Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Richard's History

Having read some of the submissions by my fellow classmates, I undertake this task with some trepidation, knowing that my career did not begin to approach the significance of many classmates. However, I shall offer some considerable variety if you will bear with me.

With that in mind, I submit:

I grew up in Danbury, CT, the youngest son of a WW I and WW II US Navy veteran. Military service was the choice du jour in my family, with my eldest brother also a WW II veteran and my other brother a WW II, Korea and Vietnam veteran. My older sister served in the USAF in the 50's. My dad wanted one of us to attend a service academy, preferably the USNA, but I wanted to fly airplanes so I set my mind on the new USAFA and missed the Class of '63 as the third alternate for a Presidential appointment with my only backup plan to attend Case Institute of Technology. I reapplied to USAFA for the Class of '64 and this time for the USNA as well and was accepted at both. Four years later, we graduated as 2nd Lieutenants. I was the first in my family to earn a bachelor's degree and to be commissioned an officer.

I attended undergraduate pilot training (UPT) at Craig AFB, AL as a member of the class of 66A flying T-37 and T-33A; Craig being one of the last T-33 bases. Assigned to the KC-135A at Loring AFB, ME, I first stopped by Stead AFB, NV for one of their last survival classes. While in qualification training in the KC-135A at Castle AFB, CA, a verbal change of orders came through reassigning me to Mather AFB, CA.

I arrived at Mather AFB on Dec 2, 1965, and was instantly the co-pilot of a crew deploying TDY to SouthEast Asia (SEA) on Dec 3. We landed at Kadena AB, Okinawa on Dec 5th, briefed the 6th and flew our first ARC LIGHT combat mission on Dec 7th in support of B-52 strikes in South Vietnam. We also supported the fighters flying Operation ROLLING THUNDER over North Vietnam. Four months later, we returned to Mather and I was introduced to Strategic Air Command (SAC) nuclear alert. Over the next two 2 years, I deployed two more times to Kadena, Takhli, Don Muang (Bangkok) and Ban U Tapao, Thailand in support of Operation YOUNG TIGER for an additional four months TDY supporting the tactical fighters of Operations ROLLING THUNDER and BARREL ROLL. I logged enough flight hours (1000+) to be selected for Pilot Upgrade Training by late1967 still a 1st Lt. I completed my pilot checkout in Dec 1967.

It was Jan 1968, as I was about to get my own KC-135 crew, when USAF Personnel sent PCS orders to Phan Rang AB, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) as the Base Disaster Preparedness Officer (DPO). After DP school, I reported to Phan Rang and went to Nha Trang, RVN for checkout in the C-47 as I was assigned to Base Flight for flying duties. The assignment to C-47s afforded me the opportunity to fly TDY on two trips to Bangkok, Thailand; two trips to Singapore and 5 trips to Hong Kong over my 10 month tour shortened because of my prior TDYs to SEA. Tough duty, but someone had to do it! I also found time for two R&Rs to Sydney, Australia where I met Margy, my wife to be and the love of my life. We had only been together 10 days over about four months when I called her from Hong Kong to ask her to marry me. Thirty plus days Delay Enroute back to the CONUS enabled us to marry, and Margy to get a visa to enter the US. Oh, yes, I had to call my new squadron commander (who did not know me except for my name) from Sydney to get PERMISSION to marry a “foreign national” because I was in Australia, a 27 y/o Captain but under PACAF rules! We have been married 42 years as of this writing!

My 200 hours of co-pilot time in the C-47 weighed against my 1000+ hours of all-jet time obviously qualified me most as a reciprocating engine pilot according to USAF Personnel! So, it was Apr 1969 when I reported to the 3389th Pilot Training Squadron, Military Assistance Program (MAP) at Keesler AFB, MS and began Pilot Instructor Training in the T-28A. The 3389th only trained foreign students in UPT except for the in-house instructor pilot training. We were the last USAF unit to fly the T-28A, as well as T-28Ds for a short period and T-28Bs on loan from the US Navy. Our students came from all over the world – Vietnam, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, etc., and with widely varying “mastery” of the English language, mostly only flying related.

One day I was on a contact flying mission in the T-28 with a student who was just about chronic airsick. I made him carry at least three barf bags every flight. He had just performed an aerobatic maneuver and he got sick, filling one bag. To make him more comfortable, I took the aircraft and set about demonstrating a simulated forced landing to an open field somewhere over rural MS. We could make such approaches to as low as 300' above the terrain. To cool him off, I opened the canopy which is in two sections that slide backwards with the front seat canopy then behind the front seat and over the back seat instrument panel, the rear canopy sliding back behind the rear seat. The flaps were full down and the cowl flaps open for maximum drag with the engine at idle, as I slipped the aircraft toward final approach. Just as I was approaching 300' AGL, the student held up the FILLED barf bag near the canopy rail and asked over the intercom, “Sir, can I throw this out?” I could sense my heart starting to race as I rolled the aircraft out and screamed over the intercom: “NO!! NO!! We'll talk about this on the ground!” with the vision in my mind of the bag going out into the slipstream, around the front canopy and then RIGHT INTO MY FACE!

