After nearly four decades in the U.S. Air Force, Ed Ervin still has trouble explaining what it’s like to be in the service.
“You’d have to be in the military and live our life to know what it’s like,” said Ervin, a resident at Rosemont’s retirement community.
Ervin, a Sacramento native who retired in 1991 as a senior master sergeant, served in Korea, Vietnam and Operation Desert Shield. He spent 14 years in active duty and 25 years as a full-time employee of the .
He said he enlisted as soon as he turned 18 in 1953, but never expected to stay in for so long.
“In Sacramento in those days, unless you wanted to work on a farm or in a cannery, there wasn’t anything else,” he said.
Ervin said the Fourth of July holiday brings back memories of the places he’s been and the people he knew while in the military.
He said one of the most difficult was Vietnam, where he was a combat controller in charge of setting up drop zones and running telephone wire.
“I lost a lot of good friends over there,” he said. “It was close a couple times for me.”
He was promised a promotion if he agreed to reenlist and return to Vietnam, and decided to join the Air National Guard instead.
Another challenge for Ervin came while he was in Turkey for 18 months and caught Malaria.
“That was one of the hardest things to deal with, was Malaria,” he said.
But Ervin’s time in the military wasn’t all bad. He spent a Christmas in Rome, visited Tripoli, Libiya; and spent four months in Germany.
“I liked the German food and beer and [girls],” Ervin said. “Newfoundland wasn’t bad–[it was] colder than hell.”
He also remembers the friends he made during his time in the service.
“That’s one thing about the service–you’re a family,” Ervin said. “It’s a brotherhood.”
Now, Ervin’s military legacy is continuing through his grandson, a Navy hospital corpsman.
“He thinks the world of me,” Ervin said. “He told me I’m his hero and I’ll always be his hero.”