Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Jim's History

I came to USAFA as a "kid", just 17 and 1/2, from a small farm. I had not been away from home, even to Boy Scout Camp. What a shock. I still couldn't help grinning which led to many push-ups, nose to nose yelling by "firsties" and no food. On the 1st day, one Firstie was so frustrated at my inability to learn to do an "About Face" that he almost cried yelling at me, then burst out laughing. The hardest was "no food", as a skinny kid at 6'2" and 155lbs., I lost 15 lbs that summer. In any case, I was determined to "make it" to graduation. I had trouble studying for about the 1st 2 years, probably ADHD would be diagnosed now, but I survived. My 3rd Squadron classmates, roommates and friends were an immense help and support, as was intramurals, Club water polo and the outdoors.

Pilot Training at Laughlin was great, but hotter'n Hell. I loved West Texas, hunted, made some great freinds and had some funny experiences flying. My first instructor in T-37 s was great on the ground but a "bear in the air", pounding the instrument panel and yelling at my thick- headedness. I made up my mind that I would never retort or complain but if he hit or swatted me, it would be a different story. Toward the end of T-37's, on an instrument ride, I had too little airspeed on a letdown for approach and he grabbed my oxygen hose, cutting off my air. I looked at him like he was crazy and un-loaded to multiple negative G's. Bill, always keeping his seat straps loose for comfort, ended up on the canopy along with books, pencils, dirt and GKW else. We flamed out an engine. He had me declare the emergency and fly it in. I thought my "goose was cooked" and expected to be "terminated" from the program at that point. At shutdown, Bill quietly muttered, "Guess I have to change my instructional technique" and we both went on without another word about it. T-38's were SUPER.

Went to Phantoms in Europe, via Davis-Monthan in Tucson. The rumor was that as soon as we were operationally ready, the entire 81st Wing at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge would deploy to SEA. Sure enough, the USAFE Tac Eval team was just leaving when the 1st teletype outlined almost the entire 91st Squadron. We, the 92nd were next in a month. Next list took pilots, maintenance, munitions personnel right down to my DOR, so we had one flight in the 92nd and the 78th at Woodbridge left.

No rumor and no list for the next year. We assumed re-assignment was coming. Six of us, all GIBS had become "dual seat qualified" and one Friday were asked if we would accept re-assignment to Davis-Monthan and then to SEA for a front-Seat assignment. All of us said yes. By Monday afternoon, we were bumped by more senior ranking GIBS returning from SEA who wanted the up-grade slot. That turned out to open the door for me to go to medical school which required resigning my Regular AF Commission and going Reserve.

I had a slot in the Class of 1973 but had to wait to finish my aircrew time, thinking I would go Reserve. Having to wait, I would enter the Class of 1974 which was extremely fortunate as I met my wife Sue as a Classmate. We're still together after 40 years, 4 grown children, 1 grandchild and still working, too hard, but still at it.

Residency in Medicine at U of Md Hospital for 3 years after Medical school at Maryland, I still think it's a great place. Then the George Washington Univ program for Chest( Pulmonary) and Critical Care(ICU) Medicine. Sue did Pediatrics 3 years, Neonatology for 2 years at Maryland and MPH at Hopkins and then we went to Cumberland in the mountains of Western Maryland. This lady has put up with a wreck of an old house, wood heat, cows, dogs,mud, my being on call and working crazy hours and her own constant on-call for the Boy's Forestry Camps and Jackson Units, (juvenile detention and Drug and Alcohol Units) and being the Health Officer of Allegany County for the entire 31 years.

As for me, I was recruited to support a new ICU/Trauma service in Cumberland in 1979 while Sue was recruited to the Allegany Health Dept. In practice for 20years, I was able to recruit new fully trained and boarded Pulm/CCM doctors to both hospitals, work as the Director of Respiratory Care, become involved in Medical Quality Improvement and contribute to the merger of the Catholic Hospital, Sacred Heart ,and the secular community hospital, Memorial, which was my hospital. Being part of a 2 hill, 2 high school, 2 hospital town,each of whom were "rock throwing competitors", this was no small feat and took 10years of persistent negotiation, wrangling and fighting. I was not an "innocent bystander" so am "guilty as well".

I swore that I would never be a "medical staff cop" but was recruited to that job, Chief Medical Officer, by the emerging administration of the newly formed Western Maryland Health System. We managed to join the medical staffs, start, Cardiac Surgery and Intervention, a Hospital Medicine Service (Hospitalists),a Stroke Unit, a "Medical Evaluation Team" call system and do the necessary prosecutorial role for medical staff disciplinary matters, no fun the last one. Finished an MBA in "the Business of Medicine" at JHU, it only took me 7 years and I'm thankful for the forbearance of the originator of the program, Dr. Doug Hough.

Wearing out one's welcome as CMO is inevitable so, I retired in 2010 and am now working part-time as a clinician in the Hospital Medicine Service.

In any case, with 40 years of hypertension and sleep apnea, I am thankful to still be alive and working, hopefully useful to my community and family and thankful for the opportunities I have had via the Academy, the Air Force, the University of Maryland and the forbearance of my wife Sue and children, David, Daniel, Celeste and Charles. The opportunity to work with severely ill and injured patients, be instrumental in their diagnosis and recovery, when possible, has been especially rewarding. So too has the work with dying patients helped me understand our own small place in the Universe and our own mortality. Some funny stories later if I get the chance.

Finally, I have always felt that I owed a "debt of gratitude" to our classmates who have died in combat and otherwise and especially to those men who suffered so much as POW's. To atone for that "debt", I always felt that have and would continue to work for safe and excellent patient care and be available for "On-Call" whenever I was needed. Twenty years of every other day and night were part of that committment, as well as long periods of being the only Pulm/CCM doctor at Memorial, one stretch being 8 months.

In any case, I am grateful to my Nation for educating me, both at USAFA and as a pilot and again at the University of Maryland School of medicine, my teachers and my classmates. Whatever our faults as a nation, we are still the Greatest Democracy, with a Constitution and "rule of law", protection of freedom and individual rights, religious freedom, social and environmental consciousness and a willingness to intervene for "freedom and democracy" and disasters around the world.

All in All, it is my wife Sue, my children and "service to others" which mean the most to me.

Jim Raver
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