Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Ron's History



Born to a show business family in 1943, the main thing that motivated me to go to the Air Force Academy were the TV series “Men of Annapolis” and “The West Point Story”. They had great looking girlfriends and terrific uniforms. Applied on a whim as a sophomore in high school and ended up getting an appointment in spring of my senior year. Didn't have enough money or scholarships to go to the University of California Santa Barbara and be a teacher or a minister and certainly didn't want to get drafted so 10 days after highschool I began my great adventure with the Air Force.


I think the first day I caught the attention of Wayne Herring ('61) who made my summer a living hell all because I couldn't recite the “Star Spangled Banner” but offered to sing it. Bad suggestion on my part.

The four years were great living in 1st Squadron with AOC's Walt Bacon and John Evanko. I had great roommates along the way including Ralph Graham, Bob Inglis, Dave Neal, Bill Greenup, John McInerney and Mike Miller. I met Mike's sister Shirley on a blind date at the end of 2nd class year and we married the day after graduation and went off to UPT at Vance.

Air Force

Key things I remember about pilot training were:

* Two weeks into it beginning to believe that my name was “dumb f…… turd"

* My instructor climbing out of the cockpit and kissing the ground

* Dick Krieps (an ROTC guy) whispering “God Damn are we having fun” as we were standing at attention on the flight line with the temperature 18 degrees and the wind at 30 knots.

* The first cheating scandal breaking and the abuse we took from the ROTC half of the class (half of our classmates were on the football team)

I left Vance and went to Travis to the 13th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron flying C-131's. Probably the best flying assignment of my career. In a little less than three years I accumulated over 2500 hours of operational flying time including over 1000 hours of actual instrument time flying into over 300 different airfields.

The squadron had two Lieutenant Colonels, six Majors, four Captains and me. You can only imagine how short a time it was before my nickname became Lieutenant “Fuzz”

I left Travis in 1968 to go to the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing for a year as a Simulator Instructor.

I never chose to volunteer for SEA, so in the winter of '69 I was “selected” for transition to Helicopters and an assignment to the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand.

Having lived through it, it turned out to be the most rewarding of all my assignments in the Air Force. There is no greater feeling than pulling someone out of the jungle who is facing the possibility of being killed or captured.

Hoping to return to fixed wing I was selected to join the 6594th Test Group at Hickam AFB, HI flying HH-3's supporting the activities of the Western Test Range. The first three years of this assignment, we spent 10-15 days a month at sea, flying off the back of converted victory ships cruising the unknown “Hawaiian Islands” northwest of Kauai. The last two years we converted to HH-53's and flew longer missions.

My additional duty along with the usual was OIC of the SCUBA diving section. We had loadmasters who had be retrained as SCUBA divers to assist in our support of the activities of the Western Test Range, and somebody had to be in charge, and that happened to be me. I attended the Navy Diving School at Pearl Harbor. It was six weeks that ranked right along side Doolie summer as being all the fun you could stand. I had three strikes going against me (I was an officer, an aviator, and Air Force) and I though the Chiefs were going to kill me.

I made it and Hawaii turned out to be the most fun I had in the Air Force. I kept extending knowing that it was not doing my career any good, but boy was it a great place to be.

I had just extended for a sixth year when I got a call from San Antonio asking me if I would be interested in attending the Navy Test Pilot School. It seems that the Air Force helicopter pilots were having troubles with the fixed wing part of the curriculum. Because of my fixed wing background, they thought I would be a good match.

A chance to have the “right stuff” was all too tempting and I jumped at the chance to join class 69 of the Navy Test Pilot School in June of 1975.

One thing I hadn't counted on was that my wife of 11 years and mother of my three children had other plans. She stayed behind in Hawaii and married my best friend. (At least the children would have a step father I could “trust”)

Test Pilot school was uneventful and rewarding with a follow on assignment to Kirtland and a new wife. She loved the six week honeymoon in my motor home with my three kids. She said it was a honeymoon she would never forget.

The assignment to Kirtland would last 8 years with much of it spent working on PAVELOW, an HH-53 specially modified for night, bad weather, single ship operations behind the lines. We affectionately called this the AUSS concept - Alone, Unarmed and Scared Silly. Two Jollies, four A-1's and the entire American Air Force just wasn't going to work in the next war.

I went to AFOTEC in 1979 to run OT&E for Flight Simulators, Rotary Wing Aircraft and Avionics. It was a great assignment with a lot of great projects including continuing work on PAVELOW, the V-22 and the Air Force version of the H-60.

In 1985 I was selected for O-6 and selected to be the Military Attache to Greece. Great place for a vacation; a lousy place to be a “spy” I thought. My other options were the Pentagon, Deputy for Supply at Pope, and an assignment at MAC headquarters at Scott. None seemed “fun” or career advancing. Figured my chances were slim as a helicopter pilot who had flown for 20 years. I made the difficult decision that if I was going to have a new career it was time to get started and I turned the promotion down and retired at 20 years and 9 months.

Post Air Force

I bounced around in high-tech jobs for five years, lost a wife, married another and ended up in San Diego in 1990 with Guardsmark, a contractor of physical security. I've now been with them longer than I was active duty. It's been a great ride with a great company.

After 20 years in San Diego, I'm back in DC with wife #4, the woman for whom I was 43 years in training. Two 11's, a 21 and now a 2 sounds ominous. However, some people can never have one great marriage. I've been lucky enough to have 4.

It's great to be back in DC after 20 years out of touch. I've been able to connect with many classmates and school mates that I'd lost touch with for years for being out of the mainstream. I continue to work for Guardsmark ( as a Vice President in charge of their business development in the Washington DC area and as President of their Defense & Aerospace Division.

Plans for retirement are distant and I truly love what I do and don't have a hobby to take up the void….

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