English teacher serves seven years in the Air Force

Pooja Krishna, Editor

William Eldridge was flying American military personnel and equipment from Japan to a base in California when the Soviets suddenly jammed his flight navigator while he was in Russian territory. Without the moon or stars in sight or a navigator, there was no way to steer across the map toward California with certainty.

An uncomfortable feeling settled in him as he thought of the 15 crew members whose lives and well-beings where in his hands. Only when he landed safely out of the Russian airspace could he be at ease again. He finally arrived in California and he was able to successfully carry out his mission.

Mr. Eldridge was drafted into the Air Force in 1970. He started as an officer trainee and steadily went up the ranks, becoming captain in January of his final year in 1977.

“I had to stay current and prepared on the airplane which meant keeping up with publications and new manuals. I needed to know how to operate the airplane the way the Air Force wanted me to operate it,” Eldridge said.

U.S. Air Force
Captain William Eldridge U.S. Air Force

Eldridge spent one year in Topeka, Kansas, then served for three months in Frankfurt, Germany and the Mildenhall Air Force Base in England, and finally spent his last four years serving in Los Angeles, California.

“During my time in the Air Force, I flew a C-130 Hercules where I was involved in tactical air support, air drops, short field landings and short field take offs,” Eldridge said. “I also flew a C-141 Starlifter which covered strategic airlift, such as flying across the ocean.”

Throughout his time in the Air Force, there were aspects that left a strong impressions that still resonate with him today.

“The Vietnam conflict was controversial. It made me question whether or not a nation could effectively wage war. Certainly they do, but it always seemed to be so convoluted with politics, money and corruption,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge met many people who struck him as intelligent, well-grounded, and professional leaders.

“The Air Force has a job description that is satisfying in and of itself: to take an airplane, get it into the air, then back on the ground without hurting anybody or any of the equipment,” Eldridge said. “It was satisfying to walk away from the airplane knowing that you had done it and everything was fine.”