‘Go for it’: Air Force dental tech speaks out about service

Veterans Voices

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Fred Washburn dedicated four years of his life to the United States Air Force, but for him, the Air Force was more than a job it was a privilege.

“I didn’t want to, in a jungle, to be honest. I did not want to get drafted. I wanted to have some say over where I went and what I did,” Washburn said.

And take matters into his own hands he did. Fred Washburn joined the Air Force in 1971 as a dental laboratory technician.

“I made fake teeth. Dentures, crown and bridge partials,” said Washburn.

He served in many places, but one country stands out above the rest.

“Germany. I’ve been to almost every place in Germany,” Washburn said.

Washburn said he learned a lot during his time in the Air Force but one unexpected lesson will last him a lifetime.

“The service is a good place to hone your skills as a human being. You learn how to deal with people, you learn how to talk to people, you learn how to respect people,” said Washburn. “Now let me collect myself for a minute, would you?”

Because Washburn never experienced combat, those aren’t the memories he took away from his service. It’s the person he became, during those four years, that changed his life.

“You go in a young kid. Green behind the ears, wet behind the ears whatever you want to say. You’ll be transformed,” said Washburn.

It’s the reason he offers this advice to young men and women considering joining the Air Force.

“Go for it. Go for it,” Washburn said.

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