Thomas N. Lubbers

LubbersIn 1955, I enlisted at the end of summer after I graduated from high school at 17 and a half years old. I spent several years in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and was one of the first cadets to be awarded the CAP Certificate of Proficiency; this allowed me to enlist as A/3C. As the first airman to hit Sampson AFB with this certificate I had an interesting time. The powers that be assumed my enlistment orders were a misprint and went to great pains to correct the error. When I asked to see the Air Inspector I was scheduled to meet with first the Chaplin then a Shrink. From there it got interesting.

As an amateur radio operator, I was delighted to be selected as an airborne radio operator. However, they took off my glasses and said I couldn’t see well enough to be an airborne operator so I went through the ground operator course. Except for learning to type, the course was a breeze. I remember the incentive; distinguished graduate gets his choice of available assignments. I was top in my class and along with the other L’s and most of the M’s in the class, went for a year in the sand in Saudi Arabia. When I returned to the states it became obvious that the prestige of a good Morse code operating ground radio operator was dying rapidly. I kept applying for electronics maintenance courses; meanwhile, there were attempts to cross radio operators at base level and the bad news was we knew how to type.

I eventually got into airborne radio and radar maintenance and was retained as an instructor at Keesler where I stayed until I was selected for OCS Class 63C.

After OCS and a trip back to Keesler for the Avionics Officer Course, I left there for MacDill as an Avionics Officer. I was rather amazed to see six squadrons of F84′s which had been reclaimed from the guard for the Cuban Crisis. Later we were the first base to get the shiny new F-4C’s. Before getting sent on any of the deployments to SEA I was sent PCS to Saigon. That was at the beginning of the build-up in ’65. There were troops falling all over each other and lots of chiefs and no Indians. After the big mortar attack on Tan San Nhut, I was sent up country to Nha Trang. The 14th Air Commando Wing was more fun, all prop planes, psychological warfare birds, gunships, flare ships, and A1E’s.

I followed that with a few years at 12th AF HQ (TAC). I got out of that zoo by getting a slot in Comm Staff Offers course. From there I went to SAC HQ and spent the rest of my 20 years on the Post Attack Command and Control System. I was a Communications controller on the SAC airborne command post (Looking Glass). The additional duty there was Deputy Missile Commander. I did get a key turn in 3 Minuteman launches.

I retired as Captain in August of 1975. Non-rated no degree didn’t give much of a chance for Major. I did get a college degree (composite major in social science) about 3 months before retirement. Post-retirement I spent my GI bill on a Secondary School teaching degree and a Masters in EKONOMIKS. Look at the 63C Shave Tail and you may see the humor in my Masters in economics. Mis-spelling economics on one of Gardner’s Pop quizzes caused me lots of grief.

I never did get a full-time teaching job. After several years as a personnel manager at the world’s largest manufacturer of embalming fluid and several years in the same capacity with a small electronics firm, I got out of the industrial full-time work. After that I worked full-time at a lot of part-time teaching jobs, adjunct faculty at several local colleges. Also was home tutor for kids unable to attend full-time classes.

Now spend my time with Amateur Radio and traveling to several bull riding competitions (Spectator and stock contractor, not rider!) per year.

I have a web page at