge jet would taxi to its parking area, the engines would spool down with a descending whistle sound. I could see the white helmet of the front seater and knew this was my Dad. The cockpit access hatch would open on the underside of the planes belly and the ladder would drop down. Soon the crew descended the ladder and my father would walk toward us. First he hugged my mother and then it was the kids' turn. It felt so good to feel his arms around me. His flight suit had a distinctive feel and smell. As soon as the hugs were over my sister and brother and I would ask with great anticipation "what did you bring us?" There was always something new and strange that was brought back.

On an afternoon in October, 1962 my father rushed through the front door of our house outside of Madrid. He was wearing his air force blue uniform. He instructed with great authority for my mother to pack enough clothing and food for at least a week and drive to the mountains north of Madrid and stay there. He said that we were going to be at war with Russia. He said that the air base and Madrid were targets and would be hit. I was scared! I had a sick feeling in my stomach. My father said he had to go back to the base and he would be away for a long time. I felt helpless. He said something about the Russians shipping missiles to Cuba and a blockade had been ordered by Pres. Kennedy and the Russians were going to run it and then we would be at war. My father then left. A few hours later as we were packing and preparing to leave, my father called on the phone. He talked to my mother and told her that the Russians had turned around everything was going to be alright. What a feelng of relief I had.

November 22, 1963, as my family often did, we attended a movie theater in downtown Madrid where current American films were shown . As we watched a Doris Day movie with a theater full of other American military families, the movie suddenly stopped and the house lights came on. An officer stepped onstage and said "I am sorry to report to you that the President of the United States has been assassinated." There was an immediate flurry of activity as the theater emptied of people and the servicemen rushed to the Air Base and the families went to their homes. We listened intently to AFRS radio for news of the details as Spanish TV was very primitive and scenes being televised from America were very grainy and hard to see. A sense of extreme sadness prevailed and enveloped us. How could this happen in America?

Three years passed and it was our turn to rotate back to the states. As usual I had feelings of sadness because I would lose my high school friends and again have to start a new school. I knew that the feelings of loss for my friends would pass as it always did. After all, I had said good-bye to many friends in the past and I knew that I would do it again. We drove west through Spain and into Portugal. We visited scenic locations and eventually arrived at our location near Gibraltar where we would board the ship, USS Constitution. After 5 days of sailing across the Atlantic we entered NY harbor at dawn, June 1 1964. The statue of Liberty greeted us and I had tears in my eyes as I proudly gazed upon her. I was finally back in the U.S.A. Spain was great but this was America and I was proud to be an American and I was finally home. The first thing that my Dad and I did when we disembarked was to go and get a real American hot dog from a vendor. It was so good!

After a week or so in NY City we drove to our next base and another new home. This base was named Pease AFB. It was located in Portsmouth, N.H. Again, B-47's and KC 135's and KC-97's were the main aircraft based there. The routine of base life resumed. New friends were made and new places to explore were many. This was 1964-1965, my senior year of high school. After 3 high schools this is where I would finally graduate. One afternoon, as the school day was about to end, I looked out of my second story classroom window, toward the air base. I saw a huge column of black smoke climbing into the sky. A sick feeling came over me. I asked myself "was it my Dads' plane?" The bell rang, school was dismissed. As I sat on the bus taking me home I watched as the angry black column of smoke grew taller and closer. The bus dropped me off at my stop and I hesitantly walked to my house all the while watching the pillar of smoke climb higher into the sky. As I entered the house, my mother greeted me and told me that my Dad was ok. The plane that had crashed was a tanker. My Dad came home later that evening. He was on the accident investigation team. He was wearing his flight suit and his boots were covered with mud. The strong smell of jet fuel and oily smoke permeated his clothing and filled the house with an unforgettable stench. He took his boots off and placed them by the back door. He simply said that there had been a crash and all of the crew were killed.

The next day there was much activity down the street where one of the crewmen lived. A few weeks later the moving van came again. Another family moved away. Viet Nam became a common news item and many of my friends were enlisting in the army to go and fight. I graduated from high school. My father was retiring from the Air Force. He asked me what I planned to do now that I was out of school. I told him that I wanted to join the Air Force and fly just like he did. I wasn't prepared for the response that I received. He told me in no uncertain terms in a loud, angry voice that I would not join the Air Force. I was confused and upset. He offered no explanation. He told me to stay in school.

I did as I was told and attended Central Missouri State University. During the summer months I played professional baseball in the minor leagues for the KC Royals. After 4 years of ball, I realized that the major leagues were out of reach for me. I needed a job. I became a police officer for the City of Independence, Mo. I served in the detective bureau, was promoted to sergeant. I worked narcotics. I served with the Special Response Team serving high risk search warrants and hostage rescues.

After 31 years of service I retired from the police department. I had a very successful career and enjoyed the profession for the most part. I believe that because of my upbringing in an Air Force family and that lifestyle, I learned to adapt quickly to changing conditions. I learned to fit in with people of other cultures and ways of life and to make friends easily. Instead of just learning geography and history and languages from a book in school, I had the advantage of getting to actually experience the places that most people only get to read about.

My father was dedicated to the service of his country as were his fellow coworkers. My mother was dedicated to keeping her family together and more often than not had to raise three children by herself, plus handle all of the other responsibilities that one faces. The true heroes in this country are not the movie actors or rock stars. They just act and perform. The true heroes are the members of the military and their families who make the sacrifices so that we may continue to live a life that most people of this world can only dream about.

Steve, with his Dad, celebrating Earl's 80th birthday.

God Bless our military and our country.

Steve Myers

Editor's Note: Thank you Steve for those beautifully presented words. I know that your Dad, Earl Myers, feels a deep sense of pride in the accomplishments of each of his children.

Earl's youngest son, Kipp, has offered his comments and recollections to this story. His words follow on the next and concluding page to this story.

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