With only about two years as a T-28 Instructor Pilot, I was naturally prime for my next assignment still at Keesler: Rated Supplement as a Non-Prior Service Student Squadron Commander! The 3402nd Student Squadron had 800+ airmen and the worst disciplinary record of all 18 student squadrons in the 3380th Student Group. It took about one year and the 3402nd was the Outstanding Squadron of the Student Group. My “favorite” airman was Rafael Anselmo Davis, who was in the Biloxi jail along with his favorite drinking buddy when I arrived. I got him out on condition that he would stick around while I finished processing him for a discharge under fraudulent enlistment. He had a rap sheet about 2 to 3 pages long, up to and including grand larceny. Within just a couple of weeks, he stole a sergeant's car and went to New Orleans, sold the car as junk and disappeared. One year and three months later, he was picked up panhandling in Washington, DC by Shore Patrol. I sent my Admin Officer (AO) and the biggest, meanest Training Instructor (TI) from the Student Group who was a black belt in karate to bring him back. On the aircraft, he asked the AO who was still in the Squadron. The AO responded with the name of TSgt Craven, the Squadron Chief TI. As my AO was delivering him to the base pre-trial confinement facility, the AO mentioned to him that: “Oh, yes, Captain Krobusek will be by tomorrow morning to see you about charges.” The AO reported that Davis was visibly shaken, but had no where to run. I referred Davis to trial by General Court Martial for desertion, auto theft, and interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle. He was awarded a Dishonorable Discharge, full forfeiture (he was already reduced to Airman Basic), and an all-expense-paid, one year vacation at the lovely resort of Fort Leavenworth, KS on the desertion charge. The Keesler Center Commander declined to prosecute the other charges.

Our first child, Diane, was born while I was assigned to the 3389th. Our second child, Derrick, was born about a week before we moved to the AF Institute of Technology Resident School at Wright-Patterson AFB (WPAFB), OH in 1973. I was a member of a team of three officers who designed and built a Remotely Piloted Research Vehicle (RPRV) designed to carry a five pound video camera aloft for aerial surveillance. We actually built the RPRV and it flew successfully at Wright Field in early '75. The RPRV had a length and span each of about 10', weighed about 30 pounds and had a canard configuration with twin pusher props – we like to think of it as the much cheaper forerunner of the present crop of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). After graduation with an MS in Aerospace Engineering, I was initially assigned to Foreign Technology Division to be their expert on Soviet aerial tanker capabilities. While waiting for an upgrade to SI/SAO (Special Intelligence/Special Access Only) from my TOP SECRET clearance, I was assigned to a SECRET level job where I met Lt Donald Alan Peppers (USAFA '72), who, I believe, was #1 in his USAFA class and he had decided that he did not want to be an AF officer. He then sued the Secretary of the AF for his release as a Notary Public of the State of CO, since he could not be an officer of both a state and the federal government according to the law! ‘Nuf said!

I was transferred to the AF Flight Dynamics Laboratory (AFFDL), WPAFB, when the Director of AF Intelligence did not like my characterization in a letter that Margy would become an American citizen as soon as PRACTICAL, not as soon as POSSIBLE, and he declined to grant my SI/SAO! WOW! I escaped!

I was assigned as an Assistant Branch Chief in FDL, with the understanding that I would take the branch as soon as the Branch Chief got his expected PCS orders. Before that could happen, we received a shipment of 26 cardboard boxes of primarily classified documents from the vault at HQ PACAF. The branch vault and civilian contractors were only cleared for SECRET. The contractor screening the contents discovered TOP SECRET documents and stopped screening and called the Branch Chief. Since I was one of only three persons in AFFDL with a TS clearance (the AFFDL CO and his secretary were the others), my next couple months were spent reading through the documents to downgrade/declassify those documents where possible and culling out those nasty TS documents that could not be downgraded. However, the boxes contained not only TOP SECRET, but also SPECAT, CODE WORD, EYES ONLY, and BACK CHANNEL documents! What an insight into the behind the scenes war in SEA! I succeeded in convincing the AFFDL commander to transfer the remaining TS documents to the vault at Air War College and not destroy them. There are more hair raising/fun stories about this branch, but I'll tell them some other time.

