Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Rod's History

It was like a Norman Rockwell painting…a seventeen year old freckled-faced, red-headed kid…peering intently down the railroad track, waiting patiently at his small-town train station…holding a cardboard box containing Mom's homemade Red Velvet cake, her parting tearful gift…all that was missing from that tableau was a ring-eyed dog, draped over his foot…with an elderly stationmaster behind him, sagely smiling as he watches the kid looking into his future…

That was me in the summer of 1960, leaving for the Air Force Academy. The long trip ended in Denver, then a short bus ride to the Academy. I remember getting off at the base of the ramp and following a long line of people in-processing, then being told to step through that glass door. As I walked ahead, I saw a strange sight…one of my new classmates, smartly dressed in a coat and tie, was doing what appeared to be pushups. Then an upperclassman inquired as to what I was looking at…only in a much nastier and louder voice than I had anticipated. Everything after that was kind of a blur…I guess I am blocking on most of it as I rummage through the attic of my memories.

My cadet days were filled with the usual assortment of physical exertions, mental development, and military training—with just a dash of shenanigans thrown in for good measure. The most memorable events that bracketed our cadet years involved President John F. Kennedy. The first was the opportunity to watch him urge us to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” That occasion was followed, in too short a while, by his assassination. In a very real way, I believe he helped set us all on a path of service.

My service began with pilot training at Vance and ended twenty-five years later, saluting goodbye at Hickam. Those intervening years were filled with great memories from assignments all over the world, memories I am grateful to have and would never trade.

I am grateful as well for the wonderful family that God has given me: First, my wife Sabra, who has provided me with more love, inspiration, and companionship over the past forty-five years than I deserve or could ever adequately repay. Our son Brennan has made a home here in Colorado Springs with his wife, Leah, and two sons, Greysen and Griffen. And Allison, our daughter, has also made a home in Colorado with her husband, Pete, and three children, Peter, Sabra, and Chloe. The blessings of a close, supportive family mean more to me with each passing year. Here is a recent photo of my wife Sabra and me.

As I reflect upon our class, I continue to be impressed with the commitment to excellence shown by our classmates throughout their lives, no matter what their chosen profession. I will forever be proud to be included as one of the Class of 1964, a remarkable and distinguished group; and I thank the Academy for being the place that made us into the best that we could be.

And that train ride from Salem, Illinois to Denver, Colorado was more than just a long distance in terms of miles…for me it was the road less traveled, as Frost called it…and that has made all the difference…
[ Honor Award Returned ]
[ Gone But Not Forgotten ]
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