Kenneth Taylor Wilhite, Jr., Loadmaster
71st APS and 71st SOS, Lockbourne, 1968-69
St. Louis, MO was my birthplace in 1944 and I graduated from Southport High School (Indianapolis) in 1964. I joined the Army Reserve and requested transfer from the 70th Division, US Army Reserve in June 1967, and it was approved in December 1967. My first UTA with the 434th Tactical Airlift Wing/AFRES was January 1968. I requested flying status and was assigned to the 71st Aerial Port Squadron as a Loadmaster and began training for my 3 Level.
Upon notice of activation in April 1968, I was informed that all Loadmasters would cross-train as Illuminator Operators. When the squadron began their CCTS, I was told that I would not be part of that program, and I surmised that this was a result of my not having completed my 3 Level as a loadmaster.
At this point additional personnel who were either dropped or were released from the program were assigned to attend the month-long US Army Airdrop School at Ft. Lee, VA. Upon our return, all personnel were assigned to the 1st Aerial Port Squadron at Lockbourne AFB where we were to remain with this unit until the 71st SOS demobilized. Due to the poor treatment we received at the hands of the active-duty cadre, I requested transfer to the Lockbourne Base Graphics where I was responsible for the preparation of graphic materials, and I was pleased to receive a number of awards for my work. I remained with Base Graphics until demobilization.
In January 1977, I reenlisted with the 434th Tactical Fighter Wing at Grissom AFB, IN and was assigned to the unit’s Weapons Loading/Weapons Release section as a weapons mechanic on the Cessna A-37. In May 1977, I attended the Weapons Mechanic School at Lowry AFB, Denver CO and in August 1977, I completed the course of training. From 1977 to 1980, I was a #4 Man in a munitions load crew. In 1980 we received our first A-10’s and I continued as a munitions load crewmember until May of 1993 when I retired.