BIOGRAPHY OF WILBUR OMER SOURBECK INTERVIEWED BY SUSAN RICHARDS X JANUARY 2018
Wilbur Omer Sourbeck was born July 28, 1932, at his grandfather’s (John Michael Sourbeck 1878-1917) home on Fryer’s Hill in Dry Valley in Vira, Lewistown PA. Wilbur was the third child and second son of John Potter Sourbeck (1910-1997) and Sara Elizabeth Bottorf Sourbeck (1912-1997). He joined an older sister Doris, born in 1929, and a brother John born in 1931. A sister Betty was born in 1935, but at a rental property on Central Avenue in Lewistown. Wilbur was named for his mother’s brother, Omer’s uncle Wilbur.
The Sourbeck family moved several times in Omer’s young life, finally settling in Glenwood, Lewistown PA. At this time, his father John was employed at the American Viscose Company in Lewistown, and his mother worked for a local shirt factory.
As a child, Omer and his brother Johnny worked many jobs, mostly centered around farms and farm work. Their jobs included mucking stalls, working the fields, picking and selling fruits and vegetables in season; mowing lawns in the summer and then shoveling snow in the winter; selling chips, popcorn and soda door to door and at local race tracks; selling newspapers, and selling Christmas trees. Omer attended the Derry Township Schools for most of his school life, and graduated from Derry Township High School, Yeagertown, PA, in 1950. Due to the outbreak of the Korean War, Omer was drafted and then enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was sworn in September 6th, 1950, and was shuffled from training level to supervisor in the military medical services. Second picture is of Omer after basic training, 1951.
Omer spent the next sixteen weeks at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, for Basic Training. After Basic Training, Omer was assigned to Ft. Sam Houston, TX, for Army Medical School; and was followed by assignments to refurbish and re-man bases that had been closed after WWII, to train pilots for the Korean War effort. These AFB’s included: Craig AFB, where Omer was outpatient and ambulance driver tech; Spence Field, Moultrie, GA, outpatient tech; San Marcos AFB, TX, inpatient tech; Harlingen AFB, Harlingen, TX, inpatient and outpatient tech; and Randolph AFB, TX, EENT outpatient & ER tech, with TDY (temporary duty) assignments to the School of Aviation Medicine; and then Camp Stoneman, CA, for inoculations for GI’s transporting to the Far East, (Korea). Omer was sent back to Ft. Sam Houston, TX, for escort duty, where he accompanied a medically discharged patient back to his family in OH.
In 1955, Omer was offered a three-year tour in Erding AFB, Erding, Germany, as an outpatient and inpatient technician. This was an accompanied tour, so Omer’s wife and now two children, Vivian (1953) and Virginia (1954), sailed with him on the USNS Patch to Germany. While in Germany, the family took advantage of the many tourist spots throughout Germany and France such as the German castles, Dachau, and the Passion Play at Oberammergau; and Omer had the chance to visit North Africa to participate in a softball tournament. Before leaving Germany in 1958, Omer’s third child, Roger was born.
The assignment after Germany was to Carswell AFB, TX, where he and his wife divorced. Omer remarried in 1960, and his next three children were born here; Talitha in 1961, Timothy in 1962, and Tracey in 1963.