At the age of 16, he went to live with his aunt in St. Petersburg, Florida where he could attain a better education than in Mississippi. After graduating from high school, he joined the Air Force, the least segregated of the armed services, because he had no money for college. He served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1960 under the name of “James Howard Meredith instead of the initials J.H. His years in the Air Force helped him advance his education, taking courses in the University of Kansas and at Washburn University while stationed in Kansas. The Air Force offered courses to military personnel all over the country, allowing him to study at the New Mexico Western College and even in the Far Eastern Division of the University of Maryland in Japan. In 1955 Meredith met Mary June Wiggins at a USO dance, marrying her in the following year.