The following is an excerpt from the new biography Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn, which will be released Tuesday, October 29.
John R. Cash, as he was now starting to think of himself, was one of thousands of men rushed through the revolving door of basic training at Lackland in the late summer of 1950, the normal thirteen-week training schedule cut to seven as the country mobilized for war in Korea. For someone whose high school class had numbered just twenty-two, the size of the operation was overwhelming.
… Even so, his immersion into Air Force life proved a blessing. Between the grueling physical training, intense classroom sessions, and battery of aptitude tests, Cash didn’t have time to brood over possible rejection or failure. He was so exhausted after the long, demanding days that he spent much of his Sundays, his only time off, sleeping. He rarely ventured out of the barracks except to go to church or pick up necessities from the PX.
While others in his training squadron grumbled about the lack of free time, John embraced the nonstop schedule. Though he hadn’t shown much interest in sports in school, he proved to be fairly athletic, mastering the various exercises designed to turn young men into soldiers. He did so well on the classroom instruction that others turned to him for help, just like the students had done at Dyess High.
Near the end of the stay at Lackland, John’s squadron took yet another round of aptitude tests, and he showed potential in several areas, including air police, aircraft mechanic, and radio operator. He didn’t know exactly what the last entailed, but he liked the sound of “radio.” When his application for that school was accepted, John was overjoyed. He had stood up against the big city boys and, in most cases, outshone them.
Read more at the San Antonio Current.