During my senior year I won an essay contest conducted throughout northeast Missouri by Mr. Lester Dent, author of "Doc Savage" magazines (pen name--Kenneth Robeson) on the subject "What I would do if I were president of the United States" and won a two weeks tour of Miami and a cruise aboard his sailing yacht "The Albatross" on a treasure hunting expedition.
After graduation, I worked in Chicago, Illinois before joining the Army Air Corps at Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois in June 1940. There I received basic training and graduated from their Airplane Mechanics School the same year. I was first transferred to Kelly Field, Texas then to Luke Field, Arizona where I became a Staff Sergeant and Airplane Mechanic, Second Class. In December 1941, I was accepted for pilot training. While on leave awaiting entry into training, I returned to Chicago, Illinois and married Rose Kathryn Cook (who I had dated before) in Jackson, Michigan.
Assigned to class 42-J, I received basic training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, Primary flight training at Coleman, Texas (PT-19's), Basic flight training at Goodfellow, Texas (BT-13's) and Advanced flight training at Lubbock, Texas (Twin-engine AT-9's and AT-17's). Graduating from Lubbock on 10 November, 1942 as a 2nd Lieutenant, I was assigned to the Air Transport Command at Rosecrans Field, St. Joseph, Missouri followed immediately by a transfer to the 7th. Ferrying Group, 25th. Ferrying Squadron, Great Falls, Montana in December 1942.
At Great Falls (Gore Field) I was first checked out as first pilot in the wonderful B-17 by General (then Captain) Wisman (before I learned to drive a car or had a drivers license) followed by first pilot check-outs in the B-25, B-24, C-47, A-26 (TDY to Tinker, Oklahoma) and the B-29 (TDY to Wichita, Kansas). In addition to making airplane deliveries statewide, Alaska, and to India, I was Transitional instructor and check-out pilot in all of these aircraft. Eventually, I became qualified to fly 16 different types of aircraft.
In March 1945, 1 was transferred to Kansas City, Missouri then to Rosecrans Field, St. Joseph, Missouri, then to Homestead, Florida for 4-engine Airline Pilot Training in the C-54. After graduation, I was issued a Commercial Pilots License (Multi-Engine-Land) and sent to Nashville Pilots Pool and then to Memphis in August, 1945 to pick up a C-54 for delivery to Karachi, India--my next assignment. I flew the "Hump" a few times before the war ended and was assigned to Morrison Field, Florida in November 1945 then to Scott Field, Illinois for separation in January 1946. I was promoted to Captain the month before (December 1945) and remained in the Air Force Reserves during civilian life.
In March 1951, I was recalled to active duty at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi where I was employed as a CAA (now FAA) licensed Civil Service Instructor of Control Tower Operators teaching meteorology, navigation, radio aids and equipment, civil air regulations, and control tower procedures.
I was transferred to the Air Defense Command, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska in May of 1951 and assigned to the 625th. Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron first as an Air Traffic Service Officer then as Aircraft Controller then as the Combat Operations Center Duty Officer where I was responsible for the entire air defense of Alaska during my tour. Twice I initiated a "RED" alert for the first time in Alaskan history mobilizing the entire air defense network. While stationed in Alaska, I flew numerous flights in the C-47 and the L-20 to Naknek, Bethel, Nome, Fairbanks, Point Barrow (where Wiley Post and Will Rogers were killed) as well as search and training missions.
In July 1953, I was transferred to Eglin AFB, Florida and assigned to Headquarters, Air Proving Ground Command (Johnson Hall) in charge of Air Traffic Control under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications-Electronics. Shortly after arrival, I wrote the CONELRAD (control of electromagnetic radiation) plan for the entire command. A few years later I set up and wrote the plan for the operation of their Air Defense Control Center. While stationed there, I flew the C-47 quite often as well as the C-45 and the T-29 in which I instructed and gave qualification check-outs.
In October 1958, I went to Keesler AFB, Mississippi and completed training as a Ground Electronics Maintenance Officer and, after graduation, was transferred to two different remote radar sites in Morocco. I became a Command Pilot March 1959.
Transferred in October 1960 to Bremerhaven, Germany I was assigned Commander of Operating Location #1 (Matador Guided Missile Site). When this site closed, I opened up another site at Squadron Headquarters, Kassel, Germany then went to Squadron Headquarters as the Communications-Electronics Staff Officer. I was promoted to Major in 1962.
In November 1963, I was transferred to the Tactical Air Command at Shaw AFB, South Carolina where I wound up being Squadron Commander of a Direct Air Support Center (DASC) in charge of about 550 troops located at Shaw AFB and attached to Army Units at Ft. Lewis, Ft. Benning, Ft. Carson, Ft. Hood, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Campbell and Eglin AFB, Fla. We operated sophisticated communications equipment for worldwide deployment and provided Forward Air Control Support wherever the Army desired.
At one time, I took our unit into Santo Domingo during a fracas there and established my office in the Presidential Palace with my equipment on the palace grounds. This was the first time a DASC unit was ever deployed to an actual combat environment and, based on my recommendation and write-up, every man in my unit received a Commendation Medal.
Promoted to Lt. Col. in 1963, 1 retired at Shaw AFB October 1965 and settled down in Manitou Springs, Colorado with the gal I married in 1942.
Lt. Col. John Yauk, USAF Ret.