Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Why I Got Out

By Todd Jagerson

In 1967/68 my Air Force and B-52 flying days ended abruptly. After three years of flying I experienced a medical scare and I went to see my commanding officer to describe this “minor personal problem.” Seeing that I was nervous, the wing commander tried to reassure me: “Don’t worry, AutAug, this will all be off the record.” Thus encouraged, I began describing a series of recent events, recent episodes in which I had temporarily lost my ability to see, hear, and speak and…. At which point the colonel, suddenly wide-eyed with shock, slammed his fist down and shouted: “YOU… ARE… GROUNDED!!!” Well, perhaps not totally off the record.

After extensive tests, the minor problem was discovered to be a quite rare kind of “ocular migraine.” This is a migraine condition – without the painful headaches -- which causes a temporary loss of “certain brain functions” (sight, hearing, speech and memory) for short periods of an hour or two – that have occurred two or three times a month for the past, well, 43 years. Now, I grant you, this was frightening, heartbreaking news, but I didn’t think it would forego my living a reasonably normal life, and I am pleased to report that I was right.

Unfortunately those fuddy-duddies at SAC Headquarters thought the intermittent loss of a few brain functions actually might affect my ability to fly nuke-carrying B-52s. An honorable, medical discharge soon followed. And suddenly, with conflicting emotions, this high-flying pilot abruptly became a pathetic ground-pounding kiwi. Argh! Not my happiest moments, but fortunately I was soon recruited into the Apollo/Saturn Project, then hired as a manufacturing plant manager, and then joined the emerging new world of management consulting.
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