1963 Class of Electrical Engineering, Graduate Guidance and Control Option (GGC) Returned to AFIT for 50th Reunion
On 11 Sept 13, nine alumni and their wives from the 1963 class of Electrical Engineering, Graduate Guidance and Control Option (GGC63) visited AFIT as part of their 50th reunion activities. While at AFIT, the group toured the Space Lab, Materials/Structures Lab, and the Wind Tunnel. They also received an overview of the Center for Cyberspace Research (CCR).
Originally, the program was a Master's in Electrical Engineering, Graduate Guidance and Control Option. Initially, they studied feedback control systems with texts by AFIT Professors D'Azzo and Houpis. Classes and makeshift labs were held in the venerable old Building 125, a couple of blocks north of current AFIT campus. As the program moved forward over two years, the studies evolved into a concentration on orbital Mechanics. Simultaneously, they were personal witnesses to the evolution from analog to digital computer technology and the attendant applications to equations of motion in space. Finally, the program changed its name, and the 1963 graduates were awarded the degree of Masters of Science in Astronautical Engineering.
With the program starting in 1961, their class comprised students from across the spectrum of Air Forces, from a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1952 to two newly commissioned AFROTC 2nd lieutenants on their very first tour. They were the youngest, while the eldest was a former USAF sergeant. To the more senior students, the newly commissioned had a distinct advantage because of their far more recent academic experience. GGC63 was also fortunate to be international in scope as it included two officers from The Royal Canadian Air Force. Finally, they had one civilian member of the class who was from the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patt.
Upon receiving their degrees from AFIT, all of the USAF Officers were highly qualified to support the Inertial Laboratory at Holloman AFB. In addition, the rated pilots learned that there were great opportunities for gaining additional cockpit time at Holloman, and all requested assignment there. Consequently, some ten of the sixteen member GGC63 class served in their first post graduate position at Holloman.
Six members of the class were rated, and the challenge of getting flying time and maintaining currency while immersed in the program was both onerous and harrowing. Within a few years after graduation, all found themselves flying combat during the conflict in Southeast Asia. One, Captain Herb Lunsford, gave up his life for his country when his F-4 aircraft was shot down while attacking targets on the coast of North Vietnam. Two other pilots in the class also flew the F-4, and others the F-86, the AC-130, and the C-141.
Through the years, each class member has taken advantage of the excellent technical knowledge gained at AFIT and the multitude of advanced applications that evolved. Some have continued their pursuit of advanced degrees in related disciplines and received their doctorates. The AFIT background has proved invaluable to each member of the class in many diverse areas, from research, development, test and evaluation through systems acquisition and program management. Both in the Air Forces and during later careers in private industry, each member of the class contributed his special expertise to our mutual national objectives. Hence the country derived immense benefits from their preparation and their unique experience while at AFIT.
Finally, GGC63 is unique in a more personal way. As noted, many of the group and their families served and lived in the same vicinity and have subsequently stayed in touch. This, plus the common bond shared by each of the alumni, has led to periodic reunions at sites throughout the country and in Canada. The class has come to treasure these international events, and is especially proud and grateful to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 1963 graduation back at The Alma Mater.