Friday, February 3, 2012

A Taste of Southern Living

When Frank Stevens decided to stay in the military because that was the only way he could afford to travel and seek adventure, perhaps the idea of the Southern Gentleman’s lifestyle was not exactly what he had in mind. Yet, when his two year stint in England with the Air Force was over, his next step evidently was to transfer to a base in South Carolina.

It is at this chapter in Frank and Norma Flowers Stevens’ life that I am relying on family recollection. I have no documentation at this point—while I’ve already sent for Frank’s Navy records, obtaining the Air Force papers will require a second request. For one thing, the dates of service fall on the more complicated side of the National Archives’ timeline of accessibility. For another thing, as solid as the buildings housing Archives material may appear, they are not impervious to risk. Witness the 1973 fire at the Saint Louis facility.

Of course, it would be the Air Force records that were most heavily impacted in that disaster—over sixteen million records that were damaged or destroyed. Reconstructive efforts have pieced together some of the missing information on some veterans’ files, but there is still a long way to go before all missing records are made whole or replicated.

I’ll know more about the fate of our Air Force request in the near future. Meanwhile, I’m basing my hunch as to upcoming assignment on my knowledge of where Frank and Norma’s next child is born. After all, the virtue of doing near-history family research is that there are still witnesses remaining who can tell the tale, if need be.

The clues lead to an Air Force base in Greenville, South Carolina. I am guessing that Frank’s next assignment is at Donaldson Air Force Base, a now-closed facility once known as The Airlift Capital of the World. Since each assignment seems to be for about two years, that would be just the right span of time to lead up to the next destination, for which I do have one shred of evidence already.

But that story is for another day.

Photograph, top right: The Donaldson Center in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2006. Photograph courtesy of the US Geological Survey via Wikipedia. Photograph in the public domain.


  1. All of this material would make for a great biography in book form... :)

  2. I commented on the USNS Gen. Alexander M. Patch and our voyage on it from Bremerhaven to New York in 1952 when I was 15 months old. The stateside home of record listed for us on the passenger list was Greenville, South Carolina, which had become my mother's home city in 1942 when she was 16. My parents married in Greenville in July of 1949 and went to Germany the following month. I was born in Frankfurt in 1951. So, there is another connection we share.

    Today I live in Simpsonville, SC, and the Donaldson Center, the former Air Force base location and a place of much commercial aviation activity, is not far away. Also, I served in the Air Force in the 1970's, but was stationed in Texas and West Germany.


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