Korean War vet takes a trip drown memory lane

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- “There was a war to fight, and if the young people weren’t going to fight in it, who was?”

George Prentiss a Korean War and Air Force veteran, spoke these very words when talking about the time he decided to join the air force in 1950.

Prentiss worked in a mail room and as a soda jerk in Boston before serving in the Air Force. Motivated by the war, he persuaded his father to let him enlist in October 1950, a few months before he turned 18. He was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base for four years as a B-36 Peacemaker piston engine mechanic, but separated when the Air Force began transitioning to jet engine-powered aircraft.

When the Montgomery G.I. Bill was introduced, it gave Prentiss the chance to pursue a new career. Although Prentiss chose to leave the military, his love of aviation hadn’t changed.

“The G.I. Bill meant I could go to college and get the engineering degree I really wanted,” Prentiss said. “In fairness to yourself and your family, you have to consider all the options. I’m sure the Air Force would have retrained me, but I thought, in the long run, I could probably do better on the outside.”

With his family growing, Prentiss finished college and started working on commercial aircraft with his engineering degree.

After 63 years, returning to Fairchild was on his list of things he’d like to do before he dies.

To honor one of Prentiss’ wishes, Team Fairchild prepared a tour that consisted of a KC-135 Stratotanker static display and a look into the 92nd Maintenance Group heritage room.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Miller, 92nd Maintenance Squadron chief enlisted manager. “Any time we can have someone like him who comes from a shared heritage, to listen to their stories and their accomplishments, and to be able to share ours as well, is always impressive. Also, to be able to listen to his perception about working in this facility during his time, and to know the actual outcome of what the building has become is astonishing because we are very proud of this [heritage room].”

Prentiss shared historical pictures and documents of his time at Fairchild with the 92nd MXS that will be incorporated into their heritage wall, Miller said.

“I want to thank Fairchild for this response," Prentiss said. It was absolutely awesome. I got to see some things I had never seen before. You’ve treated me like royalty. Thank you."