Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

John's History

My little history will pale in comparison to those of my more esteemed classmates. But on the off chance that someone might come along with more time on their hands than they know what to do with, I'll attempt a few words.

I was born and raised in a rural area near the small Midwestern town of Columbus, Nebraska, the youngest of five surviving children (two others were lost in childhood). My first eight years of schooling were in a one room country schoolhouse used at one time by only my family and one other.

Fate did not bestow on me any talent or athletic ability so it came as a surprise to me and those around me when I became one of the most unlikely teenagers ever to win an appointment to a military academy. And so it was that at the exact age of 17 years and one month, I became a member of the class of ‘64.

My one claim to fame at the Academy came as a result of training doolies on the firing range during the summer before our 1st class year. The coach of the pistol team "discovered" me, and invited me to join the team for my final year.

Thus it was that I received the one and only varsity letter of my entire school career. I know I wasn't a "real" jock, but, still, I was quite proud of my little accomplishment.

Approaching graduation, with the Vietnam war rapidly ramping up, I was allowed to go to pilot training despite my 20/50 vision. My first operational assignment was in the RF-4C first at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand then RAF Alconbury, England where I attended night classes to earn my MBA.

Ironically, my next assignment was to AFIT where I earned another masters, this time in Aero Engineering. I then spent five years with AFLC at McClellan AFB after which I moved on to Travis AFB and flew the C-5 for the remainder of my career of 24 years, 4 months, 28 days.

After that I flew commercially, eventually retiring a second time as an A320 Captain with America West Airlines. At that time, the mandatory retirement age was still age 60, but had changed to 65 in many other countries.

So after three and a half years in retirement, when the airline industry picked up in India, I went there for a final year and a half as a Captain with Deccan Airlines. It was a short but adventuresome culmination to my aviation career.

I am no longer married, but I would probably be pretty good at it having practiced twice.

As a 71 year old aspiring Buddhist, I look back on my life with a sense of profound gratitude: to my parents for having given me life;

for the opportunity to travel through the universe all these years on this space ship called Earth;

to the Air Force for having given me an excellent education and an exciting and challenging career;

for having had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with some of the finest men and women this country has to offer.

And finally, I am grateful that my son has been able to serve his country in uniform as well. In addition to his airline career, he also flies for the Air Force Reserves at Travis AFB where he is currently the Commander of the 301st ALS (C-17s). To the extent that I leave a legacy, it is through him.

Go Watusis!

Rob and Myself

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