Military History

11370C - Flight Engineer Technician (Perform Qualified)
8 Years and 3 Months 
(3150 Hours)  (800 Instructor Hours)  (685 Sorties)

45450A - Aerospace Propulsion Specialist (Jet Engine)
3 Years and 9 Months
Kadena AB (376 FMS)   1980 - 1982
Lubbock AFB (64 FMS)  1982 - 1984
Dover AFB (9 MAS) 1984 - 1992

In May of 1980 I started on my Air Force military journey.  Like all recruits, I started with basic training at Lackland AFB, TX.  Basic training while going through it isn't much fun.  As I look back however, I credit the experience with establishing a sense of maturity that I did not have, nor would ever gain without completing the training.

After BMT (Basic Military Training), I was moved to Chanute AFB, Il for Technical Training.  When I enlisted, I chose to be a jet engine mechanic.  The training was 8 weeks long, if I remember correctly.  The training was mostly mechanics and the tools that would be necessary to maintain jet engine propulsion systems.  Aside from the formal training, there was a lot more freedom with free time.  Classes were strictly 9 - 5 and most weekend there were no responsibilities.  Aside from keeping your room clean - the time was fairly civilized.

While at Chanute AFB in training, I learned my first duty station would be Kadena AB, Okinawa - just off the islands of Japan.  I would travel to Okinawa after a two week TDY at Offutt AFB, NE.  Offutt was the home of many unique aircraft.  I was lucky enough to see most of them up close and from the inside.

At Kadena, I was assigned to the 376 Field Maintenance Squadron.  The 376 FMS was support for the KC-135 Stratotanker in SAC.  I worked in the engine shop - breaking down and rebuilding Pratt & Whitney J-57 engines.  For the most part, the maintenance was for time related inspections.  There were very few non-scheduled events.  During my time there I remember tearing down an engine that was involved with a bird strike.  Our crew performed a complete tear down and rebuild over a weekend with enough time for the engine to pass through test cell and hang it on an aircraft before its next scheduled flight. 

My time at Kadena was too short.  When I arrived, I was not happy about the assignment.  The more time that passed, the more I liked everything.  I had wonderful friends.  With a few months remaining on my tour, I bought an old car to explore the island.  I should not have waited so long!

My next duty station was the 64th FMS at Reese AFB in Lubbock, TX.  Again I worked in the engine shop, this time maintaining the T-38 Talon's J-85 engines.  After working on the J-85s, the new engines appeared to be small and delicate.   This was a 24 hours shop and for the most part, I always wanted to work the midnight to eight shift.  Early in my tour, I decided that although jet engine maintenance was fun, it was not going to be my life's calling.  After studying all the options available to me I elected to cross train to be a flight engineer.

My request to cross train as a flight engineer was approved and I was off for basic flight engineer school at Altus AFB, OK with a final destination to the 9th MAS at Dover AFB, DE to crew the C-5 Galaxy.

The training at Altus was some of the most intense experiences I've ever been a part of.  The wash-out rate was extremely high.  The other students were very capable.  The only free time I had was a few hours on Friday nights - the rest of the time was study, study, study.  The topics covered were basic principles of weather, flight and the physics that tied them all together.

I arrived at Dover in early 1983 and stayed until I separated in August of 1992.  The Dover experience was very unique.  I played a lot of golf.  Thank you taxpayers.   But more than that, I got to see the world - even it it was from overseas bases and 30k feet.

As a flight engineer, I flew the line and flew as an Instructor.  The job was by far the most interesting I had done in my life up to that point.  Every sortie no matter where the destination presented unique challenges.  Even the 'garbage runs' were never routine.  Each aircraft had its own history and personality.  Each crew mix was the same in that there was always someone you had a history with and some new crew.

The decision to separate from the USAF during the RIF after the Gulf war was not an easy one.  I had a good gig going with a job that was fun and was different every day.  There were opportunities in Pittsburgh that needed to be explored - and if there was going to ever be an end to the military career it was time to go.

I am indeed a better person for the USAF experience.  I've made life-long friends and through social networking organizations such as and FaceBook I am finding some of them.  I've seen more of the world than most.  Although most of the flight missions were structured, occasionally there were a few that made it all worth while.  As I go through my photos and determine which ones are web worthy, I can only smile about the memories.