Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Ted's History

Life started for me in a Relocation Camp (Poston, AZ) where Japanese-Americans were sent from the West Coast after Pearl Harbor, so when I received my appointment my father wrote USAF Secretary Sharp expressing his gratitude for the opportunities that the US allowed Japanese Americans. As I remember, the other Asians in '64 included Willie Sakahara, Clarence Fong, and Joe Chu.

I remember, before I became a cadet, riding the bus in from Denver and trying to memorize the National Anthem and the Air Force song and Ken Snapp and Denny Boesen could see that I was going to be a strange classmate. During doolie summer, while up on the athletic fields when one of my 41st Sqd classmates spied a football and said how he wanted to kick it around. So I picked it up gave it a 20 yard boot. He then boomed out a 50+ yard kick which sent me running down the field to retrieve it. I enjoyed the change of pace, but got a little tired chasing after Terry Isaacsons boots (I think Terry was 2nd in the nation in punting our 3rd class year).

A major event for me came on Feb 15, 1961 when the entire US Figure Skating Team was lost in a plane crash outside of Brussels, Belgium. My 7th Sqd classmate, Bill Hickok had been aboard. Our AOC had taken us all down to the Broadmoor to see the finals where Bill and his sister made the team. Bill was the “section driver” for the Chemistry class and admired by us all. This incident led me to regularly start attending the daily chapel services before breakfast. I was impressed by Chaplain Carpenter who stepped down from his 2-star position to be the Academy Protestant Chaplain so as to “invest in men.” I enjoyed being in the Protestant choir with classmates like Dave Mueh, and serving as an acolyte with Skip Wilson. In our 2nd class year Dave composed, arranged the music, organized and led the pit orchestra for USAFA's first cadet musical, Hey Mr. Blue!, which I helped write and then produced.

After graduation it was off to MIT to study physics, and learn how much I didn't know. I relate how I was in the bottom 10% of my class upon entering, and at the bottom when I got my masters since the 9% below me flunked out. During these difficult times I became closer to God and the best thing that ever that happened to me. I made a public confession of my accepting Christ and was baptized. Unlike me, other 64 grads did quite well, like my room mate Jerry Schlegel (who got straight A's in physics), Paul Kaminski and Dennis Madl in Aero/EE.

My next assignment in '66 was to Kirtland AFB to the new AF Weapons Lab. I tell people when I was a Lt., I was solely responsible for 10% of the AF Laser Weapons Manpower … I WAS 10% of the manpower. Bill Helmich, Jerry Schlegel, Harold Dogliani, and John Erkilla (classmates from Capt Walt Ware's Quantum Mechanics USAFA Class) were there too. After just 1 year I was granted a waiver to return to grad school before my first assignment was completed, to accept a scholarship under Dr. Rank, who had been nominated twice for the Nobel physics prize and complete my PhD. At Penn State I met and married Diane (the 2nd best thing that happened to me) and Jennifer was born.

Then in '70 it was back to Kirtland to be part of the Airborne Laser Lab (ALL) where I got involved in a revolutionary optical fabrication technology, diamond turning of optics. Our son Paul was born in the Sandia Base Hospital to complete our family. The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory had advanced the accuracy of a lathe using a diamond cutting tool to machine optics to optical tolerances (a fraction of a micrometer). Furthermore unusual geometries could now be made, making it possible to design brand new laser resonatorss, like the gas dynamic laser, which captured the energy from the annulus of a burning “rocket engine” in a laser beam capable of shooting down ICBM's in space. Of greater importance was the opportunity to share with my colleagues the excitement and promise of a personal relationship with Christ. Joining with other Christians at the Weapons Lab we held noon time Bible studies and a few of us supported a Christian Drug rehabilitation Center where I first taught a Bible Study. In the meantime Diane and I hosted a group in our home, that at one time whose male composition all were PhD physicists (a new twist on the term Christian scientists).

In '74 I had a special assignment to Livermore to direct the DOE (then ERDA)-USAF Machining of Optics program. DARPA asked me to lead an effort to make the most accurate diamond turning machine in the world to make the Star War mirrors for the Space Based Laser. Furthermore the technology was commercialized, during my tour at the AF Materials Lab at Wright-Patterson, to make optics for infra-red applications, with phenomenal savings ($1 M in just 1 small project).

I wrapped up my 20 year career where I started with my assignment to the Seiler Research Lab at USAFA where I eventually became the commander before retiring as a LTC. Diane became the 1st dietitian at Mitchell Hall and had a raw food budget larger than my whole research budget at Seiler! (See Story on the near death of Form 1096.) Again we enjoyed the opportunity to share our faith with the faculty and staff. At my small retirement luncheon I told the attendees that I had really enjoyed my AF career, especially the time that I'd spent with them which let me share about the treasure of knowing Christ, and I had been careful not to overstep my prerogatives and if I could have I would have ordered them all into the kingdom of God. But since I could not order them I had prayed for them and wished them the best as we separated.

So in '84 I joined the technical staff at the Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco. During this time I had the opportunity to organize and chair various professional societies' technical meetings for which I prayed for assistance which God provided and I publicly acknowledged. This met with resistance from my technical colleagues, but did not prevent my being selected to be the president of SPIE, an international optical engineering society. As the President-elect I was asked to give an opening welcoming talk to the Lasers Conference in (then) Leningrad, Russia. I mentioned how I and some of my Livermore colleagues had been praying for Russia and I looked forward to the opportunity to discuss the hope that God provides them during this time of change. My offer invoking God was warmly accepted by the Russians but met with opposition from some of my Western colleagues. (See story on Saito in Russia). Livermore gave me many interesting opportunities which included two “detailee” assignments to Washington (94-6, & '01-04) at DOE Headquarters and at the Pentagon. In 2001 I was asked to and signed The Discovery Institute's statement “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” This was stimulated by the PBS special on Darwin airing about this time.

My 2nd retirement (2006 from Livermore) capped off over 45 years as a scientist/engineer which I really enjoyed and during which was honored by being elected a fellow of the Optical Society and SPIE. I now enjoy the time that I have to teach Bible Studies, to disciple men and invest in my grandchildren

When going through the voir dire jury selection process I was asked about any military service and replied “Yes I had military service, and the military is an excellent organization offering terrific opportunities to young people with undeveloped potential.” I am grateful for the opportunities the Lord has provided me including the start with a great bunch of guys in USAFA '64
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