Gone but not Forgotten

Vacant Chairs

Updating lists of those who taught history at the Academy since 1955 yielded, alas, reports of DFHers who have “gone west,” now “missing from the mess table.” For those who were colleagues and students of these officers and historians, here are some links to obituaries.  This is, of course, a partial list that will be regularly updated.

Robert B. Adair (1938-2007, DFH 1967-70).  Army artillery officer.  “A career that started in the enlisted ranks, saw two tours in Vietnam, three tours in Europe and several command billets” including the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, not to mention Pentagon tours.  Retired as a Colonel and helped start MPRI and taught at Wor-Wic Community College. (scroll down this page for More)  

Harry R. Borowski (1942-2014, DFH 1972-81, 1981-88).  “Joined the History Department faculty at the U. S. Air Force Academy, eventually becoming a full professor and the acting head of the department prior to his retirement in 1988.” 

Josephus “Joe” Allan Bowman (1915-2006, Department of Military History and Geography 1956-57).  “Part of the 8th Air Force Staff in London during WWII and went on to be the Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at West Point and First Professor of Geography at the Air Force Academy.”

Donald D. Braden (1910-2008, DFH 1955-60).

Edward “Mac” Coffman (1929-2020, DVP 1982-1983), professor of history, University of Wisconsin.

William M. Crabbe, Jr. (1925-2010, DFH 1959-63). Citadel ’50, former Commandant of Cadets at his alma mater, later President of Oak Ridge Military Academy; video tribute.

George V. Fagan (1917-2012, DFH 1955-57, Permanent Professor). Original faculty member of USAFA.  “His development of the Library was instrumental in the Academy’s obtaining accreditation before the graduation of its first class in 1959.”

Thomas A. Fabyanic (1934-2021, DFH 1966-69).  “A natural-born teacher who loved imparting his knowledge and wisdom of history, religion, and antique cars . . . tour guide throughout the sites of Washington, DC, during which it was best to pay attention as there was always a quiz given at the end!”

Phillip M. Flammer (1928-1999, DFH 1958-61, 63-68).  “A pilot and, later, historian, most notably working in Saigon in 1968-69 documenting the Vietnam War . . . Professor at the Air Force Academy . . . professor of History at Brigham Young University . . . professor of the year in 1976.  Above all Phillip’s greatest joy was teaching, both the gospel and academics”; another tribute.

Charles Frazee (1932-2021, DVP 1993-94).  Expertise was Byzantine, East European and Christian church history; directed Cal State Fullerton’s Russian and East European Studies Program in the 1970s.

John L. Frisbee (1916-2000, DFH 1955-57). “He taught at the U.S. Military Academy and was the first head of the history department and acting head of the political science department at the U.S. Air Force Academy.”

Robert E. Hays, Jr. (1927-2020, DFH 1963-65).  WW2 Navy Medical Corpsman and postwar Naval reservist.  After USAF commissioning in 1950, served in planning, administration, and teaching, including a tour in Vietnam.  After retirement, worked for the Continuing Education Bureau of the Texas government. 

Harold L. Hitchens (1915-2000, DFH 1955-58), “an instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps . . . recalled to active duty during the Korean War, and flew combat missions over North Korea . . . a founding member of the faculty at the US Air Force Academy in 1955.”

Alfred F. Hurley (1928-2013, DFH 1958-62, Permanent Professor, 1966-80).  Enlisted in the USAF two days before the beginning of the Korean War, Master Navigator, seventy reconnaissance missions in Germany during the Cold War, after retirement, Chancellor of the University of North Texas System.

John W. Huston (1925-2021, DVP 1994-95). B-17 navigator in the ETO, USAF Reserve Major General, former chair of the USNA Department of History, and the Chief of Air Force History.

Oakah L. Jones Jr. (1930-2010, DFH 1960-63, 1964-73). USNA ’53. Specialties in Latin American and Southwestern history.  Thirteen years at USAFA.

