From the time Bernie could talk, he said he wanted to go to West Point. Bernard Rogers Card was born into an Army Air Corps family on Governor's Island in New York harbor. His father had graduated in the Class of 1933. Bernie's early life was as frenetic as any military dependent's; he attended a different school every year until he was 13, living in such diverse places as Massachusetts, Virginia, and Alabama.
He finally enjoyed some permanence in Honolulu, spending his first three years of high school there. He was elected president of his senior class, but was then subjected to another transfer before the school year began, this time to Washington, D. C. Intent on gaining admission to West Point, he selected Western High School in Washington, which had a good reputation for West Point admissions. That year, he received a principal appointment to the Naval Academy, which he turned down. He told his father, "I don't want to go into the Navy." After a year at Sullivan's Prep, he won a Presidential Appointment to West Point.
At West Point, Bernie proved to be highly competent in all aspects of cadet life except academics. Though never in serious academic difficulty, he maintained a just "proficient" status. His prowess as an athlete is best illustrated by his being one of four members of a brigade championship handball team. His most apparent impact on the Corps was social. Everyone loved Bernie, even though he seldom missed an opportunity to inflict a few friendly barbs. He even pleased his tactical officers, although he always made it clear to those Army officers that he intended to enter the Air Force upon graduation, which he did.
Classmates remember Bernie as one who "kept life in perspective," never too serious, a true competitor, a great friend, always willing to help others, "had a great smile," always a conspirator in schemes to "beat the Tac," and one who "made plebe year bearable." Many of the stories about Bernie's cadet days revolve around his summer trips to Europe. Bernie's folks were at EUCOM, which provided a base of operations. Taking five or six company classmates, Bernie led whirlwind tours of Europe after yearling and cow years. Then the travelers would subject the rest of the company to hours of slide shows all through the fall.
Three days after graduation in June 1958, Bernie married Elva Lee Schroebel and headed for flight school. Bernie's dreams of flying were shattered in flight school by a visual perception problem. He still pursued an aviation career and was soon rated as a navigator. Not content to be just a navigator, Bernie sought challenging assignments in the Strategic and Tactical Air Commands and became a Standardization/Evaluation navigator at every level. The Cards were stationed at numerous air bases from Florida to California and from Japan to Alabama. Bernie had an unaccompanied tour in Korea and spent much time on TDY in Vietnam. Bernie became an avid hunter and fisherman while at Mountain Home, Idaho. His assignment there was curtailed when Bernie reported his wing commander for a serious infraction. He vowed to return and live there after retirement, which he did. Bernie and Elva had four sons: Bernie Jr., Brian, Kevin and Bruce. Shortly after completing 20 years service, Bernie retired as a lieutenant colonel and moved to Boise. His retirement coincided with his divorce from Elva. He spent nine happy years in Boise, marrying Vickie Turner in 1984. He continued his education there but never seriously sought employment. He was too busy with his fishing, camping, and his home computer.
On 1 June 1989, ten years to the day after both his retirement and divorce, Bernie, always the joker, told Vickie that he would probably have a heart attack that day and die. He did. He was 53.
Vickie took his ashes to his favorite trout stream and sprinkled them out over the water. Several big trout swam over and looked up at the ashes floating on the water. To Vickie it seemed as if they were paying their last respects to their worthy competitor.