BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — In this edition of Veteran’s Voices, we hear the story of Steve Herman — a former Air Force expert who served his country in many ways during his career.
Immediately after he graduated from high school in 1966, Steve knew what he wanted to do with his life. Before the draft even happened, his mind was set on joining the Air Force.
“I asked to be a fighter pilot, but nobody told me that you needed a four-year degree to do so,” he recalls. “So I picked the electronic school, where I spent seven or eight months. I didn’t become a fighter pilot, but I got to work with fighter pilots and fighter planes.”
Herman served from 1966 to 1970. During his time in the military, he went to basic training at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas before heading to an electronic school in Illinois.
After another seven to eight months, Herman was stationed at McConnell Airforce Base in Wichita, Kansas with a fighter unit.
“I very much enjoyed being with fighter units,” Herman states. “The pilots are a live-for-today kind of crew, and they’re brave as heck. They were wonderful people to be serving with.
Steve says he was a part of the Six-Day War in 1968, which occurred while the Vietnam War was going on. Here, he loaded up three cargo planes of rations and ammo in an effort to make sure the group was ready to go on a moment’s notice to the Middle East.
“Then,” he notes, “from McConnell Airforce base, I went to Talklee, Thailand — about 100 miles Northwest in the jungle of Bangkok — and spent 13 months over there.”
During his time in Thailand, Herman says he worked long hours. The hardest part, he recalls was working as ground control for the fighter pilots. As Steve was well aware of where the war missions were taking place, his work position was kept a closely guarded secret.
“When I got back,” Herman explains, “I went through a very long debriefing because of the security clearance, warning me not to tell anybody what was going on or what was happening, because I knew it all. I wasn’t home for three or four weeks before President Nixon was on television speaking to the nation, telling them we had been going into Laos and Cambodia. He was telling the country everything- including information from the hour and a half I spent with the captain and the lieutenant on the security debrief.”
Herman was awarded the Commendation Medal for his work in Thailand. Since leaving the Airforce, he’s become an entrepreneur and a businessman, has been married for 51 years, and is the proud patriarch of three children and a large number of grandchildren. Even with all of these lifetime accomplishments, he says he’s proud of his service, and everything he did for his country.