Fred Remembers-Part 9

21 Oct


Judy Wills


 In late 1949, my Dad was given the opportunity to switch over to the Air Force from the Army.  It wasn’t a requirement, but he said, “Well, wherever you want me , I’ll go.”  So they cut orders to transfer him over to the Air Force.

Charles (Dad) wrote: 

During1949 the Adjutant General of the Army put out a request to all Army chaplains holding Regular Commissions to indicate whether or not they would accept transfer to the new Chaplain Service of the Air Force.  I had tried for seven years to get into military aviation so I replied that I had been happy in the Army but would accept such a transfer.  Shortly before we left Trieste I received notice that I was one of 186 chaplains to form the cadre of the Air Force……When we reached Fort Hamilton in New York, I processed through the Air Force personnel section and began a new kind of military service.

 We began our Air Force career.

So, when it was time for the three-year tour to be up, we left Italy, but this time, on a ship (the Elden H. Johnson) – down through the Adriatic, up through the Strait of Messina, across the northern Mediterranean, out through the Strait of Gibraltar.


Credit Google search and ibiblio



I was on the deck of the ship as we were approaching Gibraltar.


Credit Google Search and Financial Times

I could see Europe on the right side, and Africa on the left.  I remember between Gibraltar and the Azores, we went through the tail end of a hurricane.  Our little ship was only about 12,000 tons, so it was a small ship. It was pitching, I think they said, at least 30 degrees – so the decks were “awash.”  When the ship pitched forward, the screws were out of the water, and the entire ship shook like it was going to come apart.  Most of us stayed in our staterooms most of the time. I never got seasick because I didn’t eat much, but a lot of people did.

We ended up docking in New York after a 12-day trip.  As we entered New York harbor, we could see the Statue of Liberty, and Staten Island. 


Credit Google Search and National Park Service

We went to visit Dad’s family – at least his Mom, in Ocean View, New Jersey.  I remember that, sometime while he was there, Dad went to Millville, which is not too far away, and he came back with a demonstrator 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. One of the distinctive things about it was, that for some reason, since it had been a demonstrator, it did not have wheel skirts for the back wheels.  Other than that, it was a good car, and I think it was his first ever V-8.


The Wills Family, Biloxi, MS

We ended up driving it down to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.  After staying a few days in the Palm Hotel, which was right on the beach in Biloxi, we were eventually put up in an old, left-over, World War II barracks on the base. It was a fairly uncomfortable place, because there was no air conditioning.  There was one big fan at end of the building, which drew some air through it – moving through it, but it wasn’t too good.  Fortunately, it was just a few months until they put us in some new housing which had been built.  That was much nicer.


Fred – 1949-1950 school picture – – Howard Elementary School, Biloxi, MS


Dad’s Kodak Retina camera was stolen while we were in the Palm Hotel in Biloxi.


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~





JUDYJudy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years
Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing.
Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.
After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins.
She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

2 Responses to “Fred Remembers-Part 9”

  1. divoran09 October 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm #

    Well done.

    From: Old Things R New Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2018 5:01 AM To: Subject: [New post] Fred Remembers-Part 9

    ludyja posted: ” SUNDAY MEMORIES Judy Wills In late 1949, my Dad was given the opportunity to switch over to the Air Force from the Army. It wasn’t a requirement, but he said, “Well, wherever you want me , I’ll go.” So they cut orders to transfer him over to t” Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on Old Things R New Fred Remembers-Part 9 by ludyja



    • Onisha Ellis October 25, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

      Tell Fred I really enjoyed this installment. The voyage home was quite an unforgettable experience! It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be part of a new military branch without the usual amenities in place.


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