Harl M. Porter

PorterGraduated from Everett (Washington) Junior College in 1960 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. On 21 Sept. 1962 was graduated from Officer Candidate School (OCS), Class 63A (3rd Squadron) and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. On August 24, 1963 married Betsy Dabbs, a Biloxi, MS schoolteacher who I met at church while attending technical school at Keesler AFB, MS. 2nd Lt. Ed Sanford was the best man.

During 1963-1964 experienced the first of many tactical assignments (office was in a tent) at Cannon AFB, NM. 1st Lt. Paul Wilkins, my OCS roommate, was also stationed at Cannon AFB. During the period of 1966-1969 there were many 58 day TDY’s to Vietnam as a HQ Pacific GEEIA Region Installation Engineer while stationed at Wheeler AFB in Hawaii. I did not count against the SEA manpower ceiling limits as officially was only in Vietnam and Thailand for 29 days per country. Had enough TDY days in Vietnam to get credit for a short tour and earned seven campaign stars on my Vietnam Campaign Medal. During these three years traveled to all SEA Radar Sites and all SEA AF Bases, except U Tapao in Thailand. Deeply involved with Task Force Alpha at Nakhon Phanom in Thailand and Monkey Mountain & Dong Ha Radar sites in Vietnam.

On June 8, 1969 I graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree. Had started night school in 1964 and converted many night school classes to correspondence classes from Vietnam. Used OCS for 6-semester hours of upper division credit. During 1969-1970 was again a student at Keesler AFB, MS. Saw Hurricane Camille come ashore with 200 MPH winds. Capt. Ed Sanford was TDY to Keesler and a frequent guest in our quarters. During 1970 commanded (as a Captain) at Almaden AFS, CA and 682nd Radar Squadron op top of Mt. Ummunum (south of San Jose).

Earned an MBA degree on Dec. 26, 1973 in Management Science from the University of Colorado while assigned to HQ ADC. Went bootstrap, full time student, for my last semester. Most interesting remote tour in 1974 as the Communications and Electronics Advisor (as a Major) to HQ Royal Saudi Air Force in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Air Force section then consisted of only nine Communication Officers and two NCOs. Between the years 1975-1978 was assigned to 3rd Combat Communication Group at Tinker AFB, OK. Had two jobs: Deputy Chief of Maintenance (in Garrison) and Commander (when in Field) of TAB 402 (a 175-man Tactical Air Base Combat Communications Element). Living in a GP Medium tent and sharing C-Rations with four other officers and four senior NCOs created a “can do” team and a lasting camaraderie. I still keep in touch with these Officers and NCOs. Built, programmed, and “played with” a Digital Group PC (before Apple, Radio Shack or IBM PCs existed).

Assigned during 1979-1982 to HQ Ninth Air Force (as a Lieutenant Colonel) at Shaw AFB, SC. Was Director of Communications Operations and Chief of Communications Plans. Helped write the first Air Force War Plan (OPLAN 1001) and the Comm-Electronic Annex for Rapid Deployment Air Force Forces. Completed Air War College via seminar. Was my best Air Force assignment and best AF boss (Col. Bill Sickenberger). On December 7, 1982 received a regular commission to the U.S. Air Force. Assigned between 1982-1985, first to HQ Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and later to HQ United States Central Command as Chief of Communications. War Plans at MacDill AFB, FL. Was a challenging joint assignment. Spent four months TDY aboard the USS LaSalle, in the Persian Gulf, as the HQ CENTCOM Liaison Officer to Commander Middle Eastern Forces. Also, had many TDYs throughout the Middle East.

On May 30, 1985, I retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel after 25 years of service and 14 PCS moves. Decorations include: Joint Meritorious Service Medal, 7 Outstanding Unit Awards (2 with “V” from Vietnam), and 13 other awards and decorations. Probably spent more time wearing fatigues and living in a tent than most Army Officers. Shortly after retiring, received one of my OCS belt buckles back from Lt. Col. John Piowaty.

Was a Systems Engineer between 1985-1993 with Martin Marietta in Denver, CO. Worked three Air Force programs: Small ICBM Weapons Control System, ASAS/ENSCE (All Source Analysis System [Army] / Enemy Situation Correlation Element [Air Force] System, and Air Force Flight Planning System. Used my GI-Bill education benefits to earn a second Masters degree, a MS in Telecommunications, from the University of Denver. Asked to be recalled for Desert Storm to join Ninth Air Force deployed but was told if time on active duty was over 30 years then they did not want me.  And if recalled, could only expect to backfill someone in the CONUS. During the years 1993-2000 have served as a Systems Integrator with Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, PA. Was Chief Engineer for the Defense Dissemination System. Can’t talk about job, other than it was a great job (as good and as rewarding as when was in uniform at HQ Ninth Air Force).

Still am happily married to Betsy and we have two married grown children (Belinda and Earl) and four grandchildren. Retirement is good. I try to spend one day a week working for Habitat for Humanity as an electrician and teach one night a week. We currently own a 38-foot Hunter sailboat which is kept on the eastern shore of Upper Chesapeake Bay. Have a USCG Captains License and are Coxswain Qualified in the USCG Auxiliary (where I wear my AF blue summer uniform with Coast Guard insignia). I am very involved with United States Power Squadrons. Was Commander (in 2001) of Main Line Power Squadron, Philadelphia western suburbs and have just completed as principal author the USPS Global Positioning System Learning Guide (paperback book) for Recreation Boaters.