Life Prior to USAF
Born: Jamestown, NY; 20 Sept 1937. Attended Jamestown schools until my High School senior year when I dropped out and enlisted in November 1954 in Buffalo, NY and attended Basic Training at Sampson AFB, NY.
My first PCS assignment was 36 weeks in Airborne Communications Repairman Course at Keesler AFB, MS. I then spent four loooong, cooold years at Whiteman AFB, MO repairing radio equipment on KC-97s, B-47s, and various transient cross-country aircraft while on rotating weekend standby. (Think C-45, C-46, C-47, C-118, C-119, C-124, F-89, F-94 and T-33.) Does that bring back some memories to some of you OTHER old codgers?
To not work on a central Missouri flight line in winter, I applied for and attended Production Control School at Chanute AFB, IL. I returned to Whiteman AFB to work INSIDE THE BUILDING as a flight-line work-order dispatcher. They liked my work so well they rewarded me with a year in Sondrestromfjord Air Base, Greenland in 1959 / 1960. I worked as a Vehicle Maintenance Production Control Scheduler until my assignment to Carswell AFB, TX in late 1960 in the Avionics Squadron scheduling avionics equipment repair on B-58 aircraft.
That was when I first heard about OCS and an opportunity for an uneducated enlisted slob like me to become an officer and a gentleman by an act of Congress. It was during this time that I met and married Patricia Gay Conn in Fort Worth, TX in June 1962. In spite of all, she has kept me around all these years.
Memories of OCS
Unfortunately, my long-term memory is rather short-term and I only remember isolated incidents during OCS. Allotted space here is also short.
I know we all remember the “square meals” we were required to eat – sitting stiffly at attention while making that difficult vertical/horizontal move to get food from the plate into the mouth. I also remember with 63-B covering most of my breakfast food with jelly/jam to get some energy sugar into our system since we had so little time to eat due to the training. (Who said “training” in the dining hall? Not me!)
I remember standing at opposite ends of the parade grounds in the OCS area and having a “Command Voice” practice/competition with Jerry Mittleman. Turned out he always had the bigger mouth.
Most memorable was my 90-day stay in Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland AFB for a jaw operation to qualify me to apply for a flight physical. I was permitted to enter the hospital after I finished Second Class training with Class 63-B and return to OCS to graduate with Class 63-C.
Life After OCS
With plenty of help from God and family, I received my Pilot wings at Reese AFB, TX with Class 64-G in April 1964. I proceeded to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ to check out in the F-4C “Phantom II” en route to MacDill AFB, FL. There, I completed combat readiness training as a “Pilot Weapons System Officer” (PWSO) in the back seat and went TDY with the 47 TFS to Ubon Royal Thailand Air Force Base. We flew combat missions out of Ubon into Laos and North/South Vietnam until late November 1965. My first daughter, Michele, was born while I was in Ubon.
Upon our return, the “Guys In Back” (GIBs) were “offered” a chance to upgrade to Aircraft Commander and return to Viet Nam to complete a combat tour. This would be followed by a guaranteed assignment to Germany. I finished my combat tour in
December 1966 with 158 combat missions (100 “up North” and 58 “in country”) with 288 combat flying hours. Then to Hahn AB, Germany where I finished the majority of my F-4 flying career before rotating back to Reese AFB, TX in June 1969. My second daughter, Leona, was born while I was TDY to Wheelus AB, Libya for recurrent gunnery training. (Notice the pattern of my whereabouts when both of my girls were born?)
My tour at Reese AFB as a T-37 IP and Flight Commander was followed by Avionics Maintenance Staff Officer School at Lowry AFB, CO. However, after that, the Personnel Puzzle Palace decided instead, to send me to O-2A Forward Air Control training at Hurlburt Field, FL, and on to an isolated tour at Osan AB, ROK. Then they let me come back to England AFB, LA for my maintenance tour. While there, I was passed over for Major and got serious about college. With only 88 college credit hours on my records, the promotion board (with God’s help?) saw fit to promote me to Major. Then, wonder of wonders, I was later able to accept a Regular AF appointment.
In 1976, we went to Hill AFB, UT to join the 388th TFW to fly F-4s again. However, being out of the hardcore fighter pilot career ladder for so long, I ended up in the Wing Command Post doing liaison duty to the Air Logistics Command, who owned the Command Post. I later managed to get a secondary position flying F-4 Functional Check Flights after our wing maintainers finished repairs. (Read multiple Mach 1.5 test flights.)
After a short trip to Mehrebad AB, Teheran, Iran as a Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) Commander, I came back to Texas to be a Brigade Air Liaison Officer (ALO) with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.
I finished my career at Patrick AFB, FL between 1981 and August 1984 as an O-2A IP, FCF pilot/manager, and Wing Plans Officer. I retired as a lowly line-pilot Major after 29 years, 8 months, 8 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes. [But who counts?] We stayed in Florida for an additional two years while I finished my master’s degree in Information Systems.
Today, my wife, my two girls, and two grandsons (19 and 11 years old) live with or near me in Fort Worth and Arlington, TX. I am currently employed by American Airlines (anyone ever heard of them?) as a flight crew ground school instructor at the AA Flight Academy just south of the DFW Airport halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas. Tried to put my MIS degree to work with AA but couldn’t find a fit.
I will probably work another four and a half years until my house and car and equity loan are paid off. We plan on continuing with some non-profit agency/church volunteer work with lots of time off for loafing and some time for traveling, maybe train rides out west, and Niagara Falls frequently. We enjoy family and church friends on a regular basis and would love to hear from any of you whenever you have time to call or send e-mail or snail mail. Cheers and God’s Blessings on each of you and your families.