My Story
A Biographical Sketch of a Fighter Pilot

"Some choices we live not only once but a thousand times over, remembering them for the rest of our lives."
(Richard Bach)

In memory of:
Bill and Bug and Lex and too many others...


At age 19, my entire future life turned abruptly upon one bitter winter's day!

Prior to that day, I had always thought I was going to be a lawyer. Indeed, I wanted to be a lawyer and believed that with any reasonable effort, I surely would some day become a lawyer.

Creighton University

Perhaps I would have too - had it not been for a nasty but propitious, Midwestern blizzard. This was during the winter of my sophomore year at Creighton University. I did not know at the time, but this storm would totally change the future course of my entire life. 1966 blizzard

Jim and I were both in pre-law. Jim was a roommate, fraternity brother, and fellow classmate in our pre-law studies. We were naturally good friends. And while I thought I knew Jim fairly well, I never knew that he harbored a secret desire - he wanted to be a Navy fighter pilot.

Aviation Cadet

Navy recruiters were on campus that cold and blustery winter day, testing for the Navy's aviation programs in our Student Union. Jim was eager to take their tests, and had scheduled himself for that day. Since all college classes had been cancelled, and the city paralyzed with snowdrifts, I was bored. When Jim told me what he was doing, I asked to go along and also take the tests, just for something to do. Thankfully, the Navy recruiters allowed this interloper to participate.

Unfortunately, Jim later found out that he had missed one small but key part within the battery of tests, thus denying him of his dream.
[Jim did however go on to be a very successful corporate attorney, and later, much more. . . . But that is his wonderful story to tell.]

USS Lexington, and John the AVROC

Ironically and incredibly, although I was just killing time out of boredom, I learned I had passed all the tests. This ultimately meant that I would be going [but only after a special waiver for my football injured knee] not to Creighton's law school in Omaha ... but to Navy flight school in Pensacola!

The results of that pivotal day span nearly four decades of flight, and lie within the following pages of this web site.

“Nor was there a test to show whether or not a pilot had this righteous quality. There was, instead, a seemingly infinite series of tests. A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even God willing, one day – that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men’s eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself."
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

Ensign, USN

The Oath

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God!"

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