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How I got my appointment to West Point
Wellll..... I graduated from Seattle's Garfield Highschool in June 1950. I was also a Pfc in the Army reserve in an athletes PR section (skiing for me) made up of several later all-americans in football, basketball, and baseball. I then drove a truck up the gravel one lane 'Alcan Hiway', 1500 miles to Fairbanks - where my engineering student brother had wangled a construction job for me requiring a high skill level. (I was called a 'go-fer' with no assigned duties). I couldn't get into the labor unions so pitched in and doug building foundations in the permafrost anyway, with a pick axe! One day the labor foreman came by and said ' Could I run a transit'? - ( I had had 2 weeks of transit training in HS geometry)- so I shyly said 'SURE'. Turned out the multimillion $ project to build Eilleson AFB had a drunk for the surveyor. I checked his work and layouts at daylight nite with the labor foreman. He was right, things were big time wrong , so they fired the guy and I (as a modest hero in my mind), took his high paying job. Actually, I did OK and the base got surveyed and built. However ( theres always one), I didn't know that the former surveyor was the drinking buddy of the projects bullmoose boss. I had some flak but OK.
ON to Univ of Wash as an engineering major and AFROTC cadet. In winter quarter 50-51, I heard the US olympic Ski Team was training in Sun Valley. I promptly dropped out, resigned my draft deferred ROTC student status, and with $23, showed up for a promised waiter job at the fine restaurtant there, 'the Ram'. Problem was, they switched my job to 'dishwasher', knowing I had no $ and was trapped. Did the same to a kid from N Dakota. Worked all night, no automatic anything and 1000+ fancy dishes and glasses a night for board and room and $4.25. 10 days later, we quit, pooled our 21 savings $, bought army surplus GI white snow tents and sleeping bags, and moved out into the snow near the SV Lodge. We climbed the glass wall at the Sun Valley Lodge hot springs swim pool in the steam fog at night when it was closed and deserted. Used the dressing room to shave and for the john. We found if we side stepped ski packed the 'Expedition ' run to the round house (1300 ' vertical) by 0830 before the skiers could use the lift, we got free lift tickets. OK , room, sanitation etc, and lift ticket - what about food? I heard from another ski bum that if you put a napkin across your arm and looked like a waiter, you could clear a plate early from a surprised lady: ' you're through with this aren't you, mam?' (glittering smile)...she usually said 'why, well, I guess so.' We had Olympic training team badges that helped too etc. We ate unbelievably well...
The really surprising thing to me and others, was I made the 12 man U.S. Olympic Alpine team as the 6th alternate. Only 3 traveled with the team and I was 1-A Draft if I didn't climb to a 3rd alternate or better. There were no safety bindings and all out racing, so injuries too were very likely during training. I went home for a short visit, hedged my bets, and applied for competitive civil service exam appointment from Washington State Senators and Representatives. I did well in all exams as highest scoring in the state so Senator H.P. Cain gave me his principal appointment. The subsequent West Point physical, athletic, and student exams went well too. I soon also learned that I moved up to 4th ski team alternate. Soon too, I was also granted cadet candidate approval to class of 55. Olympics, draft 1-A, or West Point? Tough choice for a 19 yr old kid. Actually, the military career and West Point were both very popular in America then, as was patriotism. I felt this pull very strongly.
So, after my first flight (to NY), first time east of Montana, and first train ride I arrived at WestPoint with you all that fateful morning in July 1951. I found cadet life and academics challenging but I loved it ( for the most part at least now, 55 yrs later).
West Point changed me to eventually become the man I am, as it did most of you as well. At graduation, I went into the air force as 25% of the class did. I had a great and varied single engine flying career, married Shirley, 2 children born in Germany, grad school at Cal Tech, Ass't professor at USAFA + 2 more children, Fighter test pilot, combat squadron cmdr, and F-15 Program manager, and Pentagon Weenie. I retired when our oldest son broke his neck skiing and became quadraplegic. (He later married a doctor and they have 2 beautiful teen age daughters.) I left the service for financial necessity reasons, and got a fine industry VP job as head of Northrop Corp advanced stealth fighter design and development.
We now live on the water in Port Ludlow WA, sail a fast F-33 trimaran, have 7 grandchildren, and so far seem very healthy, and invite classmates anytime to visit us here...
