Bobby enlisted in the Army 26 July 1941 at Camp Blanding, near his hometown of Winter Park, Florida.
|Sgt. Bob Callin, c.1944|
The specialty training include aircraft engine mechanic courses at Luke Field, located southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The class was difficult, but Bobby was smart, and he didn't spend a lot of time and energy getting wasted after hours and on weekends, like some of his friends did. He preferred spending time at a church he had found. A church that hosted "mixers" on Friday and Saturday nights. Church mixers that had girls at them.
That is where he met Nancy.
Bobby and Nancy went out a few times, usually with Nancy's best friend -- whose name was Bobbe! -- and one of her boyfriends. Nancy was only 17, but Bob (it was too confusing having two "Bobbies") had also met her parents at the church, and they trusted him. Bob had even been to their house for Sunday dinner a few times.
Things were going just swell (his words, not mine). Bob and Nancy liked each other quite a lot, but she was still in high school. And being in training for the Army, he didn't know for sure where he would end up next. It was technically peacetime, but the Army was building up. There was talk of the trouble across the Atlantic, even though most Americans thought it was best to stay out of it.
They decided not to worry about it, and to take their time. It was a mature decision. And then Bob was selected for a special class he in California. He would be back after a few weeks, but maybe this meant he would get to learn to fly! So, he said goodbye to Nancy and promised to write to her often.
Not long after that, America was attacked, and everything changed.
|Nancy's brother, Richard Witter -|
a TSgt in the Philippines
By the time Bob managed to get a letter through, things had calmed somewhat. People at least knew the basics: the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor; the U.S. had declared war. The West Coast was not under attack. Nancy's brother, Richard, was safe for the time being, though he would be wounded in a sniper attack and end up the war as a guard at the POW camp in Papago, AZ.
Bob had also been turned down for officer training and pilot school. But this would turn out to be good news, because, as a high-scoring mechanic, Bob would spend the rest of the war at Luke Field, maintaining the trainers for the pilots of the P-38's.
|The AT-6 - training aircraft like those|
Bob worked on at Luke Field.
You could argue that without December 7, 1941, they might not have decided to wed. It's possible that without the shock of war, and the fear of losing each other, they might have drifted away and only been pen pals. But some things are meant to happen. After all, Bob did eventually learn to fly.
But that's another story altogether...