Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History

Free at last, free at last!!! That pretty much summed up the feeling upon graduation. Although I had dreamed of flying, failed eyesight pointed me in a different direction. A classmate had been dating the daughter of the base engineer at Lowery and after talking with the colonel, Civil Engineering sounded like an interesting place to be if you couldn't fly.

The day after graduation, my cadet sweetheart and I were married at the base chapel at Lowry. After trips to visit family in Texas and Virginia, we headed to Wright Patterson for the Base Civil Engineering course, then back to Lowry where I began my Civil Engineering career as an engineer in the Engineering Dept. After about a year in Engineering, I moved into the BCE Planning and Programming office. Then in May 1966 I got orders to U-Tapao Air Base in Thailand. That was a very challenging year. The base was 7 months old when I arrived on July 4th and the first KC-135 (and in fact the first airplane) would not land for nearly two more months. It was truly amazing to see a base grow from 700 people to over 3500 in the space of a year. By Christmas we had started to turn B-52s around from Guam with fuel and ordinance and by April there were 15 based at U-Tapao.

In July 1967 I reported to Hq Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs and worked in the programming shop. In the fall of 1968 I received a graduate slot at Texas A&M and reported there in February 1969. I completed a Masters program in Industrial Engineering and graduated in June 1970. Next stop was Hq Military Airlift Command, working in the Operations and Maintenance Div of the Civil Engineering Directorate. Over the next three years a lot happened both professionally and personally. Professionally I was selected to help author the primary base maintenance management manual for the Air Force and help train the other command representatives in its implementation. Got to do a lot of traveling to all of the MAC bases including the Azores, plus a lovely week long trip to Wake Island. Then in July 1971 I remarried and gained two wonderful kids, Annette (age 7) and Kevin (age 6). Life changed dramatically to include house, family, community involvement,trips to the zoo and everything in between.

In June 1973 we all loaded up and headed to Izmir,Turkey for a two year assignment as a technical representative for facilities maintenance to the contracting officer. It was a great learning experience for us all - living on the economy with Turkish landlord and neighbors. It was a great experience for everyone with lots of historical sites to visit plus excursions to other parts of Europe, but the best experience of all was the birth of our son, Chris. He was born in August 1974 at the tail end of the little fracus between the Turks and the Greek Cypriots which had grounded most commercial and military flights throughout the country. My wife got to spend nearly two months at Adana Air Base waiting for Chris to arrive while I stayed in Izmir with Annette and Kevin.

In July 1975 we returned to the States and went to Castle AFB in California where I was the Director of Programming and then later the Director of Operations and Maintenance with 93rd Civil Engr Sq. The work was challenging and the location afforded many trips to San Francisco, Monterey and Yosemite. Kevin and Annette got involved in little league and I got to experience little league football coaching. Coaching was a lot of fun, even with the parents. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and I learned it was time for another remote tour. In January 1978 I departed for Kunsan AB, Korea while the family stayed at Castle.

Those of you that have been to Kunsan will know what I'm talking about when I say that it is undoubtedly the coldest and hottest place on earth. As the Director of Operations and Maintenance of the 8th Civil Engr Sq snow removal was part of our job and within the first week on base, we had a 6 inch snowfall that luckily fell mostly at night so it didn't impact any scheduled aircraft operations and we were able to stay ahead of it. Probably the most exciting and challenging event occurred in the Spring when a combat surge exercise was scheduled. The wing safety officer found that the concrete in the turn area was in such bad shape that a FOD hazard existed and the area couldn't be used in its current condition. The base engineer came up with the idea of using runway bomb damage repair kits to overlay the area for the exercise. So using our workforce plus labor from some of the other base units and every available kit in the area, we were able to complete the job in 7 days, just hours before the first sorties launched. We had to use the aluminium matting in places and ways it was never intended to be used, but luckily we had a really talented group of NCOs that came up with innovative ideas to overcome the problems that came up during the surge. Finally in July, I was able to get home on leave to see the family.

Luckily I already had my follow on assignment to Tyndall AFB so during the leave home, I got the family moved to Panama City, FL. Everything fell into place and we were able to find a new house that was nearing completion so the kids were able to enroll in school and get settled while I finished up the tour in Korea. So in January 1979 I reported to the Air Force Engineering and Services Center at Tyndall. This was a newly established organization that was composed of elements of the Air Staff that had moved from the Pentagon within the past year and included parts of the Services elements that guided operations of the commissary, base exchange, food services plus a number of engineering functions. The Center was commanded by BG Duke Wright and it was an exciting and challenging time. Roles and responsibilities were being defined and relationships with the remaining elements at the Pentagon were being established. Over the next 5 1/2 years, I held several key staff positions at the Center and worked with some pretty amazing and dedicated people, both military and civilian. But about half way through that period, I realized that I didn't want to uproot my family again. By this time Annette and Kevin were well established in high school, their mother was pursuing her doctorate in education and I knew that there was slim to none opportunity for me to get to general office rank. So I told Gen Wright that I planned to retire at 20 and that I'd like to stay at Tyndall if at all possible. And he was able to accommodate that wish. So on June 30, 1984 I called it quits and opened a new chapter in my life.

