Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

David's History

My home in Massachusetts was close to a Naval Air Station, so growing up I saw lots of naval aircraft flying over my house. That was the beginning of my dream to become a pilot. In 1955 ground was broken to build the Academy in Colorado, and in eighth grade I made up my mind that I was going to attend. I was first eligible in 1959, but was my Congressman's first alternate. A year at the University of MA and repeated letters to my Congressman got me an appointment in 1960.

Missing that first year was a blessing. As a Doolie, I validated 10 hrs of Chemistry and 5 hrs of French opening a bunch of holes that I filled with physics classes. During my four years, I stayed in 13th Sq which was the norm. 13th took Honor Squadron three of the four years - we had some pretty smart people and great leadership. Lee Butler (61), Don Sheppard (62), Ron Fogleman (63), Paul Kaminski (64), Dick Hawley (64),).

The class of 64 had its other moments too (along with 3rd Group). Like the time we stacked a motel in Boulder to have a party. A CU student was at the desk the night we got the room, but the owner was on duty the next morning as cadet after cadet after cadet and a few females exited the room. A lengthy investigation resulted in a change in CO law about the number of people allowed in a motel room. Wow! What a party.

My Third Lieutenant assignment was to Pease AFB to a SAC bomber wing. During that brief orientation I got a 9 hr flight in a KC-97 and a 6 hr flight in a B-47. Only about 30 minutes of it offered anything of interest. My desire to fly ended after those motivational flights, and science and engineering became my love.

A fair number of 13th Sq 64 grads entered graduate school as a first assignment, including myself – Kaminski, Madl, Knutson, Sowers, Brown, Hawley, Dickey, Wittress, Gates, Hauth, Sansom, and Cioffi (had to have been a record!). I went to U of IL in Nuclear Engineering. At the end of my first semester I was bolted out of bed one morning by a call from a very irate colonel at Wright Patterson AFB asking why I was taking nuclear engineering when I was sent there to take physics. Bottom line- I misread my orders but ended up with a MS in Nuclear Engineering anyway which set the path for the rest of my career and life to date.

My active duty time was spent between AFSC labs, the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), and either AFIT (for my PhD in Physics) or PME at Maxwell. I never did get to Vietnam. As a nuclear engineer, there were few assignments available, so I found myself assigned more than once to AFTAC whose mission was to monitor provisions of three nuclear test ban treaties, i.e. we detected nuclear explosions. In 1987 I retired after 23 yrs and became an Air Force civil servant with AFTAC. Two yrs later, I was selected to be a senior executive as their Chief Scientist where I still reside. I don't know if I hold a record, but I was sworn into the Air Force on 27 June 1960 and 51 years later I am still in the Air Force without a break.

Does anyone remember the blowout party we had our 2nd class year in a hanger at Ent/Peterson AFB? The beer was an inch deep on the floor. My date that night eventually became my wife- now of 45 yrs. If I have had any successes it is because of her total support. Fifteen years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has beaten it three times since then through an operation, chemo and radiation treatments, yet she never stopped supporting our Air Force mission. If you want to hear a story of dedication and determination, I have one for you.

Today I find myself involved in nuclear planning and policy issues. 9/11 caused the US to realize that a terrorist might detonate a nuclear device in the US. A multi-agency program has been established to create a capability to determine who did it through nuclear debris forensics, intelligence information, and FBI and local law enforcement inputs. It is a formidable task, but I have always loved a challenge!

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