He did not shoot Nazis, he did not serve in Vietnam or Korea, but what he did do is serve in perhaps what is known as the one of the most intense standoffs to nuclear war in history, The Cuban Missile Crises. But his main reason for joining the military was for his family.
(I joined the service) in March of 1961,” Dean Shore said. “I graduated in ‘59 and started working in June in ‘59 at Maytag and between that and March of 1961, I was laid off three times. They would work us 12 hour days and lay us off.”
In addition to dealing with job security, Shore was expecting a child.
“(My wife) was expecting and I had to have a job somewhere, so I enlisted in the Air Force,” Shore said. “At the time, they weren’t calling anybody in the draft, but I couldn’t get a job because they (employers) said I would get drafted. I enlisted, just to have a job at the time.”
During his time in the military, he said he experienced DEFCON-3 for about 6 months.
“It was pretty scary,” he said. “We started out at DEFCON-4 then went to three. It stayed at three for a long time. It never went to two.”
After the Bay of Pigs fiscal, the U.S. and USSR were at a stand-off. As reports surfaced, the U.S. learned of USSR’s missiles. Tensions were high, and rumors spread fast. Shore said he sometimes wondered if this was going to be the day things were going to happen, but this did not mean he did not have his share of laughs.
“It’s kind of funny, the International Guard was working with us, at the time, and if they went to DEFCON-2, the (International Airmen) would have been activated,” Shore said. “We were joking one time, we had a sign up there with the DEFCON (level on it), it had lights on it. We switched it to DEFCON-2 so they could see it...Phew, they walked through the door and saw that. We (quickly) switched it back. They weren’t happy.”
He also said he found it interesting that civil servants in the military wore the same uniforms that he did.
Surprisingly, Shore said he did not like to fly.
“I flew in a T-33 once and a A-7 once,” he said. “I flown in G-33s, C-130s and C-141s. In the 130s, you had a bag in one hand (and) what looked like two pieces of chewing gum in the other hand. When you get landing, you know what the bag is for.”
He said he saw the bags in use, first-hand.
“When a flight got back, I was starting (to not feel well), and I looked at they guy next to me and he looked like he was about ready to (hurl),” Shore said. “The (other) guy next to me had his bag half-full. I just shut my eyes...I didn’t want to look at anything.”
Rather than leaving the military after his enlistment, he decided to stay. He soon became a member of the International Guard.
“It was the same job, same everything, same uniform,” Shore said. “It just came out of a different pocket. So I stayed there for about two more years and then I got home sick. I found out they needed help in Des Moines so I transferred to Des Moines there. I stayed out there for 28 years, working full-time.”
Although, he originally joined the service to just to provide for his family, overall, Shore was happy to serve his county.