Down Memory Lane

Since Rick and I are still here tending to business which is neither exciting nor photogenic, I thought we would take a look back at the beginning of our journey together many years ago. 

Once upon a time in the fall of 1979. . . 

A young couple were married.  Three weeks later, the young husband went off to the Air Force.  His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. 

At the completion of his six weeks of basic training, his even younger bride joined him in San Antonio.  She was given the standard warm military welcome.  She was told “If the Air Force had wanted him to have a wife, they would have issued him one. There is no place for you here, you should go home.”  She was not the sort to give up easily, so she got out her map (this was way before the days of cell phones, GPS and OnStar) found Wichita Falls, Texas and drove there alone.  She also found Sheppard Air Force Base where her husband had been assigned for his technical training. 

Once there, after being interviewed by the First Sergeant and showing him their marriage certificate, the bride was allowed to stay and the young couple lived together off base during technical school.  Their first home together was a lovely one bedroom efficiency which was a recently converted run-down motel.  They considered themselves very fortunate to find it however, as a tornado had blown through about six months before and wiped out large sections of the town and housing of any kind was hard to come by. 

Living in a state where the only people they knew were each other was a very good way for the young couple to begin their married life.  They learned to work together and rely on each other.  It was a new adventure for both of them and they learned many things.  

They learned that winter in the Texas panhandle is a LOT colder than winter in southern California.  They learned that icicles eighteen inches long can form outside your window.  On his way to the base one morning at 5:30 am, the young man learned about driving on black ice.  It is as dangerous as he had heard; he remembered this after he did a 360 in the middle of a bridge. Luckily, he and the car were not hurt and he continued on his way to the base.  

The young couple had hardly any money but this did not bother them.  They were able to celebrate their three month wedding anniversary by going out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and ordering one entree which they split because they only had $10.  Life was good!

The young man did very well in tech school, graduated and was ready to be a crew chief on fighter jets.  He loved the speed and power of the fighters and was hoping to be assigned to crew a T-38 or F-15 or maybe an F-16.  The Air Force had other ideas.  He was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.  DM as it is called was the home of the 355th Tactical Fighter Training Wing and pilots were being trained there on the newest fighter in the Air Force inventory.  

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the Warthog. 

Sleek and fast it is not.

The young man was one of the very first crew chiefs trained on the A-10 as it was a brand new aircraft. 


He learned to love the ungainly looking but very reliable, and very deadly bird.

He enjoyed working on the flight line and being up close and personal with the aircraft.  


Being in charge of a multi-million dollar aircraft is a lot of responsibility for any young person. 

Our young man did very well, being promoted and assigned as the personal crew chief of the commanding general of the base.      

He won an award for outstanding performance and his reward was a flight in a T-38.

Our bride meanwhile spent much of her time at The Arizona Inn, a lovely historic resort hotel in Tucson; perennially listed in the top hotels in the nation. 

She was the manager of the catering department, and organized many weddings, receptions, luncheons, dinners and a couple of balls. 

She sometimes worked with the rich and famous of the day who made their way to the Inn. 

Though she worked many nights and weekends on various events, it was a fun job and a lovely place to work and she learned a lot about scheduling, details and organization.

While in Tucson in 1981 the young couple purchased their first home. 

Ironically, a mobile home which is almost identical to the one at the ranch today!  It was set up on base, in a very scenic location overlooking the abandoned runway. 


There was a water shortage in Tucson at the time, and they were only allowed to water their lawn (what there was of it) one day per week.  One evening as they were sitting down to dinner, they looked out the window as a freak windstorm blew through and completely demolished the house next door. 

The mobile home was literally turned upside down in seconds.  Luckily the woman and her little boy inside escaped unhurt. 

The young couple and their home was spared except for a couple of pieces of skirting blown off. 


About this time, the young couple witnessed a devastating motorcycle accident where the rider was killed in front of them.  Again, they were spared, but the young man decided to sell his motorcycle and get something a little safer. 

