I was born in 1929, the second of six children, to Dr. & Mrs. James K. Hazel in Jerome, Arizona. Soon after birth my family relocated to California, leaving Jerome to deteriorate into a ghost town with its survival dependent upon art galleries, a great museum, and the hospital where I was born, now turned into a hotel & restaurant.
California became the State of my great childhood until I took the big step and signed up for AF flight training in 1951. Nothing very spectacular about growing up except perhaps my participation in the high school and Boy Scout bands as a tuba player. That experience taught me that girls are not impressed by being serenaded by a tuba player under their window.
My earlier experiences in the AF as an airman are similar, I'm sure, to many others embarking on their adventure of a lifetime. A train trip from San Francisco to a brief stay at Lackland during a record rain storm; followed by assignment to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo as part of a cadet holding squadron. What great duty! Six months at the local swimming hole, three hours prepping T-6s for maintenance, and every evening dancing to West Texas music and Texas longnecks.
The call for flight training finally arrived, and a fellow adventurer and I climbed aboard my 1929 Model A Ford and began a memorable trip to Bainbridge, where I completed that initial phase of training with only first night solo flight adding to my misadventures. This story is best told in the friendly atmosphere of a reunion hospitality room. Incidentally, the name of my co-adventurer on the trip to Bainbridge was Dick Fastenau (Spence, Laredo).
Next to Bryan AFB for T-33 training via Sherman, Texas. What is the name of that AFB? No matter. The only positive remembrance I have retained about that station is an irate father, who wasn't aware that his lovely daughter verged on nymphomania!
Luck was with me upon graduating from Bryan when I was assigned to single engine fighters in the F-84G at Luke AFB. This gunnery phase of my training was a highlight in every regard. The friends I met at Luke turned out to be friends for life.
Off to Korea and K2, Taegue, with the 310th FBS. Although there were occasional downsides, including the customary "Dear John", I would not have traded the flying and camaraderie for every nympho in Texas. I had one close call with a fueling malfunction that comes under the category of "Hairy Tales". Again, a topic for an ample supply of adult beverages and good company.
Back to the states after the one-year obligation to a very disappointing assignment to an Air Defense Command early warning radar station on the beautiful central California coast. This was followed by a short stint as a P.R. Officer in the ground observer corps, courtesy of a very pretty female 2nd Lieutenant in Personnel. It was only way she could get me off of the radar site!
Discharge! Since I was now married with the first of our five, I was obliged to earn a living and began the process by selling life insurance. After a short gold mining adventure in British Honduras, which killed one of my erstwhile partners, I was steered to another too-short career in aerial fish spotting in Monterey, Cal. for the sardine fleet. I think this is a great story if I can get anyone to sit still enough for a pilot's "fish story". Maybe after too many brews?
At the same time I was fish spotting I signed up in an AF Reserve Squadron at Hamilton AFB as an instructor in the F-84G. This lasted until the unit was changed to air carrier with multi-engine birds. Not for me. Too many engines for a fighter jock!
My civilian career has consisted for the most part in marketing and sales; ending with the formation of a company specializing in rural residential water treatment.
It's been a good run so far with the wise acquisition of a great wife, five very accomplished children (they take after their mother); 17 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren!
Currently I'm keeping the little gray cells active as Chair of our County Republican Party. Not as much fun as flying, but gratifying.