Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

USAF Academy Class of 1964 History

This site was constructed in 2010 to collect and publish the histories and stories of the USAF Academy Class of 1964. Our first archive edition was completed in May of 2011. The final edition was completed in July of 2014, in time for distribution at our 50th Reunion. After the reunion, the keynote address and other talks from the reunion were added to the final archive edition.

The Greatest Class Ever

On the 27th of June 1960, 750 of us got off the busses and were thrust onto a terrazzo filled with screaming upperclassmen. Our heads were shaved, our bodies stuffed into itchy, baggy khakis, and our minds agonizing, "Oh my God, what did we ever get into?"

That first night the commandant, General Sullivan, addressed us, saying, "Look around you. You are the cream of the crop of America's youth, called to serve your nation, and don't you ever forget it."

And serve our nation we did, as a band of brothers. Of the 499 of us who graduated on the 3rd of June 1964, 82 have passed beyond, 44 of them in the line-of-duty, including 17 who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation in combat.

We certainly have much to be grateful for as a class. Tested in combat with two Air Force Crosses, dozens of Silver Stars and ten heroic POWs, we've become aces and test pilots, astronauts and Rhodes scholars, four-star generals and university professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, leaders in industry, commerce and politics, and even pastors and missionaries. Well done, '64!

Now that we're pretty far down the "back nine," let us be encouraged to continue to run the race that God has set before us in the good years we have left.

Kris Mineau, at the Memorial Service of our 45th Reunion, November, 2009

Our Heroic POWs

Ten members of our class became prisoners of war in Vietnam, more than any other class. Collectively, they spent 61 years in captivity. They endured starvation, torture, illness, isolation, depression, and loneliness. Yet they banded together, communicating in their special 5-5 tap code. "The building sounded like a den of runaway woodpeckers," recalled Ron Bliss.

They not only resisted, they swore to each other to Return With Honor, which they did. This history contains their stories, and stories from inside the Hanoi Hilton. This is their honor role:

Ronald Bliss 09/04/1966 to 03/04/1973 2373 days 6.50 years
Thomas Browning 07/08/1966 to 02/12/1973 2441 days 6.68 years
Guy Gruters12/20/1967 to 03/14/1973 1911 days 5.23 years
Kevin McManus06/14/1967 to 02/18/1973 2076 days 5.68 years
Thomas McNish  09/04/1966 to 03/04/1973 2373 days 6.50 years
Edward Mechenbier 06/14/1967 to 02/18/1973 2076 days 5.68 years
Martin Neuens 08/12/1966 to 03/04/1973 2396 days 6.56 years
James Shively 05/05/1967 to 02/18/1973 2116 days 5.79 years
Donald Spoon 01/21/1967 to 03/04/1973 2234 days 6.12 years
Leroy Stutz 12/02/1966 to 03/04/1973 2284 days 6.25 years

Each night, in every prison camp, they sent their fellow POWs a message: 2-2 3-3 2-2 1-2

GN GB : Good Night, God Bless

Our Distinguished Graduates

In 2020, Jay kelly and Hugh Williamson were elected as 2020 USAFA Distinguished Graduates, bringing to eight the number of Class of 1964 recipients of this award, the most for any class.
Here is the list:

2001 - Mr. Harry J. Pearce, '64
2002 - Dr. Paul G. Kaminski, '64
2004 - Col. Frederick Gregory, '64
2006 - Major General Edward J. Mechenbier , '64
2010 - Mr. Max F. James, '64
2018 - Mr. Alan T. McArtor, '64
2020 - Lt. General Jay Kelly, '64
2020 - Mr. Hugh Williamson III, '64

This is one more piece of evidence that our class was the Best Class EVER. There are many other pieces of evidence, elegantly presented by Al McArtor in the keynote speech at our 50th Reunion.

In 2021 our class was further honored when the Academy named a building after our beloved astronaught, Fred Gregory. See the details on his history page.

Our Numbers

As of : 20 September 2021
Entered 750 
Graduated 499 (67%) 
Passed 154 (31%) 

[ Greatest Class Ever ]     Al McArtor's superb keynote address at our 50th Reunion.
[ Class Prayer ]     Darryl Bloodworth's moving prayer at our 50th Reunion.
[ Leadership ]     Ace Steve Ritchie's Remarks on Leadership at our 50th Reunion.
[ Thank You! ]     Mariana Ritchie's poignant address at our 50th Reunion.
[ The History Of Our Times ]     We have lived in very interesting times.
[ Welcome to USAFA! ]     Who can forget our first day at the Blue Zoo?
[ Graduation Day 1964 ]    Our last day at USAFA
[ Cooperate and Graduate ]    Spirit of the Class of 1964
[ What The Honor Code Meant To Us ]    The Class of 1964 was, and still is, bound by a powerful code.
Histories and stories are linked under a Contents page. Each person's stories are linked on their history page.
[ Index of Class of 1964 Histories ( and stories) ]

The index below is to just the stories.
[ Index of Class of 1964 Stories ]

Class Officers

President: Rod Wells - deceased October 2019; succeeded by Jay Kelly
Vice President: Jay Kelley - replaced by Alan Rogers January 2020
Secretary: Doug Jenkins
Treasurer: Bob Thomas
Scribe: Bob Hovde
Historians : Matt Feiertag, Usto Schultz

History Team

Historians : Matt Feiertag, Usto Schultz

Matt and Usto volunteered for a very undefined task with no manual to go by. They did a good job of keeping the history issue alive, reminding us at each reunion that we needed to do this. They organizing squadron reps, built an email list, and provided guidance on what to write. They found a good example done on paper, done by the Class of 1961. At a critical time in the online history campaign, Matt led by example by doing his history and story on line. Many read his example and followed his lead.

Webmaster/editor: Al Larson

Al volunteered to be the electronic publisher of the class history. Kris Mineau encouraged Al to "Just do it," and provided the first story. Al created the history website and nagged the class to write their histories. Bill White and Will Honea gave Al some early assistance. Rod Wells sent out a letter encouraging the class to get the history done. Al McArtor led by example by doing a great history, and encouraging the class to get it done. Paul Kaminski and Lin Bothwell added their voices to encourage participation. Somehow the nagging worked. The final edition has over 350 histories and over 200 stories. Over 70% of the class participated.

While this project was initially done independently of the AOG, the AOG did provide two copies of their Class of 1964 data base which was used to supplement the class information collected by the class. The help by the AOG is much appreciated.

Editing assistants: Doug Jenkins, Jim Graham

Doug did the 100+ Gone But Not Forgotten pages, and helped many in his squadron and the class get their histories done. He was instrumental in the completion of this project.

Jim helped his squadron reach 100% participation and helped input many other histories.


The views and opinions expressed in this history are strictly those of the individual class members. They do not reflect any class consensus, nor any official position of the Air Force Academy, the Association of Graduates, or the Air Force.