Mark’s Story: US Air Force

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Without question, the pinnacle of my USAF career was Desert Storm.  I flew the F-15C with an elite group, the members of the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the most decorated air-to-air combat unit of the war. I had over 200 combat hours during the Gulf War and experienced, close-up, how a superbly trained unit gets the mission done.

Early in my career I served as Forward Air Controller (OV-10) and Air Liaison Officer with the U.S. Army’s 25th and the 2nd Infantry Divisions, forces focused on defending and protecting the Korean peninsula.  I never thought that 30 years later I’d be considering the same problem, only now with the specter of nuclear weapons thrown in.

I left the active duty Air Force in ’92 and joined the Air Force Reserve as an intelligence officer. I served in Guam and at Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces (HQ PACAF) in Hawaii, as an Asian affairs specialist responsible for analysis of national defense issues in the Pacific.  My fighter background led to being selected for the elite Asian Tactics Analysis Team, the group responsible for analyzing and evaluating air combat tactics throughout the Asian theater.  Command experience came to me at HQ PACAF when I was chosen to serve as interim Operations Officer of the Air Intelligence Squadron, the unit supporting and reporting directly to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces.

Here at home, I served as an expert intelligence advisor to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in the fight against drug trafficking and human smuggling.  My final assignment before retiring was as Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies with the Air Force ROTC Detachment at CU Boulder, where I mentored cadets and taught strategy and international relations to future Air Force officers.