Timothy E. Kline (1942-2020, DFH 1973-77). Forward air controller (O-2), DFC, USAFA and NWC faculty, seminary, ordination, parishes, Cathedral Dean. 

Peter B. Lane (1939-2021, DFH 1970-74).  “Pete flew a total of 104 combat missions over North Vietnam . . . commendations, including the Silver Star.” 

Donald K. Mangels (1929-2006, DFH 1966-70). At DIA . . . participated in the target selection for the Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong by B-52 bombers.

Russell W. Mank, Jr. (1940-2020, DFH 1968-73, 1976-83), “made a quadriplegic when struck by a hit-and-run driver while he was jogging near his home in 1988. His courage and determination enabled him to overcome his injuries and fashion a new life for himself.” 

Craig A. McElroy (1947-2022; DFH 1979-82). Worked at Lockheed Martin as an engineer. He was also a retired Colonel of the United States Air Force.

Thomas F. McGann (1920-82, DVP 1978-79).  Professor of history, University of Texas, visiting professor at Stanford, Columbia, NWC, and USAFA . . . Captain in the United States Naval Reserve (Naval Intelligence). 

Silas R. Molyneaux (1916-2012, DFH 1955-60). “Became a member of the original group of officers that started the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He taught history and political science.”

Nile B. Norton (1922-2001, DFH 1962-66).  A “a true renaissance man – as comfortable discussing history as creating stained glass, writing, or building a cabin in the woods.”

Alan Osur (1941-2021, DFH 1967-72, 76-80, 2006-13).  “His dream jobs were the years he spent as a history professor and rugby coach at the Air Force Academy.” 

Jon Reynolds (1935-2022, DFH 1975-1979). He brought to the Academy his experiences flying the F-100 Super Sabre, the L-19 Bird Dog, and the F-105 Thunderchief, followed by seven years as a POW in North Vietnam. 

Wilbert H. “Wil” Ruenheck (1917-2008, DFH 1957-66).  “a talented first baseman playing in the minor leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals . . . in the initial cadre of the United States Air Force Academy in the late 1950’s, serving as the head of the History Department . . . motivational speaker . . . entrepreneur in the stock market.” 

John “Jack” Schlight (1926-2017, DFH 1958-60, 1962-73). “Left the Benedictine order in 1952 to join the Air Force . . . a navigator in the Korean War . . . historian and author in Vietnam . . . a professor at the newly established Air Force Academy.” 

Arnold Schrier (1925-2016, DVP 1983-84), professor of history, University of Cincinnati.

Dennis Showalter (1942-2019, DVP 1991-93). Minnesota state spelling champion of 1954, military historian, Colorado College faculty, visiting prof at USAFA, USMA, MCU, and Norwich, past president of the Society for Military History.

William E. Simons (1927-2018, DFH 1958-62). “Taught history at the Air Force Academy and wrote three of the original Pentagon Papers, as a well as a book about education in the service academies.”

Victor D. Sutch (1921-2019, DFH 1958-60, 61-70), “spent the war years in Europe and Northern Africa flying transport planes . . . God was gracious to protect him and provide him with the wonderful experience of flying, along with the sheer terror of landing . . . was able to teach at the Air Force Academy”

John M. Thompson (1926-2017, DVP 1981-82). “One of the founders and early builders of Indiana University’s internationally prominent Russian and East European Institute.”

Bynum E. Weathers, Jr. (1924-2022, DFH 1964-68). WW2 B-29 crewman, PhD Denver, Maxwell, Puerto Rico, USAFA faculty . . . musician and composer.

Below is the most complete list we have of all those Missing from the Mess with whatever information we have. If you have any corrections or more information on any of these former DFHers, please send to Don Bishop (donbishop99@hotmail.com), Brenda Roth (brerot@gmail.com) and Larry Skogen (lcskogen@gmail.com).