By Ashley Rader
When Billy Milhorn, 83, signed up for the Air Force in 1951, he didn’t know that his service would allow him to visit the Holy Land in Israel, which would become one of his most cherished memories.
Milhorn was 22 when he volunteered for the Air Force on Oct. 3, 1951. He chose to volunteer and select his own branch of service rather than be drafted and have to join the Army, where he likely would have had to serve in the infantry and see ground combat.
After completing basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and supply training in Cheyenne, Wyo., Milhorn was sent to New York, where he was given three options for where he would serve in the Air Force. He said he could have chosen Alaska, Korea or Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia was the location he decided was right for him.
Milhorn and the other new Air Force members arrived at Dhahran Air Force Base in time for Christmas 1951. While Milhorn did not enjoy most of his year in Saudi Arabia, he did enjoy the opportunity to visit Israel while stationed in the Middle East.
“They gave us a free leave to the Holy Land,” Milhorn said. “We were there three days. We went to Jerusalem and Jericho, inside the walls, and the Dead Sea.”
He added he also got the chance to visit the places where Jesus Christ was crucified and where He was born. The group also visited the Dome of the Rock and open-air markets.
“I enjoyed going to the Holy Land,” Milhorn said. “It is something I will never forget. I never would have been able to go. That was the most enjoyable thing I got to do while I was in the Air Force. It was the happiest I was while I was in Saudi Arabia.”
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