VanLandingham, SSgt. Kim

Kim In AF Blues_615x758_pngHi Kim here,

I was born in Houston Texas in March 1953. My dad moved the family to Pasadena Texas shortly thereafter. I graduated high school in May 1971. My dad and mother had moved to Alabama for their retirement after I graduated in 1971.

I stayed in Pasadena for a few months and decided I would also move to the little town of Black Alabama where they were. I wasn’t in Alabama very long before I received my draft notification.  I decided it would be better if I chose what military branch, so I went to see the Air Force recruiter and the rest is history.

It was in December 1971 when I enlisted on the Delayed Enlistment Program. I actually went to Basic Training and enlisted on the 8th of March 1972. I turned 19 while I was in Basic. I will never forget that birthday, it was hell that day. Our flight failed EVERY inspection we had and that Saturday, my birthday, was no different. The TI’s decided to try and teach us a lesson of working together. They tore the dorm to pieces. There were beds on top of beds, boots hung from the windows, lockers were upside down and in the showers, just everywhere. If you can imagine it, then it was WORSE, it was a total disaster. We had to get the dorm back in order or we all were going to be set back. We worked for over 8 hours but we did it and I graduated Basic on time.

I went to Tech School at Chanute AFB, Rantool Illinois to become a missile mechanic on the Minuteman Missile. I didn't know what a missile mechanic did. I wanted to see the world as a air cargo crew master. It was April when I got to Chanute and it was snowing. I’m from south Texas and we don’t see snow in the winter, much less in April. Then I found out that there were only 5 bases that had Minuteman missiles and St. Louis, MO was the farthest one south. I said what the hell did I get myself into? God must have been looking after me because I was selected to go Davis Monthan AFB, Tucson AZ, “IN THE DESERT”. I knew I got lucky because it doesn’t snow in the desert, or at least that’s what I thought. I was one of the lucky few that were going to the desert to work on drones. I didn’t know what a drone was but I didn’t care because the desert is hot and that was fine with me because I don’t like cold weather.

I received my orders to report to the 100th AMMS at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ.  I arrived in Tucson in August of 1972 and began training in the Drone reconnaissance program. I went TDY to U-Tapao AB Thailand my first time in March 1973. I had a total of 6 TDYs to U-Tapao for almost 2.5 years of my first 4 years in the Air Force. I had just returned from my 5th TDY to U-Tapao when I deplaned I was informed that Saigon, South Vietnam had been overrun by the North Vietnamese. I was told to not unpack because I was going back over the very next day. I ended up helping to close up our overseas location.

SAC decided to give the drones to TAC, so I knew I needed to leave DM. In late Spring or early Summer of 1976 I got my Base Of Preference to Hulburt Field, Florida. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I was to report to the 4751st Air Defense Squadron. My job was working on the Bomarc missile. I worked 20+ miles out on Santa Rosa Island. The Bomarc’s were being used as super-sonic target drones for our Air Force and Navy to try and shoot down while they flew over the Range in the Gulf of Mexico. I say try to shoot down because when I arrived there I was told that only one had ever been shot down and that was by the Navy. If my memory serves me right for the 3.5 years I was there NONE were ever shot down, but that’s not saying much since we only launched 1 every 6 months or so.

When the 4751st closed up shop I was lucky enough to be able to retrain. I chose the Computer Operations career field. I went to tech school at Shepard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas in November 1979 and graduated in January 1980. After Tech school I headed right back to Davis Monthan AFB, AZ where I worked the mid-shift until I decided that I had enough of it and TAC. The Base Commander, a 1 Star General, had a rule that all E-6's and below were going to live in the dorm without BAS and BAQ. i had enough of it and decided to see if the grass was greener on the other side. I got out of the Air Force on April 14, 1981 with 9 years 1 month and 5 days as an E-5.

I went back home to Houston and worked for 2 different companies as Computer Operations Manager. I started both of these operations up from the ground installing the small main-frame computers. In late 1985 I accepted a job to work for the Department Of the Air Force at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama as Computer Operations Manager running the Data Processing Center.

In 1996 the Data Processing Center was contracted out so I was asked to start a Help Desk for the users at Maxwell AFB. After the Help Desk was up and running I was informed that my position wasn’t rated at my pay grade, so the Civil Personnel Office found me a position at Gunter AB across town in the network shop. I worked in the network shop until I medically retired in July 1998.

I moved back to Houston on July 4th weekend 1998 and I am living alone with my 4 old German Shepherds. I have been declared 100% disabled by the VA.

I didn’t realize I was going to be so long winded.

Kim A. VanLandingham

  • Graduated Pasadena High School, Pasaden, TX in 1971
  • Joined the Air Force March 8, 1972.
  • Started Tech School for Minuteman Missiles in April 1972.
  • Assign to Davis Monthan AFB, AZ – 100th AMMS – Aug 1972
  • 1st TDY to U-Tapao Thailand in March 1973
  • Last TDY to U-Tapao Thailand in April 1975
  • Assigned 4751st ADS Hulburt Field, FL Aug 1976
  • Retrained In Computer Operations Nov. 1979
  • Started Tech School for Computer Operations in Nov 1979
  • Assign to Davis Monthan AFB, AZ – Aug 1980
  • Left Air Force April 14, 1981

Kim VanLandingham

Post script: Kim VanLandingham passed away on 08 May 2009.