Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Ed's History


Jeanette_Ed400x300.jpeg I was born about five months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I'm sure you can figure out which of those two events grabbed all the headlines that year. My Dad was an Engineer working for Westinghouse in a critical occupation during the war, so he never had any direct connection with the military. A family friend who had flown B-24s in combat took me for my first ride in an airplane (a corporate DC-3) when I was seven years old, and from then on I was hooked.

I grew up in Port Chester, NY, not far from West Point, and began to dream of going that route as I watched the F-86's in newsreels during the Korean War. But as I entered high school in 1955, the Air Force Academy had just opened it's doors to the first class of cadets. So much for West Point. I was unsuccessful in my first attempt to enter USAFA, so I attended the Univ. of Detroit as an Aeronautical Engineering student and a ROTC cadet. I was ecstatic in May of 1960 when I learned I would be joining the Class of '64 the following month. During one of the many lectures we endured that first summer we were given some class statistics to indicate what a "select" group we were. Lots of Class Presidents, valedictorians, state champion quarterbacks, runners, wrestlers, etc. I waited patiently for some category that included me and began to wonder how I got there. I guess there was just enough room for an Eagle Scout with average grades and a little perseverance.


I really did enjoy my four years at the Academy. Our brand-new "campus" was still a work in progress, traditions borrowed from elsewhere were being shaped and molded, we were still expanding and our dorm was not yet full, our beautiful chapel rose tetrahedron upon tetrahedron and soon was ready for its daily watering. I am still amazed at the incredible bond among graduates in general and classmates in particular. Other than our sister Service Academies, I don't think any school in the country is remotely close in that respect.

Air Force

After graduation I moved on to pilot training at Webb AFB, Big Spring, Texas. Flying airplanes proved to be even more enjoyable than I dreamed it would be, so I was able to really focus and do well. Most of the guys in my class wanted to be fighter jocks, but I decided to request a C-141 assignment. My luck held, and I went to Charleston AFB, SC, in Sep 1965. C-141's were new to the AF then and new airframes were arriving monthly. They got a lot of use very quickly though as activity in Southeast Asia escalated. After about three years (and 2,000 hours of flying time) at Charleston I was selected for assignment as a Forward Air Controller in the OV-10A, another relatively new airplane with superb performance.

Before I could direct air strikes in support of ground troops I had to learn the fighter pilot's view. That was accomplished during a training program at Cannon AFB, NM. We used venerable old T-33's to practice dive bombing and strafing missions, learning to describe targets using landmarks which could be distinguished by fast-movers at relatively high altitudes. Then back eastbound again to Hurlburt Field, FL to learn how to fly the OV-10A (classmate Jim Hermanson was my IP) and all the other things involved in becoming a FAC. It was a tough moment in early June, 1969, when I waved goodbye to my wife and three young sons as I departed for Vietnam.

After stops for jungle survival training in the Philippines and an in-country checkout in Vietnam, I arrived at Lai Khe AB in central III Corps, about 30 miles north of Saigon. I was assigned to 19 TASS and we were supporting the 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One". After about four months I was tapped to fill a Duty Officer position in the Direct Air Support Center (III DASC) at Bien Hoa AB. I stayed in that job until I returned to the US in June, 1970.

Once again I was flying C-141s, this time at Dover AFB, DE, but most of my trips went to Europe rather than Vietnam. I also did quite a bit of formation and airdrop training, working closely with various Army units. I really expected a prolonged stay at Dover AFB, but in May, 1972, I was selected to attend graduate school in a DoD program at the University of Rochester, NY.

In June 1973 I graduated with a MS in Systems Analysis, then was assigned to the Airlift Division of Air Force Studies and Analysis at the Pentagon. Most of the work I did there was on long term studies rather than "brush fires" or crisis management. A major portion of my four years there was spent on a study evaluating several candidates for a new tanker aircraft, tentatively dubbed the Advanced Tanker Cargo Aircraft (ATCA). When my partner and I finally finished the study, we published it under the name "Saber Extend". Some time later, the KC-10 came into the inventory and was nicknamed the "Extender". I don't know who chose the name, but it seemed an interesting coincidence.

From Jul 1977 until Jan 1978 I attended Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA. There were members from all four DoD services and one fellow from the CIA in my section. During our training, I found it very interesting to see how prior training or experience and service loyalty affected a person's wiew of a given situation. Working toward a solution acceptable to all was both challenging and fun.

After AFSC I went to another C-141 assignment, this time at McGuire AFB, NJ, and this turned out to be my final assignment. During my six and one-half years there I served as Chief Pilot and Chief of Stan/Eval at the Squadron level, and Stan/Eval Flight Examiner and Chief of Tactics at the Wing level. I retired from active duty as a Lt Col on 30 Sep 84. I chose that date because it coincided with our 20th Class Reunion. Jack Cole, my Vice Wing Commander at McGuire, officiated at my retirement ceremony which was held on the field at Falcon Stadium after a football game. Several other classmates were also there to wish me well.

Post Air Force

After four weeks of unemployment I began my new career as a corporate pilot. During the next 24 years I flew various models of Learjets, Falcon Jets, and the Gulfstream IV. It was a wonderful and interesting job which took me many places I never expected to go: Over central Cuba enroute to Jamaica; Moscow while it was still part of the USSR; China, Finland, Australia, Indonesia, to name but a few. I had the opportunity to meet Harrison Ford, Carl Icahn, Mike Mansfield, Ralph Lauren, Don Johnson, Ivan Boesky and others. Most important, I met Jeanette in 1995, four years after my first marriage ended in divorce. We have been together ever since, and she finally agreed to marry me in 2003. Corporate flying was great fun and I actually got paid to do it. I finally retired from my second career on 31 Jan 09. So far I've been too busy to figure out what my next career will be.
[ Look at me now! ]
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