During this time, I was still flying with the Naval Reserve at NAS New Orleans, but they decided to close the 2 helicopter units, there, so I had to try to find someplace to finish my reserve time. I had 17 years, active and reserve time and just needed another 3 to qualify for a retirement pension at age 60. I was flying at PHI with lots of ex-Army guys and some of them invited me to transfer to the Mississippi National Guard and fly with them out of Jackson, MS, just 55 miles from home. I talked to the Guard and they said I could join the unit with my PHI buddies. I was still a Navy Lieutenant and they said they'd give me the equivalent rank of Captain in the National Guard and would send in the paper work to get me recognized by the Army. I attended weekend drills with them for 6 months and went to 2 weeks active duty in Camp Shelby.
A few years before, we'd had an Army guy transfer to our Naval Reserve unit and, when we went on our 2 weeks active duty, in Key West, FL, he could not stop saying how much he liked the Navy and the BOQ there. It was a 10 story hotel type affair, with elevators, air conditioning, stewards to take our bags up, make our beds, etc. I've stayed in many hotels that wouldn't measure up. I didn't understand what the fuss was all about until I went to Camp Shelby. When we checked in they issued us bedding and a broom and took us to the barracks in a jeep. We were the first group there, that summer, and the barracks, which were unsealed, uninsulated and had nothing between us and the sky except a tin roof, also had an inch of dust on everything inside. By then, I had enough Army experience NOT to ask when the stewards would be in to make the beds and clean up the place and it was obvious there was no air conditioning as it was 90 degrees outside and about 120 inside.
Go to Next Page
Mississippi National Guard - 1973-1977