1966 July 15 - Exit - Bill Copeland

Bill Copeland - Exit 15 July 1966

Friday, July 15, 1966, I left Bennington for the good life (so I thought) The Great Airline Strike was just getting started, and there were no commercial airlines flying.

I left the ship, in Long Beach, Ca. went downtown, dropped my seabag off at the Greyhound Bus station, to be shipped home, (I wasn't sure of how or when I would get back to Boston, with all the airlines on strike) From there, I went to JC Penney's and bought all new civilian clothes, wrapped my whites all up in a ball and threw them in the JC Penney's bag.

From there I made a few stops at the Red Mill, the Circus Room, the New Yorker and the Midway.

The next morning, I woke up, and somehow got to LAX (Los Angeles International)

It was like a scene from a movie, the place was mobbed with people, sleeping on the seats, on the floor, waiting and hoping the strike would come to an end.

Actually, one airline, American, was not on strike, but you could not get near them, there were so many people. While at the airport, I found out that Northwest Orient Airlines (at that time, Northwest did not fly in the US, just from California to the Orient) anyway, I found out that they had gotten permission to fly military passengers across the United States. Off I went, to the International Terminal, Yep, they were flying, yep, I could get a ticket, avoid pissing the civilians off, all passengers had to be in

uniform. (Remember now, I had sent my sea bag ahead on the Greyhound bus, and all I had for a uniform was a set of whites that I had taken off, rolled up and threw in a JC Penney's bag. Orders are orders, I was told, everyone had to be in uniform. So, off I went to the nearest rest room, where I changed into my whites.

Did I look like shit!!! Like the proverbial drunken sailor....they were dirty, and wrinkled....hell, I thought I would never wear them again!

Back to the terminal, got my ticket and got on the plane, there were about 20 of us, and we had the plane all to ourselves, the stewardesses were nice, gave us a little extra treatment, (remember now, this was 1966, Viet Nam had been going for only a year, and people still liked servicemen)

Off we went, Los Angeles to Denver, Denver to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago, Chicago to Atlanta, Atlanta to New York, 12 hour layover in New York, and,finally, 3 days after leaving California, I arrived in Boston!!!!

It was really a sight, flying across the country, in and out of airports during the "Great Airline Strike of 1966"** The airports had set up cots, refreshments,and it was just amazing. I think the strike only lasted about a month before the Federal Gov't stepped in and put an end to it, and there hasn't been a massive all airline strike since. (Leave it to me, to happen when I was getting out of the service, and trying to get home.

When I finally got home, got a little sleep, went "up to the corner" to hang around, and, that first night, I went out with Dotty..... and the rest is history!!

* Meanwhile Joe Pires was going home on leave and he traveled by BUS!! Got home about the same time I did, and I flew home!!

** The Great Airline Strike of 1966 was also a song by Paul Revere and the Raiders.)


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