(Submitted to The Heritage of Washington County, Florida by Leon Buford Sexton)
My Air Force career began 27. August 1952 and ended 31 December 1982....thirty years later. I married Myrlene Cook 5-23-1970 (b. 9-2-1934) d. 3-7-2001).
Basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas where I spent eleven weeks learning such things as Air Force Customs, and Courtesies, Air Force dress codes and dozens of other tins needed to become a good airman. And don't forget Marching and K.P. (Kitchen Police). My drill sergeants made sure I had plenty of that too. I never knew anybody could be so particular how a bed had to be made. If there was the first wrinkle or a quarter wouldn’t bounce, they threw it on the floor. I remember this oncer that my T.I. (Tactical Instructor) even let me clean the doorsteps with a toothbrush...my own toothbrushes!
My first P.C.S. assignment after basic training was James Connally AFB Waco, Texas where I worked as a security guard and base police. Back then we were still guarding the old B-25 Bombers although they were obsolete.
Eighteen months later I was on my way to Korea. At K-55 Osan my job was base defense/security. The Korean conflict had just ended so there was no real action going on. From time tome a couple of MIG Fighters would fly over the base and we would all take cover in for holes. I was the BAR Gunner; however, before I could get off any shots to speak of, our F-86 fighters would scramble chasing the MIGs back across the 38th. Parallel but above Inchon.
Upon returning to the States, I was assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission out of Sandia Air Force Base, NM. After receiving my Q Clearance (above Top Secret) I was assigned to the 1095th Base Support Squadron Bossier Base, LA where I saw National Security as never before. From then until I completed my first hitch I lived and ate security like it was some kind of delicacy.
After a short break I was back in the Air Force going to such places as Japan, China and elsewhere in the Pacific. In the Atlantic I had Europe, Africa and the Middle East. And I saw most of the United States.
The experiences and knowledge I gained far out weighed any dollar value. While learning more about my job, the Air Force was sending me to school. I cam in as a eighthbrader and left with two college degrees. I was certified by the State of California as an Engineer in Safety.
But advancements in rank and responsibility really began when I switched to Accident Prevention in 1968. I went from E-5 to Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) the top enlisted rank faster than it took me to make the first four.
In Air Force Communication Command I was Superintendent of Safety. At Headquarters 12th Air Force (TAC) I was the Director of Ground Safety over all TAC bases from the Mississippi River to California.
After retirement, I serves as County Veterans Service Officer and Director of Emergency Management. In 2005, I married the former Martha Jean Washington.
This article originally appeared on Washington County News: REFLECTIONS: Military Career - Leon Buford Sexton