Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Denny's History

Following graduation from USAFA, I married the former Betsy Fowler of Duluth, Minnesota, and we proceeded to Williams AFB, AZ, for pilot training. In 1965, we moved to Reese AFB near Lubbock, TX, where I was a T-37 IP.

When the call came for Vietnam duty, I was surprised to be assigned to fly UH-1N helicopter gunships in Special Operations. Not fast or high, but it was fun and rewarding flying.

On returning to the US, I attended graduate school at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, in Engineering Physics - Laser Optics and was then assigned to a career-broadening assignment at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, NM, in 1974. I became involved in the Airborne Laser Laboratory development, culminating in the use of its huge laser in a C-135 aircraft to shoot down AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles and BQM-34 drone aircraft in flight using only the laser during 1983 demonstrations. I remained at Kirtland AFB until my retirement in 1985.

After retirement from the Air Force, I joined R&D Associates (later Logicon, Northrop Grumman, and TASC through corporate acquisitions and a spin-off). I continued to work in high-energy lasers supporting the Strategic Defense Initiative, the Air Force, and Missile Defense Agency on programs such as the Starlab project that was to have flown on the Space Shuttle and on the Airborne Laser ballistic missile defense development. On Starlab, I was the Air Force's Chief Scientist and was designated as one of the two Payload Specialists to have flown with the experiment had the program gone to space.

In 1999, two other former Air Force laser scientists/engineers and I founded the Directed Energy Professional Society, which is today the premier professional organization for education and communication in the fields of high-energy lasers and high-power microwaves.

I retired from TASC in 2010 and now Betsy and I enjoy travel and time with our two sons, Tom and Chris, and grandchildren in the D.C. area.

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