I was born in Rogersville, Tennessee which is in upper East Tn. near the Clinch Mountains. I attended Clinch High School from,'61 thru '64. I graduated in '64 and went on to machinist trade school in Morristown, Tn. in ‘65. I was drafted in June of '66. I went to basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga. I graduated in Aug. and went to Ft. Eustis, Va. for my AIT. I attended Prop and Rotor repairman school from Sept. thru Dec. '66. I was in a Casual Co. from Dec. '66 till Feb. '67 awaiting my orders and Port Call date.
I left my home in Tennessee in Feb. '67 en route to my permanent duty station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I flew from Kennedy Airport with my first stop in Rome, Italy, and then to a layover in Athens, Greece. My flight continued from Athens to Tel Aviv, Israel, then on to Asmara, Ethiopia and then to Addis Ababa. I arrived in Addis about mid day and was met at the airport by Ernie Svec and Walter Szczepan.
I assumed my duties the next day. What a strange world I had come to. From a sleepy little rural community in the hills of Eastern Tn. to the hustle and bustle of one of the biggest cities in the world. And in a third world country too. Even though the lifestyle here was not hurried, but more like the laid back English colonial atmosphere shown so much on the movies. This was Africa!!! I was really here.
The days moved in slow lockstep on the flight line, working at my trained job during the day, and occasionally, going " rouging" downtown at night. I learned many things needed to be an Afrikaner. I learned to "drive" in the city. I learned how to "negotiate" with the locals on needed items. It was not until Maj. Homer Brem, Flight Operations Officer, appointed me as Crewchief for one of the Fairchild-Hiller H-23 'choppers that I really begin to see Ethiopia. On occasion, I had opportunities to go into the countryside, sometimes taking a load of JP-4 fuel to wherever the Huey’s were located. This was fun but the trip was always short. As Crewchief of the H-23's I really began to see the country. From the Ethiopian Highlands to the Ogeden, from Beersheba to the Kenya border and The Sudan. Always camping out with the bare necessities, and always with trusted co-workers and friends, like Jim Wheeler and David Thomson, Crewchiefs on the H-23's. Also Butch Ferrante, John Fowler, Rick Bynum, Bruce Campbell, Bob Eason, Crewchiefs on the UH-1B’s. With pilots like Jack Miller, Dick Babbit, Mr. Adams, Hap Linderman, Tim Wolfe, Lee Rodawalt and others. It was an honor to have served with these people and to have known the other friends, too many to mention.
I, along with Walter Sczcepan and Bob Gafney and his family, left Addis Ababa for good in June of '68. What an emotional time for me. Experiencing the joy of coming home after eighteen months and seeing my family once again, then again the sadness of leaving my home for a year and half, my many new friends, the girl I had dated for over a year, and just the fact of leaving Africa, probably never to return. I can today, thirty seven years later, still feel that sadness.
After I got home and readjusted to the lifestyle back in the states, which took about a year, I finally got a permanent job. I started to work for International Playing Card and Label Co. in Rogersville. They are major printers of cigarette wrappers. No playing cards. They quit printing these in the early thirties. I married Bernice Justice in June of '71. I have three daughters, Cindy, a Registered Nurse who lives in Rogersville; Cristy works for the USDA in Farmville, Va., Amy also works for the USDA in Rogersville. My wife Bernice works for the Hawkins Co. Soil Conservation, in conjunction with the USDA. I have five grand children, three boys and two girls. I graduated from Walters State Comm. College in '78 with an Asc. Degree in Fire Science Technology. I wanted to be a firefighter but this did not work out. I worked for IPC&L for twenty six years. I resigned my position as ink dept. mgr. in Nov. of '94 and went to work for Zeneca Specialty Ink Co. I became manager of their branch in West Monroe La. I transferred back to Morristown, Tn. in Nov. of '95 as implant manager for my company at Sonoco Flexible Packaging. Sun Chemical bought Zeneca in April of '96 and I continued to work for them until Jan. of '02, when I transferred to IPC&L as Sen. Inplant Tech. still working for Sun Inks. I live in Rogersville with my wife Bernice.
I enjoy fishing on the local lakes and especially trout fishing on the many Smoky Mountain streams and the TVA tail waters below the numerous dams. I also enjoy wild turkey hunting in the spring and Genseng hunting in the fall.