Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History

The Life and Times of Rich Bedarf (Abridged)

My tale starts the same as most of yours, with my first solo flight from New York to Denver and a bus ride to Colorado Springs. I spent the night in a motel opposite the Navaho Hogan and caught one of the early busses to the Academy. I remember arriving at the base of the Ramp , swearing an oath, losing my hair and learning to salute, but the rest of the day is pretty much a blur, other than the trip to supply and hauling two heavy bags to the fifth floor of the dorm. I guess the rest is a suppressed memory. Following the summer of fun, I moved into the 19th squadron and found myself rooming with Brett Dula. Thank God for Brett's mom, even though some of the food packages contained smoked oysters. Between trips to the C-Store for ice cream and helping Brett get ready to march tours, the year was filled with endless opportunities to excel. Hell Week and Recognition Day came just in time.

The next three years went by pretty fast… ZI field trip (first flight in a real jet fighter… F-101 at Hamilton AFB), third class year, Northern European field trip (paired with 3RD Lieutenant at Wiesbaden AB and a 30 day leave spent roaming around Europe, second class year, BCT (I was scheduled to go to jump school at Fort Benning following BCT but Joel Aronoff took me skydiving up in Boulder that spring and I figured that qualified as jump training so I opted out and took the leave instead…one of my better decisions), last year and graduation parade. Who can forget the parade in the fog? Somewhere in there I recall a last minute trip to Chas's bar for a few rounds of “Golden Dreams”. All in all, four years well spent, or misspent, depending on your point of view.

Following graduation, without stopping at Go, I was off to Grad school at Purdue. Roger Head, Jim Sue, Larry Besch and John Boles and I roomed together.. Those 7 months, while challenging, were a welcome time out in the civilian world following USAFA. We graduated in Feb, 65 and were off to flight school. I was assigned to Vance AFB in OK along with Gary Mathis. When it came time to select follow-on assignments, the choices were back seat F-4, UPT Instructor, or heavies. Single-seat assignments were few and far between. I chose the F-4 and so began the odyssey that would end in 1982 with some 3000 hours of F-4 time. It began with Basic Survival at Stead, Radar School at DM and RTU at George (the first of three trips to this desert garden spot). Then off to SEA via Snake School at Clark.

I arrived at Ubon RTAFB, Thailand in Nov 66 and was assigned to the 433TFS in the 8th Wing. During that period, under the leadership of Robin Olds, I saw what it was really like to be a totally qualified, well respected and charismatic commander. The team of Robin Olds and Chappy James (Black Man and Robin) was a study in contrast and experience. While at Ubon, I was given the opportunity to serve a short time with the 601St Air Commandos at NKP. Another eye-opener. While there I flew several missions with TR Young in the O-1A as a FAC. It was a great assignment. Nine months later I had my 100 missions and was off again. The choices were limited; agree to return to SEA for a second tour in exchange for an upgrade to the front seat, or stay a GIB and go to Europe. I chose the upgrade and was sent to McDill.

The upgrade program at McDill was supposed to last 6 months, but, due to an unfortunate experience that resulted in my logging one more takeoff than landing on a training flight, I ended up staying there for a full year. Except for the “Martin-Baker back” it was a great assignment. The delay kept me out of the SEA rotation and in Oct 68 I was assigned to Misawa AB, Japan instead. This was just after the USS Pueblo incident so tensions were high. I was assigned to a squadron that had rotated up to Japan from SEA in response to the hijacking. I spent the better part of the two-year tour at Misawa TDY in Korea at both Taegu and Kunsan. Gotta love that Kimshe. While there I had the opportunity to see most of the Far East (Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, The Philippines, Hong Kong, and Bangkok) with side trips to India, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

SEA caught up with me following Misawa and I was sent to Phu Cat AB, RVN, following a detour to Sea Survival school in Florida and a few weeks leave. Whereas most of my prior combat missions had been in North Vietnam and Laos, the majority of these missions were in-country in support of US and Vietnamese ground forces. It was during this tour that I was promoted to Major.

In Nov 71, after some R&R in Australia, I moved to Norfolk, VA to attend Armed Forces Staff College. This “joint forces” training program was well run and provided the opportunity to interact with others in real world planning exercises. It was at AFSC that I met and married my wife, Regina. Talk about fast, our first date was in Feb, we got engaged over Memorial Day weekend in May and got married ten days later. Our honeymoon was an extended drive via my third Daniels Chevrolet Corvette back to George AFB in CA.

That assignment only lasted 18 months and we were off to the UK, first to Bentwaters (Asst Ops Officer, Chief of Stan/Eval, Chief of the Command Post) and then to Lakenheath as Commander the 492nd TFS. They say Squadron Commander is the best job, and they weren't lying. Had a great two years that included deployments to Italy, Norway, Germany, and Pakistan via Turkey, promotion to Lt. Col. and the birth on my two daughters Lesley and Gayle. But all things must end and with the movement of F-111s into Lakenheath, my squadron took our F-4s to the states and I was assigned to the National War College at Ft. McNair in DC in the Class of 78.

The year at NWC was both educational and relaxing, highlighted by an overseas trip to Germany, Rumania and Yugoslavia. But, in the summer of 1977 we were off again first to Langley (Director of Program Control and promotion to Colonel), George (DO for the first F-4G Wild Weasel wing), Cannon in NM (Vice Commander and … yes… I switched from the F-4 to the F-111D) and finally to the Pentagon in the DCS Requirements, first as Chief of the Fighter Division (RDQT) and then as Deputy Director in RDQ.

If I counted correctly, that's 16 PCS moves in just under 23 years, not a record, but respectable, and enough. We made the decision that it was time to retire and settle down for a bit so on the last day of Feb 87 I said goodbye to the Air Force and in Apr I took a job with McDonnell-Douglas and moved the family to St. Louis.

My 12 years with McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing, were an outstanding second career. I spent the entire time with the F-15 program initially in marketing but quickly moved into Program Management. I ran the FMS programs for Saudi Arabia and the Israel, and I led the effort in the Emirates. I became Director of Advanced Design for the F-15 and sowed the seeds for programs in Korea and Singapore and initiated efforts in Turkey, Egypt, and Greece. I think I did more international travel in these 12 years than in the 23 with Uncle Sam.

After 12 years I/we had had enough. Both girls had graduated from the Univ. of Missouri and were out of the nest. We felt the need for a change, so I retired for a second time and we moved to Virginia, bought some land, built a barn and a house, in that order, and settled in as “gentlemen farmer” and “equestrienne.” I was the farmer, and Regina was the equestrienne competing in Dressage, Hunter/Jumper and Combined Training events. A kidney transplant in 2008 slowed her down for a while, but she is now back at it. I went to work for a short time after 9/11 with the TSA, but that story is for another day.

As great as life is here in Northern Virginia, we are again feeling the wanderlust. As I write this, our farm is for sale. Number one daughter is having numbers 4 and 5 grandkids (twin girls) in a few weeks and we both feel the need to be closer to them. Soooo, Dallas, TX here we come...

To be continued… someday.
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