I was born in Vicksburg, MI in 1936. Graduated from Richland HS in 1954. Attended Western MI Univ. 54-58 (majors in Aviation and business) (no degree).
Enlisted in the Air National Guard in June 1954. Progressed through the ranks to SSGT in Aircraft Maintenance while attending college and (after), in home construction.
First married in 1958 with sons in 1959 and 1961. After an Air Force rules change allowing married guys to go to pilot training, I took and passed entrance exams and was accepted for OCS and Pilot Training under an ANG quota.
I “breezed” through OCS while earning the title of Ramp Champ for walking off more tours on the Bomb Run than anyone else in the class. I remember spending considerable time in a Brace on-the-wall. I remember changing clothes pretty often, shining lots of shoes and belt buckles, and frequent haircuts.
I remember square meals and bleaching the stairs with a toothbrush. I remember studying in the closet with a flashlight and the Bible handy (in case a First Class opened the door). I remember standing through most of my classes so I wouldn’t fall asleep. I had worked construction before I got there and was fairly slim, but I lost 26 pounds the first two weeks. The second half is a blur, I only remember being able to eat, some parties, and 4-H.
After OCS, I went to Williams AFB for Pilot Training. A lot of hard work, exams, checks and re-checks, more hard work, more re-checks but I made it through.
I went back to the ANG at Battle Creek, MI and flew the RB-57 (A, B, C, and E models). Over the years, I also flew the U-3, C-47, C-54, C-131, O-2, and the A-37. After getting a combat-ready upgrade, I worked in industry for a year, then got a full-time job at the ANG in Dec. of 1965 and worked as both full-time (Mon-Fri) and as a “Week-end warrior” for the next 23 years. During that time I worked up to Tactical Squadron Commander (270 folks including A/C Maint and 35 pilots). The last few years, I was Chief of Safety. I had about 4500 hours of flying time including 2200 Instructor, Stan Eval Check and Test pilot. I was also an Aircraft Accident Investigator.
As you may remember, I’m fairly tall and most cockpits are a little cramped for me. I had a great time flying, but the G-stress caused arthritis in most parts of me and I finally gave it up. I also wasn’t that crazy about chemical warfare gear and training, so after 34 years, in Dec. of 1988, I retired as a Lt. Colonel and Command Pilot.
Since then I’ve sold stocks and bonds, insurance, aircraft parts, cars, and RVs. I enjoyed the RVs best and I still sell tow trailers for a local dealer – on an as-I-feel-like-it basis (I don’t really want to work). My last year in the Military, I finally finished college – a BS with a 4.0 average. The degree didn’t help at this point, but it was a personal goal.
I remarried 20 years ago. We built a house in Battle Creek, MI two years ago and spend a lot of our time working in and around it. We have 4 boys and 1 girl and 6 grandkids. Two of the boys are in Indiana; the girl is in Battle Creek and two boys in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After we leave this reunion, we’ll go to Fort Worth for a grandson’s HS graduation.
We enjoy traveling in our Fifth Wheel; however, a lot of our trips end up around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Alaska and Europe are future goals as finances allow. We both enjoy golf as well as travel.