Born in Hollywood, California on April 17, 1939. Lived in Oakland, CA during WWII and moved to Southern California in 1946. Grew up in Belmont Shore, a beach town suburb of Long Beach, CA. Was a typical California beach boy, swimmer, surf dude, and lifeguard at Huntington Beach. Graduated from high school in 1956 and went to Long Beach City College as a jock. Was the first in the family to graduate from high school and go on to college. Had no idea what I was getting into.
Flunked out of college and joined USAF in January 1959. Tried to get into aviation cadets but was disqualified because I had a skull fracture when I was 12. Went to Lackland for basic, after four weeks was sent to Lowry AFB (Denver, CO) to finish basic and go to tech school. Spent the next four weeks pulling KP in the officer’s dining hall. I still can’t face peach pie. Learned the intricacies of the giant automatic potato peeler.
Went to tech school (39 weeks, as I recall) to be a bombing and navigation systems maintenance tech on early B-52s. On graduation was retained as an instructor. Worked as lifeguard at Officer’s Club pool, swam on Air Training Command team, went to USAF worldwide championships on Long Island, won medals, big hero, back to Lowry. Reassigned to Sheppard AFB (Wichita Falls, TX) for training as Missile Systems Analyst Technician in 1960. Trained on the Thor IRBM, Titan I, Atlas D. My job was to be the overall analyst and identify the problem down to the system level and turn it over to a specialist to fix. Retained as an instructor upon graduation. While there was awarded the missile badge on the first orders creating that badge. I still have the thermofax copy around somewhere.
My roommate took the OCS test and passed. I said I was as smart as he was, took the test, passed and was accepted. Bill Dlugos was there, too. Next, was off to Lackland for OCS (and we all know about that!). Graduated, assigned first as an electronic training device designer for AF Security Service, way over my head! Quickly reassigned as basic training squadron CO. Vividly remember being told during Cuban Missile Crisis to prepare to march my 2200 basic trainees out of San Antonio to the north. Presumably, we were to get away from the bases and city in case of nuclear attack. Wiser heads prevailed and we never marched, thank God. Reassigned to Lowry AFB, again! This time at Lowry for tech school as Nuclear and conventional Weapons Maintenance Officer. On graduation guess what? Retained as an instructor. Went to specialized tech training on Re-Entry vehicles for the early IRBMs and ICMS. On graduation took over what was called the “black hangar” because of color, not secrets, and ran the RV school until December of 1964. Finally, had my first real assignment. Sent to Zweibruecken, FRG as Asst. Operations Officer for nuclear weapons custodial detachment on Canadian AFB with three-weeks notice.
Had been dating a United stewardess and we got married just before I left. That proved to be a bad decision as the marriage just lasted through the tour in Germany. She was a nice girl but we were wrong for each other.
At 3 Wing RCAF, we had eight F-104s on strip alert carrying Nukes. Just about impaled myself on the pitot tube of one when racing out with the arming codes (PAL A, B for those of you who are into that stuff) during an exercise and slipped on the ice. Served as Crypto officer for our crypto detachment (its job was to get the go-to-war codes). First real memory of Germany was forty days of icy rain, low clouds, and bitter cold. Enjoyed the tour. Vivid memories of our emergency “run to the base” code. Snowball, snowball, snowball, and off we went. I had bought a 1949 VW Beetle and raced off at its top speed of 50 klicks per hour. Saw the handwriting on the wall, no college degree, reserve commission, former enlisted scum. USAF would send me to school to be an engineer but I was smart enough to know that I was not smart enough to be an engineer. Reduction in force (RIF) was on the horizon.
