Altenheim Senior Living resident Byron Temple loves taking trips down memory lane and sharing stories of his globetrotting adventures in the military.
Byron’s interest in serving started at an early age, as he grew up with uncles who served, and he longed to travel the world as a young man. Until he graduated from high school and joined the Air Force in 1962, he had never traveled outside his home state of Michigan. His four years of service took him all across the globe.
Byron spent his first year in the military attending airborne electronics school. He was later stationed at a base in Texas that proved to be a rather fateful location, as President Kennedy was scheduled to fly out of there the day he was assassinated.
“I was planning to go out to his plane to see him when I received the news of his death,” Byron said.
Byron later received another pivotal piece of news on that base.
“I was told I would be going on a secret mission,” he said. “Along with other specialists, I flew on a KC-135 refueling tanker. We didn’t know where we were going. I later found out we would be flying out of Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines and that we would be refueling bombers over Vietnam. It was an exciting mission.”
Byron went from the heat waves of Vietnam to the wintry winds of the Arctic Circle for a NATO training exercise meant to assuage Norway’s doubts that the organization would effectively defend the country in the event of an invasion.
“NATO showed its dedication and power — it was pretty neat and impressive,” Byron said. “I remember them issuing snow skis to me when I got off the plane. I spent most of my time there working on equipment and skiing. It was a cool experience.”
You can clearly hear a great deal of pride and excitement in Byron’s voice when he talks about his time in the military.
“I could tell so many stories of my travels and experiences,” Byron said. “I am proud of having served my country.”