Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Tom's History


Grampy, my dad, married Nana, Ruth Carolyn Cleveland, on October 8, 1938. I was born in the Norwood Hospital, the town next to Walpole, MA on 18 April 1941...checked in at 8 lbs and 6 oz...these became my favorite 8-6 Daily Double number. I was raised in Walpole, graduating in June 1959 and, 10 days later, departed for the United States Air Force Academy (remember, I was an academic turnback from the class of '63). I had one brother, Brian Francis Walsh, who served three years in the U.S. Army in Germany and was killed in an auto accident 5 days before his 26th birthday. Christened Thomas Henry Walsh Jr, I officially changed it to "Thomas H" after writing the Full Name on a zillion forms at the AF Academy, hence the IO on my ID card...

Grampy was a machine gunner in WWI, wounded and gassed in France, received a Purple Heart and, as you know, I later told a US Navy corpsman or Ensign or whomever (on the USS Kearsarge after they fished me out of the Gulf of Tonkin) there was no way I would accept a Purple Heart for being shot dad had a real one from WWI and they hit the plane, not me. (hindsight...with a compression fracture of my back that a flight surgeon later told me "made my back stronger" -- yeah, Right -- I probably should have let that Navy guy put in the PH recommendation)

side bar: the point being our house and relative value...

Growing Up

We spent the first ten years of my life living in a Huge double house, 57 Diamond Street; we then rented and moved to 4 Mason Street, about a mile away, in 1951 or 1952; In 1962 Nana convinced Grampy to buy that house...for $10,000 (it was either $9,990 or $10,100, I can't remember for sure which but we always said ten thousand)...That was the house Nana was still living in when she died in 1995 I sold that house to a cousin, Stella Walsh for $140,000; In 2003, Stella sold it for $270,000...and, as you know, it is TINY...Five rooms, one bathroom and a small hallway...BUT, here's the point: it is a 7-8 minute walk to the train station to commute to/from Boston!...location, location, location!...or, in my opinion: insanity.

Other significant things from my childhood, pre-Academy days:

Honest, Nana & Grampy used to tie me to a tree in the back yard, both on Diamond Street and when we visited Aunt Gert & Uncle Ralph, with keep me from running off...or, more likely, from running into the street...probably jail time for them today...

When I was 6 or 7 my folks took me to Wiggins Airways (Norwood airport) whereI saw a P-47 and P-51 from WWII...decided I would fly them!

I nearly died when I was 8 or 9...I slipped into the run-in to the laundry, a big 2-story building fed by a deep fast-moving stream out of Diamond Pond...Neil Nickerson caught my arm and pulled me out or I would have gone under the street, under water, and into the laundry.

Little League started up when I was 9 or 10 and I played first base on the Indians...Jack Gillis' dad was our coach and one of the fathers who started it.

High School

I ran x-country and played hockey in high school, we won the New England Hockey Championship my junior year...was vice president of the debating society and student body president (president of the student council) my senior year...attended Boys State somewhere along the way...though never a Cub or Boy Scout, I was in the first Air Explorer Squadron (BSA) founded by one of the fathers whose son, Ed Bendinelli went on to retire as a Chief Master Sargeant in the Air Force, ...and in the Class Yearbook my Aim was...Aviation.

Role models

I am sure we all had least I hope you all did; There were significant ones as I grew up: Naturally, My dad...and my Uncle Ralph Nourse and cousin Jim Walsh...all taught me the value of hard work and honesty...and three amazing men: Len Ceglarski, my Civics teacher and hockey coach...Tom Riley, my U.S. History teacher...and John Tokaz, a 9th grade teacher and Guidance Counselor who showed me the very first Air Force Academy catalog and both encouraged and convinced me that I should...and could...go to that school And fly airplanes...remember my "Aim" and that I saw the P-47 and P-51 when I was 6 or 7 years old and decided I would fly them?!

A Major event:

After we won that hockey Championship in 1958, John F Kennedy made a campaign stop in Walpole, his Senate campaign...someone arranged for Ken Eklund (goalie on the team) and myself to meet him...this worked out Great for us, but maybe not so great for the politico-wannabes, as JFK spent almost 20 minutes in Walpole...about 5 minutes with his speech...and nearly All the rest talking to/with Ken and Tom!

