Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Pat's History


After 50 years of capturing opportunities and meeting challenges I write this as a grateful husband, parent and grandparent i.e. one wife, 4 grown children and 10 grandchildren. Attending USAFA and graduating as a member of the Class of 1964 provided me, in retrospect, many of the tools needed to navigate those 50 years successfully.

I was also fortunate, for all 4 years at USAFA, to be in 13th Sq with its talented leaders and members. Among 13th's leaders were future Undersecretary of Defense Paul Kaminski '64, and future 4 stars: Dick Hawley '64, Lee Butler '61 and Ron Fogleman '63. As well as, the late Bob Sansom ‘64, both a Fulbright and a Rhodes Scholar and upperclassmen like the late Howard Nichols '62 and John Dinsmore '62. Certainly, I owe gratitude/respect especially to my former '64 roommates John Sowers, the late Bill Wittress and Dick Hawley plus the rest of the 23 members of '64 in 13th. I had some rough edges then that have been somewhat smoothed by old age :)

Graduating with the Class of 1964 is a lifelong honor. Not because of the status but because of the people with whom the honor is shared.

What follows are synopses of my experiences. Not that they are anything special. What they are is what they are. BTW I don't recommend going back and forth among commands and career fields, which I chose to do, as a strategy for career management. But it allowed me to contribute to the greater good. Plus I found it to be personally satisfying. Anyway, here is my story and I am sticking to it :)

1. After graduating I went to tech school at Lowry AFB and then to MacDill AFB, Fla in Apr '65. At that time Vietnam was just expanding. Fighter Sqs were deploying on a TDY basis. Flying missions in support of Barrel Roll and Steel Tiger. As a 2Lt Avionics officer I was selected to lead the 56 man Avionics detachment and deploy in July '65 with 47th TFS to a classified location in SEA. As many know, pilots flew in backseat, at that time. Coincidently some '64 classmates had arrived at MacDill RTU for F4s around time I left.

2. Our Sq lost 10 pilots(3 POWs, 7 dead) during that 5 month TDY. I was Summary Court Officer for three of backseaters. Brought reality of war front and center for me. One of the POWs and one of deceased were the crew of first US plane shot down by SAM in early July of '65. The POW, the late Dick Keirn, was also a POW in WWII. His shoot down occurred in first week of deployment. Subsequently our pilots said they would fly over new SAM sites that were being constructed but couldn't bomb them. Although that is a different discussion. When we left we were replaced by 8th TFW. Our planes and equipment transferred to Cam Ranh Bay which was just starting up. Pretty primitive then. PSP taxiways and parking area. O club bar was slab of marble across two barrels. On a personal note: while deployed, my first son was born in Tampa although he was 10 days old before Red Cross was able to contact me.

3. When I got back I reapplied for Pilot Training and was accepted. Unfortunately, processing in, I had a little trouble reading the eye chart. To see why they put drops in my eyes and found my disqualifying astigmatisms. Doctors applied for a waiver, gave me glasses and let me fly in 172 portion. But waiver was denied. I appealed personally to Surgeon General's office but they refused to change decision. I had enjoyed the flying esp feeling when flying solo.

4. Wound up at Malmstrom AFB in SAC ICBM Sq. Certainly different from working in combat theater or flying. Was selected to take part in major test of ICBM launch capability. Took missile from silo in MT and transported it by rail to CA, put in test silo and waited for launch command. When it arrived, my crew put in one launch vote (two simultaneous votes by two crews were required for launch) and a crew in an airborne KC135, somewhere, put in the 2nd vote. Missile launched with warhead splashing in Kwajalein, 4000 mi downrange.

Had put my papers in to pursue civilian life but had to wait awhile because of active duty service commitments. We already had a second child and twin boys on way. Unfortunately, they died within 2 days of being born. It was tough time. We had to change plans and I pulled my papers. Subsequently, I received an AFIT assignment for one year Education with Industry (EWI) assignment in Production and Procurement at Grumman on Long Island, NY. They were building the new F14 and were prime contractor for Lunar Lander

5. At Grumman saw first successful flight of F14. Also worked on first Space Shuttle Proposal. Interestingly the original RFP required air breathing engines so Shuttle could go around. Rqmnt eventually deleted because of cost. At Cape got to visit full scale Lunar Lander simulator during astronaut break. So small inside! Screen display was deep space. Also visited Fairchild and the low cost fighter prototype of the A10. In general, while at Grumman,received much info on how companies price, manage and prepare proposals. Excellent program.

