Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History

Tom Hill


tom.jpg I arrived at the base of a ramp on the morning of 26 June along with the rest of a busload of future cadets. I remember signing some papers and then being asked by a nice lady if I'd like some juice and cookies before I got continued. I said, "No thanks, I'd just like to get going so I can meet my new roommate and get started settling in."

Boy, do I wish I had stayed for the juice and cookies.

Four years at the Zoo, and in looking back, they were great years. Friendships were formed that still endure today. You're glad you did it, but not sure you'd want to do it again, knowing what you know now.

After graduation, I headed for Craig AFB in Selma, AL. For someone who had grown up in Iowa and gone to school in Colorado, Selma in 1964 was one heck of a culture shock. (Grits aren't at all what they're cracked up to be.) But enroute, I met Sandy, who told me later she had gone home and told her mom she'd met the man she was going to marry. She was right, although it turned out to be two years later in Kalamazoo, MI.

-- From pilot training in Alabama, west to McClellan AFB to fly EC-121s

-- Went back to Michigan to get married. Was told later the AF called "every church" in the city (they missed the college chapel) to tell me I had immediate orders for Vietnam as an Air Commando flying AC-47 gunships

-- Flew 296 nighttime sorties in AC-47s from DaNang, SVN

-- Back to Otis AFB to fly 121's again -- SOS in Montgomery

-- To Richards-Gebaur to fly C-118s; one-year tour at HQ AFCS. -- Our first daughter, Cami, joined us there

-- To USAFA to be an AOC/Commandant's Exec for Honor & Ethics -- Our second daughter, Marni, joined us there -- Heart breaking calls to a cadet's parents at 2200 to tell them their son would be coming home as the result of an honor code violation

-- Air Command & Staff College in Montgomery

-- To Tinker AFB to help establish the E-3 stan eval program

-- To HQ TAC in the AWACS office (essentially done in the cockpit)

-- Back to Montgomery for Air War College

-- To SHAPE HQ in Belgium for the NATO AWACS program

-- Back to Tinker AFB in Logistics Command to head the AWACS logistics office

Twenty-seven great years. I remember one of my senior civilians coming in to my office right before I retired and saying, "Sir, there's one thing you need to remember as you go out the door. The folks you've worked with have been people of integrity. It's not going to be the same outside." He was right.

The folks I had the opportunity to work with and for are what made those years so special, and I feel lucky to have had all the opportunities. Sandy says she's enjoyed the ride too.

Fly safe and Godspeed
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