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Veterans recall decades of service

  • Published
  • By Vanessa Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Eddie Molett grew up in the Texas country, raising chickens and hogs as a young boy. It was the life his parents had imagined for their family, but Molett yearned for more. In 1960, just weeks before he turned 21, Molett enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.

“What I wanted to do was see the world,” Molett said. “I couldn’t wait to get away and join the Air Force.”

Molett served for 28 years and 16 assignments. His career took him to across the United States and overseas, where he developed a deep affection for Germany and the hospitality he encountered there.

“The people were so nice, they’d invite you to their home and you’d have to eat, and eat and eat,” he said.

Molett was a dedicated service member. During his first few days in Vietnam, as rockets and mortars lit up the sky, Molett decided he would defend his country, even if it meant losing his life. He saw comrades injured, and others who never made it home.

“That was a hard year,” Molett stressed.

Despite the hardships, Molett found a sense of home in the Air Force. He retired in 1989, as a senior master sergeant, but soon returned as a civilian. Altogether, he’s served 63 years in civil service.

While much has changed since he retired – a lot has remained the same.

“I still love it; I still wish I could wear my uniform,” Molett said.

Today, Molett works as a supply technician at Camp Bullis in San Antonio, overseeing more than $2 million dollars worth of equipment.

Brian Pederson, 343rd Training Squadron, oversees Molett. He admires Molett’s dedication to his country.

“The fact that he comes to work every day and works as hard as he does – and the fact that he’s been doing it as long – is an absolute inspiration for service to our country,” Pederson said.

Molett isn’t ready to retire anytime soon.

“I found a belonging, this is like my family now,” Molett said. “I love everything about it.” 

Oscar Clayton, also developed a deep admiration for his career. Clayton, now a military working dog training evaluator with the 341st Training Squadron, entered the military while still in high school, as part of the delayed enlistment program.

“I was not prepared at all, because they throw you into the barber’s chair, I had an afro back then, and they asked, ‘Do you want to keep your hair?’ And they put it in a plastic bag and say here’s your hair, since you wanted to keep it,” Clayton recalled, still shocked at the memory.

Clayton decided to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining security police. His father had become the first black police officer in Georgia. It inspired the younger Clayton to work as a military working dog handler in Thailand and Vietnam, where he spent three years. Clayton worked the next seven years procuring military working dogs for the Department of Defense, before he left the Air Force in 1980.

After a short stint working in biomedical research, Clayton returned to work with military working dogs. His experience working with animals translated well into studying animal behavior. Reminiscing about his past experience, Clayton said he still gets “goosebumps” when people say “Welcome Home,” as it was not something often said when he returned from South East Asia in 1975.

“It’s been outstanding,” Clayton said of his career. “I’ve trained a lot of people and passed down knowledge, teaching and training and figuring out problematic dogs.”

Altogether, Clayton has served almost five decades in federal service. “It’s been very rewarding … I’m fortunate to have done what I love for 48 years,” Clayton said. “When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” Clayton is scheduled to retire in December. As for Molett, he started in security forces and plans to end his career in security forces. “The military was the best thing that could’ve happened to me…I could’ve still been feeding the hogs.”