Would I do it again?
Looking back now, the only thing I would change is my age. Make me twenty again, with a stripe on my sleeve, my duffle bag on my shoulder, and permanent change of station orders in my hand.
Heaven to me is doing it all over again, going back to the bases, seeing my friends, having the bull sessions, and then seeing all the places I missed the first time around. It was a very rich life, and we will never see the like of it again.
Most of the bases are closed now, the aircraft retired and salvaged, and the people the same. When I went back to Bentwaters in England, my favorite base and assignment, it had been closed several years. I felt an enormous loss and sadness, because a closed base quickly loses its aura of the people once stationed there, and of what they did and how they did it.
That base was once a true city, but now is a ghost town, one whose ghostly inhabitants were dispersed to far off places, taking their memories with them. When I stood there on the lonely base, no one was around to say "remember when?"
And then I was gone.