Talked to the Army about transferring. They liked my tech background and knowledge of both conventional and nuclear weapons. There were three months of talking, when papers got knee-high and USAF said they were willing to let me go. Army lusted after me. In September 1965 was discharged from USAF and was sworn into the USA on the same day. Sent to Schwaebisch Hall, FRG, just south of Heilbronn and Stuttgart, and assigned as executive officer of 50th Ordnance Company, Special Weapons. That was an experience. I didn’t even know how to put on all the Army doodads, much less run a company. The company had been a conventional ammo company that was the subject of a grand experiment. Normally, nuclear Weapons units spent 1-2 years training at Sandia Base NM, then got through what was called their “Initial Certification Technical Proficiency Inspection” (Where they are safe to have and fix nuclear weapons). The Army said that took too long and wanted to take a regular grunt ammo humper Co. and turn it into the special weapons Co. in the field. Changed designation of the 50th, got rid of the ammo humpers, gave us six warrant officers, an infantry company to provide security, 110 trucks, 256 men, 13 officers, and a year to learn how to be nuc weapons guys. Unfortunately, most of the equipment and personnel were lateral transfers from other units and you know how commanders love to transfer their problems. To make a long and painful story short, I quickly became the company CO, sorted out equipment, and personnel (42 special courts martial, uncounted summary courts and article 15s), we passed our initial certification TPI but the Army wisely said this was a bad idea. They never to my knowledge, did it again.
Left Germany in December of 1966 and was assigned to the Defense Atomic Support Agency at Sandia Base. Strange assignment. Sandia was a Joint Service base. Army 2-star commanding, AF 1 star and Navy Captain, deputies. I worked in what was called the Secretary to the General Staff’s office. Actually, I ran the visitor’s bureau. We had many high-ranking visitors to talk about the many secret programs there and up at Los Alamos. I was their babysitter. Met them at the airport, carried their bags and arranged things. This was not my favorite job. Arranged a transfer to Korea but went to Redstone Arsenal, AL to any advanced missile and munitions officer course on the way. Assigned to Taegu, Korea, Eighth Army Depot Command. That was the principal logistics command for the Army in Korea. I headed up what were called CMMI teams (Command Maintenance Management Inspections, sort of like ORIs in the AF) for the depot command. We were the angels of death, we would chopper into a munitions unit, run them through the wringer; if they passed then said we’d be back. If they failed, my boss, an Army 1 star would fly in and relieve the CO. Brutal system. Got promoted to Major and left Korea.
Assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground Ordnance Officer Career Course (Like SOS). Upon graduation, surprised that I was not made an instructor. Sent to Bluegrass Army Chemical Weapons Depot in KY. Officially, we were a sub depot for the Lexington Army Depot about 50 miles away and I was the “Commanding Officer’s Representative” at Bluegrass. In reality, I functioned as the depot commander. Had 30,000 acres of prime KY bluegrass and hills, my own railroad, 1300 plus igloos full of everything from Navy 16″ shells to bombs, to artillery shells filled with GB, VX, and other nasty stuff. We were one of the country’s eight major chemical weapons depots. In addition to me, there were 800 civilian employees and a poor Army doctor. Went to several chemical weapons schools, had the privilege of being exposed to VX, GB, etc. and got Mustard gas burns on arms so we would know how to fix such burns and exposures. Great fun but I got to live in a genuine antebellum plantation house that came with the job. Built in 1811 the house was used as a hospital during the civil war and its decor featured white columns, circular drive, stables, etc. Finally, got a BA degree in History from Eastern KY University.
