Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Barry's History

Flanary_editedSm.jpg Our 50th approaches. Doug Jenkins and Jerry Butler urge us all to provide a little bio and history info.

In 1959 in the back room of a small grocery store in the Southern Oklahoma oil fields, the owner, a Cherokee Indian, asked me about my plans for college. I didn't have much of an idea so he mentioned SMU (his alma mater) for baseball because he'd seen my name in the paper or this new place in Colorado Springs as a candidate of our congressman, Carl Albert. I had never heard of the Academy, but I knew I was not a college level baseball player so I said I'd like to try for “that other place”. Somehow I won the appointment and ended up with a great group of guys in the 15th Squadron.

Pilot training at Webb AFB followed USAFA and that led to what was for me a terrific career if you like to fly airplanes. I was able to hold a flying position for 21 of my 24 years with the Air Force. The first assignment was with SAC as a KC-135 co-pilot. Less than 2 months after getting qualified I was in SEA for the first of three trips there. I enjoyed my time in SAC and was treated well, but I volunteered (unsuccessfully) for several fighter programs. Eventually I got an OV-10 assignment as a Forward Air Controller and made my 2nd trip to SEA. The year I spent In I-Corps with the Americal Division at Chu Lai was one of the most rewarding jobs I've had and not without a thrill or two.

It was not my intention to return to SAC, but I was sent to Kincheloe in Michigan's upper peninsula and back to the KC-135. While there MPC mentioned a SAC/TAC Exchange Program and offered a choice of the C-130, RF-4 or F-4. I took the F-4 and spent several months at Luke and then to Eglin. Within weeks the squadron was on it's way to Udorn, to provide MIG cap for missions into route pack 6 as well as bombing missions over other parts of North and South Vietnam. That was 1972. Our Maurice Underwood was there and other classmates like Bob Lodge, Steve Richie, Fred Olmsted were there making headlines shooting MIGs.

By this time I has flown the T-37/T-38, KC-135, AT-33, OV-10, and F-4. Obviously, the Test Pilot School at Edwards liked the variety of flying I'd done and suggested I apply. I did and was accepted, then stayed at Edwards as the chief F-4 test pilot, an E-3 project pilot, and KC-135 pilot and later the ops officer for the test squadron.

Command and Staff followed then a staff assignment to PACAF where I pushed paper, but flew the T-33 around the islands and was the prime staff officer for the F-16 bed down in Kunsan, Korea. Later I was offered command of the 4952nd Test Squadron at Wright-Patt. Two years later I went from there to the B-1B SPO as the Director of Test, my last Air Force assignment.

Immediately after graduating in '64, I married Linda Higgins. Wayne Corder, Dick Morris and Dick Brown made the trip with me to western New York for the ceremony. Linda and I were together for 43 years and had 2 children and 7 grandchildren. I lost Linda in 2007 after a long illness. Later Jeralyn Armatis came into my life and we were married in 2010. She has a great family and there's no end of things to do. Life in Niceville, FL, has been good. Mostly involving family, the golf course, good friends, two dogs and our small country club. We've just built a new place that's a bit smaller, but thankfully has only one story yet still has plenty of room for visitors.

We're looking forward to the reunion this fall…can't wait.
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