Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History


Playboy 19th

High school valedictorian from State College, PA (Penn State), therefore brilliant until meeting the serious brain-power exemplified by Graham, Bliss, Pierce, Robbins and many more of the 218 ahead of me at that glorious June day in '64. In the interim, unofficial high points as a Zoomie: on the Cross-country team captained by John Fer, a leader and true hero then and now; conspiring with Frazee to pull off the infamous “Bookshelf Decorations within Regulations” edict by General Strong after his first Saturday quarters inspection, resulting in the next inspection showing 900+bookshelves with exactly one model, and one picture (his); greatest 2nd-class summer ever, 3rd Lieutenant in Germany with Bliss, followed by 1st class summer: Jump School, T-37 Pilot Orientation (emphatically not UPT), doolie summer Survival Instructor.

UPT and birth of daughter at Big Spring, aced the T-38 final instrument check (Wing Commanders are generally not hard-ass check pilots), assigned to RF-4C as GIB, combat crew training at Shaw, then to 16th TRS at Tan Son Nhut. Shot at once that I know of (priority 4 infrared mapping mission over the Delta of all places) once that I suspect (night photo-flash up Mu Gia Pass for suspected tanks), but best of all, in-theatre upgrade to the coveted 1321F so I arrived in England (10th TRW, 32nd TRS) as an A/C, no longer a GIB; struggled through to 1325F in only 1.25 x normal time, and better than best, was given the first recce navigator (who as a 2nd/1st LT had been lead nav on the EB-66's orbiting Ch 97 and eastward in support of the Thuds and fighter-‘4s). ROTC from Tuskegee, he'd been advised he would never make it through pilot training, go to nav, so he did. My reaction was my normal loud and profane, taught him how to fly, off to UPT, #1 grad, selected RF-4C's and retired as a squadron commander. Made me feel good, but I lost my best nav. Plugged ahead, liaison officer to 4 ATAF and especially the Aufklarunggeschwader der Luftwaffe (those 8 years of German finally paid off); upgraded to IP, and then, dream of dreams, to ACT instructor (we were taught by a test pilot from McDonnell) – yes, ACT in recce is different, but he taught the best way to escape is to get into the bad guy's 6 – and one of our ACT's, I think it was Gil Achter, got a nose camera shot up the tail of 4th FW's (Bentwaters) Top Gun, which cost him a lot at the bar.

Towards end of 3rd year in England I'm getting antsy about career progression; Luftwaffe recce converted to RF-4D's, I applied for liaison officer figuring my German and senior IP status qualified me; rejected, someone else needed a compassionate and immediate transfer; A-7's coming into inventory, low-level radar navigation, rejected, no weapons experience; doomsday announcement, “frozen in cockpit indefinitely,” maybe time to look elsewhere. Held in England extra 6 months, the Wing had busted its ORI with the worst score recorded in USAFE history; six months later we passed with an almost perfect score (I deliberately dumped the last night target per CP suggestion, since a 100% score is automatically suspicious) On a whim, I had taken the LSAT in London, thought I'd botched it, finishing in 2-1/2 of the allotted 4 hours; six weeks later the postcard arrives, 680 out of 700 or somesuch – AFA and USAF had thoroughly taught me how to take tests. Applied to and accepted by Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, and Texas law schools. On the phone to USAF Personnel, since I'm stuck in RF-4s, where to next? Answer, pick one: Mountain Home, Kadena, Bergstrom (Austin). Easy decision, off to Austin. Arrived on an August day, 108?, a little different than England. Reported in to the only recce squadron in 67TRW, a supposed RTU; 18 field grade, 4 captains, 2 LTs; my 1300 hrs and senior IP status were summarily ignored, and USAF gave our airplanes to the Alabama ANG.

Off to law school. Concentrated in International, finished in 2+ years, wound up in the international offshore drilling business where lo and behold, that Engineering Science degree came in handy. Reconnected with Ron Bliss who by then was running the patent law section of Fulbright Jaworski, and I was running technology law for a drilling contractor. VERY extensive traveling (only missed Australia, France, and China), wound up running an oilfield workboat operation in Singapore and then moved to the oil company/Owner side, retired as Manager of Contracts for the US subsidiary of Saudi Aramco (cliché time: moved to Florida). In that interim, daughter produced granddaughter (of course absolutely charming), and acquired step-grandson who's a great kid at 15 and interested in trying for AFA, on his own accord and without me pushing – and that would be my greatest accomplishment.

Until then, best thing I ever did: logistics for the unofficial 19th reunion at Ron Bliss' home in Houston (where we both lived), January '05, initiated by Jimmy Graham, senior muscle by Brett Dula.

To plagiarize Chuck Clifton, “no banners to unfurl or axes to grind,” no heroics; and compared to the rest of you, my achievements have been small; with THE major exception: the privilege of being a part of '64.
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