My family always wanted me to go to West Point. My Dad wanted to go (his minister father turned down his appointment for him) and my uncle did attend the Academy (’55). I started high school at Culver Military Academy. From the first, the military was a good fit for me. I began applying for West Point as a high school sophomore and eventually became the first alternate from Tennessee. Interestingly, my classmate Glen Ivey received two appointments – Ohio and Tennessee. Several years later, when we were roommates, he told me he accepted the appointment from Ohio at random. I’m glad he did.
I initially had no intension of going Air Force although that was the service my dad retired from (after the Army and then the Army Air Corps). In the summer of ’68, I did AOT (Army Orientation Training) at Ft Hood Texas. It was not a positive experience. If you’ll remember, ’68 was not a great time to be in the Army. Most of my company were drafted Vietnam returnees doing nothing more than waiting for their enlistment to be up. Training and following orders were not high on their priority list. During summer leave, my dad and I had several long talks about my options. By the middle of the first semester of our senior year, I had decided to go Air Force.
I essentially stayed with the AF for the rest of my working career. After pilot training and B-52 Combat Crew Training School, I went to Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas. While there I had six short (180 days) tours in Southeast Asia. Shortly after my final tour, I was assigned to AF Flight Test at Boeing Wichita, Kansas doing flight test on modified B-52s. That was followed by assignment to Plattsburg AFB, New York flying FB-111s. I was there for three years, then Grissom AFB, Indiana in the command post, Air Command and Staff College in Alabama, and back to Plattsburg for four more years. While there, my navigator and I won the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Bombing Competition several times and the Air Force Association Outstanding Bomber Crew in 1986. That was followed by several different staff positions, mostly at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska
After retiring in 1994, I went to work for Southwest Research Company building training plans and curriculum under contract to the Air Force. In 2002, the Air Force contacted me; they were looking for retired AF pilots to fill staff positions freeing active-duty pilots to return to the cockpit. We moved to Langley AFB, in Hampton, Virginia. After 14 years in various positions at Air Combat Command Headquarters, I retired in 2015. Now Linda and I spend our time traveling with our two Irish Setters (when we can), playing competitive bridge, playing pickleball and going to see my four kids and three grandkids.
- Bomber Stories Over Vietnam“This is the Sign of the True Professional – To March to the Sound of the guns.” For those of you who have not looked in a while, this is the quote by […]