William Penn 1963
Jimmy, Wayne, Warren
Viet Nam 1968-1969
My Thompson 1968
Viet Nam 1972-1973
National Security Agency
Chris & Mary's Wedding
James & Kim's Wedding
Severn, MD - 1995
Mackenzie & Hunter
John, Jim, Butch, Wayne
Nancy, Janie, Cookie
Family Photo - 2013
I graduated from William Penn with the idea of continuing my education at the University of Delaware.
My English scores were too low on the SAT for me to be immediately accepted, so I had to take a class
at the U of D for admission in September. It was during this class that I decided that I needed a
break from schooling. My good friend Wayne Farrington talked Jimmy McConaghie and me into joining
the Delaware National Guard, so as to avoid the draft and end up in Viet Nam.
Still working for Hercules, I married Patti K. Leonard in August. On February 18th, 1965, our son
Keith was born.
On March 9th, 1966, our daughter Kimberly was born. We lived in New Castle on 6th Street above the
garages of Gebhardt's Funeral Home and I commuted to work with Bobby Watson, a guy I was on the
wrestling team with and who graduated in 1963 as well. Wayne, Jimmy and I drilled with the
National Guard one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer, in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
In the summer of 1965, I put my papers in to attend Officer's Candidate School. I originally wanted
to go to the US Army's Warrant Officer Aviation program, but they were not accepting National Guard
applications because of the build up in Viet Nam. I graduated as a Second Lieutenant in the summer
of 1966 and immediately applied for active duty and rotary wing flight school.
I reported for active duty in January at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for the Field Artillery Officer's Basic
Course, which lasted 9 weeks. I was then assigned to Battery D, 214th Artillery Group as an Executive
Officer. Our mission was to provide fire support for the Artillery School. Most of my time was spent
as a range safety officer, which entailed authorizing each and every round that was fired from every
105 howitzer. It seemed like once a week an artillery round ended up in the lake on post where
families were trying to enjoy the water. I, on the other hand, received a 300 hour safety certificate
for perfect performance of duty.
After arriving in Saigon, Viet Nam, I was given orders to report to the Americal Division in Chu Lai.
I was then assigned to Division Artillery Aviation. My commanding officer was Major Voelkel,
a person I soon learned to dislike. His "fame to claim" was having crashed an OH23G helicopter in
to the South China Sea, by flying too low and allowing a wave to roll through the door. Missions
for Div Arty consisted of flying battalion commanders out to their respective artillery firebases.
Once there, we would often make supply runs, shuttle soldiers back to their home base, etc.
A special mission came along in which the 11th Marine Regiment in Da Nang needed US Army helicopter
support for an indefinite period of time. The mission required low level flying around the "rocket
belt" of Da Nang. This was the area surrounding Da Nang in which the Viet Cong would sneak into and
set up rockets on mud launching pads. Once set up, they would leave someone there to fire off the
rockets at night time. I was tired of the "ash and trash" missions with Div Arty, so I immediately
volunteered. We bunked with the 11th Marine Regiment and flew our mission three times a day.
Gun ship support was always on call in the event we spotted something or needed help. In addition
to myself, I had a crew chief who also served as a door gunner and a Marine Aerial
Observer who was responsible for getting us through the areas were Naval gunfire was taking place and
manned the other M60 machine gun that hung from the door frame. Because the mission was so dangerous,
crews were limited to 30 days. I was so enthralled with this mission that I convinced the decision
makers to let me stay 90 days. I would have stayed longer, but I was pulled out after being shot
down for the third time. Only one shoot down was attributed to my lack of judgment. After a mission
was completed, I'd always fly down a particular river that had a big bend in it, on the way back to
our base. In this river bend would be young Vietnamese women washing clothes. They were always bare
breasted and waved back to us. One day while flying down that river and coming up on the bend in the
river, it struck me as being odd that no one was around. Just then several machine guns opened up
on us and my engine took a direct hit. Being below tree top level, I pulled back hard on the cyclic
and gained enough altitude to make an emergency landing in an open area. All those hours practicing
autorotations in flight school paid off. We landed without further incident, and were picked up
with a Huey team in three minutes. The rest of my flight time was for VIP flights around Chu Lai and
Da Nang. I then became commander of Div Arty Aviation and commanded thirteen aviators. I ended up
with 674 combat hours. I was promoted to Captain on this tour of duty. I did get an R&R to Bangkok,
Thailand, but I won't go into any of those details. Suffice it to say that I didn't get much rest.
