that first draft lottery I drew number 128, and most of the
significant events in my life flowed from that moment, in one way or
the other. After graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1970, I began
preparing to be drafted for service in Southeast Asia. A friend
mentioned the North Carolina Air National Guard in Charlotte. At
that time, the 156th Military Air Transport Squadron was
flying two 100 hour airlift missions a month to Vietnam, in the the
C-124 “Shaky.” I checked it out and was eventually sworn in,
after the admonition from a sergeant that “six years is a long
time.” My draft notice arrived in the mail the next day!

I spent
a year on active duty training as a navigator in Sacramento and
Little Rock, then returned to Charlotte, and to the C-130 “Hercules”
transport. I went to law school, met my wife, and then worked for 30
years as a state prosecutor in North Carolina. Flying with “the
Guard” was my very demanding and interesting part-time job. I
traveled world-wide, and served on active duty in Haiti, the Persian
Gulf, and the Balkans, flying combat missions, and also frequently
participated in disaster relief and airborne firefighting. After 28
plus years, I retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel with
close to 5,000 hours flying time, and with the rating of Master

I now draw retired pay, and Tricare (military health
insurance) literally has been “life saving” for my wife. Just as
important as all that were the great people that I worked with, and
trusted my life to, in military flying. Many of them continue to be
my best friends. As they say, “once the military gets in your
blood, the only thing that will take it out is formaldehyde.” I am
now involved in “veterans service organizations,” and play Taps
as part of our local volunteer military funeral honors detail. All I
can say is, “Thank you number 128, and thank you Air Force!”