I grew up on Air Force bases all over the world. It was a wonderful childhood, and at the same time, sometimes a ‘troubling’ childhood. But, all-in-all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
One of the bases I lived on is Davis-Monthan (D-M) AFB, Tucson Az., 1955 – 1957. We lived on Cass Avenue. If you came out our front door and crossed the street, you we’re literally in the desert. Not far into the desert was the Air Force “boneyard.” The boneyard is where the Air Force, and other services stored surplus aircraft – and still do. When we lived there, the boneyard wasn’t fenced in. And as it turned out, it was a magic place for kids to play!
On occasion we were “run off” by the the boneyard staff; but more often than not, they left us alone. We weren’t able to get inside the aircraft, but we certainly climbed all over them! At it was during these times I got my first 39 MiG kills; or was it 40? We didn’t play there every day, but enough to leave great memories…
In the Spring of 2010 I had the opportunity to visit D-M one evening. It was a Sunday evening, and I decided to take a walk after settling in the VOQ (Visiting Officer’s Quarters). I had an idea where Cass Avenue was, and I wanted to see our old house. It certainly was within walking distance, so off I went.
As I got closer and closer to Cass Avenue, I saw where the Air Force was replacing the older houses with new ones. Turning on to Cass, I saw where the left side of the road was fenced off, and there were no houses at all. I could only orient myself by the street pattern and soon I was standing in front of the area where our old house once stood.
It was gone.
I was in shock. A memory I had carried for so many years, for 55 years, was gone. I just stood there – empty. Staring at the empty desert. It was a long walk back to the VOQ that evening….
When you go back to a childhood home, and it’s not there anymore, it’s as if a part of your soul is gone. Ripped from your heart. It’s confusing, disorienting.
That experience troubled me for a few months; but then, like everything else, I got over it – at least, for now. One thing “they” can’t take from me are my 39 MiG kills! Or, was it 40?