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Smither, James (Interviewer)

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Larabel, Gregg

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Gregg Larabel was born on November 2, 1944 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After he graduated high school, Larabel joined the Air Force on October 10, 1962 due to his interest in electronics. He attended basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and was then transferred to Amarillo, Texas for a thirty-two-week Pilot School where he was taught basic electronics and flight technology. After graduating Pilot School, Larabel was transferred to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was assigned to the 314th Armament and Electronics Squadron and worked on military aircraft, particularly the F-100 Super Sabre. After his training at Luke Air Force Base, Larabel was reassigned to the 33rd Tech. Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where he attended more schooling to help work on the more technologically advanced and easier to maintain F-4 Phantom II. In 1966, Larabel left the Air Force and returned to Grand Rapids where he married, had a child, attended Grand Rapids Junior College and then Kendall College of Art and Design before going to work for the Lear Siegler Corporation testing automotive equipment. Two years later, he went back into the service, attending schooling and working at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When Hurricane Camille struck Biloxi, he and his Squadron were tasked with providing relief to the devastated local population. Larabel was later transferred to Osan Air Force Base in South Korea where he worked as a mechanic on aircraft which monitored the DMZ. Back in the United States, Larabel worked as an Air Force Recruiter for schools across Kent County, Michigan, then was rotated to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he began work as a radar mechanic on AC-130 cargo planes at the rank of E5 Staff Sergeant. In Little Rock, Larabel also became the Junior Bowling Coach for the on-base Bowling Association. He was then sent to Omaha, Nebraska, for a course on the KC-135 Stratotanker before being deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa from 1977 to 1980. Before retirement, Larabel transferred back to recruiting in Michigan and later went to work selling real estate and purchased a bowling center in 1990. Reflecting upon his service in the Air Force, Larabel believed it made a man out of him and joked how bowling continued to capture his attention and influence his side careers while in the service.

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Veterans History Project collection, (RHC-27)