Donald E. Reese


Early Life

Born in Kenton, Ohio in 1940 and spent life in that town through high school. Was in track, baseball and band. Graduated in 1958. Attended Ohio Northern University for a year.

Enlisted Life

Enlisted in the Air Force in 1959. Went to guidance system mechanic school at Lowry AFB. Went to Suffolk Count AFB on Long Island, New York. Worked on GAR (AIM) and BOMARC missiles. Married in August 1961. Received orders to Goose Bay, Labrador, in 1962. Was in 28th day of 30 day leave when orders were changed to OCS.

OCS Memories

First memory of OCS is walking up the first class sidewalk on the first day. It was like stirring up a nest of fire ants. They came from everywhere! Got in the drum and bugle corps because they got the first open base. Learned to play “Mountain Dew.” Enjoyed nearly every minute of it – wouldn’t want to do it again.

Life After OCS

First assignment after OCS was Avionics Officer School at Lowry AFB. Was then assigned to Kadena AB, Okinawa (before reversion)(15th TFW, PACAF). Went to Duluth AFB, Minnesota (29th Air Division and the 343rd Fighter Group) Air Defense Command. Was selected for regular while at Duluth. Spent a year in Vietnam with Security Service in Nha Trang and then Tan Son Nhut. Left Vietnam for ADC headquarters, Ent AFB, Colorado. Spent three years with the IG mainly on the ORI team. While at Ent I completed my BA in political science at Southern Colorado State College. After Ent, was moved to Lowry AFB to help start up the Maintenance Staff Officer course. Taught staff level courses to U.S. and allied officers for three years. Went to night school and got an MPA from the University of Colorado. Went to Kliene Brogel AB, Belgium (USAFE) to support Belgian 10th Fighter-Bomber Wing. Returned to U.S. and was assigned to Tyndall AFB, Florida (ADC and then TAC). Was maintenance project officer for the William Tell Weapons meet in 1982. Ended my career at the Air Defense Weapons Center as the Maintenance Control Officer.

I retired in July 1983 with 24 years and two weeks of active service. During that time I was assigned at every level from branch to MAJCOM. I think I enjoyed everyone of the assignments-some more than others. I completed Squadron Officer School, Command and Staff School, Air War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF). I was awarded three AF commendation medals, two meritorious service medals and the Bronze Star. I retired as a lieutenant colonel.

When I retired, I began teaching as an adjunct at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City. Five years later, I was given a series of one-semester contracts while the regular faculty attended training. When the project was completed, I was offered a full-time tenured track position. I have been full time for nine years now.

Life Today

This July, I will be taking over as the Division Chairman of the Social Sciences Division. While at Gulf Coast, I have been the outstanding professor twice and the outstanding academic advisor once. The Air Force made me realize I was a ham and liked to be in front of people. I am also a member of the Citizens’ Leadership Institute and moderate forums to help resolve political issues.

I plan to retire from teaching in three years and then find another career. Twenty-four years in the Air Force and 23 years teaching work out about right. Now I need to find a 22 year career. (At that rate, I may never get around to checking out.)

Sue Ellen and I are still together (42 years this August). My oldest daughter (Veronica) is a department manager in a K-Mart in Knoxville, TN. She was a project manager when K-Mart was upgrading their stores but the travel got to be too much (too much TDY). Daughter number 2 (Jennifer) graduated from Florida State University and is now a vice president with Bank of America in Charlotte, NC. My son (Donald-not a junior) got an AA and AS degree from Gulf Coast and is working part-time toward an electrical engineering degree at Florida State. He is also the research lab manager at Ipso USA that makes industrial size laundry equipment.

After I retire, we hope to travel more. We want to go back to Europe and spend some time there. Sue Ellen’s father, most of her family, and many of my family still live in Ohio so we want to get back there. There are several projects in and outside the house that need to be done and I’ll probably have to find a third career or I’ll go crazy.