Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

John's History

john.jpg Compared to many I have read, my career was a blend of common place and eclectic. Had many wonderful opportunities and would not have changed anything.

Fairly normal route through pilot training, survival school, and F-4 training at DM. Then ferried a brand new F-4 to England, via GA and Spain. Only remarkable thing about that was convincing the tanker navigator that he was headed toward the Bermuda triangle, not the Azores.

After learning what instrument flying was really about (we had one sunny day during my 18-month tour in England ... weather was so good that the squadron commander canceled flying for the day ... figured we would be so busy looking out the window that we would be dangerous) and dropping a few bombs on Libya (only practice bombs back then), I headed to Thailand, by way of upgrade training at George and jungle school in the PI. Ten months and 100 missions over the North, I headed back to the ZI.

After a tour in TAC, with a side trip to lovely Kunsan-by-the-Sea and another to the Fighter Weapons School, went to grad school at AFIT, and began a tour in AFSC at Kirtland AFB. There I decided that flying was more fun than R&D-ing, but it was too late ... only way back to flying was through another tour in Korea ... figured it was someone else's turn, so I opted for the reserves.

After a couple of years of corporate life, I ended up as a federal civil servant at Edwards ... that was like one long class reunion. Went there intending to stay for a couple of years, and did not leave until nearly 15 years later. I had the good fortune to be there during some of the busiest testing schedules Edwards ever experienced. With a split personality, I spent my civilian career on the engineering side and ended up my reserve career on the operations side ... perfect combination!

After Edwards, I voluntarily went to the Pentagon ... not a typo. Action officer work was not particularly exciting, but you could smell the power in DC. In '92 I was given the job of a lifetime ... heading up a small, entrepreneurial DoD field activity, called DESA: Defense Evaluation Support Activity. Essentially, we provided quick-reaction operational and logistics support -- on a very limited scale -- to some very unusual customers within DoD and other agencies with whom DoD partnered (e.g., DEA, FBI, CIA, Treasury, and State).

Too good a job to last ... so someone high up in the Pentagon "broke my sword" and I spent my last few years bouncing around the government, learning where many skeletons were hidden. Final tour was working for the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, trying to figure out how to do effective T&E better, faster, and cheaper ... I met with only limited success.

Since retiring in 2001, I have been doing what every self-deprecating retiree does in DC, I have been consulting. What a racket!! Agencies, who would not listen to any ideas for improvement when they could get them for free, are now willing to pay large sums of money to hear them again ... although they continue to ignore the ideas, for the most part.

One unusual thing happened in 2005. I was adjunct faculty at the American University business school in DC and, out of nowhere, I received an email invitation to come to Vietnam, and teach business and management to Vietnamese business owners. My first reaction was "HELL NO!" Luckily, curiosity prevailed and I accepted.

I have been over there a couple of times each year since teaching for two weeks at a stretch. Glad I did! For the most part, the Vietnamese people I have met are friendly and hard-working ... the war is a distant memory for them. In general, they have very little curiosity about my background (although I am certain the government knows). They are mostly interested in what they can learn to improve their business success. Free-market capitalism has a far stronger impact on defeating communism than bullets or bombs!

These days I am spending more time on the golf course and less in trenches, currently living in Lincoln (NE), America ... salt of the earth people, but rotten weather. And beginning to remodel the retirement home in Tucson ... occupancy 2012, just before the earth flips on its axis and we become the southern hemisphere.

So, like I said, pretty commonplace with periods of great fun ... would not change a thing. Just wish the memory were a little better to enjoy recalling ALL the fun times. Looking forward to 2014 ... 50 years! Can you believe it? As my father always said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!"
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