A Short Biography of Richard (Dick) Latteier
for UPT Class 68E Reunion, August 2008
I should begin by saying I was almost in class 67D. Unlike many of our classmates, my ROTC experience (Navy) lasted only one semester. I had no time for it. During my senior year, however, it became apparent that I would not escape the military. I applied for and was accepted to both Air Force and Navy OTS/OCS followed by pilot training (class 67D for the Air Force.) I wanted to fly F-104s or Navy F-8s. When I told my parents, my dad thought it was a really dumb idea. I was half way through a two year MBA program when my draft board informed me that a college deferment did not extend to graduate school. I hurried down to my Air Force recruiter and, after another physical exam, received new orders to OTS and UPT Class 68E. My life would probably have been quite different if I had started flying a year earlier.
I got my first choice of assignments out of UPT, A-37s. While it was great fun, it was probably not the wisest career choice. Following survival school and training, I arrived PCS at Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, in July of 1968, about four months after the big Tet Offensive. I flew 264 “combat” missions in the A-37 and another six or eight in the F-100 and OV-10. I even flew one Navy “COD” mission, as copilot, and logged a carrier landing and takeoff. The A-37 was like a jeep with a V-8 engine, not very sophisticated but easy and fun to fly. At the time, it was also the only fighter, other than the A-1, that could safely work in close proximity (10 meters) to friendly ground forces. I used to laugh at people talking about “close air support” B-52 missions. Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh long because I got a B-52 assignment upon completing my year in Vietnam.
B-52 training at Castle AFB was quite a dismal occasion. Most of the trainees were former Century Series fighter pilots who didn’t want to be there any more than I did. My student AC, a senior major, had more flight time in F-104s than anyone else in the Air Force. Even my squadron commander, a former F-105 pilot, was just biding his time to retire. However, I did have two good things happen while at Castle. We had one all-student flight (no SAC people aboard) that was a blast. The last event of our four-hour mission was to fly as a target for Washington ANG interceptors (F-102s.) To make a long story short, a light B-52 can easily out turn a F-102 at 47,000 feet! The Deuce pilots couldn't believe it. The second good thing was Miss Hoa. She worked part-time for my squadron in Vietnam and I decided she would be a good “souvenir of the war.” We were married on Valentine’s Day of 1970 and, 38+ years and six children later, we are still doing fine.
I did not enjoy SAC and eventually escaped by taking a ground job (intelligence officer) at the 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlbert Field, Florida. While there, I met Stan Erstad for the last time. We were training for a Special Ops. mission that eventually was canceled. My last active duty assignment was as an intelligence debriefer of Hanoi POWs in Operation Homecoming. Just in time, I got an “early out” and went back to the University of Michigan to finish my MBA before all my credits expired. I stayed in the Reserves as an intelligence officer.
After graduate school, I worked for the First National Bank of Chicago in their International Banking Department. Eventually, I was assigned to their Hong Kong branch and, the following year, to their office in Sydney, Australia, where we lived for three years. I later worked in Private Banking for Bank of America in Los Angeles. Between those jobs we lived in Spokane, WA, where I worked in accounting and finance. One interesting job was as CFO for the Coeur d' Alene Indian Tribe in northern Idaho, but that’s another story. So is the story of our family trip to Vietnam in 2005. All of our children and two spouses went with us.
For the past 23 years we have lived in Fullerton, CA, which is in Orange County about five miles north of Disneyland. I am semi-retired, still doing accounting/finance work. Hoa does child day-care in our home, which is a good business if you can stand crying children and dirty diapers. Every year we get graduation and wedding announcements from former day-care children. That’s fun. Our own children range in age from 36 to 25. One son, an orthopedic surgeon in the Air Force, is now serving in Afghanistan. Another is an Army dentist who leaves active duty for private practice in June ‘08. Our third son is an engineer in San Diego and the fourth is in training to be an airline pilot at Utah State Univ. One daughter is a paralegal and the other a CPA. Our two youngest sons are still not married. We have nine grandchildren and, like money, always want more. We plan to retire in a few years and serve a mission for our church. Then we plan to move to Carlsbad, CA, near the beach in northern San Diego County, just south of Camp Pendleton. Not very exciting, but nice.
We look forward to seeing all the “old boys” this August at the reunion. Thanks, Maury & Harry!