Ken was appointed to WooPoo and I to USAFA; My appointment was from my Rep, Joe Martin, Speaker of the House, but I believe that it came about because Kennedy talked to Martin...or at least his staff passed info on to Representative Martin. How charismatic was Kennedy? I was on our debating of the girls on the team was not just Republican but openly anti democratic anything! She and some of our classmates were standing behind Ken and I at this meeting. Her first words: "If I could, I would vote for him." 'course it could have been because she was a girl and he was known to have that effect on women...


I began at the Academy a year earlier than our class...this story is worth telling: I left Boston's Logan Airport ten days after HS graduation on 26 June 1959, my first commercial flight on a United Airlines Super Constellation, supposedly to arrive in the Springs later that day...but we didn't make it! We were scheduled to drop/pick up passengers in Chicago at OHare...there were Big thunderstorms (I thought this was Really Cool ie, dumber than dirt) and, after two attempts to land we diverted to South Bend, IN (our middle daughter later graduated from the University of Notre Dame)...the pilot made an announcement that there were 6-8 inches of water on the runway, hence the diversion. Here's the funny part: they put us all on a train to day the pilots Fly the Same Plane up to Ohare and re-board to continue on to Colorado. Here's the Not So Funny part: we are now A Day Late arriving...I will leave it to your imagination as to how "well" we were received, plus being a day behind on all the first day pick up stuff (I believe at least 16 members of '63 , the 2 senator and 14 rep selectees from MA, and probably some from the Chicago/IL area were late arriving!

Fast forward through five years...with only two stories:

Greg Boyington '60 for some reason (probably after my first grades were posted) took an interest in me and several of us often sat at his table...when grades came out, the DUMBsquat (if ever a true definitive example, you've found it) with the cumGPA closest to 2.0 got to chow down...but you had to be Above 2.0 and not flunk anything...this"I don't need to make straight A's" setting and the fact I had All of our Fourth Class math in high school got me in Really bad study habits: If I was doing well in a subject I really didn't need to push for a higher grade, just Pass...and if I was in trouble, "Just Passing" was good enough...not a good start or situation...and it caught up with me in the Spring of '61, I was flunking Math and Physics...but, I had a plan: if I could pass Physics, I could take Math during the summer...and I knew I could pass Physics...and My Physics instructor, a young Captain, agreed and gave me extra help. After both finals, I flunked Math...and had a Final grade of 69.9 in Physics...I was Not a happy camper and went to see my instructor...he made me do parts of the test again explaining what I did and why...he said I should have received at least an 82 on the final and he could justify an 84, Not the 73 I was awarded...either would have pushed me into the low 70's for the semester. He went in to see one Archie Higdon...about half way through the instructors explanation the Colonel started screaming at him and threw him out of his office. He (Captain) apologized but said he had no further recourse and I headed back to my squadron...the AOC told me I would have to pack my things and leave...

now, why this long diversion?

Two reasons...

1) I did (pack and leave) but first I picked up a phone, called Higdon and he actually got on the phone and I told him exactly what I thought of him...and slammed the phone down;

2) When I returned to the Academy as a turnback in the Fall, he called me to his office and promised to flunk me out...this time for good...and his language was nearly as flowery as mine a few months earlier:

He failed. Paul Beaumont's story made me include this one...I met a few people, not many, like General Strong during my career...simply not good people.

Pilot Training

I am sure anyone reading this has already deduced the only thing Tom really wanted to do was fly airplanes...and I/we found out they didn't even have any at the Academy when we arrived! Yes, we did get Nav training in the venerable old hot, stuffy, bone-jarring T-29's out of Lowery...but we weren't flying.

When I graduated I was assigned to pilot training at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, TX...the Queen City of the West...a Great place to fly airplanes...and pretty good white bass fishing on Devil's River...if you get Checkpoints, the same William Garrett was there and his rattlesnake antics there are as good as his black widow and tarantula stories in the March 2011 issue!

