“They Didn’t Teach Physics in My High School!” *
I was a senior in a very small high school in North Mississippi (eleven Seniors in the class). I desperately wanted to attend college, but had no money. Then, one fateful day, someone posted a flyer on our bulletin board: "Wear Wings of Gold and get four years of college!!' Four of us wanted to sign up, but when the time came I was it! I had conned my father into going to Memphis to sign for me. Then, I boarded the train from Memphis to New Orleans and experienced my first time in a sleeper car.
Arriving in New Orleans, I went to the Navy Office to sign up. But first, I had to take a test. I looked at the test and my heart sank. Half the questions seemed to be related to physics. They didn't teach physics in my high school! Since it was multiple choice, I gave the first question answer (a), the second (b), and so on down through the questions. I passed! How? I have never known! Then came a medical exam. I was asked if I had ever had malaria. I said "yes." "That's not good," the doctor replied. Then he asked if I had a blood test for malaria. I said "no", as we didn't have such facilities in my part of the state. The Medical Officer then said: "You didn't have malaria!" Then he signed the physical sheet! I was IN! As an Apprentice Seaman, I spent the night in the YMCA and then took the train home ... one happy young man.
Then in my second year at Ole Miss, I was told I had to take Solid Geometry. Ole Miss didn't have that on the schedule, so I asked the Naval District if I could take a high school course in Solid Geometry? They said "yes", so I enrolled in the local high school. The class was four lovely girls and myself. I enjoyed that class. Then, when the final exams came, we had a blizzard in Oxford and all the schools closed. I was due in Pensacola in March. Frantically I called the teacher who gave me a passing grade and I was on my way toward being a Midshipman. And that's how a poor boy from the hills got into flight training. I won my wings 14 October 1948, went into all-weather night flying, and ended up in VC-4.
* Flying Midshipmen LOG winter 2010; © 2010.