Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Matt's History


It all began in small suburban towns in New Jersey. I had a rather ordinary childhood, with one older brother to fight with, and Joe Collins, NY Yankee 1st baseman for a neighbor. One childhood memory is going with him and stopping to see Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. I had the luck to attend one of the top public high schools in the nation, giving me an excellent academic basis to enable me to squeak through the highly challenging 4 years of academics at the Academy. What propelled me to the Academy was an uncontrollable desire to fly “jets” from the time I was about 10. I was in the Civil Air Patrol, built models of fighters, constantly drew pictures of aircraft, and just lusted for the “wild blue yonder”.

I was one of the youngest members of the Class of 1964, being just 17 when we entered in June of 1960, as well as being one of the smallest. I finished Doolie year at a “strapping” 125 pounds. I didn't have much trouble adjusting to the military lifestyle, or handling the myriad of athletic opportunities. But, it was definitely a grueling, 4 year struggle with academics. There were 2 “turnouts”, in Electrical Engineering and Astronautics, which I managed to squeak through, and I ended up with a 2.03 GPA, enabling me to finish 495 out of our 499 graduating classmates. (My AOC said if he knew how close I was to being “Slot Man” for our class, he wouldn't have given me such good military grades.) I truly believe that I can directly relate any success that I have had, personal or professional, to the character, knowledge and drive I acquired at the Academy.

After graduation, it was off to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, TX for a short try at pilot training. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite master landing the Tweet, and washed out pre-solo. Then, it was on to navigator training at James Connally AFB in Waco, TX. This was followed by a year in C-130s at Forbes AFB in Topeka, KS. The war was heating up in 1966, so I volunteered for a Southeast Asia tour. I went through combat crew training in the C-123 at Hurlburt Field (Eglin Aux #9) in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, and then ferried a C-123 over the Pacific to Bien Hoa AB, SVN. Let me tell you that is a 4-engine ocean, and it is really a challenge in a 2-engine aircraft, with just a B-3 driftmeter, APN-9 loran, and handheld sextant! (Big ocean-small islands!!!!) I actually did 2 more C-123 crossings of the Pacific; ferrying birds to and from Viet Nam while I was an instructor at Hurlburt.

My SEA tour was divided between Tan Son Nhut AB, hauling troops and trash all over SVN for 6 months with the 19th ACS, and then 6 months defoliating the jungle (“Remember, Only You Can Prevent Forests”)with the 12th ACS (RanchHand) flying out of Bien Hoa AB and DaNang AB. I have to say that my year flying combat in SEA was the most exciting, enjoyable, challenging and satisfying time of my Air Force career. The comraderie of the aircrews, especially of the RanchHand flyers, was something that will stay with me until I make that final “flight west”.

After my SEA tour, I was sent back to Hurlburt as an instructor. The flying was fun, and the water-skiing was fantastic. But, after 18 months as an instructor, I was bored and decided to go to law school. (What was I thinking?!) I went into the Reserves, went back to Colorado to law school at U of Denver, and eventually ended up in Reno, NV, as an attorney. Finally, in 1975, I got my chance to fly fighters, and became an RF-4C WSO in the Nevada Air National Guard. I had 15 years, and almost 1500 hours of the most enjoyable flying imaginable, and ended up as the Assistant Operations Officer for the 192nd TRS. I ended my career as a Liaison Officer for the Academy and AFROTC from 1990-1999.

During all this time, I managed to get married (twice), was blessed with two wonderful children that are the light of my life, and practiced law for 30 years in the public and private sector. By the time the Employers Insurance Company of Nevada outsourced their legal department in 2001, I was more than ready to stop practicing law. After lawyering, I had an opportunity to work with the military as a civilian mission coordinator at Fallon Naval Air Station. It was exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, work with a bunch of fine people. But, after 8 months, I decided the logistics of commuting 150 miles a day, at all odd hours of the day and night, with a constantly changing schedule, was more than I desired to subject my body to. I then became a substitute teacher in the local school systems, which I continue to do today.

Substitute teaching is very rewarding for me. I limit my teaching to the elementary grades (less attitude to deal with), and have cut back to one or two days a week. Winters are spent skiing and snowshoeing, and when the weather gets milder, some bicycling and motorcycling. When it warms up, you can usually find me sailing my Catalina 22, the “PHYGMEUX II” on Lake Tahoe. More bicycling and riding my Harley fill the days. I usually make several trips a year back to Colorado to visit my children. Darcey is a Royalty Specialist with MPEG LA, a licensing firm, and makes her home in Denver. David is a senior chemical/environmental engineer with VERSAR, and is married to Ashley, a wonderful woman I consider as another daughter. They make their home in Wheat Ridge. We always have a great time when we get together, whether in NV, CO, or elsewhere. In 2010, Darcey and I ran the inaugural Denver Rock and Roll half marathon together. Last year I added Bandit, a mixed breed dog that I adopted from the NV Humane Society, to my family. He is a good companion and we spend lots of time hiking and snowshoeing together.

My hopes for the future are simple. My hope for the country is that we can once again come together, fix our problems, and return to pre-eminence as a leader of the world; hopefully, a much more peaceful world. For myself, I hope I can continue in the good health I have, continuing to enjoy life with my family, and a special someone. God Bless us, one and all, and God Bless the United States of America. [ It's Better To Be Lucky Than Good ]

Late in my sixth decade, I found the love of my life, Kathleen (Kathy), who has made me the happiest I have been in years. We were married in Hawaii 1/31/14. She comes with 3 grown sons, and 2 granddaughters and 2 grandsons. My son David and his wife Ashley have given us a granddaughter, Greta, and are expecting #2. Life has been very, very good to me!"

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