Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Remember 27 June 1960?

By Doug Jenkins

All Right Guys,

Do you remember what you were doing 27 June 1960? Of course you do. On 27 June 1960, we arrived at the United States Air Force Academy to begin our new lives.

For me the day started at our house in Miller Beach, on Lake Michigan outside Gary, Indiana. My dad, mom, brother and sister took me to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. On the way to Chicago, I declared this to be the “happiest day of my life.” At the gate, instead of thanking my mom and dad for all they had done for me, I was looking ahead to my arrival at the academy, wondering what it would be like. I also was spying out several young, sharp dressed guys in the area of our gate. Tom Jobin, from Elmhurst Illinois was among them. I surmised several of them were headed to the same destination as I. “There’s the competition,” I thought. I tried not to notice the tears in my mom’s eyes. She could have used a hug. What was I thinking?

I took a Continental Airlines 707 jet from there, changed planes in Denver and flew a Continental Viscount turboprop into the Colorado Springs airport. There I and a growing number of clean-cut young men boarded a USAFA Bus and headed west on Platte Avenue, north on Circle Drive, west on Fillmore, and north on Nevada Avenue. I noticed the grass was brown and the rivers were dry. I began to miss Lake Michigan. We passed through the South Gate, past the old Visitor’s Center and on up Stadium Blvd (what was it called then? There was no stadium!) to the base of the ramp in the cadet area. Homesickness and second thoughts began to claw at me.

After handing off my deposit, filling out some forms, receiving shots and taking the oath of office, I was sent out a glass door onto the terrazzo level. There I found myself in the presence of C/1CThomas L Sutton, who gave me my first taste of the fourthclass system. He had a 46” chest and a 28” waist. He wore immaculate starched, tailored khakis, a wheel hat and white gloves. He was the most amazing example of military bearing I had ever seen. He also had a terrific set of teeth and prominent tonsils. It didn’t take him very long to find profound fault with me, buck me up, dress me down and drop me for innumerable push-ups.

Then the fog of war set in. I do remember going through cadet supply and being issued two laundry bags full of uniforms, shoes and other essential gear. By that time, “the happiest day of my life” had taken a serious turn to the south. I was assigned to the 44th Basic cadet Training Squadron. Late in the day, after endless marching, double-timing and push-ups, I found my assigned room on the second floor of Vandenberg facing east toward Black Forest. I met my assigned roommate, Dave Willoughby. I attended my first shower formation, and finally was allowed to go bed. The rest is history, as they say.

Who could have imagined where our adventures would take us over the next fifty years? The experiences we had and the opportunities we had to serve this great nation were beyond our wildest dreams.

I am writing to each of you because I know you understand what I’m talking about. Very few, if any others do these days.

I salute you, my classmates and friends, on our common experience and all we learned in the process which began fifty years ago today.
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