Following in his father’s footsteps

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Jim Chadd served in the Air Force from 1965-1969 as a personnel specialist. This photo was taken in 1966. Contributed photo

Chadd served in Air Force after father served in WWII

When it was time to join up or be drafted, a freshly turned 18-year-old decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and signed up to spend four years of his life to serve in the Air Force.

Jim Chadd, a Cassville retiree, said he was a personnel specialist from 1965-1969.

“My dad was 7 in WWII,” Chadd said. “When I graduated, I was only 17, so I took a year off. A lot of my friends were being drafted. Some were joining, and I decided to join the Air Force.”

Chadd did his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

“Then, I was stationed in Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs,” he said. “In 1968, I went to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam.”

Chadd worked in personnel, meaning he often reviewed reports done on his comrades.

“I did a lot of stuff, but that is one of the main things I did,” he said. “I think joining the military has so many benefits. Although, that depends heavily on who the leadership is.”

Chadd said joining the military can get someone away from home and on their own, sometimes for the first time in their lives.

“You grow up fast,” he said. “It’s good though, and you can also get an education out of it. You meet a lot of people that become really good friends — people that I have always remembered and will never forget.”

Chadd said he wouldn’t change anything about his experience.

“Some of it was good and some of it wasn’t,” he said. “I learned so much, and nowadays, it is unlimited what you can do in the military. It all depends on how you test, but you can do just about anything you want.”

When it comes to being drafted or joining, there are a few things that make a difference.

“At the time I went in, the Vietnam War was happening, “Chadd said. “I was probably going to go whether or not I wanted to, so joining was a good decision. If you joined, you served four years, but you only served two if you were drafted. A lot of people didn’t want to serve four years, so that’s why they waited it out.”

Chadd said in the Air Force he got to see more of the world than he would have otherwise.

“Another difference in choosing to go and getting drafted was the opportunities,” he said. “If they told you to go, you did what they told you to do.”

Chadd came back home in 1969 and met his wife shortly after.

“We got married in 1970,” he said. “We had three children. They are now grown up with families.

“I came back to work at a factory, Justin Boot, and I retired from Barry Electric about 10 years ago.”

To his fellow veterans, Chadd said there is an life-long bond.

“I will always appreciate your services,” he said. “There are a few of us who meet up regularly and go to the assembly together.”

Chadd said the hardest thing about serving was the basic training.

“I was not in shape, but they got me there,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you need to lose weight or to gain weight, they will get you just right.”

Even still, Chadd said he would encourage people to join the military.

“It would be great for kids these days,” he said. “It is very disciplined and helps you to create a path for your life.”

Chadd received many recognitions during his service, including:

• Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

• Air Force Commendation Medal

• Air Force Good Conduct Medal

• Vietnam Service Metal with two oak leaf clusters

• Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

• National Defense Service Medal

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