One Man’s Losing Struggle Against Obscurity
Long after pondering the elusive mysteries of Alpha Flight’s ABO, Officer Candidate Becker continues to suffer from indecision. While his marriage to the unwary Diane eight days after graduation has proven to be a good judgment (on his part, at least), a synopsis of the ensuing 482 months should put to rest any lingering doubts about the depth of his confusion:
- Following one tour at March AFB as Exec of a Combat Defense Squadron and another in Intelligence at Bolling AFB, he left the USAF in 1965 to join the U.S. State Department. The Becker’s first child, Colleen, was born in Washington, D.C. in this period.
- His next stop was Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he served as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Embassy. During an early-morning fire-fight outside of a downtown clinic, their second child, Mary Ellen, entered the world.
- Withdrawing his snout from the public trough, he joined WR Grace & Company’s New York headquarters in 1967. By mid-1968, he was assigned as Assistant to the President of the company’s Ecuadorian subsidiary in Guayaquil (very courageously dubbed the “Pearl of the Pacific”). While enduring her husband’s involvement in building and selling banana boxes, sugarcane-based paper, and tropical paints, Diane gave birth to Tom Junior (who, twenty-three years later, would graduate from the Air Force Academy).
- Returning to the U.S. in 1970, he settled in Tucson. There, he revived his old passion of flying, completed his commercial, instrument, and multi-engine ratings, and set up a small-scale aircraft refurbishing and charter business (at this point, it is germane to note that he has not occupied the left seat since 1981, and today has his hands full just walking). In the company of partners during this time, he also took over and managed a clay roof-tile plant in northern Mexico and launched a Spanish-language investment newsletter for consulting clients in Latin America.
- In 1977, the family moved to Albuquerque, where Tom enrolled as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico. All that OCS memory-work training finally paid off for him as he completed an MBA, an MA in Latin American Studies, and a PhD in International Business.
- There followed a number of years alternating between being a university professor, Fulbright Scholar, consulting, or running international economic development projects. Passports that were weary of Tom’s geographic confusion logged a total of 61 countries, including work in 28, and residence in seven.
- Succumbing to indecision once more, he began to work with humanitarian and church groups several years ago, becoming involved in micro- and small-business related projects in Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico. When in the U.S., he did similar work with several Latino immigrant groups.
- Although he was frantically preoccupied with shining his belt buckle and removing wooly buggers and cables from his civilian uniform as the OCS reunion date approached, Tom was able to deliver the final draft of his new book, Doing Business In the New Latin America, to the publisher.
- At this writing, the Beckers are deciding whether to return to work in Latin America or live as semi-retirees in Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico. Tom says he’s weighing his options. Diane says he’s suffering from indecision . . . still!