Living in the community for over 5 years, I had come to know and make friends with a number of civilians that lived in our neighborhood. One of those friendships led to my resume being reviewed by the Sr VP for Administration at the Univ of Ala at Birmingham (UAB). He offered me a job as a special projects officer assisting with budgeting, staffing and special projects. So the family moved to Birmingham, built a house, and started a different chapter to our life. Annette was a sophomore at Florida State and Kevin had just graduated from high school and decided to start at UAB.

The next four years would prove to be a period of turbulence personally and professionally. After two years at UAB, a friend from my Panama City days who was now the General Manager and VP of a car dealership in Birmingham asked me to consider joining them as the manager over their fixed operations (service department, body shop and parts). I was bored with the university environment and made the jump. A year later, the dealer sold the business and I was out of a job. And while I was soul searching about a job, I did the same with my personal life and my wife and I separated. I joined an automotive service consulting firm that I had become acquainted with while working at the dealership, but after 8 months decided that week in and week out on the road was not my "cup of tea". Back to searching for a job, but I started the searching while working for a temporary agency. My first temporary assignment was with a local Birmingham bank. The temporary assignment lasted nearly 8 weeks and before it was over I was offered a job with the bank as a project manager and started to work with SouthTrust Bank in October 1988.

This marked yet another turning point in my life both professionally and personally. While working as a consultant, I had started dating someone I had met while working at the car dealership. I knew immediately after our first date that she was someone very special that I didn't want to lose. Patty and I were married on April 1, 1990 in Maui and the past 21 years have truly been an incredible journey. This is us back on Maui last spring for our 20th wedding anniversary.

My time with SouthTrust was challenging and rewarding. SouthTrust was already a growing regional bank, but the ensuing S&L crisis provided huge opportunities for growth through acquisition. I was in the right place at the right time and helped develop the project management process for analyzing potential acquisitions and then integrating acquired organizations into SouthTrust operationally. I saw the bank grow from about $6 billion in assets to over $50 billion and one of the largest regional banks in the Southeast. Then in 2004 the bank was acquired by Wachovia Bank and my department was one of those that was absorbed by Wachovia. I was very fortunate that by the time the acquisition was completed, I had sufficient time with the bank and was old enough that I could take early retirement. So in December 2005 I retired as a Sr Vice President after 17 years with SouthTrust.

While this marked yet another chapter in my life, it was by no means the most significant. In May 2002 Patty and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That was the most significant event in all of my life. In 60 years I had been searching for something. I always felt that there was something more that I wasn't quite getting. Despite promotions, accolades, salary increases, alcohol, numerous affairs, and pornography, I could never fill that empty feeling that wouldn't go away. Now I know what I was missing all of those years--a relationship with Jesus. The Scriptures say that with Christ in you, you become a new person and I certainly believe that is true. It has certainly changed my life.

The five years since retirement from SouthTrust have been such a blessing. I've learned all kinds of building skills in renovating 2 buildings for new church starts, 4 mission trips to Mexico to build churches and 4 mission trips to Peru, 2 of which were building trips. I've been very involved with my church and have been serving in leadership positions for the past 6 years as well as leading small group studies. I really feel like I have finally begun to live the life that God created me to live. I just feel so very blessed.

Patty and I have both been blessed with good health, a love for the outdoors and travel, and a mutual love of God that has brought us closer and closer together. And I'm so proud of my kids. They are all good, solid people who have great character. Annette and her husband Tracy live in Arlington, TX where she works for the Dept of Homeland Security.

Kevin and his wife Debbie, along with our granddaughter Brianna (13 yrs) live in Atlanta where he's a consultant in the healthcare industry.

And Chris and his wife Maggie live in Orlando. He sells water treatment equipment to municipalities in the southern half of Florida and they just provided us a grandson, Spencer, who was born in early December 2010. So life for us is very good indeed.

The one thing I wish I could change would have been to have had Christ in my life all along and to have made sure that Annette, Kevin and Chris had been raised with strong spiritual influences. All I can do at this point is to continue to pray that they will find Him at some point. Kevin accepted Christ last year and is already seeing the blessings of a God filled life. I am thankful for the opportunities I received from my association with the Academy and the Class of 1964. There were many lessons learned there that had tremendous influence on my life through the years. And while some classmates have had huge impacts on the world, our nation, and the Air Force, I think most of us have impacted our immediate surroundings and local communities in meaningful ways. I pray that will continue to be so.

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