“What's going to be my
That was the question I and
most every other Ohio Wesleyan Freshman was asking himself
in 1959. Pre-med? Pre-law? Business? I had no idea--and
quite frankly, didn't really have burning interest in any of
the "major" academic options. Deep in my soul I wanted to
"major" in theater--but even I knew that was just plain
silly. Finally I decided, "Math! Yes! I'll major in math and
science and become an engineer." My father liked the sound
of that. He had graduated from MIT in 1925 with a "major" in
math and science and had become an engineer. But 1st
semester "D's" in both calculus and chemistry vaporized that
plan. It was a bit of a miracle that I didn't flunk out my
freshman year--but my English teacher liked my writing, I
got "A's" in Phys. Ed and Music Appreciation and I had
followed the crowd and blindly signed up for Air Force
ROTC—"Whatever that is!" I think I got a "B" in ROTC--which
also helped me stay in school. "Business" was my next
"major"--which sailed until I barely eked out a "C" in Econ.
101. But now it was 1960 and I was shedding "majors" like
overcoats on the Sahara. I did get a "B" in Basic Psychology
and one could actually "major" in that. Humm. It struck me
that Psychology was kind of nebulous. More subjective than
objective. No black or white. No right or wrong. Sort of
"open to interpretation." Kind of like, "Well, how do you
see it?" "What's your opinion?" I figured I could talk my
way through Psychology--and with that scientific
analysis--Psychology became my "major." And what about this
ROTC business? Well, an Air Force future was determined for
me by a handwritten sign on the bulletin board in the ROTC
building--a sign that read, "Checks are in!" In those days,
the college boys (I don't remember if girls were allowed in
ROTC--but for certain we didn't have any) who chose to
continue on with ROTC into their junior and senior years
were actually paid money--real money--at the rate of $.90 a
day! That was $27 a month that ROTC was going to pay me for
staying in the program. Not only that--when I graduated--IF
I graduated--they would give me a commission in the United
States Air Force. Well, considering the fact that I
certainly wasn't going to be marching off with my classmates
to Med school or Law school or any other legitimate academic
pursuit--it all sounded pretty good to me. I always did like
war movies and by God I looked pretty good in my uniform!
Yeah! $27 a month my junior and senior years, a commission
when I graduated and a uniform. Okay!! "Off I go into the
Wild Blue Yonder!!!!"
Literally! I was going to be
a pilot in the United States Air Force. I had passed the
physical (remember I got an "A" in freshman Phys. Ed) I had
good eyes and I could read those maps--a talent that has
since deserted me by the way. And the Air Force was so
enthused about me becoming a pilot that my senior year they
established a brand new program called the FIP--the Flight
Instruction Program. The idea was to have newly anointed (I
know that should read "newly commissioned" but I do so love
the alliteration of "newly anointed" that I couldn't resist)
2nd Lieutenants destined for "pilotry" to report to flight
school with a private pilot's license in hand! And the Air
Force was going to pay for the private lessons. So, things
were definitely falling into place. I actually had a
goal--fighter pilot in the USAF. But alas, "the best laid
plans-etc." A little background here. Most flight students
"solo"--that is take off and land the plane all alone--by
themselves--without anyone else in the plane with
them!!--after 10 to 12 hours of instruction. Some do it in
8--but 10 to 12 is normal. It's up to the instructor to
decide. After 17 hours of my instruction it was evident to
both the instructor and me that in my case things were not
quite normal. I had been somewhat "inconsistent." That was
his word for it. My word for it was "terrified!"
Nevertheless, in the middle of my 18th hour the instructor
told me to taxi over to the hanger. I knew what was coming.
He was going to get out of the plane and give me the thumbs
up "Go! Take her up and bring her back down" (pilot talk).
The words were in his mind and on their way to his lips. But
before he could get out that "Go!" I grabbed his shoulder
and blurted out,
"What do you mean?"
"NOO!" I said elongating the "00." "I'm not doing it. I'm
not going up."
"But you're ready" he
stuttered--void of conviction.
"NO! I'm done. I quit. I
don't want to do this."
"All right" he said shaking his head with a touch of relief.
And when he asked
"Why?" all I could offer was "This is not for me." What I
didn't tell him was that I was horrified at the thought of
being 2000 feet off the ground, all alone, in a little
cardboard box. It just didn't seem right. If God had wanted
me to fly He would have given me wings. Mind you, I loved
the "live in fame" idea. It was the "die in flame" part that
bothered me! No! I was not going to be a pilot in the USAF.
And the question arose once again, "What was going to be my
"major?"--this time, not in college but in the Air Force? I
should interject here that during the Spring of 1963--I had
the lead role in our University's stage production of the
musical "Guys and Dolls." I loved that! It was the best time
I spent in college. All of a sudden that "theater major"
idea didn't seem so silly--but three months from graduation
was three years too late for that kind of thinking. I did
ask the ROTC officer if I could serve my Air Force
obligation in the USO but I took his belly laugh to mean
"You must be joking!" And when the dramatic moment arrived
and Command Assignments were read in class and Cadet Drew
was assigned to Security Service--I had no idea what it was.
I thought it was probably overseeing Air Police. When I was
told it was "Intelligence" -- I bellowed a belly laugh.
Intelligence?! Haven't they seen my grade point average? I'm
a talker not a thinker! Boy, do they have the wrong guy for
this! Not to argue.
Next stop-- Security
Service. Intelligence. Goodfellow Air Force Base.