AIR FORCE: Bob Strickland’s Air Force service took him around the world

Published 10:52 am Friday, November 11, 2016


Bob Strickland, born and raised in Bainbridge, graduated from high school in 1955, and promptly joined the U.S. Air Force.

He says he knew from the time he was in 8th or 9th grade that he would go into the military. “I took a look around at Bainbridge and realized there weren’t many opportunities for furthering my education without the money to do so.”

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He hung out at the Bainbridge Southern Airways base, where pilots from around the world were being trained, and after talking with trainers and trainees he decided the Air Force was for him.

He enlisted in 1955 and spent the next 20 years, serving first as a radar operator in Germany for four years. That is where he met and married his wife Gerta. Interestingly enough, while in Germany he found he was stationed with some fellows who had trained at the Bainbridge air base. He laughed as he recalled one of the stories they told him about running amok of some good old Georgia boys they met in a local bar. It seems they received a “butt whoopin.” But after that introduction, they all became friends.

After Germany he was stationed in N. Dakota, then Spain, and Alaska— all as a ground radar operator who followed flights and controlled aircraft and fighter interceptions. From there he went to Upper Michigan as an NCO training officer, which took him on to Florida, Okinawa and back to Germany for another three years.

He retired on August 1, 1975, with the rank of Technical Sergeant, after 20 years of service. Although he was scheduled to go into combat, he never had to go. He says he missed the Korean War era by one day.

As a retiree, he is an active member of the local veterans affairs, the VFW and the American Legion, where he served as commander in 1981 and again in 2008. He held the position of adjutant from 1982 to 2008.

He is thankful for the experience he had as a career serviceman.

“The military gave me a very good education, health care and everything else I needed,” he explained.