Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Persistence Isn't Always a Virtue

by Fred Wagner

During my 4th class year, several members of the class of 1962 in CS17decided they didn't want me in 'their Air Force' and did their best to discourage me, which of course had the opposite effect. They might have been further enraged when in the fall of 1960, a wing-wide contest was announced for new Cadet 'fight song' and Cheer. Prices were to be ODP's for upper classes, and a week At East in the Area for doolies. Apparently mine was the only entry from our class – words to go to the tune of Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho – but I was shocked to learn that I'd won the prize. I was 'at ease' for a week, and when challenged by upperclassmen, I was tell them I was authorized by Cadet LtCol Nels O'Rear, my cadet squadron commander. It was a lovely week, but when it was over, it was back to morning “special inspections” and the rest of the drill. The harassment got so bad that after making Dean's list the fall semester, I flunked Math 152 second semester and went on Academic probation for my 3rd class year. There was a confidential interview on the Academic building to find out what had happened. I explained about the intentional harassment, without naming names.

That interview may been a factor in a lovely 3rd class year – I was appointed Squadron Clerk and got Cadet S/Sgt rank – a position I'd never heard of – because of my ability to touch type, and ownership of a nice SCM portable typewriter. I typed a few things for the bulletin board, but mainly got called upon to type academic papers for 1st and 2nd classmen who didn't type. Reimbursement was on the order of a dime or a quarter a page. 3rd Class year was also special – as doolies, Kris Mineau, Dan Ward and I had been selected as potential Pentathletes for the 1964 Olympics, and trained all year in Pistol, Epee Fencing, cross-country running, and swimming (400 meter freestyle). We weren't a varsity sport, and we had to train every day, but we were allowed to participate in squadron intramurals, so we swam and played water polo, and soccer and lacrosse doolie year. Intramural swim meets were a blast – Kris, Dan and I took a first in every event we entered, unless we happened to run into each other, since we were in different squadrons. All the REALLY good swimmers were on the Varsity. During doolie year we were on training tables with the fencing team in season, but that wasn't much looser than regular squadron tables. However, the athletic department selected 7 members of the class of 1965 to also be pentathon trainees, and that put us at a total of 10 – enough for our own training table, ALL YEAR. Life was good.... until we had a competition with the Army's Pentathlon trainees from Ft Sam Houston – they were officers, not cadets, and their Full Time Job was Pentathlon. They waxed us, and they went to Tokyo. The ten of us went back to squadron tables for the rest of our time at the Academy.

I roomed with Hap Burnham several times, once as doolies, and once or twice in later years. We enjoyed hiking he peaks west of the cadet area. One fine day, Hap had a new Winchester '94 Carbine, and we hike up the mountain, took a few shots at another peak, and watched the sun go down. A glorious sunset, And the moon was either full or not due up for hours. Anyway, once the sun was down, it was REALLY DARK, and we hadn't brought flashlights. Using the distant streetlights in the valley below as beacons, we carefully walked and slid back down. The next time I did night mountain hiking was at Stead AFB several years later!

Would I do 4 years as a cadet (if I were the right age) again? Yes! Can I imagine life as a cadet with a coed wing ? With difficulty !
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