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A True Mentor

The Air Force Academy's Cadet Cross-Country Soaring Team would like to express our condolances to Alice and their family in this difficult time.

Over the last few decades, the Academy Team had the immense honor to fly with and against Dick at a great number of regional contests in the Sportsclass. Charlie Spratt would always pair Dick up with some of our cadets to be their mentor at the contests. The cadets and I always looked at him with awe to be helped by such a great pilot. Heck, Dick at that point had been flying over 10 times longer than they had, and for that matter had been flying longer than I had been alive. And he was the nicest gentleman you'd ever want to meet. The cadets would always ask him, "which way are you going today Dick?" And he'd say, "the question is where do you want to go and why?" The cadets would always give him flak to "move up" to a higher category to give them a chance to win. He just kept telling them to get better.

Most of those kids are now flying F-15s, KC-135s, KC-10s, RC-135s, and F-22s and loving every minute of it. I can't help but think that Dick helped mold them into the leaders that they are today.

Dick, thanks for all the great memories. We'll miss you!

Mark Matticola

Advanced Soaring Coach, 94th Flying Training Squadron

Posted: 7/28/2008 By: Richard Johnson

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