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And now back to answers for elders as we honor our military veterans. Carriage is the proud sponsor of our veteran segment hosted by former ctle Seahawk Dennis Boyd. Hi. This is Dennis Boyd. We’re down here in Patriots landing in dufaunt Washington. This is part of the Veterans of the month award that sponsored by carriage and specifically by Patriots landing. Today we’re visiting with Lieutenant Colonel Dan Washerstrom, and Dana spent twenty six years in the Air Force and Dan, welcome to the show. Thank you very much done. Dan. What we try to do is just to kind of get an idea and a taste for people to feel, like you said, some of our veterans that are resources here, the people and the experiences that they’ve been through. Tell me a little bit about your military career. Where do you want me to start? Well, let’s start at the beginning’s a good spotka. In one thousand nine hundred and fifty six, I enlisted in the Air Force and they sent me to school to become a personnel specialist and back then, before the digital age, we had to do morning reports every morning and that was my job. And so I eventually got promoted to two stripes, to what was in an airman second class, and I like to tell this story that I was frozen in grade to the next grade. So I couldn’t become an ENCO so I decided to become an officer. I mean that’s more or less what happened anyway. And while I was enlisted I had one overseas assignment and that was to you Code Air Base in Japan and and from then I came back. Actually, my Simon I had coming home was to bowling air base, Air Force Base in Washington DC. And while I was going through text school at Scott, the study mine and myself went to this musing parkment. We were going to tech school at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, but we came into St Louis went to the Amusement Park, which is called Highlands Park back then, and we happened to see these two girls walking down the street and we never done this in my life before, but we stopped and asked him a question because they in St Louis. I had this big paddle wheeler out there called the admiral. We wanted to find out more about it. So that’s where I met my future wife and it was sort of a pickup and I’ve never done that my life for and so she we got engaged and she went to DC with me when on that assignment and I finally got accepted to what was then, they don’t have it anymore, the aviation cadets become a pilot. We were from the second from the last class, and so I went to various schools. It was went to Bambridge, Georgia, and then Vance Air Force base and in and Oklahoma to finish up, and I graduated as a in March seventeen one thousand nine hundred and sixty one as a second lieutenant, got my wings, got married the same day in a triple wedding of the base chapel. Not Not much going on that day. No, no, it’s going on that, okay, so it’s kind of it. That was also my brother’s birthday, okay, and St Patrick’s Day, so it was an easy one to remember. So when you get your wings, do they actually do that it? Does the air force then designate which type of aircraft you’ll be flying at that point? Is that something they determined a later time. Well, it depended on your position in the class. I think I was number six in the class. By the way, in aviation cadets we started out with our class of four hundred. Now I disperse out to various training bases and we ended up with two hundred MM. So we lost about fifty percent, and that on washouts. So so when I did get my bars and wings, my parents, of course were there. So My mother pinned on my bars and Joe and my wife Pin would my few future wife that day pinned on my wings. And our first signment, actually before our first time, I was Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. This is one thousand nine hundred and sixty one. But before we went there I had to go through survival training at Reno, at stead Air Force Base, which was a lot of fun because that was back in the days where they put you in a mock prison camp. This was after the Korean War, of course, and try to break you down, but it’s easy to get through it. So we went to Charleston in that Spring of sixty one and we were stationed there to one thousand nineteen seventy, and the airplanes I flew the first air plane I flew was a see one hundred and twenty one super constellation as a CO pilot, and we then transition in one thousand nine hundred and sixty three to the see and thirty, or at least in one thousand nine hundred and sixty six, to see one hundred and forty one starlifter. And of course during that time, if you had no more was going on. So we’re flying back and forth to Vietnam and back, and what I remember about that the most a couple things, but I can go on. But one was we generally carry supplies over, and what amazed me is, if you know the s one hundred and forty one, it was a pretty big airplane. Could carry a lot of stuff. Well, we take over the replacement barrels for the armies one hundred seventy five hundred millimeter artillery, which were huge. We can only carry two barrels on that airplane. That much weight. That much weight, okay. But coming back the what I think about the most is most of my air coming back was with airvacs bring the guys back, and that was really you know, made me feel real good. What didn’t make me feel so good was right around Tet, when we’re in