My stay in Salt Lake City was rather brief. No trips to town while we were there. Once in Salt Lake we were to be shuffled around to various Air Bases for crew assignments. There were two incidents that are remembered from Salt Lake.
We were all called out to stand at attention while a sergeant was drummed out of the service. The drums solely rolled, the stripes clipped from the sergeant’s sleeves, his buttons pulled, and the man was escorted to the gate where he was told to never again set foot on a U.S. Military installation. It looked like a full scale Hollywood Production. Fifty years later, I still believe it was staged.
About the third day we were in Salt Lake I was told to report to the commanding officer on-the-double. Thinking about the sergeant that had been “drummed out” the day before, my previous military escapades were rushing through my mind when reporting to the CO. The conversation went something like this,
“Sergeant Gibbs your record indicates you have a pilot’s license, is this correct?”
“Why didn’t you go into cadets?”
As so often, the entire story about the heart murmur was repeated. The CO commented that the service must be good for my hearts since there was nothing in my records to show anything but a healthy staff sergeant. Regardless, all that I needed to do was sign on the dotted line and it would be on to Cadet School. For reasons that have never been understood I asked permission to sleep overnight on this subject. This was agreeable with the CO. He complimented me on wanting to think about it.
Returning to the barracks the subject was discussed with several of the fellows. They were 100% opposed to me leaving the group. The comments running, “The war will be over before you finish training.” “We need to stay together”, etc. Early the next day I reported to the CO telling him the cadet training was being declined. The CO stated he thought it was a mistake on my part, yet, it was my decision. Apparently that decision made over 52 years was the correct one since I survived the war. No doubt there were many who entered cadet training about the same time as I would have who are no longer with us.
Shortly after the cadet episode, I was on my way to Davis-Monthan in Tucson, Arizona. Very few of those who had advised me not to become a cadet were sent to Davis-Monthan.