I also had to sell my Thompson submachine gun in Na Trang for some "unexplained" reason.
In May 1969, I reported to Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia, to be an instructor pilot. I
went through instrument training and got my instrument rating. I was then given command of Flight A
of Division B, which was comprised of twelve other instructor pilots, and we began teaching
instrumentation to US Army flight students in TH-13s. A year later, we were transitioned into
contact instructors for the UH-1D Huey and we began teaching South Vietnamese flight students.
I spent a lot of time playing golf, tennis, football and softball during this tour as well as
enjoying family time. I remember teaching Kimberly how to ride a bike. Keith and I had lots of
hours playing catch with baseballs and footballs. A lot of time was also spent at the Officer's
Club pool. I also began to take classes after hours at Savannah State College.
In the summer of 1970, it became obvious that I would have to return to Viet Nam. Some aviators
were transferring to the Coast Guard during this time frame, but I opted to do a branch transfer
to Military Intelligence in order to get a fixed wing transition and my multiengine rating. We
were then stationed at Ft. Holabird, Maryland, were I attended the MI Career Course for nine months.
It was here that I met Harry L. Sharp, who would become my best friend in the military and whom I
roomed with in Phu Bai and Da Nang while assigned to the 224th Aviation Battalion, 138th Aviation
Harry and I completed a three week course at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, for airborne direction finding
and then we reported to the 224th Aviation Battalion in Saigon, Viet Nam. We were then assigned to
the 138th Aviation Company in Phu Bai. Harry flew "Left Jab" U21's which performed a special
collection mission. I flew "Laffing Eagle" U21's which performed standard airborne direction finding
missions. I was also appointed the Class "A" Agent for the company, which meant that I was the pay
officer. I was responsible for obtaining the monies from the finance office and paying the troops
as well as the local Vietnamese who worked around our compound. I was awarded The Distinguished
Flying Cross on February 12th, 1973, for action that took place on December 22nd, 1972.
Patti, Keith and Kimberly rented an apartment at Forrest Hills, Apt. I7, New Castle, DE, during
this tour of duty 1972-1973.
The US Army in all its wisdom decided that I needed a ground assignment next, so as to further my
military career. Wanting to be as close to Delaware as possible, I opted for an assignment at
Fort Meade, MD, at some unknown location called NSA (National Security Agency). What's an Army
Aviator going to do at NSA, that's what they wanted to know. Not knowing what to do with me, it
was decided that I should work in a new 24 hour watch center, because of my limited background
with computers. I was one of 5 System's Officers on a rotating watch. Once I got acclimated
to the shift work, I realized that this was the job that I would relish the rest of my life.
I started taking computer classes at the University of Maryland and just couldn't get enough
of it. I did high level briefings on sophisticated terminals and within two years was made the
senior systems officer for NSOC (National SIGINT Operations Center).
It was during this time frame that I met Jane Cheryl Hayes while working in NSOC. We became
instant friends, going to lunch whenever possible. One thing lead to another and we fell in
love with each other.
Patti and I were divorced in 1975 but Janie didn't get her divorce until 1977. Janie and I
bought a house at 1211 Holmewood Drive, Pasadena, MD, in October 1977. I then left the US Army
in November and was immediately hired by NSA, thanks in large part to the efforts of Mr. Jerry
Braunstein and Mr. Dick Lord, who would go on to become the Deputy Director of NSA. The agency
had a hiring freeze on, but these two individuals knew how to get things done in a bureaucratic
Janie and I were married on May 13th, 1978.
Prior to getting out of the US Army, I left NSOC and went to work in the basement of NSA for a
group of computer programmers known as AutoLine. They wrote and maintained computer programs that
ran on a mainframe known as TIDE (Time Dependant). Data that entered TIDE was time dependent and if
certain criterion was met, special reports had to be on the Presidents desk within ten minutes. I
was assigned to program the terminals that were being used in NSOC, using assembly language.
