Joe Heflin recalls traveling to New York City from his hometown of Masillon, Ohio to meet with the New York Jets fresh out of high school. He remembers the tour of the city in a limousine and the "fabulous lunches."
Fast forward a year later -- dreams of being a professional football player put on hold. Instead, Heflin, now of Mattydale, traded in his football uniform for a different one.
"I hadn't planned to go into the military. As a matter of fact, my whole focus at the time was to play professional football," Heflin said. Yet the New York Jets were still a part of the American Football League at the time.
"They hadn't merged with the NFL. So I didn't really want to play for the AFL 'cause it was like they were, like, second class," Heflin joked. "So I felt like I wanted to play for the big guys."
Heflin decided to attend Wyoming University on a full football scholarship, and then head to the NFL soon after. But those dreams soon changed, because, as Heflin admits, he got into a little bit of "mischief." Before Heflin knew it, he was back at square one, returning home to Ohio, chances of playing pro put on hold.
"When I got back, my mother said it was time to do something, seeing as how I wasn't going to school," he said.
Heflin took his mother's advice and, without telling her, enlisted into the United States Air Force in 1961. He chose the Air Force because, at the time, it was the only branch that offered training in a warm place, he admits with no shame.
"When I joined the military it was in February 1961. It was cold. And snowing. I wanted to find a branch of the military that had basic training in warm weather," Heflin said, laughing. "So it just so happens that the air force has basic training in Texas, and the weather at that particular time was 73 [degrees]. Sounded pretty good to me."