It was interesting to read Mac’s bio—you’ll find many similarities with mine. And, as Mac is writing his book about his experiences for his children and grandchildren, I too am writing a book for mine yet my book will be a family history of the Kent family and my ancestors. It’s a rich history including participation in the settling of this country and keeping it free – a part to which I am proud to say I contributed somewhat.
In writing this biography it is not only appropriate but also necessary that I identify the three persons whose support and contributions enabled me to succeed. First, there is my wife Elizabeth (Betty) who has been my partner from the beginning and will be beyond the end. Her numerous contributions exemplify what a wife should be, what a mother is, and what a military wife must be (God knows the anguish they suffer). The second person is Major Edmond W. Bastek who was my first Air Force supervisor. His guidance, example, and toleration of my maturing both as a man and as a military man helped create my mindset for succeeding. Finally, my mother, who had never given up on me even though I had let her down many times prior to enlisting in the Air Force.
Speaking of my mother – from my first letter home to my last, she filed each away including all those received from my wife and children. So now I have an almost day-to-day report on my family’s growth which is, in our own words, “a treasure.”
But let’s see who I am:
August 1955 – Was working three jobs none of them going anywhere; engaged to my future wife with nothing to offer her; and a high school dropout just completing his diploma work through night school. Why not enlist? The military seemed a viable solution. Went straight to the Navy recruiter and he was out to lunch (later found that to be typical of navy personnel), so stopped in the Air Force recruiter’s office on my way out. After a few minutes I was on my way to a career in the Air Force – a proud future.
July 1956 – Finished basic training (Sampson), Tech school (Sheppard), married my special lady, and was on my way to Germany as an Accounting Specialist, Directorate of Management Analysis, HQ USAFE. My boss then was Major Bastek, a graduate of an Army Air Forces Officer Candidate Class (OCS) class in 1942. What a role model!
July 1959 – Then returned from Germany (18 month tour), had a short tour at Mitchell Field where I took a short re-enlistment, and Seymour-Johnson where my first application for OCS didn’t make the cut and also where our first daughter was born. I was next on my way to Japan (Johnson AB and later Yokota).
January 1962 – Completed the equivalent of two years college, second application for OCS was accepted, and our first son was born. Settled the family in Billy Mitchell village, visited Lauterstein’s, and met my first 1st Class – What a meeting!
February 1962 – Experienced the following: my wife’s birthday, my tray slipped from my hands in the Dining Hall and my lung collapsed resulting in 2 months of hospitalization and recuperation. And a decision had to be made – to quit or go on in a new class — 63A.
September 1962 – Completed OCS with Class 63A, bought my first car (thank you, Andy), packed up my family and headed for Sheppard for Tech training (Management Analysis Officer)
June 1968 – Air Defense Command – Hancock Field (second daughter born – our OCS baby) and also was at Stewart AFB (26 Air Div Inspector General’s Office) where I had lunch with Earl Boggs. Earned Bachelors degree through Operation Bootstrap at Omaha Univ. Second son born (that’s four now). McGuire AFB – appointed to Regular AF and promoted to Captain. Off to Syracuse University to earn MBA compliments of AFIT. Completed SOS by taking correspondence courses before we left.
August 1969 – Sent to Vietnam – Assistant Director, Management Analysis, HQ 7th Air Force.
June 1976 – After a year in Nam spent four years at SAC HQ. Director, Status Analysis Division, Directorate of Management Analysis. Assisted and gave morning briefings to CINCSAC on C-ratings (Operational status of forces). Our third and fourth sons were born and completed military comptrollership course. Had lunch with Andy Iacarrino who was stationed at Gunter. Spent two years at Robins AFB as Comptroller, 19th Bomb Wing and decided at 39 years of age it was time to start a new career, thus I retired from the Air Force (20 years, 9 months, 7 days)
July 1976 – Fifth son was born (our last Air Force baby) and we now have a total of seven children. As of this date, they have given us nine grandchildren.
September 1999 – After 23 years in the Education community, I retired again. Last duty was as Director of Physical Plant, Buffalo State College.
Thanks to the Air Force my future was indeed proud. A high school dropout who earned two degrees (and completed all but his dissertation for a Doctorate), received a Commission and the right to be called a Gentleman, many awards including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army and Air Force Commendation Ribbons, and The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 2 oak leaf clusters and a V. None of the above would have happened without my wife at my side supporting me.