When we lined up to meet our T-37 IPs I was in the third row...Nauton in front, Walker in front of me, three-to-an-IP, and the IP's marched out and stood with their backs to us. When they did an about-face I found my IP to be non-other than Tom LaPlante, goalie on the Academy hockey team and a friend from ' was a joy to fly with him and he told me it was the same for him...though I did turn base with my wheels Up on my initial solo!

He was a brand new instructor and we were his first students. Once I was soloed and we were completing Transition he asked me if I was comfortable with all the syllabus stuff for that particular ride...I said I was and he said good because he really didn't like to instruct spins and he wanted to fix that so we were going to spend the hour spinning a T-37...and we did...after the first couple he had me screw up some recoveries ie, apply wrong or pro-spin controls so he could take over and recover...I think we bent that particular T-37 a couple of times...he was a happy camper when we finished.

We were the second class at Laughlin to get T-38's...a fun and easy jet to fly...I finished both T-37 and T-38 flying earl and had to get an extra ride to stay current in each...on my extra T-37 ride the IP asked if I wanted to swap seats so I sat in th right and he in the left...I greased my first landing and he cursed the next two he attempted from the "wrong seat" as neither were as smooth as mine...on my extra T-38 ride (a classmate woke me and said to get to the squadron as I was flying...they determined I needed to fly within a few days of graduation so my landing currency would not run our before I reported for F-4 RTU. I flew with my original T-38 IP, a Capt Phillips, and he said let's try something: (Oh, and he put me in the pit...said it would be good training for my F-4 assignment!)...he said, "I'll hold the bird low and accelerate close to 500kts, I'll pull back hard and we'll see how fast we can get to 10,000 get your finger by the clock and push it to start the stopwatch when I say go"...remember that DUMBsquat...we are screaming out across the west Texas desert and I'm watching the airspeed as it approaches 500kts and he says "ready"..."Set"...puts 6 G's on the airplane, Never says "Go" and I promptly push my right combat boot...with my Nose!

He is laughing his head off and I am cursing up a blue streak...we also tried to determine how many consecutive high-speed aileron rolls we could do before we totally lost our situational awareness...starting with one, taking turns rolling it, and worked our way to six.

I finished high enough to get a backseat in F-4's on graduation but there are two far more serious stories from that 13 months in Del Rio...

The first happened on 3 March 1965: Two of our '64 Classmates, Bob James and Ron McCoy were flying solo missions...they collided and both were killed. Perhaps others can provide more detail but one was in the traffic pattern and the other trying to enter when the collision took place...Ron's tail was nearly severed and teh full negative G forces prevented his ejection and Bob, either injured or in a state of shock, did not eject and rode his airplane to the ground almost in a landing attitude in the desert and died in the wreckage...we were almost complete with the T-37 phase...a bad way to finish it.

The second happened on 26 August 1965...less than three weeks before graduation. A good friend and '64 Classmate, Nick Zopolis, was killed in a T-38 mid-air; In this case Nick was the totally innocent party, being in the wrong place at the wrong time...he was flying solo as number 4 on a formation ride when a solo student from the class behind us ran into the four-ship...I believe the IP and student in #3 and the other solo student survived with the three aircraft destroyed. The real tragedy was that this student had pinked a ride because he couldn't stay in his "barrel"...his assigned airspace...shouldn't have been anywhere near the 4-ship and maybe shouldn't even have been flying!

Sad ways to lose three from the Class of '64 before they ever really got into their careers...

From UPT to Combat

That initial backseat F-4 assignment was to Davis-Monthan AFB...nearly all GIB's were '64 Classmates...and we did about half(?) the backseat course when 18-20 of us were sent to the 45TFS at MacDill to crew-up with front-seaters and prepare to deploy to SEA...things had heated up and replacement crews were needed...most of the front seaters were 1LTs or junior Captains who were upgrading to the front seat...and the IP's were their former aircraft was a good class and I really lucked out as my AC, Lt Erickson and an excellent stick, could not re-deploy and I probably got more stick-time than any other backseater in the class!

