David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Graduate School

Educational Journeys

My wife, having had a son, was out of the Air Force, (how times do change; she was fired. Today they won't let you get out with that excuse) and we decided to go to graduate school. So we left the Air Force and went to the University of Michigan with a one year old and very little money.

 

I went to Ann Arbor in the fall of '62, arriving just as the Cuban missile crisis developed. In spite of my studies, I managed to keep up, by correspondence, with current events, and I had heard some rumors about the Jungle Jim crowd's involvement in the Bay of Pigs, in Africa and in Central America, and knew that many of the original contingent had been sent to Vietnam. I also knew that many of them had died.

 

I was getting a Masters degree in Speech and Theatre, so I found myself giving speeches to groups of graduate students, and talked mostly about Vietnam. I can remember one speech in particular. I stood in front of the audience in November 1962 at the Horace Rackham School and announced that we were becoming involved in a war in Vietnam in which many of our people had already died and in which hundreds, and perhaps thousands more would die. The audience was unimpressed. I got a good grade on the speech, but not a great one. The material was "unbelievable," said the professor.

 

When we left Michigan in the fall of '63 I had the masters and we went to the University of Oregon to work on a Ph.D. I was surprised when I got a call from a Major Gus Hiebert at Portland International inviting me to fly in a C-119 squadron on the weekends. When he told me it would pay about $3000 a year, I told him I'd be right along. Pretty good money for a graduate student at that time.

 

MY Ph.D DIPLOMAFor the next three years I taught public speaking at the University half time, studied half time, and flew almost 1000 hours in C-119Gs, a utilitarian but lovable bird. We flew 7000 pounds of pillows to Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico in May of '65 during the Dominican crisis. I finally got the Ph.D. in 1969, when the Air Force gave me six months to finish my dissertation.

 

 

"I can remember one speech in particular. I stood in front of the audience in November 1962 at the Horace Rackham School and announced that we were becoming involved in a war in Vietnam..."

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