After graduating from the Topographic Surveying class at the Army Engineering School at Ft. Belvoir, Virgina in 1967, I was briefly assigned to the 30th Engineer Battalion at Ft. Belvoir, where I worked as a topographic surveyor in Andalusia, Alabama, after which I was reassigned to the Ethiopia-U.S. Mapping Mission. I spent my tour in Ethiopia as a topographic surveyor during 1967-68, most of it in the field, including parts of the Ogaden Desert, the Somali border near Jijiga, the Sudan border near Gambela, the Afar Region in the north, the jungles around Jima, and in the hills and mountains of the Central Highlands not too far from Addis Ababa. After completing my tour, I was reassigned as a Recon Sergeant to the 16th Combat Engineers, 1st Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. I was released from the Army in 1969 and worked for one year as a construction surveyor in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
Since I already had one year of pre-engineering studies under my belt at St. Mary's University in San Antonio before I joined the Army, I applied for and was admitted to the Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin in 1970, and I received my BS in Civil Engineering in 1973.
In August of 1973 I went to work for the U.S. Geological Survey, Rocky Mountain Mapping Center in Denver, Colorado. I spent a few years in their engineering management training program, which included a couple of years doing topographic field surveys in the western U.S., similar to what I did in Ethiopia and Alabama, and a short tour of USGS Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. After that, like all good boys who want to get ahead, I foolishly set my sights on management and began fighting my way up the corporate ladder. The job titles I acquired during the 32 years I worked for the Survey may interest some of you surveyor/mapper types out there (some of you might even know what they mean), so I'll list them briefly in chronological order:
Aerotriangulation Unit Chief - Denver, CO (1978-1981)
Chief, Technology Office - Denver, CO (Temporary Research Assignment, 1980)
Digital Data Section Chief - Denver, CO (1981-1986)
Assistant Geometronics Branch Chief for Data Compilation - Denver, CO (1986-1992)
Data Management Branch Chief, Mapping Applications Center - Reston, VA (Temporary Management Assignment, 1989)
Production Operations Branch Chief (Cartometrics & Geometronics) - Denver, CO (1992-1998)
Assistant Chief, Rocky Mountain Mapping Center - Denver, CO (1998-2001)
Chief, Mapping Partnership Office of Texas - Austin, TX (2001-2003)
Assistant Central Region Geographer for Partnerships - Denver, CO (2003-2005)
Since no one can keep spouting off titles like those forever, I retired in 2005 and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas where I fish the Gulf on occasion, and I return to Colorado every year to bow hunt for Elk with my son, Matt. I also spend some of my free time as Vice President of the local chapter of Texas Exes, the University of Texas alumni association. My wife, Mary, and I also have two daughters, Lyn and Lynette, and six grandchildren.
I will never forget Ethiopia: the absurd, magnificent mixture of beauty, grace, savagery and cruelty; the stark contrasts, the rough life in the bush vs. the comfortable living in the cities, the brutally oppressive heat of the day vs. the welcome coolness of the night; the incredible, often hair-raising, experiences; the awesome and often deadly creatures; the sometimes friendly, sometimes poignant, and sometimes violent, but always culturally enlightening interaction with the people of Ethiopia, both in the cities and in the bush; and of course the many enjoyable and gratifying friendships that I formed with my military and civilian comrades with whom I shared the experience. These were things I didn't always appreciate when I wandered there as a brash young man; but now, as I grow older, I appreciate more each day just how extraordinary it really was.