Somewhere in here was Survival School at Stead and games...but Far Less fun for some of our classmates a bit later in North Vietnam...and Sea Survival @ Turkey Point near Homestead...the latter a possible life-saver for me as my chute when para-sailing landed on top of me and I had hand-over-hand my way along a seam to get out from under it...when I punched out into the Gulf in August 1966, the same thing happened, at night, and the chute was Bigger! From MacDill on to Ubon via Jungle Survival in the Philippines and the 497TFS Night Owls...

Ubon RTAFB, first tour

No long stories here ...I said most of what I wanted in the 1000 mission input...but a couple of missions, aside from the one where I got shot down, come to right on top of Kepp during the best Fourth of July display you'll ever see, except not truly appreciated when you are in the middle of it!

Another on the first ever JCS authorized night bombing mission on a Rte Pack 6 target...another spectacular fireworks display and, supposedly a Big Decoration mission...maybe someone got one, I didn't...and a good friend's death (I was his summary court's) when a '61 grad tried to takeoff a fully loaded F-4 without flaps...Intentionally! And, after a weak Wing Commander, Robin Olds arrived and everything changed in the 8th Tac Fighter much so that JD, John Douglas Brown, and I marched ourselves into Olds' office before we PCS'd back to MacDill to upgrade to the front seat and told Olds we wanted to come back and fly for him. There are many more stories if I looked at my log book but that's enough.

MacDill AFB and front seat upgrade...briefly...JD and I went back to the 45TFS with the same IP's...we knew all, or nearly all, the we proceeded to get our Commercial Pilot ratings...upgraded our living accomodations and had a great checkout, after the glitch I mentioned in the 1000 mission input where the L/C told me I couldn't upgrade because I'd been shot down, resulting in another of my outbursts, and we headed back to...Ubon. Oh, and one major difference in this Class: in our "backseat RTU class" all the AC's were Lts or Capt's, maybe one this class, our frontseat upgrade, JD, myself and Les Alford were the only front seat Lts! Five AC's were LtCols and THREE of them made Full Bull while on course...back to Ubon for a second 100 mission tour...

Ubon RTAFB, second tour

Only two stories as I've covered SEA as much as I need to:

First, I flew two tours, 100 missions over North Vietnam on each, only 245 total missions; the first tour took barely 5 1/2 months, 24 July to 7 Dec, 1966; The second tour took just Over 11 months, 5 Aug 1967 to 12 July 1968...this was due to the Bombing Halts over the North directed by the President for the "peace negotiations." This Long Tour also allowed Mary Lou and I to meet in Sydney, Australia and marry on 5 June 1968...that/those stories covered elsewhere.

Second, JD and I got our initial assignments: USAFE. Off goes Tom the Blivit. There were not many guys completing two combat tours at this time and we knew there was a Test Squadron at Eglin. Welll..........Daniel "Chappie" James had told us, when he was Robin's #2, to contact him if we ever needed help...You guessed it...quick hand-written letter asking to go to Eglin. True to his word, the Colonel (on BG list), came thru with assignments to the 4533TTS @ Eglin AFB...and another ass-chewing...apparently my prose is a little too blunt. This takes my career from graduation to mid-1968.

1968 -1971...4533TTS and TAWC.

As a weapons test project officer I flew a bunch of classified TAC directed weapons system development missions...ECM pods, AAM improvements and new air-to-ground munitions including extensive work on the Loran navigation and bombing system; Major William "Pete" Hall was my flt commander and one of the finest officers I ever met. only Two stories: One test involved a new LORAN Chelton antennae, we called it the "towel bar"...for obvious reason. During testing, Bill Mack and I were the only two pilots in the USAF not only authorized, but directed, to fly into thunderstorms to validate the antennae...Fun.

Second isn't much of a story...John Reddoch was my second commander in the 4533rd...he was a former F-105 jock and another man on the level with Pete hall...John had, as he put it, "destroyed two F-105s", at George AFB, he ejected at virtual ground level off the departure end with an engine failure...too low to separate from the seat...landed flat on the seat/his back...and slide and then tumbled to a stop...beat to hell but alive. (Had to digress...he was that kind of guy).

