Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Jim's History

Jim Sears


I grew up in a small North Missouri town (population less than 1500). In the spring of 1959 Coach Bob Spear visited Milan, MO, to ask me to play basketball at the Academy. He invited me to visit the Academy in the summer, 1959. I applied for a congressional appointment and arrived at the US Air Force Academy in 1960.

At the Academy, I played football and never basketball. I would not have survived the Academy without football. Academics suffered from the energy expended in football practice – fall and spring. However, the stress released by hitting someone legally every day got me to graduation with the great Class of 1964.

After graduation, I married Betty in USAFA's new Chapel and proceeded to Moody AFB, GA for pilot training. Surprising everyone, I was first in the Class of 66A at assignment choosing time. I made the last real choice of my military career: F-4's at RAF Bentwaters, England. Betty and I had our choice 3 year assignment cut off in less than a year with my orders to Da Nang AB, Viet Nam. I had my 100 F-4 missions North in less than a year with one MIG-21 kill. The sad part was that 32 pilots left England for Viet Nam and only 14 returned to the states at the end of that assignment. A few more came back to the States years later.

I went to Reese AFB, TX as an instructor pilot (1968-1971). During that time Betty and I increased our family to three children. Someone threw my records in the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Civilian Institution stack and I went to the University of Missouri (1971-Dec 1972) for a Masters Degree in Engineering Management. Betty and I were on a house hunting trip at Wright Patterson AFB, OH in November 1972, when we were told my assignment had been changed to Osan Air Base, South Korea. We went to Hurlburt Field, FL for O-2 training, and then I dropped Betty and kids in Missouri. At Osan, I was Chief, Aircrew Evaluation from May 1973-May 1974. I had one break at home for emergency leave in January 1974 when Betty had our 4th child. Next assignment was to Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (1974-1978).

In 1978, I returned to flying at Sheppard AFB, TX. I worked with Iranian students until the Shah of Iran was toppled in 1979. Sheppard AFB got the EURO-NATO flight training program and I lost my job as Chief of Academics to a German officer. I became Chief, Base Contracting Office at Sheppard AFB. I had some good civilian employees and worked closely with our USAFA classmate, Pete LoPresti, who commanded the Civil Engineering Squadron. The Contracting Office was honored with the award as the Best Base Contracting Office in the Air Force for 1983. True to form, when honored you have to be punished. I went to Headquarters SAC at Offutt AFB, NE on the Contracting Staff. My tour with SAC ended when I was selected for Colonel in 1984. That promotion brought me to Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Wright Patterson AFB, OH (1985-1990) for three different jobs, including Commander of the Wright-Patterson Contracting Center and AFLC Competition Advocate.

I retired from the USAF, 31 Aug 1990.

I took a High School teaching job in Lebanon, OH. I taught there for 4 years, and I liked working with students and parents. Lebanon School District had a teachers' union and I did not like that organization at all! Took me 4 years to find a job in a non-union district, and I actually got a raise in pay when I left Lebanon for Wilmington, OH. Now retired from teaching, Betty and I live in Ohio. Still have 4 children, but only 4 grandchildren. I am concerned for those grand children as the USA changes.
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