Merrell Waddell Collection

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    Oral memoirs of Merrell Waddell: an interview conducted on August 11, 2020
    Merrell Waddell was born in Menard, Texas on March 18, 1931. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the Air Force and served for four years. He had received draft papers but did not want to serve as a regular soldier and instead opted for the Air Force. When he traveled to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio for basic training, he described himself as a “cowboy coming into the big town.” After 13 weeks of training, he received additional training in airplane mechanics and instrumentation in Wichita Falls, Texas and Chanute, Illinois. He was assigned to Roswell, New Mexico, where he worked on bombers like the B-29 Superfortresses. When volunteers were requested to serve in Korea, Waddell stepped forward. In 1953 and 1954, he worked in Korea on a F-86 Sabre Jet. In the interview he describes a near miss with death when he decided not to travel to Tokyo for R&R because he did not have enough spending money. The plane he would have taken crashed, killing many of those on board. Waddell also recalls how North Korean planes would fly under the radar at night to bomb the base in what were known as “Bedcheck Charlies.” He also commented on Korea—the people and their attitude toward Americans, the weather, and traditional homes. Waddell also observed that returning Korean War veterans did not receive as much fanfare as veterans of WWII. Ultimately, he views his time in the Air Force as a time when he grew up and matured.