How come you settled in the Hull- Athens
area, foregoing a return to Trent, SD?
In early March 1962 I "bummed" a ride
from Harlingen AFB, TX to Athens, where I spent the night
before going on to my hometown...Winston-Salem, NC...and
ultimately to my next assignment as a one-striper at
Lockbourne AFB, OH.
The person who gave me the ride was a
brand-new butter bar, a graduate of an aviation cadet UNT
class. I had recently been an aviation cadet, but I had
washed back two classes...and then washed out. I "just
couldn't get it together", to use one of my daughter's
I spent the night at a hotel relatively
close to the University, but not before taking in a movie,
and having supper with actives/pledges of the local chapter
of a national fraternity. I had joined the fraternity in
1957 at High Point College in North Carolina.
In early September 1997 I sat down at my
oldest son's PC and began searching for some former college
classmates, mainly members of the fraternity I had known in
the late 1950s. I also began looking for former aviation
cadet classmates. By mid-July 1998 I had been asked to
maintain and update the alumni directory of my
fraternity's chapter at my alma mater. In April 1999 I began
searching in earnest for the former members of the two
aviation cadet classes which I had been in at Harlingen AFB
in south Texas.
Some 44-45 guys were in
62-13A1/A2 between the time it was constituted in March 1961
and graduation in late January 1962. Some 33 guys were
graduates of 62-13N. I have accounted for all 44-45. Except
for a few deceased members I have personally conversed with
all but two of the guys...and have left a message for one of
the remaining two.
Some 31-37 guys were in 62-15B1/B2 (Bong
Squadron), my second class. Around 24 were graduates of
Class 62-15N. I have accounted for 31 of the 37 guys who
were in the class/flight. Of the remaining 6, I have a
fairly good idea where four of them are. Some folks just
aren't good at returning calls.
All together I have email contact with
around 38 members of the two classes, with the most recent
email address being added 1/12/2005.
One member of Flight 62-13A1 was KIA in
1969. One member of 62-15B2 is/was a POW-MIA returnee.
I was commissioned via OTS, Class 63-E,
with 918 other OT
graduates on 5 Feb 1963. It was also my R.I.P. day....I got
Five years ago I began using TROA's THE
RETIRED OFFICER Magazine as a source for helping ex-GIs with
their searches for former comrades-in-arms. The magazine
was my starting point for searching for members of OCS Class
58-B. I still have open books of a couple of other OCS
My most gratifying experience came in
mid-2004 when I helped a lady in Escondido, CA return a
1946-letter to its author. The letter was written in
Honolulu by a Navy officer and sent to one of his buddies.
The recipient apparently left the letter in a book which was
found on a destroyer during the Korean Conflict. The finder,
Leland Neil Burnside (b 1918 in Texas, d 1991 in San Diego),
had been a member of the USS Missouri's shakedown cruise in
Leland's widow Sylvia widow placed an
"ad" which appeared in the January 2004 issue of MOAA's
RETIRED OFFICER Magazine, as follows:
Lt. j. g. John Shillito, USN, or Lt. j. g. B. H.
Wetzel, USN — I have a letter written by Shillito
to Wetzel, in 1946, from Hawaii to the USS Brush (DD-745).
Anyone interested in this letter should contact me. Contact:
S. Burnside, 955 Howard Ave., No. 9, Escondido, CA 92029.
John Shillito came from a prominent
mercantile family in Cincinnati and is a retired
neurosurgeon from Boston living in Pittsboro, NC.
John's hobby since age 10 has been
photography. Besides taking pictures, he also has instructed
at two local community colleges and assorted venues. Here is
a sample of his work:
The recipient of the 1946-letter
Blair Wetzel, now age 83, is in a retirement/assisted care
facility in the Baltimore area.
And dear Sylvia Burnside, in her mid-80s,
sent me a picture taken on the USS Missouri...ostensibly
including her husband observing/participating in
an "abandon-ship drill".
In the lower right quadrant of
the picture are what appears to be a group of 3-4
officers...two in light uniforms and "wheel hats". Sylvia
believes that one of the two was her late husband.
I have attached several photos of me. The
zipped folder contains 5 photos.
1) "62-13HTNR" was taken
for the Air Force's Hometown News Release program in
mid-1961. Lots of other guys held the same helmet on the day
that the picture was taken. Most of them wound up wearing
similar headgear...as navigators. Some became pilots after
their initial "navigator" commitment.
2) "Old Geezer" is included as a gag. Perhaps I'll be
looking like that in 10 or so years, if......!
3) "Speight-051974" dates to the year before I and about
10,000 other junior grade , mainly reserve, officers
were involuntarily released from extended active duty. At
the time I was assigned duty at the National Security Agency
4) "Mathusalem" was
taken at Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, Les
Vignes de la Croix, Buxy, France, in August 2002. My
youngest son has lived in France since mid-1989. A 1988
graduate of Wake Forest University, he teaches English on a
contract basis. His principal employer is "Chambre de
Commerce et d’Industrie de l’Essonne", located at Evry. Many
French chambers of commerce focus on educating the citizens
for jobs. Whereas, in the U.S., chambers of commerce are
While in France, my wife and I, along
with my son and his family, traveled from Juvisy-sur-Orge
(near Orly Field) to Montceau-Les-Mines in the Burgundy
region to visit my son's inlaws. Buxy is about a 20-30
minute ride east of Montceau. It is situated at the SW
corner of the Burgundy region of France.
I had visited the winery in 1991 and
1998. I thought of buying the 6-liter, "Mathusalem-sized"
bottle of Burgundy. However, I didn't have a plan for
getting it transported back to the U.S.
5) "Dub-072004" is more recent, taken in mid-2004 via my
Clegg D. "Dub" Speight
Myrtle Beach, SC