One Friday I am coming back from Base Ops where I had just filed a XC flight plan and he meets me in the parking immediate thought: Dead; But he is all smiles and says how'd you like to go to Australia? I had heard about an exchange pilot slot opening up from an Aussie mate at Ubon and, in an effort to make their job easier for boys at Randolph and TAC, I had cleaned out everything else from my dream sheet. I called the Sargeant back, at TAC, accepted...told him I really did Not want to attend SOS on the way and would do it via correspondence if he could make it go away...he did and I/we headed for OZ.

One other Major event had occured, on 14 Jan 1970, our 2nd daughter, Terri Kathleen, was born...we were now a family of four, Mary Lou, Marran, Terri and Tom.

1971 -1974...2OCU and 77SQDN

Williamtown RAAF Base near Newcastle 110 miles north of Sydney.

I spent nearly three years flying the single seat Mirage IIIC...the easiest way to describe this period was how I've explained it to anyone who asks: It was the Single Best 7-10 year Captain assignment in the United States Air Force...even though it caused me to get passed over for Major on my first board. call sign was "Yank"...for some reason, my first 77SQDN Commander objected to that...but all the pilots felt it was The Correct call did I and I told him so when he said I needed to change it...he managed to get me a marginal OER, that I did not find out about until After it was into the system, thanks to another of those few USAF officers, a colonel in Canberra, who was not a very good person.

How good was this assignment? Our youngest daughter, Catherine Ann, was born in Newcastle on 4 Oct 1972...We took her back to her "second country" in 1984 when she was 12 years old...we spent the first and last nights of that 21 day stay in motels neat the Sydney airport...the other 19 days/nights in friends' of those couples Cathy's Godparents as we are Godparents to their son...two of the fellow USAF exchange pilots assigned to Williamtown were Mike Ryan and Chuck Corder...that's right, that Mike Ryan, Chief of Staff; Chuck was not an Academy grad but there was no finer officer or man in our Air Force... and flying was I imagine it had been 30 years earlier in the States.

Unfortunely, two sad events took place during this tour...first, my only brother was killed in an auto accident on 22 Dec 1971...I flew to MA and we buried him on his 26th birthday, 27 Dec 1971.

In July 1972 my dad, Grampy, passed away and I headed back to the States. Right after the funeral Nana told me she "had a lump"...and had had it for nearly a YEAR! She had radical surgery and lived a fully active life for another 22+ years...a Great High from two lows.

1974 -1977 George AFB, CA

Instructor pilot on F-4D's and E's...first in the 434thTFS which we disbanded...sad...and then the 21stTFS...and Whammo...passed over for CO, DO, VC and Wing Commander all went ballistic...a well-controlled ballistic, Much more so than I usually did I will admit...these men sheparded me through an appeals process that got the OER from Australia removed from my records, got me promoted, and clearly saved my career...good men all and the best of officers...none Academy grads. (aside: I am positive that every member in our Class has met men like these...and learned from them as much as from anyone back at the Zoo or fellow Zoomies).

1977 -1979 Bentwaters RAFB, England

I was assigned to the 91TFS as the Operations Officer...three stories:

All 3 squadrons -- 78, 91 and 92 -- had Major Ops Officers...Ed Loy was my Squadron Commander, another prince of a man and we, the squadron and the Wing, were doing Great...then five new LtCols were assigned to the Wing and all three of us were replaced by L/C's...of the three replaced "Major" Ops O's, I was the only one to make LtCol...and the other two were good officers.

