By Jennifer Martin - email
William Hales dropped out of school to join the military in 1951.
"I didn't go to Korea. I was too young to go into a combat zone. I was 17 at the time. I joined because my father was an alcoholic. I have two sisters and a brother. They needed food and clothing to go to school. So I had to have some way to make some money so I joined the Air Force. My mother got $99 a month and I got $42," Hales recalled.
"When I got out of basic training, they said there were two tech schools open. One was cooking, one was quartermaster. And I didn't have a clue what quartermaster was, but I knew what cooking was, so I said 'I'll take quartermaster'," Hales said
"I was a sewing machine jockey. I did alterations on parachutes, recovering aircraft control surfaces, stuff like that. Did stitching, sewing by hand and by sewing machine," Hales added.
He was stationed at an Air Force base in Japan for two years.
"We had hired Japanese to do KP and guard duty for us while we were in service and one Mayday they balked and would not come to work. And I had pulled KP and I was right there on the banks of 60 thousand gallons of JP4. And I kept seeing something in a bean field across the road, movement. So I decided if he comes down here, he's gonna hit the guard house first.
So I got out on my belly and crawled and got behind a big rock and got my gun ready. And right about that time a little black and white dog walked out between the road. That was the movement in the bean field, scared the life out of me. And then I realized I had left my clip in the guardhouse and I didn't have bullet, one. From then on I carried my ammo with me. But never needed it, thank God," Hales said.
He developed close ties with his fellow soldiers.
"You see there's a movie about 'band of brothers.' And that's what I learned because I didn't get that feeling from my dad. But those guys were like comrades and brothers and friends," Hales said.
After he left Japan, Hales was assigned to Donaldson Air Force Base in South Carolina, where he stayed until he left the service in 1955.
He and his wife went on to become Christian missionaries in Africa.
"The Lord uses your experiences to teach you for when he is ready to use you. And he used us. We helped build two small churches. Those churches are now huge churches," Hales added.
He is now director of missions for Choctaw County Baptist Church.
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