William H. Phillipson
Upon leaving Ethiopia in April 1970, and with only a few months remaining on my enlistment, I was assigned to the 3rd Aviation Company at Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ. After ETS'ing at the end of September 1970, I re-enrolled at The U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where I had been studying before entering the Army. For a part-time job I joined the Reserves, with whom I did a number of extended active duty tours.
After graduating from UW-M I moved to Santa Barbara, CA to try my hand at the printing business. Unfortunately, my partner took off with all the money, and the business failed. Responding to a newspaper ad In late 1976, I hired on with Bell Helicopter International to train Iranian soldiers in the city of Kermanshah, near the Iraqi border. While in Tehran on a visit to the US Embassy I met a Young lady, Roya Afshar-Jaffari, who was to become my wife and mother of our Two children. We conducted a fairly long-range romance, which involved twice-monthly weekend plane or bus trips (depending on weather) from Kermanshah to Tehran. As events of the Iranian revolution unfolded these trips became increasingly "interesting".
On November 1978, while in Tehran for my annual flight Physical, (I was still in the reserves) it seemed as if the revolutionaries were trying to burn the city down. I retain images of rioters throwing bundles of perfectly good money into bonfires, TV crews filming other TV crews in the lobby of the Intercon Hotel, and - during a power outage - reading the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE by the light of the burning BMW dealership two blocks from Roya's house. Bell shut down operations in February 1979 and I was sent home.
Keeping in touch with Roya during the weeks immediately following was difficult, so we decided to meet that May in Greece to talk things over. We reached a decision and proceeded to Tehran to announce our engagement. The following October we were married in Tehran, honeymooned in Esfahan, and then flew to LA where I took up a teaching position at Northrop University. 13 days after we left Iran the US Embassy was seized and the diplomats taken hostage. Several of our friends and former colleagues were among them. I've remained in the aircraft industry, working in LA, Washington DC, Egypt and Germany.
At present I have a consulting business operating out of Waco, Texas, where nine years ago we decided to settle down and raise our children. Alexander is now 21 and a junior and NROTC midshipman at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY; and Roxana, 16, is a junior in high school. For our summer vacations we travel to Iran to visit with Roya's mom and extended family. Contrary to what most people in the US would expect, we have a great time despite the political problems between the two governments.
WILLIAM T. PHILLIPSON