Max Levine

  • Birth Date: October 29 1930
  • Place of Birth: Poughkeepsie
  • State of Residence: New York
  • Years of Service: 4
  • Branch of Military: Air Force
  • Division: Strategic Air Command
  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Wars Involved In: Korea
  • Theater(s) of Operation: Okinawa

First and foremost, I am not a hero. I was 19 years old, about to be drafted and did not think I would look good sitting in a foxhole wearing khaki green so I went to join the Navy. I thought the girls would really dig me. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of guys ahead of me with same idea. Not liking to wait in lines, I looked over and saw no one standing in line at the Air Force recruiting station, so with as much thought as a 19 year old can possibly have, I switched lines and joined the Air Force. They sent me my draft notice a week later. I spent my first 3 days and nights at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, sleeping on the ground in the same civilian clothes I arrived in. Finally they issued me a uniform, which was much smaller than my actual size, and had me put up tents. That evening I had to stand guard duty with a tent peg as a weapon. A 2nd Lt tried to pass wearing a side arm and I, not knowing fear at a tender age of 19 told him to halt. Of course, had he pulled his weapon, I am not certain how I would have stopped him with my tent peg. From here on it really did get better. A week later I was transferred to MacDill AFB in Tampa Florida, on my first day I saluted two officers driving past me in a jeep, they just laughed. That same day, I was told were going to have a G.I. party. I called my folks to tell them that this Air Force was pretty good, as we were going to party. Of course, I was I not surprised when I was handed a mop and bucket and told to swab the barrack’s floor. Another really good memory happened few days later while I was standing in front of my bunk waiting to be inspected by General Armstrong. I was a little frightened, but another airmen in barracks, with false teeth said that he would drop them out of his mouth when General Armstrong made his inspection. All I could do was laugh, which I sort of did when the General stopped in front of me. It was okay because all this was trumped by General Armstrong getting very upset when he saw the sleeves of my jacket and the bottom of my pants approx. 4″ above where they should be. Also the buttons on my jacket barely met the loops. He told the Sargent with him that he was to immediately get me a new uniform. From this point on everything picked up considerably.

I was stationed for a short time at MacDill. I was then shipped to Forbes AFB, Topeka Kansas where the snow and wind about killed me. I stayed there short time before the Air Force decided to send me to school at an Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. I was to become a Career Guidance Counselor. I thought this would be great because I could be a recruiter in Manhattan, NY and everything would be just peachy. Well, I learned a lot, but the Air Force thought it would be better if I would spend the next year or so at Kadena AFB as an office clerk and in my spare time do whatever other duties were available. At Kadena AFB, we sent B29s loaded with 500 pound bombs to raid North Korea almost daily. There were casualties which were not pleasant to recall. My last year in the Air Force was at Hunter AFB in Savannah, Georgia where I spent my time as an officer’s records clerk and Barracks Chief as well as doing other duties that I was asked to do. I was discharged as a Staff Sergeant. As I look back, I sometimes think that I should have re-enlisted, as my time in the Air Force generally was very good. I made some good friends, and saw a lot of the world. Though I did not fully realize it, I actually started to grow up. I am very thankful for my time serving in the Air Force, and I would do it again if asked. I am one of the lucky ones that came back in one piece.

We should never forget those that served, regardless of which service or which war. Just remember that they were there to do the job, whatever job was needed, and that they are all heroes. God Bless our Veterans and God Bless those now on active duty.