tons A, newt air base, and Sigon. They loaded the airplane, but that airplane was full about three, three to four high of alone can askets. Okay, you really start to visibly and see the cost. Yes, it’s being paid. Yeah, Yeah, plus with the particular night we were in Tonsonut, was in the middle of Ted and we were on the ground and we had to make a very high approach coming in and take off and get high rapidly because the bad guys were at the gate for where you could hear them. You’re the firing of the gate. Yeah. So, so going back and then nineteen seven. That’s nineteen seventy. They actually we were looking for an assignment to Europe or someplace else. You know, we had been in Charleston ten years and when I people used to say when you’re going to do some, we’re they going to do something if you etnot. Well, in nineteen seventy they did. So I spent a year and camera on Bay from Nineteen Seventy nineteen seventy one. It was also air left, but it was under Pacific Air Forces, under their thirty four are division. It was an airlift control element elsie is what we call them for in country airlift. So spend a year and camera on with there and then came back to the states and of course they had too many pilots then. HMM. So rather than get back into airlift, they put me in rated supplement into minimum missiles at grand forks, North Dakota, for four years, which was a lot of fun, and actually it was. We enjoyed it, except for the cold, and the people in North Dakota would agree with you there. So yeah, and from there we came to mccord in nineteen seventy six and I retired from near force nineteen eighty two and we lived in Lakewood in the obrook area all that time. We bought a house we got here in seventy six and the reason we stayed there was because from every window in the back and the backyard you had a beautiful view of the mountain, Mountain Air. Yeah, and so we were going to stay there, you know, until I passed away, except that in two thousand and fourteen I ended up with lymphoma which, because there is no cancer in the family, they attributed to age and orange and so I went through all the procedures on that. They had me on protocol of six chemo sessions and luckily it’s in remission. It’s been in remission for two and a half years now, so I feel pretty good. But my boys said time to move on. By the way, when I was with Alaska Airlines, and I got it with them in nineteen eighty four, wasn’t actually flying as a pilot, although I did get typed in a seven thirty seven because I was teaching simulator and yeah, and but I was in the training, the pilot training department, Flight Operations Training, and I worked my way up from instructor to Director of Flight Operations Training for Alaska. And so I was with them seventeen years. Retired in two thousand and one so and then I was continuing flying. I used to instructed the Fort Lost Flying Club. When they closed that, got in civil air patrol and as flying with them. And finally in Nineteen Eight, nineteen or two thousand twelve, I had a little SCO back on nineteen ninety three I had bypass surgery, also attributed to age, in orange. So I was on a spit of FA special issue once medical one thousand nine hundred and twelve it, even though I was doing okay. Unfortunately, the FA medical people’s said no, so they did not medical and I stopped flying then and we moved here and to Patriots landing in my two thousand and fifteen and I have been there here ever since. I’m married, been married for as for fifty six years and we have I have two boys. One actually works for you, Packard. Other one is that’s Stephen. Eric, my youngest, was in the Air Force. He actually went through universe peusea sound our force. Artcu was in the Air Force. Is Now flying for a last carolines and they each have two sons. So I had two sons and they each had two sons and the only other than my wife is my daughter in laws. And family history repeating itself then. Yes, yes, so how’s your stay been here at Patriots lanning? Really really enjoy it? This is a great place. I remember when I was built in two thousand and five when I was in the Care Center for my Mphoma and university place. We, my wife and my voice, went looking for a place to move to and they looked all over the immediate area around here and we ended up here, which is great because we my medical has done it, Madigan. We’re writing her everything. Yes, it’s if Patriots lanning. Is Not just the staff and the people here, but it’s people like you that that make this the the retired military, and I can’t tell you just as a outsider coming in, you walk in here and you understand the every time you turn around there’s somebody has done something amazing here or something like this, and you all get you new people, you people. You treat it as if it was just every day and yet we every time I hear a story it just amazes me. Of what you’ve accomplished. Well, there’s so many great people in the residence here and the staff. Yes, yes, Lieutenant Colonel, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate you taking the time to share your story and your family and grandchildren should be very proud of everything you’ve done. Well, thank you very much. Days. Thank you. This has been a special honoring Veterans Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is sere agecom.
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Originally published September 30, 2017