asked my good friend Jimmy the lawyer how his father was doing.
My father was a great guy. I spent a lot of time thinking about him this last Father's Day.
He was born to a high social standing in Kansas City, Mo, as the eldest son of one of the city's
most prominent business leaders. But he was always, also, the family black sheep.
He rejected business, and all he wanted from his life was to be an airplane mechanic.
The highest education he received was two years at Parks Air College, which taught him just the skills he needed.
When WWII came along, America was in desperate need of pilots. My father was one of the few.
Instead of drafting him, the Army offered him a contract to teach men to fly who had never even seen
an airplane up close. He spent a couple of years doing that at Cape Gerardo, where the attached
picture was taken.
The trainer of choice was the PT-19, an open cockpit craft.
When they no longer needed my father's services, the Army drafted him.
And they offered him a choice. He could either become a lieutenant,
and fly the Burma supply run - almost certain death flying over the Himalayas,
or he could come in as an infantry private and report for basic training in Oklahoma.
My mother thought the latter was the better choice, as the war was starting to wind down.
When my father and the rest of his unit reported to Oklahoma there was a flu epidemic.
The flu shot they administered was defective, causing ear problems, rendering the entire unit 4-F.
My father was released, and became an engineer in the aviation industry.
Eventually he went on to become the leader in Computer Automated Satellite Testing.
My father was the one who figured out the most efficient way to do it, and he became
a legend with Lockheed and NASA. In his contracts, he was never allowed to reveal
to anyone that he only had two years of higher education. He used to hang out in that bar
(can't remember the name of it) shown in the movie, The Right Stuff. It was a little place out
in the desert at Los Alamos. My father was accepted by the other famous astronaughts
and test pilots there because of his pilot background, at one point having more flight hours
than any pilot in America.
I remember, as a small boy, going to Moffit Field with my family to view the first satellite
ever returned from orbit. My father tested it before it left.
He was a very remarkable man. He taught me how to sail.
I never got the chance to fly with him as he gave it up because of ear problems just before I was born.
And this is just the middle of his life.
His youth reads like a Rudyard Kipling novel only in Iran instead of India.
The last picture is shortly after his birth, just when my grandparents were about to flee for their lives.
If you want, I'll tell you about that sometime.
Jim, I enjoyed reading that.