Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Bob's History

I grew up in a small city in upstate New York. When I was five years old I was walking with my uncle who was a bombadier in WW II. Looking up, I saw something high in the sky and asked what it was. My uncle said it was an airplane which didn't mean much to me. Then he said, "There are people in it." I said, "I'm going to be up there one day." That was the start of an interesting and wonderful life in aviation.

After graduation from high school in 1957, I immediately enlisted in the Air Force. The aviation cadet program only required a high school education, so I was on my way I thought to realizing my dream. Unfortunately the requirements changed to a college education so I was stuck for four years. I applied to the nav cadet program which still had only a high school education requirement. Someone from personnel sent my request to the Air Force Academy instead. Well, I didn't make it to the class of '63, but was offered the opportunity to attend the USMA prep school since the Academy did not have one. So I went and made it to the great class of '64.

After graduation, I went to Laredo AFB, Texas, class 66-A. After I got my wings, I went immediately to Davis-Monthan AFB for F-4 training as a pilot systems operator and then on to the 81st Tac Ftr Wing, RAF Bentwaters, UK. Never did go to survival training. The legendary Robin Olds had left the Wing while I was in training,so I missed working for a true leader. My time in England was short lived. I was assigned to the 389th TFS, DaNang AB, Viet-Nam and arrived in December 1966. I flew 132 combat missions and left in August 1967. I was flying MIG Cap the day Ed Mechenbier and Kevin McManus bailed out and heard their radio calls. I was in the 5th cadet squadron with Kevin and had Ed as my partner in jungle survival EE. Not a good day!

After I finished my 100 mission tour "up North" I went back to Laredo AFB as a T-37 instructor. From there I went to Perrin AFB, Texas as a PIT instructor. With the closing of Perrin I was assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB, Texas as a member of Stan/Eval. With ATC Headquarters on Randolph AFB,I was able to get a rated supplement assignment to RAF Upper Heyford, UK as a Field Training Detacment commander. It was a great assignment allowing me the time to get a master's degree and see the England I missed on my first tour. My assignment back to the states was to fly the C-5A. That came as a surprise. I signed in PCS to Dover AFB,Del and waited a couple of months for a class date to Altus, OK. On day one of training we were told that the MAC commander told Congress that only the most highly skilled pilots with at least 2000 hours flying in the C-141 would pilot the C-5. No one in the class fit the description and all but one were TDY enroute to their assignment. Since it would requires SecDef approval for a PCS move in the same year, I went through training as a class of one. The training environment was relaxed, to say the least, and of course I graduated number one in my class.

On returning to Dover, I checked out in all phases of flying. Dover also enabled me to apply some of the writing skills that I learned at the Academy. Shortly after returning from my initial training in the C-5, the squadron exec asked me if I could write. Having been exposed to a lot of it at the Academy, I said yes and became the second squadron exec. officer. That led to working as the wing exec. I had the pleasure of working for three superb wing commanders who were promoted to general. The work was fun and got me an assignment to Norton AFB, California as the commander of the field maintenance squadron. As a squadron, it was large, consisting of over 840 personnel. My next assignment was to be to MAC Headquarters as Director of Maintenance Training. A bunch of paper-work and no airplanes. I turned in my papers to retire on a Friday and my new assignment was announced on Monday at wing stand-up.

I stayed in California for eleven years. Teaching had always been on my mind so I got my California teaching credential. My first teaching job was at a private school teaching history. After two years, I learned of an opening at a high school that needed a teacher for aviation history. The course was an elective and it was in reality the private pilot ground school. It was a fun job and interest in the course was high. Two years later, a friend told me that the Air Force was going to use contractors to teach the C-141 simulator program. I was able get the job and that led me to a flying position with EG&G Special Projects, Las Vegas, NV. I flew the B737-200. After two years, I applied to Southwest Airlines and was hired. Six years later I reached age 60 and at that time mandatory retirement age. I was fortunate because Southwest was expanding and I made captain in four and a half years. The left seat of an airliner is truly a great place to be!

Prior to retiring from the airlines, I started looking for another flying postition. EG&G was bidding for the T-43 contract, flying student navigators at Randolph AFB, Texas. With ATC experience and captain qualifictions in the B737, I was offered the position of chief of stan/eval. I flew until age 65 and with 40 years of flying behind me decided it was time to see some of the USA at ground level.

Tina and I got a big Chevy and a 5th wheel trailer and did some traveling. My summers are now in the White Mountains of Arizona and winters are in Henderson, Nevada. Golf, fishing, mountain bike riding, and reading are on my prority list. I'm fortunate to have worked with and for dedicated people throughout my various careers.

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