I was born in Detroit Michigan, moved to Chicago Illinois for a few years, and went to High School for two years in Rolla Missouri, a small town about a hundred miles from St Louis. We moved to South Miami Florida and I found home! I was the only poor kid to attend Coral Gables High School where I finished High School. I went to Garden City Michigan after High School to spend the summer with my Dad. My parents divorced when I was young, and I did not get to spend much time with him. My plan was to spend the summer, and go into the Air Force in the fall. A friend suggested I talk to the Air Guard people at Romulus Michigan, just a few miles from my Dad’s home. I didn’t really know much about the difference between active and reserve, and they made a good pitch, so I enlisted in the Air Guard.
I really wanted to be a pilot (doesn’t everyone?) but I was only seventeen and the minimum age for cadets was nineteen and a half. They suggested I enlist now (big surprise!) and go for cadets later. I selected aircraft maintenance and after thirteen weeks of basic at Lackland, went to Sheppard AFB for mechanics school. Upon return to my unit in Michigan I was assigned as a full time technician in aircraft maintenance. The technicians are the people who maintain the aircraft and base facilities for the day-to-day flight operations in reserve units. I worked on the flight line as a crew chief on F-89, F/RF-84F, and T-33 aircraft and was qualified as a flight mechanic/crew chief on C-47. After several years during which I married and had a son, my thoughts again turned to pilot training. The rules had changed, and you now needed a commission to go to pilot training. Some guys in the Guard were being given direct commissions, but I was not that lucky. OCS seemed to only path to the skies. Sadly, Hay Fever as a child shot me down in my attempt to fly as an Air Force pilot.
All bad! Second Class was by far the worst three months of my life, before or since. About two or three hours into the first day I realized what was going on. I decided right then I would not quit no mater what happened. I would not have made it had it not been for my faith in God. I prayed every day for the strength to survive the ordeal I was going through. I had a very difficult time particularly with the academics. I flushed a class in the first phase and had to live with the possibility of it all coming to an end if I failed another, even at the very end of the program. With all of the e-mail going back and forth and some of the bio’s I have come to realize I barely knew my classmates. The time was so stressful, and the schedule so artificially busy, we barely got to know each other. This is particularly true of classmates in the other squadrons. First Class was a little better, but there was still the cloud of an academic failure hanging over my head. OCS had evolved into an adversarial program. It was not there to train us to become officers, it was there to see if they could prevent us from becoming officers. I really feel that several potentially fine officers were driven out because they simply did not have the fortitude to withstand the constant harassment.
Life After OCS
Marc Levy and I reported to Aircraft Maintenance Officer School at Chanute right from OCS. With seven years maintenance experience it was an eight-month vacation! After completion, I really did not want to go back to Michigan, and returned to Florida instead. I transferred to the Air Force Reserve and became a reserve maintenance Officer in a C-119 unit. Went to college for a while and after a few computer courses, quit school to work as a programmer. Was on the faculty of Miami-Dade Junior College for five years teaching computer courses. The reserve unit transitioned to C-124’s and then to EC-121’s. I learned the EC-121 had a non-rated officer crewmember, and since I always wanted to fly, I volunteered to cross train as a Weapons Controller, even though I did not know what a Weapons Controller did! Flew the 121’s for about five years, becoming an instructor. I took leave from my civilian job and became what is known as a ‘reserve bum’. That is an individual who performs so many active duty days with the reserve he does not have or need a real job. The reserve flying programs could not survive without a few of these guys to jump in when needed. That came to an end and I got a computer job with the Navy in Pensacola Florida, and a maintenance officer job in a C-130 unit at Keesler AFB. After many years, including a few inactive, I was recalled to active duty by the reserve at Hq Air Force Reserve at Robins AFB Georgia. I was a Major, and was assigned as Director of Operations for the Air Force Reserve Recruiting Service. Fascinating job! I made Lt. Col and hated to leave. Unfortunately, I reached mandatory retirement point, and left active duty and retired from the reserve in 1991 after three years at AFRES.
I retired from Civil Service, from the Air Force, and collect Social Security. Shows what having two or three jobs at the same time throughout your life can do for you. I tend my roses, work on my model railroad, and fly as an instructor with the Navy Flying Club. We are also active in the local Corvette club. I would love to win the lottery so I could buy one more new Corvette before I hang it up. Judy and I have been married going on forty-five years, and have three sons and one grandson. Our youngest son is a C-130 instructor pilot at Keesler AFB. He is a reserve technician just like his dad was.