God Bless you all,
4 AUG 2010
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TAPS Check List
1. Birthplace and date: SEATTLE WA, 19 JUNE 1932
2. Parents names: HAROLD ARNOTT JACOBS AND WINIFRED EWELL (JACOBS)
3. No. of siblings: 1 BROTHER BORN 1929, LT IN USAF 1952-5, BECAME VP AND GEN MANAGER OF BOEING SPACE DIVISION AND HEAD OF SYSTEM ENGINEERING ON 1ST SUCCESSFUL APOLLO LUNAR ORBIT MISSION
4. High school graduated from (plus info like class officer, etc.): GARFIELD H.S. SEATTLE - PRESIDENT OF BOYS STUDENT BODY, STUDENT COUNCIL
5. High school sports (what sport, position, team Captain, honors): CAPT OF SKI TEAM, TRACK(HALF MILE)
6. Other High school activities (Band, Honor Society, etc.): CHOIR, STUDENT OPERETTA COMEDY LEAD
7. Non-school activities (e.g., Scouts, Church etc.): EAGLE SCOUT, PRESIDENT OF YOUNG LIFE STUDENT RELIGIOUS GROUP
8. Civilian College and/or Military Academy Prep School: UNIV OF WASHINGTON,SEATTLE, , 1 SEMESTER - THEN DROPPED OUT AND WENT TO SUN VALLEY ID TO TRAIN AND WIN A SLOT ON THE 1952 OLYMPIC SKI TEAM - WAS SELECTED 6TH AND LAST ALTERNATE FOR THE ALPINE EVENTS BUT DUE TO SO MANY INJURIES, WOULD HAVE MADE 2ND ALTERNATE ON TRAVEL TEAM TO NORWAY. WON APPOINTMENT AND ENTERED USMA INSTEAD!
9. Civilian College sports: FROSH SWIM TEAM LETTER
10. Prior military service, branch and rank: CADET IN USAF ROTC, PRIVATE 1ST CLASS IN ARMY RESERVE (ATHLETES GROUP)
11. Type of appointment to USMA: WASH STATE SENATORIAL
12. USMA Roommates: BOB STRICKLAND, DON SMITH, AND RUD CRAWFORD PLEBE YEAR , DONNE OLVEY FIRST CLASS YEAR
13. Close friends at USMA: BOB STRICKLAND, DON SMITH TODD GRAHAM, DONNE OLVEY, OTHERS
14. Wife info, including how you met and place of marriage: SHIRLEY GRIFFIN, U OF W GRADUATE, SCHOOL TEACHER, MET ON RETURN FROM A STRENUOUS FISHING TRIP AT APARTMENT SHARED WITH BEST FISHING FRIEND'S FIANCEE, SEATTLE WA - MARRIED AUG 1956...TOOK A 75 MILE OLYMPIC MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS BACK PACK TRIP ON HONEYMOON (TO GET TO KNOW SHIRLEY)
15. Children info: BORN IN GERMANY : JEANETTE LYNN 1958, GREG ALAN 1959; BORN AT USAF ACADEMY: CHERYL LEE 1961, JEFFREY SCOTT 1963
16. Suggested and/or preferred author for TAPS article: DON SMITH, BOB STRICKLAND, OR DONNE OLVEY
17. Others who can fill in gaps about you: AS LISTED, ALSO ROD VITTY, H-1 CLASSMATES
18. Classmates with whom you served: ALTHOUGH IN USAF, OTHER THAN PILOT TRAINING, NONE
19. Major military assignments, if not listed in Register: RECEIVED EISENHOWER AWARD FROM PRESIDENT AT 1955 GRADUATION AWARDS PARADE, WON USAF TOP SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN 1968 FOR INVENTING, DEVELOPING, INSTALLING, AND TEST PROVING A NEW TELESCOPE, GIMBAL MOUNTED, SLAVED TO THE RADAR, SELF TARGET TRACKING AND VIDEO RECORDING, THAT ACHIEVED 10X UNAIDED PILOT AIRCRAFT I.D. RANGE TO ALLOW EXTENDED RANGE MISSILE LAUNCH
20. Second career info: BECAME NORTHROP VP IN CHARGE OF CONCEPT DESIGN AND WINNING PROTOTYPE ADVANCED STEALTH FIGHTER (YF-23) CONTRACT
21. Anything I've missed, plus your ideas on how we can insure appropriate and accurate TAPS articles on all of our classmates: I THINK STRONG INTERESTS ETC MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING -- FOR INSTANCE: I DEVELOPED A STRONG INTEREST IN SKI RACING ON USAF EUROPEAN TEAM, FLY FISHING, HOBIE SAILING AND WIND SURFING, FIGHTER DEVELOPMENT, LIGHT PLANE FLYING, AND FINALLY OWNERSHIP OF 2 ADVANCED TRIMARAN FAST SAILING AND RACING TRIMARANS