Air Force Regulations and manuals (now ‘Operating Instructions,’ soon to be ‘Suggestions’), spelled out ‘the letter of the law’ when it came to day-to-day operations.  Mentors on the other hand, told us ‘how the cow eats the cabbage.’  I was so fortunate to have worked with great mentors throughout my career.  Some of the best I had the privilege of working with were at Vance AFB, OK when I was assigned to the 25th FTS (Flying Training Squadron), from 1975 – 1978.  

For the most part, they were all mid-level captains, with combat experience.  We had OV-10 guys, F-100 guys, O-2 guys and a Phantom driver with a Mig kill.  All good guys.

From the very beginning I always felt I could approach any of them with any “issue” I might be faced with, and I would get straight, honest answers.  What  more could you ask for?  If I screwed up, they told me.  But they were no way, malicious or vindictive about it.

I remember talking with these guys hour after hour; over coffee and or beer, about T-38 flying, student management and career progression.  I loved these ‘talks.’  And I became a better IP and pilot from them.  Many of the lessons I learned in ’75 – ’76 in those ‘fireside chats’ I used up until the day I retired.     

So this morning, I feel so much “gratitude” for what they taught me.  Sam D., ‘the Burker,’ Jimmy N., Hal, Andy, Jay, Don and perhaps a few others – thank you…

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