May 17, Lawrence Hawkins and Leslie “Les” Brigham joined Aerotech NewsRadio for a live, on-air interview.
Hawkins, is the Supervising Rehabilitation Therapist for the William J. “Pete” Knight Veteran’s Home of Lancaster, Calif., and Brigham is a resident at the home. Brigham shared his story and experiences as a Vietnam veteran and with the veteran’s home.
Brigham original thought he would take on a career as a nurse in the Army, but when that didn’t work out, he joined the Air Force as a linguist, a position in which he was tasked with intelligence gathering. He was sent as a rear-ender in the RC-135 to gather enemy radio broadcasts.
According to Brigham, on his first mission the hydraulic systems failed and the landing gear was frozen. The control tower instructed the pilots to continue flying until eventually, one of them said, “Fly around again if the landing gear’s not down, take your crew out over the ocean and dump them.”
Fortunately it never came to that because the crew was able to crank down the landing gear by hand. When they got off the plane the mission supervisor asked if anyone was on their first mission in the Air Force. When Brigham raised his hand, the supervisor replied, “Welcome to the Air Force.”
Brigham and Hawkins also talked about the veteran’s home and all it has to offer. Brigham recalled the first time he walked into the home and said it was like “walking into a nice hotel.” The Lancaster facility is one of six California veteran’s homes and has 60 beds. It is available for both U. .eterans and their non-veteran spouses.
Hawkins talked about the various recreational activities the home offers including group outing to Jet Hawks games, the Getty Museum, golfing trips and Plane Crazy Saturday in Mojave. He also added that the Antelope Valley community has been tremendously supportive of the home. Hawkins shared that a local hair salon, Panache, on Lancaster Blvd., cuts the veteran’s hair once a month for free as a way of thanking the veterans for their service.
Hawkins also talked about the support the home receives from not only Assemblyman Steve Knight, but from the entire Knight family. On June 27, an F-100 Super Sabre will be placed in front of the home on Avenue I and 30th Street West in honor of the late State Senator William Knight. The F-100 is currently being restored at the Mojave Air and Space Port and will be airlifted by a CH-46 on the date of delivery.
To hear the full story and previous shows visit our radio page here. Aerotech NewsRadio is a weekly program on Thursday mornings at 11a.m. Tune into 1380AM to hear the show live.