| Service Photo
|| Service Details
What are you doing now:|
After being a college professor for 20 years, I switched gears and now teach middle school kids.
Reflections on TSgt Bickford's
US Air Force Service|
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE.
My Uncle Doug (Howard Duggins) was a SSgt in the Air Force when I was a kid. My Aunt Nita Pauley Duggins was also in the Air Force. We moved to Marysville, California close to my aunt and uncle who were at Beale AFB, when I was 11 years old. Back then they wore the tan 1505 uniforms. Everyone was clean cut in an era of hippies, race riots, Vietnam, and the equal rights amendment. The Air Force people I met there were fun to be around. I wanted to be one of them. I joined when I was 19.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
I started out as a Corrosion Control Specialist on the C5-A cargo aircraft. Being a rust busting painter was not my career aspiration, so I retrained into telecommunications, then into the 'On The Job' Training Manager career field. After several years as unit and base training manager, I went to instructor school and left the Air Force after 10 years as a Master Training Instructor.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH MADE A LASTING IMPACT ON YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY?
While stationed at Kunsan AB, Republic of South Korea, I got to be part of Team Spirit '82. Every year the North Korean ruler wanted to enjoy breakfast in Seoul on his birthday. Every year the Allied forces sent thousands of troops to South Korea for joint military exercises called Team Spirit. Tent cities went up all over the country as a show of strength to the communist ruler. It was kind of fun playing G.I. Joe, running around in combat gear, doing the Cotton Eyed Joe and the Two Step in the NCO Club wearing chemical warfare gear, crawling under barbed wire fences with a helmet and flack vest, and sitting in bunkers during those exercises.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My favorite was Dover AFB, Delaware as an Air Training Command instructor. I loved being part of the instructor corps because teaching has always been my occupational love. I had friends at Dover who have been a part of my life for over 30 years now, one of them is my husband. Lots of good memories, lots of good friends, young, proud to serve, and happy.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE MILITARY SERVICE, DESCRIBE ANY MEMORIES YOU STILL REFLECT BACK ON TO THIS DAY.
Standing in the parking lot at the terminal one night watching a C5 land from Germany and meeting a friend I was anxious to see. I remember thinking that I was a long way from West Virginia and my roots, and I was happy to be there.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
I was NCO of the Year for Dover Air Force Base, and nominated for 12 Outstanding Airmen of the United States in the same year. I got selected for the first four or five levels of competition, but wasn't a final recipient. I think it was earned because I taught at FTD 219 full time, went to college full time, and still found time to run a training program for several years for a reserve unit that had just been activated and didn't have a training manager.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR OTHER MEMORABILIA, WHICH ONE IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
The 2016 Comm Squadron uniform patch. Because I designed it. They only kept it a few years in the early 80s.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
My supervisor at the 2016 Comm Squadron at Dover AFB, DE. His name was Kim Floyd. He believed in me and never let me forget it. Lt. Colonel David Kulow inspired me to do my best in everything. And Robert Banks, Sr. and Stephen Bennett, Sr. were my best cheerleaders no matter what. But the most positive impact came from my husband, MSgt James Bickford. He was my biggest allie and pushed me to the best at everything I did.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
When I was a young airmen, I was sent to the wing commander's office to get the keys to aircraft 68224. I went. I also got sent for a gallon of prop wash. I went. Later, I sent a green bean for the keys and a gallon of prop wash too. Only seemed fair...
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
I became a college professor for 20 years and teach middle school now (home economics). Retiring in May, 2017 from public school. I also own Chalfant Eckert Publishing, which publishes preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and Christian writers. Also own Tax Exempt 501c3, LLC which sets up nonprofits and helps organizations get 501c3 status from IRS. I have also authored 52 books so far and plan to write many more.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
Life member of VFW and American Legion. I benefit by getting to be around old GIs like me who still salute each other and the flag. The camaraderie is the best benefit.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER? WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE SERVICE?
The world got much bigger and I was able to think bigger. I liked that everyone in uniform was like part of a big extended family, no prejudice (except there was still some toward women when I was in), no one had better clothes (just sharper creases and shinier boots), and we all pulled together when it counted. I still approach life that way.
Traveling around the world made me realize how lucky I am to be an American. Love to go, but always glad to come home.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?
Stay in and retire. I got out at 10 years and have kicked myself for 29 years for not staying in and getting a pension.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
|Tom Cravens and Jim Bickford - Friends since Vietnam|
Found a few friends and got to relive their memories. Nice trip down memory lane. :-)