The second story Wayne McKenny could probably elaborate on...USAFE was having a rash of accidents but our units were clean...when one of our F-4's on a two ship check flight clipped a power line on a low level in fairly bad (read: miserable) conditions...due to superb airmanship and a cool headed check pilot (My opinion) both birds were recovered safely...but word came down that the General at 3rd AF was going to fire people...being, as you now know, the bashful type, I took pen in hand and sent him a personal letter "splainin' the situation to short, we were the best damn unit(s) in his entire command and this wasn't right. A day or two later, the CO is waiting for me when I walk in at O-Dark Thirty, calls me into his office, shuts the door and asks What in the Hell did I do?! When I confess, he just shakes his head and asks that I come thru him next time...and the sequel to this story is a good one; Months later, the 81st Wing is still the best in USAFE, and the CO tells me I'm going...on a by-name take our new fighter weapons grad to 3rd AF to brief new Tactics we had the very same General...we went, did the briefing, got approval and...the General took me aside, appreciated and Thanked me...Wow what a surprise...but he was a good man who appreciated my honesty; I am not sure to this day if anyone except the General, Ed Loy and myself know this story.

The final story ended my active flying career...the A-10's came in to replace the F-4...I tried but could not get another F-4 or F-16 flying assignment...I had been in a cockpit since pilot training and MPC had finally caught up with me. I could have flown the A-10 And had a command assignment of an FOL unit but just didn't feel right about going from Real fast to real Slow...clearly a career/rank mistake but, having been shot at and hit a few times, it made no sense to me to sit in a titanium bathtub in a plane that Would take seldom fly straight-and-level in combat and one BB into the bathtub in a turn and it would make Tom look like Swiss I passed and elected not to down-grade to the A-10...with apologizes to any Classmates who flew the Warthog.

1979 -1982 DOD

I don't know exactly how the next assignment came about...clearly going to be a staff job...maybe from that General at 3rd AF or maybe from the commander of the unit I went to...or maybe a General Henry who kept tabs on me from time to time (aside from being out-of-line more than occasionally, you probably also have figured out that "making rank" in Not a priority with Tom). I was assigned to the EWCAS JTF...I didn't know what it was or what a JTF was and ws not too impressed as it was to Washington, DC...but not, Praise the Lord, to the Pentagon. When I reported in, BG Bill Strand took me into his office, closed the door, and we spent a couple of hours rehashing old times from Ubon!

The best thing about this assignment? After a week in DC, we moved the whole test to Nellis AFB! My fancy title: DOD Joint Activity Chief, JTF Test Procedures...what we really did was put systems in place and designed test procedures and parameters that allowed units -- Air Force, Army and Navy -- to develop tactics during Red Flag that were later used during Desert Storm...for a staff job, where I looked at my shoes and not the traffic pattern for the first 6 months, it was a Lot of work but a lot of fun and great satisfaction.

The only downside happened when the test was complete and we had gone to brief units in the field results and recommendations...where to go and what to do next? Rod Wells had found me, and a near-perfect assignment for me: Test manager for an F-16 project out of Hanscom AFB...I may have been the best qualified person in TAC (they still owned me) and it looked like a surefire Win-Win...except...General Dixon wouldn't release me to Systems Command; He wasn't going to lose any more of his fighter pilots...but he wouldn't give me an F-16 slot so...I called Terry Isaacson, canned the career, and Terry worked an assignment as close to MA as possible, to the 21AD in NORAD at Hancock Field, NY (Thanks Terry)...

1982 -1987...21stAir Division

Syracuse NY

The assignment was as Fighter Intercept Officer and later bacame Chief of the Weapons Division...interesting to say the least as my only "real" intercept background was on the Mirage in Australia where Air Defense was the primary mission! But three things stand out in this, my final assignment:

First is the people (how many of you, in writing your bios, cite -- first and formost -- people?)...the Commander was Ken North, former POW, Brigadier General, Outstanding officer and a true Prince of a man...and his second in command was a Canadian BG Don Stewart...coming from an excellent first staff assignment/environment at Nellis, this was even better: Both these men were nearing the end of their careers and neither cared about anything but mission accomplishment...they backed you to the hilt if you were doing the right thing...and a LtCol Tom Gerken, Air Defense his whole career who kept me out of trouble most of the time and as fine an officer as who should have been promoted to Full Bull but was not politically correct enough.

