Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Bernard's History


bernard.jpg - July 1964 – Married to Jean Mercier, Worcester, Mass.

- 1964-65: Navigator Training at James Connally AFB, Waco, TX
Flew T-29s, mostly over hot & humid West Texas, learning how to do Dead Reckoning (DR) & Celestial Navigation; Cathy, our first daughter was delivered by a Flight Surgeon on Connally; we lived in Bellemead, TX and commuted to Base in our 1958 Blue Oldsmobile; upon graduation BJC received an Outstanding Graduate Award.

- 1965-1966: Electronic Warfare Officer Training at Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA

Flew C-54s up and down the California coast, learning how to intercept, track and jam radar and missile firing signals – Anita, our second daughter was delivered at Mather's Base Hospital (total bill: $12.00); upon graduation BJC received an Outstanding Graduate Award.

- Summer 1966: Combat Crew Survival Training at Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA, including mock POW situation to test reactions to being held captive.

- Fall 1966: B-52 Combat Crew Training (SAC) at Castle AFB, Merced, CA – first introduction to SAC and its philosophy.

- 1967-69: SAC 346th Bomb Squadron, 99th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force, Westover AFB, MA (Flying B-52G & B-52D Models).

• Nuclear Alert with targets in former Soviet Union, mostly in the vicinity of Moscow to be hit on low level runs to avoid extensive SAM - (SA-2 Guideline missile) defenses surrounding Moscow in concentric circles.

• Initially we had 15 minutes to get 15 B-52s sitting on Nuclear Alert off the ground at Westover.

• In March 1968 it was changed to 7.5 minutes due to Soviet missile firing submarine activity in Atlantic and Pacific – See, Red Star Rogue , The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. (3/7/68) by Kenneth Sewell.

• After aerial refueling, we often flew low-level practice runs in Maine, up-state New York (Watertown) and Michigan, usually at night; on one practice run at Watertown, our aircraft got struck by lightning at about 1,500 feet and had to immediately abort run (fortunately, no serious damage).

Due to requirements in Vietnam, our B-52Ds were modified for a conventional role to carry 108 500 lb bombs – 84 internal/24 external or 84 750 pounders – 84 internal/24 external. In mid-1967 we flew B-52D on 18-hour non-stop flight from Westover AFB, to Anderson AFB, Guam, with 2 aerial refuelings – one over the mid-West and one between California and Hawaii. Our missions out of Anderson AFB, Guam to Vietnam normally totaled 12 hours (6 hours each way) with a refueling (over 90,000 pounds of fuel) over the Philippines on the way to Vietnam; on one mission after picking up our fuel, we had to shut down two engines due to excessive vibration/engine failure, but continued our flight to Vietnam, completed our bomb run at lower than ideal altitude, and completed an emergency diversion/landing at U-Tapao AB in Thailand, with our aircraft shaking all the way across Loas and Northern Thailand for a successful emergency landing at U-Tapao.

As a result of the increased tension with N. Korea after the seizure of the USS Pueblo crew off the coast of Korea, on January 23, 1968, we picked up/studied conventional military targets in N. Korea while continuing to fly to Vietnam out of Kadena AF, Okinawa. We previously were limited to flying out of Anderson and U-Tapao. On one mission while returning to Kadena from Vietnam, we had an accidental rapid decompression at 41,000 feet, resulting in rapid descent, and my briefly passing out trying to secure my oxygen mask only to be revived as I had landed on a hot air duct. After “diving” down to 10,000 feet altitude, we continued “normal” flight with a safe landing at Kadena, thereby avoiding any sanctions by our Commanders.

The Catholic Chaplain at U-Tapao was a Franciscan, Fr. Clarahan. We all loved him as he conducted a congregation-wide Penance (confession) Service, and was a regular at the Officers' Club. Jean and I knew him well as he was our Chaplain in Navigation Training in Waco, Texas, and had baptized our first child, Cathy; and he had visited us at Mather AFB in California just prior to the birth of our second daughter Anita. During my second tour, I received a letter from the Protestant Chaplain at Westover saying that he had visited Jean at the base hospital and she was fine and would soon be out and about. Needless to say, I was shocked; as far as I remembered we were Catholic when I left and I was totally unaware that Jean was in the hospital. It turned out he was covering for the Catholic Chaplain and Jean had a mild illness and recovered fast. Mary Jean, our third daughter was born at Westover shortly after I returned from our third Arc Light tour in South East Asia; I was in the delivery room in flight suit and combat boots.

I took my LSAT exam at International High School in Bangkok, Thailand, during the week-end following a night mission over Vietnam.

- I completed 154 Combat Missions/16 in N. Vietnam; and flew many missions in South Vietnam during the successful Battle of Khe Sanh (Marine Base) from January-March 1968 and during the TET offensive begun in Jan–Feb 1968 by the Viet Cong. We, of course, had regular targets on the very busy Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. (DFC/Several Air Medals)

Post Air Force

- Sep 69- Jun 72:

(a) I was enrolled full time at Boston College Law School, Brighton, MA During this time, our residence was in Stoughton, MA, where we bought our first home and commuted to school. I was the Articles Editor for the B.C. Industrial & Commercial Law Review, and published articles on Antitrust Immunity and on Suburban Zoning Restrictions. During this same period I was Editor of the U.C.C Legal Digest. We had our fourth daughter, Tricia, during the summer prior to our last year in law school.

