Narratives and Stories
Linkages, Family Narratives (Bessette, House, Mclean-Fleming), Military Stories


Aerial Survey Team

1956 John Pickrell in Alaska

Service Record

Enlistment January 1954-Dec 1957 
U.S. Air Force 
Decorations & Awards
National Defense Service Medal 
Good Conduct Medal
Air Force Unit Outstanding Unit Award

Narrative of service experience:

John Albert Pickrell was born December 20, 1936 in Los Angeles, California, the second child of John C. Pickrell and Ruth F. Crockett who had married in 1931. In 1941 the marriage foundered and Ruth remarried in 1945 to Herbert A Marvin who as Johnís step father became an important role model for the young boy. Herb had served in the Navy during and after World War 2 and in 1949 he was one of the first to enlist in the newly formed U.S. Air Force. Thus John as a young boy was part of the military family. Eventually Herb left the military and returned with his family to his home state of Michigan. Here in January 1954, shortly after his 17th birthday, John enlisted in the U.S.Air Force. The Korean War cease fire had taken effect the previous July but tensions remained high and the Cold War era was beginning to assert itself.

1956 Pickrell Group at Elmendoff AFB

Johnís first duty assignment was to Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass. where he received training and was assigned duties as an aircraft mechanic. He attended various training courses at various bases in Texas between 1954 and 1956 focusing principally on aircraft engine maintenance and repair. At Westover he met my sister, Frances Bessette, in 1955 and married the following year. Shortly after the nuptial event John was posted to Wright Patterson Air Base for a brief period before being transferred to West Palm Beach Air Force Base in Florida. There he joined the Photo Mapping Group, and in April 1957 he was sent to Elmendorf Alaska and assigned to the 1370th Photo Mapping Group. There he was promoted to Staff Sergeant, the rank he held when he received his discharge on December 20, 1957. He had served his country honorably for four years and could take full satisfaction in a job well done.

Following completion of his military service John and Frances returned to Western Mass. where they started their family which was to consist of five children, girls 3, boys 2. John was only 48 years old when he died on May 23, 1985.

John Pickrellís DD214, the official record of his release from the U.S. Air Force.