6. Follow on assignment was to Advanced Ballistic Reentry System (ABRES) SPO at SAMSO in Los Angeles in procurement. Space Shuttle SPO was expanding and offered opportunity but ABRES had new opening for Deputy PM at Wake Island. Activation of a site to conduct last portion of $30 million Tri Service, high priority project i.e. Project Have Mill. Job was to build Launch Facility on Wake Island and launch classified warheads south into Kwajalein lagoon. I applied and was selected. On Wake, coordinated activities of 5 Govt agencies and 11 companies to achieve program goals and we did. BTW Wake is a coral atoll of 2.5 sq miles in land area with a 10,000 ft runway. Many have probably stopped there and remember the Drifter's Reef. Program was a success. Beginning for what is today's ABM systems. My last child was born in LA while I was remote to Wake.

7. Back to Montana where I supervised missile maintenance teams. Led task forces for two different ICBM Operational Test launches. Applied for and was selected for year long Training Program for International Logistics at WPAFB

8. Program was extensive. Consisted of formal classes at DISAM, DSMC and AFIT and informal OJT and social dealings with liaison officers from other countries. Spent several years supporting the Multinational Steering Committee infrastructure that acted as Board of Directors for the coproduction of F16. Helped develop joint logistics support policies and processes among the coproducing countries. Visited and briefed industries in Europe to keep them abreast of policies and help guide them on how to do business with DOD especially wrt economic offsets.

9. Was asked to lead the planning and activation of WWMCCS network through out AFMC. Short term, politically sensitive, high priority project. Developed requirements to provide Top Secret, Tempest secure facilities at 6 depots in different states; each to house networked computers. Coordinated planning, obtained funding and implemented. Done on time, within budget.

10. Planned reorganization/centralization of IT infrastructure of 11 divisions of large conglomerate. Implemented successfully. Reduced annual costs by millions per year. Was called on later to lead reorganization of three Data Centers, two on east coast and one on west coast, into 1 Data Center serving both internal and external customers. Yearly revenue was close to $100 million. Applying system engineering disciplines and using program management tools, the results were successful. Saved approximately 11% in annual operating costs. Subsequently, led several winning proposals for IT Task order contracts

11. Did some consulting for telecom companies. Then as a PM, led a team of 6 contractors to propose and win a multimillion dollar contract to provide System Engineering support to tri service logistics organization. Managed contract performance. Efforts well received by customer.

12. By now my children were having children, I was living and working in a different state, 9/11 had happened, I had money in bank so I was able to retire early and move home. So I did.

13. In 2004, I was bored and in presidential election year, was curious about why NH Presidential primary was such a big deal. What were NH retail politics like, in practice? Most campaigns are wholesale with TV ads and polls. Little face to face contact with potential voters. I wanted to know what is really done to get people elected, especially to the highest office. So, in late Oct, I loaded my car and drove to NH to find out. volunteered with Wes Clark's new presidential campaign. Spent next 3 months in campaign HQ organizing volunteer tasks and meeting voters. Later was offered a job to organize 6 counties in WVa for a different presidential candidate and did so. I met my goal of learning about campaigns but the experience reminds me of a country song lyric: "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then":)

14. Deployed in Sep 2005 with Red Cross to support Katrina response. Eventually I deployed on 6 more national disasters with Red Cross. Eventually was hired as local Red Cross Director of Emergency services for a few years then retired completely. In our three local Ohio counties, Red Cross volunteers responded to approximately 200 house fires a year to help those displaced.

15. Finally, I was asked to help out with the 10 year, 2010 census. I was curious so I signed on. Was trained and spent 4 months going door to door and interviewing over a 1000 people across all social and economic strata. Positively enlightening. I recommend the Census bureau site. It has a wealth of information about our country's demographics.

That's all, folks!
Simple point: cadet life was the best of times and the worst of times but I wouldn't trade the experience and the lessons learned for anything.

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