Second were the new intercept tactics we employed on Russian Bear aircraft at ranges never before attempted (with TAC weenies shitting their pants...non-apologies to you poor folks slaving under General D)

Third were the forward air defense fighter/E-3 teams airborne battle planning and procedures that we implemented that were both fun and effective; The bulk of this work was done with Air national guard Fighter Squadrons and I got a true appreciation for the Guard as a professional fighting force, often unencombered under the weight of regulations.

I often traveled with one of the generals to Tinker AFB for 12 hour missions on the E-3 as their #2 on the airborne battle staff: This entailed, under Air Force regulations, several days of briefing and crew rest for the all-night missions that allowed for Tom to become infected with a bug...not a good bug...a golfing bug: General Stewart was an excellent left-handed Canadian golfer and we played a Lot of golf inbetween briefings and flying out of Tinker...I was Not very good but could hammer my drives off the tee. Tinker is in Oklahoma and, for anyone who might not know, the wind Howls out there...On one round of long par five borders a 4-lane divided highway that has two car dealerships on the far side of the highway...the wind was whipping across the fairway from the right and, yes, I could occasionally Draw the ball......alright, sometimes Hook It. The General almost always hit first as he was usually ahead after the first hole (strict golfing rules, not rank), had managed to hit a ball On Our fairway in this gale...Tom, however, is interested Only in distance and I creamed one, not really hooked but really crushed High and Long with a little draw...that became a hook on this wicked wind...out of bounds, over the fence, bounced once in the two right-hand lanes, cleared the median, bounced once in the left lanes, and on into the car dealership...hitting no cars on the highway and apparently breaking no windows in the dealership...I am sure my mouth was wide open...the general was laughing so hard he was nearly on the ground! He was a good man...when he retired, his aide had fresh salmon flown down from fine as I have ever eaten.

Post Air Force

It's spring 1987. Promotion is no longer in the picture and I make the simple correct decision: Two of my three daughters have been able to graduate from the same excellent high school in Fayetteville, NY...and the youngest is entering her sophomore year at that of the Air Division DO's was an excellent officer but his children all graduated from different high schools, his son three different schools: I put in my papers...not bitter, disappointed nor upset but satisfied I have always given my best on every assignment...and the Air Force has been good to me...I am ready to retire.

1 August 1987, I do.

March 1988...After playing golf three or more times a week in August and September of 1987, hunting 44 days in October and November, and skiing 26 days from mid-December until the first of March 1988, I am caught between snow-melt and the opening of trout season...and with a daughter entering her first year at the University of Notre Dame...I am vulnerable...and there's a story:

Bill Coplin...Dr William Coplin...a professor at Syracuse University and one of the two founders of Political Risk Services knocks on my door...Bill is the proto-typiacal college professor...not your absent-minded prof but one Totally at home , and Excellent, in the classroom and with students but Not Comfortable in a business setting. With that in mind picture: Tom opens the door Bill is standing there...trying to make small talk (as I unintentionally don't invite him in)...he's shifting from one foot to the other when he he just blurts out: "Would you like to come work for me?" and I...rudely..say Hell No and shut the door in his face...I'm busting a gut laughing...count (rapidly) to the door and Dr Coplin is standing there with his mouth open! I invite him in and ask what he had in mind. Long story short (Really!) I play around with marketing for 3 months, tell him he needs to hire a marketing expert, but would like to sell the stuff... Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this fighter pilot selling people information!

I had spent most of the time talking with clients, many VP's or Department heads of big international companies...all the big oil companys, big banks, government agencies...and the bottom line was the "stuff", Country Reports, provided unique unbiased long-range forecasting information that they needed not available anywhere was good stuff provided by good people for good people...and the job was fun...hard work but fun. I worked my way up to Sales Manager...working directly for Bill Coplin...while Mary Lou worked her way to Managing Editor and, in 1999 after a (very) near-death bout with cancer, she bought the company and re-named it The PRS Group. I retired in 2001 and Mary Lou sold the company last year.

End...near-end...of story...well, the rest of the story has been about children and grandchildren...with good health, after two stents implanted on 22 December 2009, they are our true joy in our golden years...along with hunting, fishing, skiing and hitting golf balls...and, most importantly, friends made for a lifetime.

Cheers, Tom Walsh.

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