Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Mike's History

Growing up in Indiana, I'll always remember in high school looking at an early edition of Sports Illustrated and seeing a football player with a Lightening Bolt on his helmet. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world and so appropriate for the new Air Force Academy. Little did I know that I would be wearing such a helmet a few years later after I had already signed a letter in intent to attend the University of Illinois where my father was Captain and an All American tackle. While I was a gung ho kid and had several scholarship offers, I wanted to attend a college that I would be proud of the rest of my life. And to say the least, I truly did.

Doolie year was really a shocker. It only took me sixty pushups to say my name right that first day. As I look back, there are truly so many great memories and relationships that I treasure. For this purpose, I will cite just a few that come to mind.

My first roommate during basic training was Fran Zavacki. We became very close and years later when I was living in Philadelphia going to graduate school, Fran again was my roommate. While Fran, a Marine, was accepted to several prestigious law schools, he volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam. It was a sad day when I received news of his death. The funeral was in a small town in Pennsylvania and I drove his girl friend to the funeral. As we drove through the town, every house and lamp post had an American Flag hoisted. This was the first of my classmates who would die in combat. There are so many sad memories along with the good ones. The bottom line is that I am so proud to be associated with so many wonderful individuals.

Four years of playing football culminating in a very good senior year, except that we lost the only football game we played to an intraservice Academy, Army, in Soldiers Field, Chicago. Today, when many people don't believe that I played college football as a center, I bring out a picture that was on the front page of the sports section of the Denver Post which showed Teddy Woods, a Colorado halfback breaking away for a large gain. The caption read, “Colorado's Teddy Woods leaves AFA's Mike biting the dust”. My father saw the paper and called up the Post and asked for a copy which is in my office today.

During my last semester at the Academy, Ben Martin called me down to his office and asked me if I would be interested at staying on at the Academy as a football coach, the first graduate to ever be assigned directly to the Academy. Of course I said yes and it turned out to be a wonderful experience.

I worked for Jim Bowman whom I can say became a great friend to me and also my father. Of course, Bo is a great friend to so many Academy Graduates. I next spent a year at Selfridge AFB in Detroit, Michigan, a year in Vietnam and then returned to the Academy for a second tour as a coach. About a month before I resigned, I was sitting in the BOQ with John Gavin who was talking to a girl from CWC about dinner. Just as he was about to hang up, he asked her if she had a friend for me. That is when I met Janie, my loving wife and best friend for the past forty years. We now have two married daughters and four wonderful grand kids.

After graduate school, I spent almost twenty five years with Merrill Lynch (remember them) in Chicago and New York. In the early 1980's, AF was playing Army at Westpoint and Jim Bowman said that I should set up a luncheon. Well, that was the start of the AFA Chapter in New York of which I was President for over twenty years.

My roommate Jim McComsey visited me in Chicago when he was getting out of the AF after fourteen years and was interviewing for a financial consulting job. To make a long story short, I was instrumental in getting Jim a job at Merrill Lynch. When I returned to New York, Jim ended up working for me.

Least I forget my most important legacy, someone my Doolie year gave me the nickname Pinky, Pinkman or Mr. Pinks. To this day I am endeared with this nickname, but only west of the Mississippi River. So if you ever see me East of the Mississippi River, please remember that nobody knows me by that name back here in the East.

Janie and I have been living in Greenwich, CT for over thirty years and also have a small place in Hobe Sound, FL. I try to get back to the Academy each year, try not to miss an Air Force Army or Navy football game on the East coast and always look forward to renewing friendships at our reunions. Now, if I could only get my golf game in shape, life would really be good.


Mike and Family
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