A jeep was still fun and much easier for the couple to enjoy together.  While they never learned to love the arid desert landscape, they and their friends had a lot of fun exploring the area. 

Desert scenery with saguaro cactus.

At the end of his four year enlistment, the young man was offered a promotion and a guaranteed base of his choice as an incentive to re-enlist.  He loved working on the flight line and with the aircraft, but he was not so thrilled with the idea of the military controlling his life.

So he turned down the offer and was honorably discharged from the Air Force.   His wife resigned her position at the Arizona Inn and they went home to California to start the rest of their life. 

And they have lived happily ever after. 


P.S.  In case you were wondering, the young man’s airplane, brand new from the factory in 1979, is still flying at last report and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan. 

Some other young man – or woman – is now the crew chief of tail number 0139.  If you are a praying person, please say a prayer for those who are in harm’s way protecting our freedom. 


12 comments on “Down Memory Lane

  1. Tj says:

    That was wonderful. Loved it. You guys are so stinkin cute.

  2. mark says:

    Hey! Back up the tape! I don’t remember about the t-38 ride… Tell me more! And the cool yamaha and jeep… and how do you keep tabs on your plane? Crew chief for the base commander? Did you even have to work?

  3. Michael says:

    Cool Pictures and good stories!!!! When did the two of you get married? Do you have an anniversary soon? Krista and I have one on November 3rd. Hard to believe it has been a year since you were here in Indiana celebrating with us! Thanks for sharing some of your memories and pictures. I really enjoyed it.

  4. Rick & Brenda says:

    We were married on Sept. 8th – a day that was over 100 degrees and the air conditioning went out in half the church. I stood over the a/c vents in my big hoop wedding dress skirt trying to get some cool air. Isn’t it funny the things you remember?

    It does seem hard to believe it has been a year since your wedding! Hope you and Krista are doing well and enjoyed your trip.

  5. Ernie says:

    Great story Brenda, I loved it!
    You certainly are blessed with abundant talents, my friend.
    I enjoyed your pictoral, especially that vintage tux! Is that actually velvet on the lapels?! Seems I remember being in attendance at your wedding with Milli and Tra 29 years. ago..Has it really been that long?
    Wow, what a testimony to true love, found on the golf course as I recall, or was it in Mr. Leapleys Goverment class?! :p

  6. Rick & Brenda says:

    Good to hear from you Ernie!

    It IS hard to believe it was 29 years ago. How can that be when we are still so young? I also remember our adventure on the golf course – I wonder if those blue haired ladies ever recovered?

    We actually first met in Mr. Rainey’s English class our Jr. year – Rick says the only good to ever come from an english class. Leapley’s class was later and more boring.
    Take care, Brenda

  7. […] An USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II affectionately known as the Warthog; always near and dear to our hearts. If you want to know why, read the rest of the story here.  […]

  8. […] if you want to see photos of many years ago they are here in our nostalgic look back. Happy […]

  9. Herb Wingfield says:

    Trying to find some more pictures. If I remember right the Groom’s gift to the men was one free ride round trip to Chowchilla in a light aircraft to his Uncle’s ranch during a horrendous cross wind…or something like that; maybe different adventure.
    Reminder to Wedding photographer – don’t take so many high shots to the back of father’s bald spot, I know about bald spots myself. Must have been the well water with the open pit oil sumps down the road uphill or maybe the cool refreshing feel of an early Saturday morning crop-duster spraying down on us kids – boy that used to tingle all day.

    • Brenda says:

      You have the correct adventure – the airplane ride was on our wedding day. Who would do that?? And yes, when you think about all the toxins we (and especially you guys) were exposed to it’s a wonder we don’t glow in the dark!


      P.S. The wedding photographer was focused on the bride, not her father’s good side 🙂

  10. […] Rick and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this past Sunday. Hard to believe now, but those babies are the two of us many years ago. If you want to read the whole story of our young lives together you can do that here.  […]

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