Memories of...Probation

Bud Calloway


I think I did this once. You kind of feel like you're unemployed, disabled, on welfare and living on food stamps. All at the same time. Nobody even looks at you, except your other loser buddies who have likewise managed to get themselves into the same fix. This was not a place that you wanted, or were allowed, to loiter at very long. . .

Bill Davis

Not a lot of guys know that I was actually a member of that All-Pro team for one semester, the second semester of my doolie year. Despite having a perfect straight-A academic performance, I was placed on Academic Probation for failing the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). As I remember it, the minimum number as a doolie was only two, but I've never been good on upper body strength. That was the only element of the PFT that hampered me. It was a struggle all four years – Don Snelgrove helped me the first year, and John Ladieu helped me work my way up to seven pull-ups for the last year.  

Now about the Conduct and Aptitude probation . . . Being typically lonely cadets the first year, Don Snelgrove and I visited the Baptist Student Union late in the first semester. There we each met young ladies (go figure) from the Beth-El School of Nursing. We had one overnight privilege for the first semester as doolies, and ours was about to expire. Don used his to visit relatives in Denver, but I and three others (won't give you their names – but their initials are Tony Toich, Bruce Hopkin, and Rick Townsend) attended an all-night party at a hotel room in Colorado Springs the week before finals. No sex (honestly) and ALMOST no drinking (also honestly). Thanks to a generous upperclassman (who sadly was punished for his gesture), we had one fifth of liquor for the evening. Again honestly, there was 90% of the bottle left at the end of the party, and instead of throwing it out (smart idea) we allowed the girls to take it back to their dorm (bad idea). They got caught with it, and almost got kicked out of Beth-El. One father (retired CMSGT) marched up to the Academy gates demanding our heads-on-a-platter. Our chins-in, backs-to-the-wall interrogation during Finals Week was conducted by Lt Col Michael J. Dugan, 4th Group AOC, who later set the record for shortest tour as Air Force Chief of Staff. The net result: a Commandant's Disciplinary Board, “40-and-40”, and a semester on both the Conduct and Aptitude probation lists.

Rick Townsend

(Addendum to Bill Davis’s entry on our mutual CDB, since I never made All-Pro). Bill, I hate you – not for revealing these details – but for remembering them in such vivid detail that I will likely have nightmares of LTC Dugan for months to come. I met him again when he was the USAFE/CC 4-Star, and he was a mellowed, incredibly nice gentleman. I spent the conversation hoping he wouldn’t remember our ‘previous encounter’. IMO, he was one of our better Chiefs, because he told the truth. Somehow, after that CDB in the middle of Finals Week, I got the best grade point average of my entire cadet career (3.6+). The girls we were with, we never saw again, and they were definitely not worth the effort – if you catch my drift – but, I would have dated them again for that GPA!

Tony Toich

Now I realize that my mind has dimmed over the years, but for the life of me, I don't recall an all night party with some young ladies from the Beth-El School of Nursing. It's possible that the party and the young ladies were forgettable, but I know I wouldn't have forgotten something as ‘trivial’ as getting interrogated by Lt. Col. Michael J. Dugan – or a CDB. If I did somehow blank all of this out of my mind – I can only hope I had a good time!

Now there was a party with six young ladies from a nursing school that came about while we were on a Cadet Chorale trip to St. Louis (being in the choir and the chorale meant 3-4 trips a year AWAY from USAFA, always a good thing). Somehow we all thought it would be hilarious if the young ladies would knock on our assistant chorale director's hotel room door at midnight and ask if he had a party going on in his room. Poor Mr. L. came stumbling to the door, it was obvious that he'd been asleep for some time, and politely told the girls that they had the wrong room. I don't recall if we ever told Mr. L. that we were behind this late night visit, but if we did, he was a good sport about it. That was during our Junior year and Bill Davis and, I believe, Rick Townsend were involved.

Paul Narzinski

DEFINITELY made ALL PRO, a lot: Academic – 3 years; Conduct –Senior year (CDB); and Aptitude – Junior/Senior year, part of the Senior shuffle – got the boot from CS-11 to CS-18 thanks to a @#$! AOC!

Dan Chapman

I had 6 semesters of being on Academic Probation, always at midterm. It worked out nice so my tours were almost always converted to cons. OBTW – It runs in the family: my son ('05) went even further and was on the "square root club" for 4 semesters – that’s where the square root of his GPA was higher than his real GPA.)

John Quattrocki

I think Bill Ellingsworth was the first All-Board "ace" I ever met and certainly the only one I ever roomed with . . . Dave Niebes, Mike Winck, Denny Boo and Chris Glaeser were all frustratingly well-behaved and accomplished as cadets.

Paul Desisto

All-Pro, but not concurrently.

Phil Saenger

I was on academic probation a lot – but I'd alternate semesters. Never did make All-Pro team – but was on Aptitude and Academic.

Bruce Fritzsche

Ac Pro from mid-term 4th class year to Jan 1975 – however, I think the Dean kept me on Ac Pro that last semester on general principle.

Hoss Erving

5 semesters on AC Pro, one Academic Show Cause Board, over 100 cons – I guess they thought I wasn't smart enough to march tours – got caught up on a lot of sleep, got lots recorded on my Akai Reel-to-Reel (which I still have) and built lots of great model airplanes.

Ralph Paul

Ac Pro twice, but on the Supt's, Commandant's and Dean's lists other times.

Bob Dorsey

I was also on Academic Probation for about 2 years, I think.

Rick Douglas

Ac Pro most semesters – but also on Supt's List one quarter.

Jim Carlson

Ac Pro first semester. When I applied to the zoo, I had no idea of the quality of competition I was to face. You guys just creamed me. Going into Finals Week at the end of doolie year, I had an ‘F’ in Chemistry. My instructor advised me to think about another career option. I was never so down and demoralized as I was during the period leading up to those finals. I started attending chapel again, and doing a lot of deep reflection. I also studied every waking minute and got as much “EI”, Extra Instruction, as I could. I barely slept. 

When grades came out, I was called into my Chem instructor’s office where he pulled out my exam papers. He looked at me, shook his head, and said, “I don’t know how you managed to get the grade you got on this final, but that brings up your final grade in this class to a ‘D’ (or maybe it was ‘D-’). Congratulations, you passed.” Amazingly, I got a ‘B-’ on that final. Combined with the somewhat decent grades (if you ignore the “D” in military training) I got in my other classes, it meant that I was NOT going to get booted on academics. I wouldn’t have to make that difficult phone call home. That also meant I had SERE to look forward to.

Ed Zerambo

Never All-Pro – although, from what I have been told, I might have set a record for the largest drop in MOMs. I, apparently, finished doolie year ranked near the top of our class. After the first MOM period in Loose Hogs, however, I went to the bottom – something about being a "kiss off jock." Got to spend quality time with Maj/Capt Honesty explaining what happened.

Ric Lewallen

Fall Semester – academic probation. The little phone episode started an unintentional business for me. I had also worked in a stereo repair store. The upperclass figured that out as a result of interrogation after the phone incident. I wound up using the Amateur Radio Club as a repair center and spent most weekday evenings fixing stereo gear. As you might guess, my grades suffered and I had a 1.96 GPA at the end of the first semester. I recovered the second semester, but that was the start of a trend for me, as I was on Ac Pro every other semester until I graduated. My motto was – never let academics interfere with my education.

Gary Exelby

Would you believe two outta three – with the third being the Dean’s List – our 2° year?)

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