Army said it was time for me to go back overseas and suggested that I go back to Germany as exec of a nuclear weapons battalion. I said I’d been there, done that, and how about something different. Was offered two jobs: (A) go to Iran as part of MAAG to train Iranian Army about weapons/munitions; or (B) go to some super-secret job in Southeast Asia. Naturally, I chose B. Was officially assigned to Deputy Chief Joint US Military Advisory Group in Thailand, and stationed at Udom AFB in Northern Thailand. Actually worked with CIA in Laos. The Army tried to cover their tracks pretty well. I had an apartment at Udom, my pay and records were kept at a second site called Ramasun Station which was not too far from Udom where we had a special fenced off area of the base where our Air America, Arizona Helicopters, Continental Air Service, Inc., etc. unmarked planes were kept. We actually lived and worked in Laos. Civilian clothes, no US id, no US weapons, scary but interesting. Ran the army and air force munitions programs for the country, various covert projects in and about Laos, ran around the country blowing things up. Vivid memories of being dropped off at airstrip, by myself, backpack full of C4, explosive pens, etc. going off to blow up ammunition storage site. We thought would be overrun by the bad guys, going back to the village with my pack and AK47, and hoping the plane would make it back to pick me up. Great fun. Got out with a few terrifying moments, a few scars, and all limbs. While there I negotiated with the Army to send me to grad school.
Sent to Colorado State University, north of Denver, got a Master’s degree in diplomatic history (US/East Asian Relations), and finished my career as the #2 man in the Army ROTC detachment there. Retired in January 1979 as a Major; just before finding out if promoted to 05. When finished with MA program, entered the PhD program at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies. One of my classmates was Condoleeza Rice. Did dissertation work on Soviet Oil production in the Arctic. While in school by chance, took class with a mysterious guy who invited me to interview for a mysterious job. Got job with think tank called Science Applications, Inc., now SAIC, in something called the Foreign Systems Research Center. Did research on things Soviet and strategic. Customers were mainly intelligence community. Actually got to write parts of National Intelligence Estimates on Soviet Strategic Forces. Heady stuff.
After two years at SAIC was recruited by Martin Marietta Astronautics which also located in Denver and went to work for them in what was Internal war gaming strategic intel stuff. Same basic intel customers. Transferred to something called future systems where we thought deep thoughts about the future of technology, specifically weapons technology. Worked on early space-based laser, submarine communications, and other weapons. Transferred to part of company working on various black programs. Along the way, met in Korea (but roundeye) and married wife #2 and had two great kids. Was working as company’s legislative liaison with Washington congressional staff on sensitive programs. Got involved in Colorado politics. Ran for US Congress, Colorado 5th district, couldn’t raise enough money for good campaign and dropped out but as a result was recruited by Reagan White House to back to DC. Second marriage failed over differing kid philosophies. Too bad but there was a bright outcome.
Met Patricia who is the love of my life. Went to DC as the Senior Foreign Affairs analyst with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). Reassigned to head up Presidential advisory committee called the “President’s General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.” Got to do lots of interesting high-level stuff. 988 was asked to go to Geneva, Switzerland as ACDA senior negotiating member of US delegation to the US/Soviet Nuclear and Space talks. (START and SDI/star wars) more heady stuff, went to Moscow heading up UN delegation, etc.
Came back to the US after Bush I election. Was waiting to be reassigned and was asked to take over ACDA’s public affairs office because they were in some sort of crisis. Had never done anything like that but said OK. Did that for a couple of years and was asked by Secretary of Energy to go over to Energy and take over their public affairs office because they were having some kind of crisis. Did that and then received a big promotion to Asst. Secretary level. Lasted until January 20, 1993 when Clinton was sworn in. All Presidential appointees had to resign every time there was a new President.
Patti had already gone back to Colorado. She had worked for C-SPAN while we were in DC. I came back to Denver in January, hung around and was told that I was too high-powered and important for any jobs that I applied for. Frustrating. Had lunch with the President of Western State College. Lo and behold, a professor’s job that just happened to fit me was created. Patti and I moved to Gunnison, Colorado in 1993, me first and then her a year later because our oldest boy wanted to finish high school in Denver, and I have been teaching here ever since. I teach two history courses, East Asian and Middle Eastern history but spend most of my time teaching political science where I teach courses on war, zealotry, terrorism, American Government, and political philosophy. I really enjoy this but am retiring next June while I can still get out and run around. Patti’s two boys and my daughter and son are all grown so we are just the two of us. We plan to drive around, play golf and see the USA. We also plan to see San Antonio in May of 2003.