Francis Campbell

CampbellIf you are reading this, then I guess you’re a lot like me and just happy to get both feet out of bed at the same time. I hope you remember Judy, she’s in the picture with Charlotte Robinson and a couple of other ladies. Oh, by the way, I am Francis, “Campbell Fats, Campbell. Remember Louis, “Campbell Loose” Campbell. I’m probably the only guy to receive three yearbooks and I sent all of them for the display at Lackland. So I don’t know which page the picture is on. Hey, look it up in your own book! By the way, one of the pictures from OCS from Florida shows my brother from WWII. You can have my phone number because later you call me and we can play golf if you ever visit Phoenix. It’s funny, one of my favorite songs is the LINEMAN by Glen Campbell. It has that special line, “when I get to Phoenix, she’ll be rising.” I doubt that Glen knew Judy and I would settle near Phoenix, Arizona. So call 480-985-5870. If you get the machine, meet me at Painted Mountain Golf Course. Bring your Visa if you like to wager on the outcome as you wander the lush green fairways of my favorite venue. Tiger Woods never had it better! As an aside, I attended a coaches clinic in Lost Wages and Tiger’s high school coach was there and I got a copy signed of his book. More on golf later.

Someone, Bob Ackerman I think, sent me a letter with a suggested format for this word picture. I just want 63C to know that I also received the same format from a member of the dog robbers of 63B who just stuck on an address label over Bob’s name. That’s okay because you guys remember that we had to carry them when they became first class! I never thought of them as “first class.” 63B was the class I started with, but 63C is the class that I am proud to have finished with. Thanks, guys, for a great career.

Prior to joining the Air Force, my life was no different than many of you. Twelve years of school in Otsego, Michigan. Signed on in the summer of 1954 and stayed in until 19796. What I remember most is joining the military to get away from home. But it was like putting the rabbit in the briar patch, I even liked basic training!

I don’t think much about the past, such as my life as an enlisted member, mainly because I try to live for today. I must say right now that I am quite religious and I sincerely believe the New Testament admonishment to live today as if it is our last day.

I spent my enlisted time in Battlecreek, Michigan, and Selma, Alabama. I do want to relate one experience that maybe you can convince your grandkids to try: I was so timid that my first shirt called me into his office and made it clear that I needed to learn to speak in public. He had a civilian friend in Toastmasters and he recommended that I sign up to attend their meetings. I think I used that experience to color my whole life. I, who hated school, suddenly started college night school, competed for Airman of the Year, played on all our squadron’s sports teams. I have a picture somewhere of the volleyball team that won the 1969 Vietnamese Championship. I do recall that I worked my butt off during summer vacation so that I would have money for school and sports. We had to buy our own football shoes. Our school was small. We seldom had 22 players for practice. I played all sports because there simply were not enough players otherwise. One of my best memories is the highest score posted by a bowling team at Craig AFB, Alabama that lasted until the base closed. Here you need to turn to the next page because Ackerman said I had to limit this to two pages. I got two pages in a hotel once because I forgot to pay my bill. This was the uphill side, on to the downhill side. Amen!

Actually, there has been no real downside to my life. There have been some tense moments, like when I found out I had missed the International Relations test by ONE question and was going back to 63C. That turned into a blessing because Judy came to Texas and stayed with me as we made our way through the ranks until retirement.

OCS experiences: I will never forget the salt tablet drill. Rain hats, coats, full uniform and going up and down three flights of stairs until I passed out. I can picture Major Mier screaming at me if I wanted to quit? I was always able to tell myself to wait until tomorrow! So what I remember are the good times; John Robinson gaining 20 pounds in two days, my mother-in-law dancing at graduation with Col. O’Brien. She said that was her first dance since my father-in-law died. Somehow I get the feeling that we all remember the good times.

Allow me to condense 13 years into a few sentences. Judy and I were in Bentwaters, England from 1963 to 1967 on a classified assignment. From 67 to 68, I was in a Photo-Recon outfit at Barksdale AFB. I was a squadron commander there and it is a joy anytime you can command troops. Now I am going to brag! From 68 to 69, I was a Civil Affairs Officer in Vietnam. We were an extremely small group of Americans advising a VNAF Air Force Wing. I had the extra duty as headquarters squadron commander. To say that we were outstanding is an understatement. I know this because another duty was to prepare all the citations for awards and decorations. Our outfit, the 632nd Combat Support Group, received several unit citations and I personally received seven citations. I even ended up on the front page of the Air Force Times for my work with the Vietnamese people. I’ve never checked but people tell me I’m one of the most decorated not flying officers from that period. From 1969 to 1976, Judy and I spent the time until retirement at Williams AFB, Arizona. I do claim to be a jinx! Every base I’ve been stationed at except Lackland has closed. Bentwaters, Lowery, Craig, Williams. Oh, Barksdale is still open but I blew out a knee there and I’m still angry about that.

Now I need to condense 1976 to 2003 into the remaining space: No easy task, so I will list some of the things having an Air Force retirement and GI bill has allowed me to do: 76 to 78, bicycle mechanic and full-time student at Park College (BA 1978). OSCO drug stores and full-time student at New York State University (BS in 1979). 1979, full-time student at Arizona State University. Masters Degree in Education in 1981 with special emphasis on Community Education. 1978 to 1998, Mesa Public School system. 1978 to 1998, OSCO drug stores.

I mentioned golf. I want to end this by writing about a golfing career that began in 1956 and is still going strong today. I currently am the Ass’t Coach at Mesa Community College where I am certified to teach seven subjects. The main reason I can’t attend is we are going to qualify for the National Championship the same time that the reunion is going on. Again, I’m going to brag. Among other awards, I won the Base Match Play Championship at Williams and lots of local tournaments. I teach golf classes at the college. I could go on and on until you throw up. What I want to end with is a request that all my classmates from both classes pat themselves on the back and know that we did one GREAT job. Amen.