Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Julio's History

Julio_sm.jpg As a 17 year old Senior in High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I didn't have a clue as to where I wanted to go to college. I had applied to two universities and all I knew was that I was looking for a technical or engineering degree. A friend, who was already accepted at the Citadel, offered me his USAFA Catalog on the bus ride to school one morning. I was sold and applied. After a civil service written test by the Resident Commissioner's office, I was chosen from approximately 50 applicants and sent to a week of testing at Ramey Field AB in western Puerto Rico, along with a group of other applicants. A few weeks later, we received a telegram informing me that I was not qualified due to a dental cavity that was discovered during the week at Ramey and that repairing it would not necessarily guarantee an appointment. I immediately gave up, until my mother insisted I go to the dentist that same day. I had my filling and an x-ray sent back as proof of it. The telegram, a couple of weeks later, with the appointment congratulations was an exciting surprise, especially for one who had never been to the Continental U.S. As a result of that experience, a lesson on not giving up became a guiding force in my life. As it turned out, I was the 2nd Puero Rican to attend USAFA, after Hector Negroni, Class of 1961.

My exposure to the English language had been limited to the one hour daily class in English which I had during high school. Needless to say there was a lot more to be learned, especially the slang expressions, which I have to thank Joe Griffith and Fred Olmsted in helping me with during the 4th Class Year. Snow was another first ever experience which I enjoyed, particularly during the Saturday parades and the ski club trips. After the usual academic encounters with EE, Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering I was fortunate to validate Spanish, creating an opening in my schedules, which was replaced with the History of Latin America in Spanish and Statistics.

Graduation on 3 June 64 was a momentous occasion, with my maternal grandparents, parents and siblings present at the relatively new football stadium.

Next was Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, where we unfortunately lost three of our classmates due to midair collisions. The assignment following was to the 92nd Bomb Wing, Fairchild AFB and the B-52D, which in 1967 became my combat transport for three separate tours and a total of 180 bombing missions. During my third tour in 1969, I had had enough separation from my wife and was ready to get out. The evening after I submitted my paperwork I received a letter (no e-mails those days) from my wife saying that someone from the Pentagon had called to ask if I wanted to go to Spain as the Assistant Air Attache. I still remember beating on the Squadron door early the next morning to rescue my paperwork and my career.

Spain, as a US diplomat was a unique 3-year experience, where the verbal caution was not to drink too much during the multiple receptions such duty required. A visit with General Franco was one of the many special experiences of such duty.

The next assignment, in 1973, should have been to a flying Unit but Westover AFB, MA to which I was going to be assigned, turned out to be in the USAF closing plans and I went to another unique Spanish related assignment as the Deputy Secretary for Liaison, Protocol and Public Relations at the Inter American Defense Board, in Washington, DC. Three years later and after traveling with the members of the IADB throughout Latin America every year, I went back to flying the B-52D at the 96th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, TX where I was able to become an Instructor Pilot and eventually, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation for the Wing.

CIMG0498_sm.JPG My language background came up again and I was asked to return to Spain in 1980 as the Chief of Liaison at the Joint US Military Group (JUSMAAG). This was another special assignment which I enjoyed for five years, when I was asked to be the Commander of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1985. Another fabulous experience which ended with my reassignment to the 19th Air Division, Carswell AFB, TX from where I retired in January of 1989 where, as the Director of Operations, I became the last (acting) Commander, when the Brigadier General was reassigned upon the closure of the Air Division.

I was able to obtain a job as a supervisor in the Operations, Scheduling and Production Control Department at the former General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) plant in Ft. Worth until 1993, when the layoffs began in earnest and the appeal of going back to wearing the AF Uniform again, as an Air Force Jr ROTC instructor led me to the first of 4 schools where I have had an outstandingly rewarding career for the last 18 years as a mentor of hundreds of Jr ROTC Cadets in Florida and California. I still wear the AF Blue but plan to retire in Jun 2011.

Thanks to the USAFA and all the experiences and values instilled in me I have had a wonderful life.
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