(b) During this time, I also worked part-time as Navigator on C-124 Globemaster II (“Old Shaky”) in the Reserve Unit at Hanscomb Field, MA. Most flights were out of Patrick AFB, FL to transport supplies to NASA tracking stations in the Caribbean.

- 1972-74:

Moved to Silver Spring, MD with our four girls. During this period I was a Staff Attorney at the Federal Communications Commission International Division. My duties involved legal/regulatory issues with International Satellite Programs, such as COMSAT, Intelsat, and Marisat. I also worked part-time in the USAF Reserves as a JAG Officer in Washington DC.

- 1975 - Early 1980s: Associate/Partner at Howrey Simon Law Office, Washington DC.

Work involved (A) antitrust litigation, such as mergers challenged by the Dept. of Justice; and Private antitrust litigation between companies. I also represented Black & Decker & Tenneco in merger cases and Litton Industries in major cases against Xerox and AT&T, including major successful jury trial in N.Y. challenging legality of AT&T interface device for non-Bell System Office Equipment. My work here included Legal/Regulatory issues surrounding Clean Air Act (CAA)/EPA's regulation of diesel engines. I represented Caterpillar on Capitol Hill/EPA in connection with proposed Amendments to the CAA and EPA's regulation of diesel engines; and worked for a brief period for small Law Office on Superfund issues and proposed Acid Rain legislation.

Our son, B.J., our fifth child, was born in 1977

- Early 1980's:

We purchased a townhome at Bethany Beach, DE in the early 80's. We owned it for 8 years, and had some great family vacations at the beach. During that time, I served as President of VBW Condo Assn. (3yrs). I was also Chairman, Local Evaluation Committee- in Montgomery County, MD, evaluating elementary schools for possible closure.

- 1985 to Present:

I opened my own Law Office in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. We moved our residence to Olney, Maryland in 2000. I have a general practice with emphasis on Real Estate (have a Title/Settlement Company); Estate Planning & Estate Settlement; Small Business Legal/Regulatory Issues; and Foster Care/Adoption/Guardianship Matters.

Some Interesting Clients/Cases

(1) Represented Italian disinfectant manufacturer before the F.D.A.

(2) Court-appointed trustee to repair, market, and sell Cessna 177

(3) Represented victims (U.S. Gov't Employees) in crash of Chilean Government light plane in Chile.

Community Activities

- President, Suburban Maryland Int'l Trade Assn. (SMITA) (late 1980s)

- Legislative Network for Maryland Catholic Conference (10 yrs)

- President of U.S. Chapter of International Catholic Organization (MIAMSI) (15 yrs);

- Jean & I worked to promote increased Catholic involvement in social development issues; had conferences in Bolivia, Mexico and U.S.

- President of Heritage Business Park Office Condo (15yrs)

- Assn. of Graduates (AOG) (USAFA)

- Spoke at Classmate Jim Jefferson's Memorial Service at Ft. Myer/Arlington Cemetery in 2000.

- Sabre Society – ongoing

- Founder's Day Dinners – ongoing

- Army/Navy games – ongoing

- Academy Selection Board for Congresswomen Morella (5 yrs)

- Scholarship Selection Committee State Senator (5yrs)

- Recently established Family Scholarship Fund for my high school - St. John's High School, now located in Shrewbury, Mass.


I've been fortunate to be and to remain married to Jean through all these endeavors and we are fortunate for having our health; all 5 of our children have graduated college (Paralegal, Social Worker, Accountant, Teacher, Attorney) including 4 with graduate degrees, and all are now happily married. We now are blessed with 9 grandchildren in Berkley Heights, N.J. (4), Holly Springs, N.C. (3), and Maryland (2), and hopefully 1 or 2 more.


Jean and I in Italy, October 2010

Hobbies /Interests

1. National Security - Extremely interested in National Security Issues – especially A. F. related matters - read widely in this area; have recently began to study/investigate “Cold War” accidents involving B-52s, etc.

2. Racquetball – have tried to pass on what I learned at USAFA to my sons-in-law.

3. Swimming – trying to enjoy swims at local swim club on regular basis.

4. BNI – have been very active in local Business Network group for the past seven (7) years – a great opportunity to develop business relationships and contacts.

5. Every summer, we take the entire family-- all kids and grandkids-- to a week at Bethany Beach, Del.


1. Jim Jefferson was a close friend and classmate who got shot down over the North on May 12, 1967. in May 1999, remains thought to be his were discovered near the crash site and in September 2000 they were positively identified through DNA analysis as Jim's; I was lucky enough to give a tribute to Jim at the Old Post Chapel, Ft. Myers, VA on October 16, 2000; Jack Cole (‘64) who was at DaNang in 1967 and who has worked with Jim's brother Wayne, Class of '59, also gave a nice tribute to Jim. Our class also had four other members at the service; please let me know if you want my remarks at Jim's service.

2. Capt. Alan R. Trent – I don't know how much background you have on my squadron-mate, Al Trent, however, there is a brief summary of his downing contained in Report of the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs – U.S. Senate; Jan. 13, 1993; p. 748 (Smith 324 Compelling Cases pg. 85).

3. Also, a good description of Steve Ritchie's & Bob Lodge's F-4 efforts over North Vietnam is in Chapter 6 of Air Force Top Guns of 1972; Fast Movers – Jet Pilots & the Vietnam, Exp. by John Darrell Sherwood (The Free Press – Copyright 1999).
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