Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Steve's History

Steve.jpg I grew up in West Philly and South Jersey with a desire to fly since about age 12. Read "I Wanted Wings" and learned in that book that the 'West Point of the Air' was OTS and pilot training at Randolph Air Base, and to apply required no college education (circa 1952). Then as time passed first 2 years required, then 4, then USAFA. Having no political contacts I commuted to Drexel Institute of Technology and hated Army ROTC for a year. Two weeks before Class of '64 entrance date I received telegram saying I was accepted as a 'Qualified Alternate' ... ie, "skin of teeth acceptance'. Academically I loafed for two years, played a little tennis & soccer, and received a lot of Spiritual help from the Navigators.

In August of 1963 I had my 21st birthday and started the process of adopting my step-father, William C. Muller. He was a very generous, reliable, and kind man with a great work ethic and quiet role-model attitude, apparently very different from my genetic father who did not return to my mother and me after WWII but drank himself to death at age 47. Bill Muller had no other children and his obvious, but unspoken, pleasure at my taking his name made it one of the best things I ever did. Now you know how Steve Phelan became Steve Muller last year at school.

As the courses became more interesting the grades improved and eventually I snuck under the wire again by being allowed to fly with one eye at 20/40. Was a plow-back IP in 37's at Webb AFB x 2 years then PIT at Perrin AFB for 2 more. Col. Billy A. McLeod, PIT commander, allowed me to fly at night and on weekends while taking pre-med courses at Austin College, Sherman, TX. (See "story" if interested)

I learned far more from my PIT students than they from me ... most were returning from SEA, but one O-6, Sterling E. (Yogi) Barrow, had flown P-38's in CBI before I was born! We became good friends and he helped me get into med school. With a wife and two sons we entered Jefferson Medical College in Philly for four years then with three sons went on to five at Wilford Hall in surgery and ENT, then on to Alaska & Ft. Worth to fulfill my commitment. (See story 2 for details, if not asleep by now)

Following 'blue suit' days was eighteen years in private practice, Austin, TX, then, and currently, many great times in Colorado cabin and Texas hill-country retirement. My greatest blessings are my three sons, twelve grandkids and a wonderful wife. I am eternally grateful to the American taxpayers who allowed me to be educated, full-time, for fourteen of the twenty-four years that I spent in uniform. God Bless America!
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