PCA lecture informs students of military careers


Brandon Keeling

PCA Lecture 11/17/16

Tristan Allen, Reporter

Jim Mowry, U.S veteran, spoke about his time in the Air Force at the Professional Careers Academy (PCA) lecture on Thursday, Nov. 17.

“I got a lot out of the lecture, especially stuff about the military and the draft back then,” Christian Peters, sophomore, said.

Mowry, who served in the Air Force for four years, was in the military during the Vietnam War, but did not serve in Vietnam; he insisted on being called a “Vietnam-era veteran.”

He explained that the 1960s were hectic. Males were required at the age of 18 to sign up for the draft. Draft boards were locally based, which caused controversy because draft boards could easily be manipulated into not drafting someone.

The draft lottery started in 1969,  required all young men eligible to sign up. Everyone signed up was assigned a number ranging from 1-366 based on his birthday. For example, someone born on Jan. 1 was assigned the number 1. The numbers were pulled on live television, and if someone’s number was pulled, that person would be drafted soon.

People who were in college, like Mowry, were able to get four-year deferments from the draft to go to college. Mowry got a deferment and was drafted as soon as he graduated.

While he was not against serving in the military, Mowry had just recently proposed to his girlfriend. They had to move their wedding up, and Mowry was drafted one month after they married.

After basic training, Mowry got assigned to language training. He went to linguistics training in Texas, then went to take defensive language training in California.

One day, Mowry learned that he was to be stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, approximately 600 miles away from Vietnam, for 18 months without his wife.

The flight to the base was 14 hours long. It was a large base with about 35,000 people. Mowry was able to get his wife housing in a nearby apartment building with a visitor’s visa.

During this time period, the military loved athletics, and the base had all sorts of sports teams. Mowry played on a U.S. basketball team against some Filipino teams to help improve relations between the United States and the Philippines.

The Philippines had a lot of wealth disparity; some homes were made of cardboard. All of the civilians carried guns. At the time, the Philippines was ruled by Ferdinand Marcos, ‘president for life’ of the Philippines, according to Mowry.

At one point, prisoners of war (POWs) who were being transported back home made a stop at Clark Air Base.

“It was a very emotional time,” said Mowry about seeing the POWs stopping by to return home.

Mowry suggested that the military is not a bad career path to consider because the pay is better than in the days of the draft, soldiers can receive training that could help in civilian life, and the GI bill assists with paying college and housing loans for those that served in the military.

In addition to serving in the military, Mowry was also a teacher in the Olathe School district for 41 years.

He brought his basketball warm-up jacket to the lecture as well.

“Hopefully you’re going to do something that will help other people,” Mowry said to the students attending the lecture about their career choices.