Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History

Patrick Durick

PatDurick1.jpg The day before I entered the Academy I spent my time frolicking in the sun shirtless with friends in Denver. As a result I entered the Academy with a very serious sunburn. I dutifully reported for sick call the following morning expecting sympathy and some relief. To set the stage for the rest of my stay I was informed that based on my conduct in getting sunburned I might be too stupid to continue the program and if I was lucky I would not be reported for a court martial. The next week was miserable. Broken blisters embedded in tee shirts and fitful nights lying on my stomach.

Not that any young high school graduate is prepared for the rigors of Fourth Class summer, but I think I was particularly unprepared. I graduated in a class of only twenty-eight from public high school in Columbus, North Dakota, population 600. My family had no military background and my motivation for applying to the Academy was strictly related to flying. My father was a private pilot and owned several airplanes. I soloed in an Aeronca Champ on a 2500 foot grass strip at 15, before I was eligible for a license. My instructor, “Shorty Hoel”, a barber by profession, was not a licensed instructor. By the time I flew with a licensed instructor I had over fifty hours of solo time.

My four years as a cadet were unremarkable. I made the Dean's list several times and was active in the cadet Aero club. I am proud of the fact that I was elected as our Class's squadron honor representative. I served Operation Third Lieutenant at Selfridge AFB outside of Detroit, Michigan and was on the Central European tour. In preparation for my career as a pilot I agreed to give up my summer leave during second class summer to attend pre-pilot training at Laredo, AFB with such class luminaries as Ron Bliss and Tim O'Keefe. I very much enjoyed flying the T-37 and returned to the Academy motivated looking forward to graduation and then attending pilot training.

I also spent several hours in Taylorcraft with Frank Packer during our first class year showing him what I knew about flying. Frank had purchased a Taylorcraft and was learning to fly it. As I recall he had it hangared near Security, Colorado.

Flying was not in the cards for me. Despite my best efforts, I could not pass the final eye exam and was not eligible for pilot training upon graduation. I was deeply disappointed and selected my post Academy training in Management Engineering based on the fact that the required training was only ten weeks at Lowry AFB in Denver. I was extremely disappointed at not qualifying for pilot training and fully intended to complete my four year mandatory service and leave the Air Force.

After training at Lowry AFB I was assigned to SAC HQ with duty at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ as a management engineer, military-speak for industrial engineer. We did manpower and efficiency studies of SAC units assigned to David Monthan. The primary SAC unit at Davis Monthan was the Titan II intercontinental missile wing and we studied manning and organization of that unit.

After a short stay at Davis Monthan in January of 1966 I was sent TDY to Omaha. The TDY tour turned into a permanent move in May of 1966. At Hq. SAC I worked on developing computer models for manning SAC units. It was the early days of computers and the computer I was using to run these models had considerably less computing power than a current model automobile.

In January of 1967 I married my high school girlfriend, Mary Ann Morrison, and she moved to Omaha. In the fall of 1967 I attended squadron Officers school (“SOS”) in Montgomery, Alabama. While at SOS I was contacted about interviewing at the Pentagon for a pilot project for General Officer aides. I travelled to the Pentagon and met with Lt. General Horace Wade who selected me to serve as his aide de camp at the Pentagon. General Wade was the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. Because of the shortage of pilots General Wade was encouraging General Officers to select non-rated officers rather than rated officers for their aides.

Mary Ann and I arrived in Washington, DC in January of 1968 just in time for Resurrection City and the riots that followed Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in April. These were interesting times to say the least. Mary Ann got a job at the George Washington medical school where she worked with the wife of the AF Chief of Staff, General McConnell. The first day I drove her to work in downtown D.C. there were machine gun emplacements on the Capitol steps and armed jeeps patrolling the streets. The riots were in full bloom. Initially we were staying at the Bolling AFB Bachelor's Officer's Quarters (“BOQ”) while we looked for a place to live. I took what was supposed to be a quick trip to the Academy on General Wade's behalf and ended up in the Academy hospital with an appendicitis attack. I had my appendix removed and Mary Ann spent a few solo days at the BOQ surprising a number of partially clad bachelors in the hallways.

In May of 1968 General Wade was promoted to four stars and named as Commander in Chief (“CINC”) United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) and 4th Allied Tactical Air Force in NATO. General Wade asked me to accompany him to USAFE in Wiesbaden. I had planned on resigning my commission and leaving the Air Force as quickly as possible after graduation, but decided a tour in Europe was worth a short delay in my plans to leave the Air Force.