Later on, a new clustered system was purchased from Incoterm and I was put on a team of programmers
that included Mark Hirsh, Rich Murtha, Jim Enyart and Marie Wyatt. We developed a system known as
ATSS (AutoLine Terminal Support System). Each clustered computer supported eight terminals and we
installed eight systems in NSOC. With the success of the ATSS, other operational centers throughout
NSA wanted the new system (DFAC, SSA, MCSF). Work was fun. My next programming assignment came
when TIDE had to be replaced. Tandem Computers had a new mainframe that was fault tolerant, so NSA
bought several. We gave ours the name of Tideway and I was assigned the job of programming the
front end to interface with our worldwide array of ops comm circuits. I worked with Mr. Fred Cox
who developed a box called AutoMux that took the input from eight ops comm circuits and multiplexed
them into a single stream of data before sending it to my program on Tideway. The AutoMux was
essential in order to handle the complexities of dealing with crypto gear from TComm.
Janie and I took a windsurfing lesson in Dewey Beach, DE, from a girl named Vickie. The next spring,
Janie asked me for a windsurfing rig as her Mother's Day gift. We bought a Cowabunga and started
learning how to sail it at her mother's house, which is on Bodkin Creek. We spent the whole summer
there learning and bought a second board so that we each could sail at the same time. We also began
teaching any of our friends who wanted to learn - Rick & Micki Zablocki, Dale & Sharon Gisselman,
as well as each of our kids. Windsurfing became our way of life with routine trips to Sandy Point
State Park, Dewey Beach, Ocean City, Florida Keys, Michigan, Outer Banks, Aruba and Fred Howard
Park in Tarpon Springs. In 1985, we bought a small condo in Dewey Beach so that we could be on the
water all weekend long. We met lots of people through windsurfing.
I was also a baseball coach for Keith's teams and a football coach for James's teams.
I retired from NSA in November. After retiring, I began a part-time job at Toad Computers in
Severna Park, MD. I was on the hardware side and built computers to customer specifications.
Janie wasn't ready to retire when I did, so she waited until 1997.
We put our house and condo up for sale and bought a house in The Glade for $289,500. We moved
into 120 Glade Circle West, Rehoboth Beach, DE, in June. I was making three mortgage payments
until our condo sold in July and our Severn house in August. We got plenty of time that year to
windsurf in the ocean and on the bay.
On February 18th, (the same birthday as my son Keith) James and Kim Hayes gave birth to a son, Hunter Hayes.
In 2003, we spent three weeks in Cabarete, DR, in February with Bill & Christy Briedis, Dave &
Spunky Loop, Alice Klein, Bryant Clark and George & Cindy Hammond.
I contracted encephalitis and was hospitalized for a week and then spent 3 weeks on acyclovir
intravenous. Janie tended to me 7/24 and finally got me back on my feet. Kudos also go out to Dr.
Paul Pete for diagnosing it so quickly in the ER and to Dr. Olewiler for continuing the treatment.
Janie had a minor heart attack and spent almost a week in the hospital. She's doing fine now, but
must stay on the prescribed medications. Dr. Dar is her cardiologist, Dr. Jani is her primary
doctor and Dr. Pando is treating her for rheumatoid arthritis. We're still on schedule for our
St. Augustine, FL trip from Jan-Mar 2008. Also, we're now in the MonaVie business.
Well, Janie and I are now in St. Augustine, FL (actually Matanzas Point). We have a two bedroom
condo right on the water. The ocean is a stone throw away and driving on the beach is great.
Janie and Eugene can now fish right off the pier just outside our porch door.
On July 12th , Janie and I had a "reunion" party with Cookie & Jimmy McConaghie, Wayne & Nancy
Farrington and Chris & Johnny Shelton. I hadn't seen Johnny in 40 years and Wayne in 19 years.
The Farringtons brought some delicious steaks, we supplied the lobsters and drinks, the McConaghies
brought excellent dessert and the Sheltons brought some nice appetizers. I took some pictures and
we played "corn hole", 99 and "the game". Basically we laughed at each other for 7 hours.
Everyone wants to do it again real soon.
Go Back To Main Page