I had a Hallicrafters S-38C that I had bought when we lived in Tennessee, previously. My first transmitter was home brewed - and it promptly caught fire and damned near scared me to death! Another ham in town took pity and loaned me a Globe King with some crystals.
After another pair of moves, I found myself living next door to another ham - his name was Don, and I can not remember his call sign. He had a surplus Air Force 2 meter AM rig - I borrowed that for a while to see what talking on voice was like.
And then, after high school graduation in June of 1969, the inevitable happened. The Vietnam war.
Instead of waiting to be drafted, my father convinced me that enlisting in the Air Force was probably a better idea. That way, if things worked out, I might get my choice of jobs. It didn't quite work out that way, but wasn't far off. The only problem was that, of course, I was going to Vietnam.
My license was about to expire when I made contact with the MARS station at Phan Rang AB, and found a proctor willing to give me the Conditional test. No problem with being more than 175 miles away from the FCC! HI. I started the test and then, about halfway through, was interrupted by a rocket attack on the base. One of the Viet Cong rockets landed in the MARS station's yard, but luckily, did not damage the station where my test was still lying on the desk.
WN5WDB became history - and was reborn WA5WDB. I thought about getting WN5WDB back when the Vanity program started many years later, but I also found out that my initials were available on a virgin N5 call, and... well, you can guess what I put in for on the very first day of Gate 4 of Vanity Licensing.
Having that Novice license was a godsend to me - it helped out with the Air Force's job placement, though that didn't work out as everyone hoped, initially, but it worked itself out. I really believe that later-day Novices were hindered by not having any voice privledges on 2m like I did, but... wiser minds, I guess.
43 years later, I'm a life member of QCWA and still enjoy ham radio - as a matter of fact, I'm sitting here waiting on another country to pop up on 6 meters as I type, listening to VHF operators all over the country working in the the Carribean and Central America.
It's a fascinating hobby, and one I hope I'll keep until I die.