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Volunteer for Everything
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Published March 9, 2022

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Since my father’s passing in 2020, it has become more important than ever to me to preserve his stories, his humor, and his wisdom.  It his hard knowing that I cannot just introduce someone to him so they can experience for themselves what a vibrant and unique person he was.  I hope that in some small way, this will give those who are interested a window into the person who founded Lyon Air Museum and why those that knew him loved and admired him.

I had the pleasure of accompanying my father to many business functions, fundraisers, and political events, but even when we were just out for lunch, people would often approach him and ask him for the secret to his success.  Invariably, he would reply, “volunteer for everything.”  He developed this philosophy early in his military career, and it soon became a practice that carried into all parts of his life.

My father joined the Army Air Force Ferrying Command in Long Beach, California in April of 1944. His job was to fly new planes from the United States to various theaters of war around the world. It was a dangerous job that involved piloting unfamiliar aircraft on long cross-country flights to unfamiliar destinations, but he enjoyed the unique opportunity to fly many different types of aircraft to places he had never been, like Australia, England, and North Africa.

Dad described that frequently when these long-distance trips came up, and volunteers were requested, most pilots would not raise their hands.  They had families to get home to or a date on Friday night.  Eager to help and learn, he volunteered for every mission that came up — no matter how far it took him or what type of plane it was. Because of this, he quickly gained a deep and broad range of experience as an aviator, so much so that at one point a senior officer doubted the veracity of his record.

After WWII, he remained active in the Air Force Reserve and was recalled to active duty in the Korean War. When he arrived in Korea, he marveled at the pilots who sat in their barracks waiting for someone to give them something to do. True to his nature, he asked for flight missions and was assigned responsible for dropping paratroopers behind enemy lines and illuminating battlefields with flares thrown from the aircraft. Although most of his missions were at night, he was not content to sit around during the day; instead, he requested a job in operations, where he helped plan missions, in addition to flying them.


When people noted the courage it must have taken to volunteer for so many things, my father often said with a smile, “I was young and didn’t yet know what I couldn’t do.” I have no doubt that my father’s fearlessness in taking on challenges led to his success in both the military and in business.  Volunteering put him in a position to learn and gain experience in a way that just “going with the flow” would not have done.  Flight by flight, mission by mission, opportunity by opportunity, he learned and grew, and before he knew it, he had an impressive record in business as well as the military.  Yet it all started with that first conscious act to Volunteer.

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