Johnny Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force on July 7, 1950. After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force Base both in San Antonio, Texas, Cash was assigned to a U.S. Air Force Security Service unit. Assigned as a Morse Code Intercept Operator for Soviet Army transmissions at Landberg, Germany he was the first radio operator to pick up the news of the death of Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1953. Cash was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant on July 3, 1954.
During his time in the Air Force Cash’s musical career began. He purchased his first guitar at the Base Exchange while stationed in Germany and formed a band named “The Landsberg Barbarians” with B.J. Carnahan and Reid Cummins. Check this YouTube clip at 6:05 for a 1971 reunion of Cash with his band members and how a movie that he saw while in Germany inspired him to write “Folsom Prison Blues”