Memories of...Finals

Hugo Gray

My version of this story – spring of '73 I was rooming in CS-15 with Clint Waltman (now Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Waltman!) – he had never talked much about it, but his Dad was an Air Force pilot who had been shot down and imprisoned in N. Vietnam. The peace treaty was signed and the POWS were being flown out of N. Vietnam on "Freedom Bird" C-141s – watching them come off the planes and salute after so many years of hardship (a young Naval aviator named McCain was in the group) was inspiring to us as young cadets, but had special significance for Clint who didn't know if his Father was coming home until he saw him get off the plane in the squadron TV room.

Clint was given a leave of absence to go home and spend some time with his Dad and family and missed the Finals Week going on at the time. The Dean got his due – on return, Clint had to study up in an accelerated week of special deferred finals – a solo Finals Week that had him pulling consecutive All Nighters.

Punchy and worn out one night we started wondering if records (not CDs – classic rock vinyl records that cost us $3.05 in the C-Store) had the same aerodynamics as frisbees – I was no Aero major and before I knew what he was doing Clint opened the our Vandenberg Hall dorm window and started flinging LPs towards the Field House to test the theory I may have joined in. It must have been about 2 am. Fortunately, no known collateral damage. Our testing didn't do much good as we couldn't see where the records landed, but Clint aced his exams and got himself rested and back on track. I was looking for cracked vinyl on my way to the gym for weeks never found any. We had the good sense to use only unwanted records, but perhaps one cadet's trash was another's treasure?

From John Retelle (USAFA 67, an Aero Instructor when we were there): Stan Siefke and Jon Turner won the two aero prizes, so they were easy to remember. There was one other guy in your class . . . an aero major. He got the finals schedule all mixed up, and went to the golf course by mistake during my final exam. I called over to his squadron, and his AOC contacted him. He came running in, over an hour late in a totally panicked state. He wrote non-stop for the remaining time, and nearly collapsed afterwards. Would you believe he got the highest grade on the exam, by a huge margin? He moved his overall grade from a B to an A. He was magnificent.

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