For a time, Lawson Schuford feared that racial discrimination meant infantry duty for him in the Korean War.
He'd already tried to join the Air Force.
"They turned me down," Lawson says. He had just graduated from Book T. Washington High School in Shreveport. He says he was told he flunked the physical. But he thinks it was more to do with the color of his skin.
"Air Force was a sort of a prestigious service to go into, you know. They didn't care too much for blacks to be going into the Air Force," Lawson says.
Lawson was then drafted into the Army. He passed that physical. He and some others were leaving the military station, headed for foot soldier duty, when he heard a voice.
"He said, 'You you you, come here.' He called me in and said, 'Would you like to go into the Air Force? I said yes."
Lawson caught a break. But his Air Force duty would still put him in harm's way when he deployed twice to the Vietnam War in the 1960's. His air bases came under mortar and rocket fire.
"When they attacked us we would all take cover," Lawson recalls. "I was fortunate enough to survive it. Each time we got attacked no one got killed."
Lawson's mission was in operations.
"I was in charge of making sure all personnel was protected. So we had to prepare for attacks and so forth," he explained.
He came home with Bronze Stars after each deployment, and retired from the Air Force after 30 years. He attained the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, which is rare for enlisted personnel.
"I never dreaded a day I went into the Air Force and decided to stay," he says.
Lawson served until 1982 and returned to his wife and daughter in Shreveport, though he had some stints at Barksdale along the way.
He became an insurance agent with New York Life. And at age 86 still does some work for them.
In 1998, Lawson was appointed to fill the remainder of the term for the late Caddo Parish Commissioner Hersey Wilson.