I have decided to go by the name Will (I used Bill too long and finally recognized my name is Will-I-Am so decided Will was best.)
Prior to joining the USAF, I had lived in a few places. I don’t remember much beforehand, but I remember that I attended the first three years of school in Leominster, Mass – my parents were both from Mass. Oh, yes, I must say that I was born in San Diego, CA on 9 October 1936. You see my dad was a seaman/officer in the US Navy. I find it interesting to think about now that everyone knows what’s happening in Iraq, etc., but when I was young there in Leominster, I didn’t recognize anything about war – although I guess there were air raid drills. Then the war ended and dad was assigned to the Washington DC area so we moved there as I recall at 428 Delafield Place in NW DC. I finished grade school in a school the next block behind my house, then went on to McFarland Junior High from which I graduated in 1951. That was six years which, until I moved here, was the longest I’d lived in any one place. The next thing was my dad was transferred to Pearl Harbor so we moved there and lived on the east end of Honolulu up MaunaLani Heights in a beautiful home on the side of the mountain with a view from Diamond Head straight ahead to the far west end of the island. Dad hadn’t owned an automobile before but bought one there. Honolulu was a grand place at that time known as Honolulu T H and there were only two hotels along the beach – The Ala Moana and the Royal Hawaiian hotels. In those days visitors came to the island on the Lurline or other ocean liners, flying wasn’t a means of too much travel then. There I attended Roosevelt High and had a grand time. Then in 1953 Dad was reassigned to Norfolk, VA and I had to finish high school – my last year there.
I enlisted in the USAF in May 1955 there in Norfolk. (I should add that I had placed a year with the Marine Air Reserve in ordinance working on their F-4U Corsairs. I attended a short basic training with them in 1954.) I was sent to basic training at Sampson AFB, NY but because I had had the Marine basic earlier was put in a reenlistee flight so was only there three weeks. From there I went to aircraft maintenance school at Amarillo AFB and upon completion I was assigned to Stewart AFB, NY. I don’t recall the unit number but we had F-86D interceptors. I spent the remainder of my first enlistment there. After a short while I decided to reenlist and went to Mather AFB, CA serving with T-33 aircraft. This didn’t last too long and I believe in 6 months I was reassigned to Bitburg AB, Germany. There I was a crew chief on first F-100C aircraft and they transitioned to F-105D aircraft. While at Bitburg I decided to try the OCS test. I believe I had to take that twice before passing. was accepted there and went directly to Lackland AFB where I met all our guys in OCS.
Interestingly, my first wife, Pat, had become upset with me and wanted to leave Germany early to return home. I got her and our three children booked on a flight and she left me. While I was in OCS she obtained a divorce and that was that! Because I remained in the Air Force I lost track of the kids and that’s still the situation.
OCS was an experience! Like everyone else, I did what I had to do and was commissioned on that wonderful day in ’63 with all the rest of us. I had wanted to fly, but was turned down while in OCS because I’m partially color blind. Damn it!! I was returned to aircraft maintenance and had to go to a school – I can’t remember where. From there, my first assignment was to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona to the 303dBomb Wing. That was a shift – I’d been used to serving with fighter type aircraft only to end there with B-47s. Interestingly, that Wing was disbanded in six months so I tried and was accepted into the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing which flew the U-2 aircraft. I started off with them as the base flight maintenance officer – T-033s, a C-124, and some small recip aircraft.
After a short while, I began working with a drone program they had. The launch aircraft were DC-130s. With this our maintenance crews would load a drone on each wing, the aircraft would take off, and the crew would launch the drone(s) at pre-designated points. With these we acquired good photos. At that time the Viet Nam war was going on and we had an operating location (OL) there at Bien Hoa. There both U-2s and DC-130s operated. I spent seven months TDY (total) there for two occasions and was fortunate to see Bob Hope twice (in ’64 and ’65). While there we had a good chance to tour Saigon; it was really like just a vacation the way we moved around. I worked with the DC-130s/drones.
In ’66 I decided to volunteer for Viet Nam and went to Nha Trang as a maintenance staff officer. In that I had the seven months previous TDY they sent me to Otis AFB after seven months. Otis had the EC-121 aircraft and I was assigned to the Organizational Maintenance Squadron. This assignment wasn’t anything special, but I did find one thing here which has been very special to me since. I found my wife, Ursula, working as a secretary to the Chief of Maintenance. I had made the rank of Captain while in Viet Nam. Anyway she and I went out together and found we wanted to marry, so… Air Force decided they wanted to put me into recruiting and so assigned me to Denver, CO where I went in ’70. Ursula, with her three daughters, flew there and set up residency in a house I had purchased on Downing Street and we were next married in Littleton, CO..
I can’t say I ever liked recruiting. I was initially assigned to be the Detachment Operations officer, but took over command in a few months when the CO left. This was the largest Recruiting Detachment in the nation and I was responsible for the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and portions of South Dakota and Nebraska. This was an interesting assignment lasting two years. I next returned to Davis-Monthan but the unit had now been redesignated the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing still flying U-2. This time I worked with OMS again. I didn’t particularly like being back there so I began working on assignment to SAC headquarters. This I achieved and went there in ’73. This was a good assignment and I got my promotion to major in ’74. I now had finished 20 years so I decided to go to Guam where I went in ’75. I spent two years there with one typhoon and decided I’d retire in’77. I guess I had just become disillusioned with the Air Force so gave it up with 22 years service.
My next goal was to get a degree so I went to San Jose State University in CA and got a degree in Economics with distinction. I had to wait in that area because my mom had died and I was the executor for her estate. Ursula and I then thought about where we would go. CA was a high cost of living area which we didn’t want. We decided to go to Colorado Springs and I’ve been there ever since. We have a very nice home just north of town in the country. It’s 6/10s acre and across the street are the lower Air Force Academy grounds. This is nice because no one will ever build homes or anything else there.
Work-wise I really haven’t done that well since retirement. We bought apartments shortly after we got to CO and this grew a bit, but after 12 years we sold off as the market was turning against us and rentals were becoming difficult. From there I fiddled around with one thing or another but nothing has ever really worked out. I have even driven large trucks across the country, but gave this up when I found too much trouble backing the rigs.
Appeared as a commercial model in various bank ads and TV spots and was an “extra” in Walter Mathau’s “The Incident.” Last appeared in an ad for Long Branch Casino, which is still running on local TV. Which brings me to today. I would like to find something to add a little money to our monthly flow, but… I do draw Social Security and we do own our house and have three older autos so we’re not destitute – which is nice!