Thomas C. Utts, Captain, USAF Retired

As a boy growing up in Omaha in the 40s and 50s, I wanted two
things in life, being influenced by films and book about WWII, I
wanted to be a Marines, and also hoped to be a writer. After
graduating from High School in 1957, I joined the USMC for a
2-year hitch hoping to go to Japan. Unfortunately the Marines
offered me an alternate: 29 Palms in the CA desert. There I learned
Hollywood lied. For an 18-year old it was a huge bore. The highlight
was visiting March Force base to get a Space A hop to Omaha. In
the two days I was there I discovered there was the military and then
there was the Air Force.

Returned to Omaha and to college and got a BA in Journalism.
But I knew I wanted out of Omaha and to see the world and figured
the answer was the Air Force. Joined in 1963, went to Officer Training School and
got commissioned. Nothing makes you appreciate being an officer
in the Air Force like having been a private in the Marines.

Wanting to write the big Vietnam novel, I volunteered three times
for a 'Nam assignment. Instead the Air Force sent me to Kadena AB
Okinawa, 66-69. While there my brother was drafted and sent to

Returned to US for a year at Luke AFB AZ, where I got out of aircraft
maintenance and into Public Affairs Career field. Volunteered again
for 'Nam, but got Suwon AB, Korea, 70-71. Still trying to get to the war
I volunteered. The Air Force said, "How about Clark?" . Had a good old Clark time, but committed
career suicide by divorcing my wife and moving in my girl friend.

At Lackland AFB in 74, with the war winding down the Air Force decided
they could do without my service as an officer: Reduction in Force..."however should
you decided to reenlist as an enlisted guy, and come back and complete
20 years to retire". The carrot being that I had just over 10 years total
commission time and could retire at the highest rank held (0-3). Oh,
and as a bonus I could select the base I wanted to go to reenlist.

 I chose Hickam. Five years in Hawaii, (74-79) with the last
4 years in a one-man AFCS HQ job that "required" me to make staff
assistance visits to all the PACAF bases at least once a year. Best
assignment I ever had. Only one sticky bit, I had married my Flipina
girl friend, but it was a stormy relationship (maybe all those TDYs)
and when I got orders for Scott AFB, she stayed in Hawaii. Divorce
number 2.

Two years at AFCS HQ Public Affairs Office at Scott AFB, IL, with
TDYs to CA and Navada, Alaska and New Orleans and I retired in
1981. Oh, I didn't give them quite 20 years, I had 60 days leave on
the books and took it as terminal leave. If you are interested in a
more detailed (and I hope humorous rendition) of my story go to
Spent 20 years in the US Military During America's Longest War
and Never Heard a Shot Fired in Anger:

Returned to Hawaii for two years and worked as a copy editor for
the Honolulu Advertiser. Then I reconnected to the big love of my
life, my girl friend from Suwon. She had also been married and
divorced and was living in San Diego. In 1983 I went there and
we were together for 22 years. During that time I wrote a novel
based in part on my military career: KOREA BLUE, published by
Signet Books. I wrote three more that were rejected, then decided
to write a history of Clark. Started a website, said if you were even
at Clark tell me your story. Wasn't sure if anyone would even see it,
but almost immediately stories and photos came by email. The result
is the website, The Clark Air Base Scrapbook (google it if you're interested)
with photos that cover most of the 99 year history of the base, and the
book: GI JOE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, it can be ordered from
Amazon or one of the used book sites.

In 2005, my wife got cancer and died a month after her 55 birthday.
Although I loved San Diego, being a widower at age 68, I wasn't having
a great time. Then I was contacted by one of the guys who contributed
to my book, a retiree living here in Balibago. Suggested I check it out.
I did, then moved here in 2008. Remarried in 2009, wife number four.
Still living in Paradise.