The transfer of the Branch Chief did not come through fast enough, and an opportunity as Branch Chief of the Analysis and Optimization Branch in the Structures Division of AFFDL came available, so I interviewed and took it. We developed cutting edge structural and aerodynamic computer programs involving high level mathematics, transonic aero, flutter and flight graphics modeling, primarily on mainframe computers.

After seven years in the rated supplement with only 2 years of proficiency flying, USAF Personnel caught up with me and I was ordered back to active flying status in the only operational aircraft still in the inventory that I had flown – the KC-135A. Re-qual in the tanker was interesting as I had only flown “round dials” in all of my previous aircraft and the tanker had been upgraded to flight director (FD) in my absence. The IP did not appreciate my flying basic instruments without reference to the FD, so I finally gave in and learned the system. I no sooner reported to my new squadron, the 91st Air Refueling Sq. (AREFS), McConnell AFB, KS, than I was made Operations Officer because I was the first field grade officer they had seen in years other than the Sq CO. Back to Castle AFB to check out as an IP! Less than two years, and the Alert Facility desperately needed a competent manager, as crew morale was low because of back-to-back alerts; so I left the squadron and took the facility over. After I whipped the Alert Facility into shape and received outstanding ratings from SAC IG for the facility maintenance and dining facility, the 384th AREF Wing CO transferred me back to the flying squadrons again but this time as the Operations Officer in the 384th AREFS. The 384th AREF Wing was the only all-tanker wing. The Wing CO was personally very happy with my performance and wanted me to be promoted come O-6 time, but was concerned that I needed the right endorsements to get promoted in SAC.

This assignment was only slightly marred when, as the Ops Off, I had to manage Sinbad! Yes, the comedian was a boom operator (BO) in the squadron! He was even the BO when I took Margy on one of the orientation flights of the short-lived program for family members. I was one of the strongest voices that recommended that Sinbad should find another line of work than the AF! He took a step in the right direction when he went AWOL after a TDY to the Tops In Blue competition. The Sq CO was far too easy on him in my opinion.

It became obvious that I could not get high enough endorsements as an Ops Off within SAC to compete successfully for promotion to O-6, nor could I get my own squadron as a SAC “outsider.” My former AREF Wing CO (see above) had left SAC for WPAFB and Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD), so he put in the right words to have me transferred to ASD as C-130 Program Manager for all worldwide military C-130 acquisitions including the new MC-130H COMBAT TALON II Special Operations aircraft procurement. As such, I inherited the CREDIBLE SPORT Program assets that were intended for an Iran hostage rescue effort. I had to clean up the “classified” documents of a highly rushed “black” program. Watch the amazing/heartbreaking video by searching the Internet for: Credible Sport. The last remaining aircraft is on display outside of Boeing (then Lockheed) Atlanta, GA.

I burned out on this assignment with all of the travel and “what ifs” by HQ USAF, so I asked to go back to AFFDL in a branch. I found a branch chief's position in the FDL in the Crew Systems Development Branch. We did basic and advanced research in cockpit development such as voice recognition, flat screens, integrated computer driven displays, human factors engineering, etc., before digital computers made them reality. My Division Chief had signed up to present a paper at an international NATO Aerospace Medical Conference in Athens, Greece, and had to back out of it. He offered it to me if I would write the paper and present it at the conference. My “swan song,” the paper was titled: Aircrew Aspects of USAF Future Fighter Aircraft. The presentation was the keynote address and I started with a film clip of the AFTI F-16 (Advanced Fighter Technology Integrator) flying in formation with a line F-16. The AFTI F-16 dynamically demonstrated direct lift, direct sideforce and flat turn versus the conventional F-16. The audience was stunned.

I returned to the States and retired in July 1985 as an O-5. Texas Instruments, Dallas, made me an offer that I could not refuse! I was brought in as Proposal Manager and subsequently Program Manager of Pilot's Associate, a demonstration of Artificial Intelligence applied to the fighter aircraft of 1995. After a couple of other internal “career broadening” assignments, I was laid off in 1990 – no more useable contacts in USAF.

Being too old, too experienced and too expensive, no one would even respond to my resumes. So, I went into the real estate investing business with Margy and an acquaintance buying depressed homes, renovating them and selling them. The physical labor was difficult but very rewarding, as was the money.

In the summer of 1997, I was introduced to a law firm specializing in patent prosecution. It seemed like a good fit and had zero physical labor involved, so I signed on as a contract patent technical writer with the opportunity to qualify as a Registered Patent Agent. I was registered as an Agent in Sep 1999 and been very pleased with the work because every case is unique. I don't know if I would have survived 20 years in the Air Force if I had not had the variety of assignments that I did!

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