Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Fred's History

Academy Years

Fred.jpg I came from a small town, Henryetta, Oklahoma, the first person from there ever to attend a service academy. Troy Aikman wouldn't be born for six years and only our classmate, George Bruns, and I knew who Jim Shoulders was. So temporarily I was carrying the banner for Henryetta.

I started in 5th Squadron the first year but was then transferred to 6th Squadron as the Wing expanded for the rest of my time at the Academy. In 6th I roomed with Gary Gunderson until he left in 2nd Class year. We have remained best of friends over the years and retired together in South Carolina.

My 2nd Class year I found myself part of 6th Squadron's “Magnificent Seven” as we styled ourselves when we were caught toasting classmate, Dick Clark's leaving the Academy to become a missionary for the Mormon Church (A bit of a contradiction there since Dick didn't drink). Then I managed to get on the wrong side of our AOG, Marine Capt. Fred Matthews (Max James and others had similar experiences) and spent most of 2nd Class year on tours and confinements. However, on the good size of the ledger, I met Fran Zavacki during that punishment period and we became great friends. We were also able to switch our confinements for weekend work on the proposed Flirtation Walk which relieved some of the boredom and restriction of being inside. Also Bill Ahern stepped in as a concerned classmate and friend and reset my attitude about academics.

Leaving the Academy my 1st Class year and not graduating with my class was very difficult for me. However it appears to have turned out for the best. I have never met nor been associated with a better group of people in my life. I followed the careers and achievements of the class and I have been thrilled with their successes.

After the Academy

I decided to attend Georgia Tech in Atlanta to finish my degree and go on to graduate school. One of my biggest surprises when I arrived at Georgia Tech was discovering that there were no more coed's than at the Air Force Academy. I had arrived at another monastery!

I finished my Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Engineering while working for IBM's Atlanta Data Center on third shift. The experience working for IBM was invaluable and the relationships developed there helped me obtain a position at one of their R & D Labs in New York. On my first assignment I was responsible for the memory system design for the 4Pi series of militarized NWDC computers used by both the Air Force and Navy on the A7 Corsair, FB-111, Grumman A-6 and LAMPS Helicopter.

I transferred to the Optical Character Development Lab in Rochester, Minnesota where I worked with two other engineers on the first system for processing handwriting. Unfortunately the IBM 1287 was destined for the IRS for processing individual income tax returns. By that time I was tired of being cold and locked inside so that when the Memorial Day golf tournament was canceled due to snow, I went in to resign. IBM countered with an opportunity to go to Ling-Tempco-Vought(LTV) in Dallas and to work out some problems they were experiencing with the 4Pi NWDS computer on the A7 Corsair in Vietnam. That experience drew me into software executive systems and self test software when I discovered the hardware design was solid but the Exec was prone to many problems which I was able to resolve.

Marriage and Entrepreneuring

While at LTV I met my wife-to-be, Nancy, who was working for the summer while attending the University of Texas where she was a cheerleader. We were married the following February on Valentines Day (Jerry Gittlein was the best man). She has certainly been my cheerleader throughout our entire married life no matter the situation or circumstances. We were blessed with four children, two sons and two daughters, and currently have three grandchildren.

Also while at LTV, I was fortunate to meet two engineers, one a NASA scientist and the other a software whiz out of Notre Dame. We launched a small company, Digitest, that developed a software simulation product that we named LASAR. After five years LASAR was being used by a significant number of both defense and commercial electronic companies to develop automatic test and diagnosis programs for a variety of programs and applications. I decided to move to Europe in 1977 to launch another start-up and chose Frankfurt, West Germany as the location. Despite some struggles, the venture was successful and after three years we sold the company to a high tech firm in Boston, Teradyne Inc.

Commensurate with the sale to Teradyne, we moved back to the USA to the Boston area and ended up spending the next 28 years with Teradyne. Teradyne is primarily a semiconductor company but after several severe down cycles in the 80's, I was asked to consider extending our commercial technologies into the Mil/Aero and Defense Industry as a means of countering those down cycles. That effort has resulted in Teradyne being chosen as a supplier or prime in almost every major Air Force, Navy or Army/Marine factory or depot level support program including the B-2, F -22, F-35, AMRAAM among others. There is now a Mil/Aero Division at Teradyne to pursue military and federal systems business across all services and agencies for test and diagnosis of electronic boards and systems. So in a strange way I feel blessed that some of my work hopefully supported my classmates in being able to successfully accomplish their missions.


We retired to Ninety Six, South Carolina two years ago. My roomie from the Academy, Gary Gunderson, and I now work together in a Business Brokerage/M & A Sourcing business, bone fish whenever we get the chance, share our families as one big family and try to give back to our community in every way we can.
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