As a four-star general, General Wade was entitled to a Lt. Colonel and a Major as his aides, but I remained as his only aide. This was interesting in that a number of two star and three star generals under his command had rated Lt. Colonel and Major Aides. After only six moths General Wade was reassigned to Brussels as Vice Commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (“SHAPE”) and General Randall Holzapple was named as the new CINCUSAFE. I stayed on with General Holzapple for six months while he interviewed other potential aides and familiarized himself with his new command. I returned to HQ SAC in Omaha where I was assigned to the Directorate of Plans in August of 1969.

I was eligible to resign after a year at Omaha, and I submitted a resignation In August of 1970. Shortly after I submitted the resignation I received notification that I had been selected by the Air Force Institute of Technology to attend graduate school for a PhD Program in Electrical Engineering. A curious assignment in that I despised EE when I took courses at the Academy. With all the developments in electronics since 1970 I have often wondered how my life would have developed had I accepted this assignment.

As a cap to my Air Force Career while I was preparing to leave the Air Force, I was selected to a multi-discipline team to study the reasons for a breach of security at March AFB. A teenage man was caught climbing over the fence of an alert facility after leaving a fully armed B-52. He told authorities that he would observe the guards marching around the aircraft and noted that when there was a change of guards or an inspection of the guards they would all gather around the nose of the aircraft leaving him the opportunity to climb over the fence unobserved and crawl up into the aircraft. He further suggested that once aboard he would sit in the pilots chair and let his imagination run wild about flying the bomber. When there was another inspection or change of the guards he would crawl back out of the aircraft to the tarmac, shinny over the fence and leave. He had done this on a number of occasions until finally he was caught.

In any event this incident sparked a lot of attention and a multi discipline team was selected to study the incident. The team flew to a number of AF bases in various commands making inquiries concerning security police operations. Because of the requirements for security in Vietnam, Security Police units in the United States were extremely undermanned. After the fact-finding inspections we wrote up a report and briefed General Holloway, the CINCSAC, on our finding.

General Holloway was impressed with our findings and ordered that we contact the Directorate of Plans at the Pentagon and brief them on our findings. Since I was scheduled to leave the Air Force the following week, I was sent TDY to the Pentagon to present the findings of the team. I flew to Washington, DC, briefed a number of ranking officers in the Directorate of Plans, and returned to Omaha to muster out. I don't know what happened as a result of our recommendations, but I haven't heard of any other kids manning B-52s on alert.

I left the Air Force in August of 1970 and entered Creighton University Law School in September of that year. I graduated from law school in December of 1972 and was chosen as a law clerk for the Honorable United States District Court Judge Robert V. Denny. In July of 1974 I joined classmate Harry J. Pearce, his father, and brother in the practice of law in Bismarck, North Dakota. Harry's father passed away in 1978, Harry accepted a position in the law department of General Motors and left the firm in 1986 and I am now the senior partner in the firm of Pearce & Durick.

Until recently I practiced mainly in the defense of product liability lawsuits. Recently, I have added oil and gas law to my areas of interest. I have attained a modicum of success as a lawyer and I was recently reminded that I have been rated at Martindale and Hubbell's top level of ratings for 25 years. I am also recognized by other attorney rating organizations as a top lawyer in my areas of practice.

By way of contributions to the community I have focused my efforts on service to Medcenter One, Bismarck's fully integrated hospital and multi-specialty clinic. Medcenter has 200 plus beds and 150 plus physicians. I have been on the board of directors of Medcenter One and its predecessor in interest, Bismarck Hospital, since 1986 and I have chaired the board since 1992.

I am very proud of my family. My wife of 44+ years, Mary Ann, attended graduate school while I was in law school and she taught chemistry at Bismarck State College for over thirty years. She is now retired. We have two children, Randy, born in 1969, and Kelly, born in 1976. Randy is a chemical engineer working in Minneapolis, MN for a German company, Turck. Randy and Shannon have a daughter, Brenna. Kelly has her doctorate in Immunology and after post doctorate studies at St. Jude's Children's research hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, she recently joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Kelly and Jason have a son, Keegan.

I attribute any success that I have had as a lawyer in large part to the education and training I received at the Academy. The Academy's emphasis on character and the sciences provided an excellent foundation for a career in the law. A vast majority of lawyers and judges have little training in the sciences and my background in the sciences put me a leg up in practicing in the area of product liability.

I have been named as an honorary member of 7th Sq. due to my association with Harry Pearce and I regularly attend 7th Sq. reunions as well as reunions at the Academy. I also try to keep in touch with fellow former members of 5th Squadron. The Academy is a great place to be from and I am proud of my association with the organization. Friends I made as a cadet remain my friends today.
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