Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Dennis ' History

Dennis Wiedemeier was born the second of 15 children on a small dairy farm 50 miles north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He attended Loomis Grade School where he sometimes participated in extra curricular activities like carrying in coal from the coal shed for the next morning's fire. Luxuries included separate out houses for the boys and girls and an outside well with a hand pump for drinking water. Recesses and lunch break were great with no direct adult supervision and lots of competitive, student-organized, activities including football and baseball in season and snowball wars during the long winters.

He attended high school in the big city of Marinette with a population 12,500. That population was essentially unchanged since the big logging days in the 1890's. The school bus ride, taking back roads to pick up the other far out students, was more than an hour and a half each way. That bus ride ruled out any before or after school activities—but it did allow time for him complete all his homework on the bus each day.

As a high school senior considering future options, he was advised of the existence of the Air Force Academy. However, after applying to his congressman, he was informed that selections had already been made for the next academic year. After graduating from high school in 1959, with funding support from a tuition scholarship, he spent a year at the Marinette extension of University of Wisconsin. Meanwhile his application for the Air Force Academy Class or 1964 was finally accepted.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1964, he went to undergraduate pilot training in the T-37 and T-38 at Reese AFB in Lubbock, Texas, followed by fighter interceptor training in the F-102 at Perrin AFB. Finally interceptor pilot training in the F-101 at Tyndall AFB in Florida completed preparation for his first operational assignment in the F-101 at Suffolk County AFB on Long Island, New York. While at Suffolk County, he checked out in the T-33 and maintained dual currency for the duration. In 1966, he married Joan Lodge, the younger sister of classmate Bob Lodge.

In 1968, he completed RF-101 Combat Crew Training at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. While there, Joan gave birth to their first son, Douglas. From Shaw AFB, he went to Tan Son Nhut AB in Viet Nam while Joan and Baby Douglas went to Long Island to stay with Joan's parents. After completing a tour flying air reconnaissance missions, including 100 missions over North Viet Nam, he returned to Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Washington.

He earned a Master's degree in Engineering from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1971 and Joan gave birth to their second son, Gregory. With Gregory only a few weeks old, they moved to Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy where Dennis taught in the Engineering Mechanics Department and flew T-41's out of Peterson AFB. Two years later it was back to the University of Washington for a Ph.D. and back to the Air Force Academy again for more teaching and flying T-41's and eventually flying T-39's. Meanwhile, Joan gave birth to their third child, and only daughter, Amy.

In 1981, they moved to Tyndall AFB where Dennis worked in the USAF Air Defense Weapons Center and later in the Rapid Runway Repair Branch in the Engineering and Services Center. In 1985, He retired from the Air Force with the rank of Lt. Col.

From Florida, they moved to Seattle where Dennis taught as an Associate Professor and eventually served as Department Chairman in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Seattle University. He retired in 1999 and currently holds the rank of Professor Emeritus in the College of Science and Engineering.

After his final retirement, Dennis and Joan moved to their own 100-acre wood outside of Goldendale, Washington. There they live with assorted horses, dogs, cats, and sometimes, chickens and miniature horses. Wild animals are everywhere. Blacktailed deer and coyotes appear daily and recently a red fox has been teasing the dogs. Raccoons are frequent visitors with skunks less common, and on one occasion, Dennis even had to remove porcupine quills from one horse's front legs. Turkey vultures and bald eagles soar over the back deck and great horned owls often nest out back. Dennis joined the Goldendale Golf Club and typically plays golf five days a week throughout most of the year. Other activities include rafting and an annual backpacking trip with some of the kids and maintaining the steep 1/3 mile gravel driveway to the house. They enjoy frequent visits from their three children and five grandchildren.

Dennis and Charles, fourth grandchild
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