Our class reporter received a fascinating letter from one of our alumni veterans. We thought our readers would find it of interest and asked the author to update us on his life after Bucknell.
I'm creeping toward 94 and think often of Bucknell, WWII and Australia. I graduated from high school in nearby Milton, Pa., in 1942, enlisted as an aviation cadet and became a navigator. After crew assignment and training I arrived at Amberley Field, Brisbane, Australia, on Dec. 29, 1943. I was assigned to the 90th Heavy Bomb Group of the Fifth Air Force. We were known as the Jolly Rogers. Our aircraft was the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
During 1944 we flew 48 missions against Japanese targets from New Guinea bases. I had two glorious seven-day leaves in Sydney that year and also flew into northern Australia for "fresh" food two times. I also saw the east coast in January 1944 as we rode a slow train from Brisbane to the Charters Towers area.
After nearly five years I returned to Milton in December 1946 and found schools fully enrolled due to the GI Bill (free college educations for WWII veterans). A member of the Bucknell Board of Trustees from Milton learned of my situation and "arranged" for enrollment in the class of 1951.
I studied electrical engineering for three years until summer 1950. At that point I was called back into service for the Korean War. After two years away, I returned to school and, at age 29, I finally graduated with the class of 1953 with a bachelor in science in electrical engineering.
My engineering education was basic compared with the extreme current specialization due to explosive technical advancements. I took courses in surveying, machine shop, reinforced concrete structures, hydraulics, thermodynamics and mechanics. This broad field of knowledge has been valuable in my work and personal life.
The second area of great value for me at Bucknell was the humanities. When I began my freshman year, I was informed that an entrance test excused me from English composition and that I would take two semesters of world literature. It was the first introduction of humanities into my technical world. Professor Ralph Rees ’39, English, had the questionable privilege of guiding 18 engineering students, mostly WWII veterans, through this wonderful adventure. My education has shaped my reading and worldly interests for all of my life. For this I am grateful to Bucknell University.
Following graduation in 1953 I worked for Sylvania Electric Co., principally near Buffalo, N.Y., in the defense electronics field for 12 years. In 1965 I was recruited to head the engineering department of a company in Charlottesville, Va. In 1973 I resigned and took a management post at the distribution equipment division of Cooper Industries. I retired in 1991 from the position of operations manager.
Initially my retirement interests were in low-income housing organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, and substitute teaching in public schools. My recent and less ambitious efforts are with the Joint Area Board for Aging, an organization dedicated to improving lives for the elderly. I help with tutoring and other school activities; most recently I was a pen pal of a second-grader. My favorite activity is furniture design and construction.