Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Bob's History

bob.jpg I was born in 1942, in Emporia, Kan., but was raised and completed High School in Newton, Kan., graduating in 1960. Along with the rest of our “Blue Tag” class of 1964, I entered the U.S. Air Force Academy in June of 1960. I was in the 45th BCT Sq and my first roommate was Ron Wishart. After integration I was assigned to the 16th Cadet Sq and roomed with first Joe Liro, and then Ron Bunch second semester. Third class year I was assigned to one of the newly formed Cadet Squadrons as the Wing was expanded to 24 Squadrons! I was in the 24th Sq. for my remaining three years! My roommate in that Sq was Gene Pottenger.

I received a bachelor of science degree with a Major in Military Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1964. I received a Master's Degree in Urban Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado in 1972, and a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Management from Embry Riddle University in 1994. Additionally I completed Squadron Officer School in 1970, Air Command and Staff College in 1972, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1974 and the National War College in Residence 1983.

After graduation from the Academy, I was lucky enough to marry Wanda Vannoy from Virginia who was flying as a stewardess for United Airlines. We were married at Chapel #1 at Lowry Air Force Base on July 4th, 1964. We immediately went to Laughlin AFB. Texas, where I completed undergraduate pilot training and received pilot wings in August 1965. My first assignment was to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., where I flew C-130E's and C-141A's, and also served as Aide de Camp to the Wing Commander, Brigadier General William V. McBride.

My next assignment was the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Tuy Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in March 1969. There I served as a rescue airborne mission commander and HC-130 pilot, and also as an assistant operations officer/scheduler. Our main mission in “Crown”, later “King”, was to be airborne mission commanders for AF pilot rescue operations. Our day to day rescue package included HH-3 and HH-53 “Jolly Green” helicopters and the A1E “Sandy's”. We also were the tankers for air to air refueling for the Jolly Greens as necessary!

We spent about a week each month TDY out of Udorn, Thailand. We flew alert orbits “Feet Wet” over the Gulf of Tonkin for Viet Nam pick ups and over Laos for other pick ups. Rescue was a very tight knit group and particularly the Jolly Greens were in harms ways often! This was a very intensive but satisfying tour! Even the fighter pilots respected us most of the time! I was credited with 57 rescues and received a Distinguished Flying Cross for a particular mission this tour.

I returned to the United States in March 1969 and was assigned to the Air Force Academy as an Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Cadet Squadron 34. While there, our son Steve was born and he later graduated from USAFA in 1994. From October 1972 to July 1974, I served as Aide to the Commander, Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. I then was assigned to Headquarters Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as Executive Officer and Aide to the Commander.

In August 1975 I was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as Aide to the Vice Chief of Staff. My next assignment was as chief of the Congressional Section, Personnel Plans Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, in May 1976.

From May 1978 to August 1982 I was assigned to Norton Air Force Base, Calif. While there I served, first as operations officer and then as Commander of the 15th Military Airlift Squadron. I later became Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations and then Deputy Commander for Operations (DO), 63rd Military Airlift Wing, at Norton until being selected in 1992 for National War College in Ft McNair, Washington D.C.

After graduating from the National War College in June 1983, I was assigned as Vice Commander of the 60th Military Airlift Wing, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. I assumed command of the Wing in February 1984, and was selected for promotion to Brigadier General in 1986. While at Travis, I attended the National Defense University's Institute for Higher Defense Studies Capstone Course, graduating in May 1986. In July 1986 I was assigned Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. I was assigned to McClellan AFB in August 1989 as the Air Logistics Center Vice Commander, retiring in June of 1992.

We moved back to San Antonio in 1992 and I was selected to be the Deputy Aviation Director in the Texas Department of Transportation, moving to Austin in 1993. I served there until 2000 when I was selected to be the Director of Aeronautics for Tennessee as a division under the Department of Transportation in Nashville Tennessee. We live in Franklin, TN. My offices and Hangar were on the Nashville Airport. My responsibilities included Federal and State funding for Tennessee Airports to Develop, Maintain, License and Inspect all public use airports. We also funded several aviation programs and maintained and flew the State Fleet of aircraft to transport the Governor and Government Department Heads for official business. I retired in January of 2012.

I am a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours. In the Air Force I flew the C-141A/B, C-130E, HC-130H/P,C-5, C-12, C-21, FB-111, HH-53, T-37, T-38, T-39, T-41 and UH-1 aircraft. In my civilian position I fly a Baron B-58 and Cessna-182. My military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal. I was awarded the Parachutist Badge in February 1987. My wife of 47 years, Wanda, and I have one son, Steve who is a 1994 graduate of USAFA, and because the Air Force did not let him go to pilot training, is now an attorney living in Houston, TX. I was promoted to Brigadier General May 1, 1987, with same date of rank, and retired from the Air Force in 1992.
Robert V. Woods, Class of 1964, 24th Cadet Squadron
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