In 2017, Scott Air Force Base is celebrating its 100th birthday as an instillation, and with the history that comes with a century of service, a history comes with its people as well.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Frank Austin, who has been associated with the base since the 1950s, has many memories of Scott over his years with the base.
Austin first came to Scott AFB in 1955 when his family relocated from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, when his father, a retired master sergeant, was assigned to the base.
Austin said his father worked in base housing for a while and eventually became the first sergeant for the 1405th Operations Squadron.
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I remember asking a sergeant from the Air Force how many people were going to Vietnam, and he said there was a lot. I remember that if you didn’t like where you were stationed, that was one way to get out.”
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Frank Austin
His mother taught piano lessons with most of her students residing in the Colonial Housing quarters.
The family lived in Wherry housing, where the Air National Guard is now, said Austin. In 1956, the family moved off base into Shiloh. From 1960-61, Austin said he had a paper route at Scott that included important buildings presently on base.
“Part of my paper route was Fechet Plaza, where the headquarters of the Air Mobility Command is now located,” said Austin. “I also use to deliver papers at the non-commissioned officers (Georgian Housing) quarters.”
Austin said he also remembers fishing at the pond near Cardinal Creek Golf Course and going to the teen club while he was in high school. In 1966, Austin enlisted in the Army where he was as an infantry member. Austin said when he was enlisted, he wanted to go to Vietnam.
“I remember asking a sergeant from the Air Force how many people were going to Vietnam, and he said there was a lot,” said Austin. “I remember that if you didn’t like where you were stationed, that was one way to get out.”
In his 20 years of service, Austin served four overseas tours in Vietnam, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. Austin also said he had an assignment near Scott.
He was stationed at Granite City Army Depot from 1984-86 on compassionate reassignment.
In his 20 years of service, Austin served four overseas tours in Vietnam, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. Austin also said he had an assignment near Scott. He was stationed at Granite City Army Depot from 1984-86 on compassionate reassignment.
While in the Army, Austin served as Infantry, a UH1 Helicopter gunner, a mechanic and a crew chief. Austin said he remembers as a crew chief being out on the flight line at 4 a.m. and how tough it was.
“Those were some long days that I will never forget,” said Austin.
After Austin retired, he worked as a civilian at Scott from 1990-93.
Austin said he stopped working at the base and earned two college degrees before eventually getting a job at McKendree University where he worked from 1998-2010.
To remember his ties with Scott AFB, Austin has collected many souvenirs from the base and places he has been. He was awarded an East German flag he had kept and said he has a collection of patches from Air Force units which he keeps mounted in picture books.