John F. Piowaty was born 15 November 1935 in South Bend, Indiana and lived for a time in Ohio, Indiana again, and then northern California. He graduated from High School in California and on 14 June 1954 enlisted in the US Air Force.
After Basic Training he served as a Survival Instructor at Stead AFB, was a Personal Equipment Specialist for the 60th and 36th Air Rescue Squadrons in Japan and also for the 55th Weather Wing at McClellan AFB. He had attained the grade of Staff Sergeant and upon application for Officer Candidate School was accepted for entry into Class 63A which started in April 1962.
John’s antics were also called initiatives and were recognized by both his classmates and his Upper Class. Upon becoming an OCS First Classman in June 1962, he was selected as the OCS Group Commander with the grade of OC Colonel. He lost that title and grade due to US Navy interference with an Air Force operation, the details of which are well understood by all in classes 63A and 63B.
After graduating from OCS in September 1962, John entered pilot training at Williams AFB and was stationed there until he completed pilot and pilot instructor training. His next assignment was to Laughlin AFB (to Sep 66) where he was assigned as an Instructor Pilot for T-37 aircraft. After a short tour (Sep 66 to Mar 67) at McConnell AFB, KS he was assigned, as an F105 pilot, with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Tachli AB, Thailand (5/67 to 2/68).
Next, he completed 100 F-105 missions over North Vietnam including the significant attack on the Hanoi railroad and highway bridge (Paul Doumer) on 11 August 1967 for which Col Piowaty was credited for a downed span of the bridge. Upon his return to the US, John was assigned at Laughlin AFB where he was an Instructor Pilot for T-37 and T-41 Aircraft.
He was also a member of the Tac Eval Team. John later upgraded to F-111 aircraft and flew that aircraft from Upper Heyford AB, England. (He had side jobs as Quality Control Officer and Club Officer.) Still later he flew the F-111s out of Korat AB, Thailand and was assigned to the Command Post at Udorn AB.
Again, returning to the US, Col Piowaty was assigned as an instructor at the Air Command and Staff College and then as an advisor at the Iranian Staff College (and was there up to the time of the Iranian Revolution.) Follow-up assignments were as follows: Operations Officer, AT-38 Fighter Lead-in, and Maintenance Squadron Commander.
Lt Col Piowaty retired from the US Air Force on January 1, 1982 after almost 28 years of service. Along the way he earned Bachelor and Masters degrees from Troy State University. He also completed SOS, ACSC, and ICAF.
John’s first civilian job found him as Regional Manager for Pepsi Cola in Midland, Texas – a position he held for two years. While in Texas he served as President of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association. His love for flying soon had him back in the cockpit flying C-123 aircraft as a gunrunner for Ollie North to Nicaraguan Contras.
John was also a Tech Writer for Northrup Corp., a Lear Jet Captain on electronic jamming missions under contract, and as a C-123 captain flying for two years on anti-drug missions to Columbia and Peru.
Somewhere along the way he decided teaching school would be a meaningful activity and for three years he taught school in Baguio, The Philippines. When he is at home he is a storyteller to children of all ages – from pre-school to senior high school.
Currently, and since 1996, John is a pilot for AirScan, Inc. flying surveillance missions in Columbia, Angola and Kosovo. John and Etsuko decided in 1972 to go their separate ways.
He met his current wife, Dana, while attending a class thru Troy University at Maxwell AFB. They married in 1974 and together they served in Thailand, in Iran until the revolution, as well as in Peru and Colombia. They have three children, two sons and a daughter. His wife, Dana, enjoys his occasional returns to their home from which he often pens letters to the local newspaper on any and all subjects.
UPDATE (January 1, 2011):
After 48 years of flying, 75 years of living, and 14 years in aerial surveillance, including the skies of Iraq, I am retiring effective 6 December 2010. Living in Titusville FL with a custom-built bar in the front room. Dark and light beer on tap. Come lift a glass! Have published “Stories for the Telling”, and trying more writing and storytelling.