MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – Military service can take you around the world, and that’s certainly the case for Air Force veteran George Cumpston.
Eight years enlisted took him around the world and across the United States, but he found the Air Force kind of by chance.
I didn’t know the difference between the Air Force and Army. I just turned 17 that day, young and dumb. I just enlisted and wound up in the Air Force.George Cumpston, Air Force Veteran
After enlisting1951, Cumpston completed basic training at Sampson Air Force Base in New York and then went to what’s known as A&D school at Sheppard Air Force Base to complete his training as a mechanic.
Once his training was complete, Cumpston spent time stationed in Bermuda, before spending two years of his deployment at Royal Air Force Burtonwood in England. While there, he worked on WB-29 aircraft and began flying as part of a crew.
I was scared a few times. One time we got hit with lightning. The radio operator had his antennae out. You’re supposed to reel them in when you go through a storm and we hit a storm and the lightning come in on the antenna and it’s the brightest light I ever saw.George Cumpston, Air Force Veteran
There are a few other flights that stand out among Cumpston’s memories, like playing mailman for children eager to get their holiday letters to Santa at the North Pole.
All the kids from the Manchester area, wherever we was at, they wrote letters to Santa and we dropped them over the North Pole. There was several sacks of mail and we dropped them all over the North Pole.George Cumpston, Air Force Veteran
After four years, Cumpston returned home for a short time, only to enlist again and spend another four years stationed at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
He said he decided to retire when the Air Force changed to jet engines, a decision he wishes he hadn’t made.
I really do regret that I didn’t stay in.George Cumpston, Air Force Veteran
After retiring from the Air Force, Cumpston moved home with his family to Marshall County, where he lives today.