One day in 1955, Jim Roth of Sidney, was talking to friend Norm Davidson, when Norm said, “Let’s go join up.” They were referring to joining the U.S. Air Force.
They did and it was off to San Antonio, Texas, and Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. From there, it was on to a “nice and secret place” in Cheyenne, Wyo., and then to Sacramento, Calif., where Roth was trained and received Secret Service clearance. Everything was on “a need to know basis,” and Roth was often baffled about what he was training to do and why. The good soldier, however, that he was, he asked few questions and did his job.
What was his job once he was trained? He was sent to Tokyo, Japan, “downwind from a Russian nuclear facility. We were trained to test the air for cesium which was used for a trigger in their nuclear weapons. Cesium was liquid oxygen in cans the size of half a dime, and these cans could kill everything in the area.”
After 28 months in Japan, he was off to Australia. It was 1957 and again, top secret. Roth says, “The Russians had something going on, and we didn’t know what the hell it was. The Russians had planes over Siberia and were sending MiGs up.”
Then it was 1958 and Roth’s enlistment was up. Time to go home. His dad, LeeRoy, who worked for Shelby County, had been asking his son, “What the hell are you gonna do now? Guys around here in civilian clothes have been asking about you.”
Roth reports of his dad, “I was an only child, and if I stepped out of line the least bit, I was considered a troublemaker, and Mom did exactly what Dad said. My dad could count the number of his friends on one finger.”
So as Roth left Tachikawa, Japan, for Travis Air Force Base and from there back to Sidney, he says, “I was not in a hurry to get home. I thought I’d walk around a bit, but when I stepped out of the TWA terminal in California, I saw beatniks, weird-looking and acting people. I decided the whole damn state of California was weird, and I wouldn’t go back if you gave it to me. So I said to myself, ‘I’m getting my ass out of here.’ I took the next flight to Dayton.”
Back home in Ohio, Roth married Madonna Huecker (deceased in 2015), had three children, and went to work at Stolle Machinery for a short time and then on to test materials for the Ohio Department of Transportation from which he retired in 1988.
Of that work, Roth says: “Thirty-five years, 8 months, 8 days.”
Another Sidney resident in the military in the 1950s was Ross A. Moore Jr.,who served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1952. Trained at Breckinridge, Kentucky, for “about two months,” Moore was sent to Korea as a company clerk. In addition to handling daily reports, he was “up close and personal” to action at the Battle of Inchon.
Moore had a sense of the work of the U. S. military because his brother John W. had provided support for aircraft for four years in the European Theater during World War II: “I was proud, happy to be there, supporting America in Korea.”
Men on the front line in the Seventh Army Division looked forward to the arrival of Moore and his unit each night because they not only brought the mail, they also brought a hot meal. To get to the front line meant navigating sniper fire which “hit the jeep but the bullets bounced off.”
Moore’s wife, Aunalee, reports that a way in which he served the men in addition to record keeping, mail delivery and helping cook and deliver a tasty, hot meal each night to the men on the line was his work as a barber. With no training, Moore cut 200 heads of hair every two weeks because as he puts it, “Somebody had to do it.”
Moore’s final assignment was with the Fifth Army in Chicago, where he was able to return to Shelby County on the weekends. Post-military found him returning to Miami Industries where he had worked prior to his deployment.
He married in November of 1952 , and he and Aunalee have three children: Ross, III, Randy, and Richlyn.
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or [email protected]