United States Air Force Academy 1954-2004

50th Anniversary Oral History

In 2003, the board of directors of The Friends of the United States Air Force Academy Library (the Friends) recognized the need to produce a single volume containing the transcripts of the oral history interviews who have made historically significant contributions to the Air Force Academy (the Academy). The oral histories were conducted in conjunction with the development of the DVD Expect Great Things, which was sponsored by The Friends and the Association of Graduates in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Academy. Containing both extensive interviews, which cover a wide expanse of history, and shorter thematic interviews which are limited to specific topics, the compendium is an invaluable document for institutional research at the Academy. This volume is a privately printed, limited edition that lives in the Clark Special Collections Branch of the McDermott Library and at the Association of Graduates office.

NOTE: Included transcripts are partial extracts of the complete interview.


Lieutenant General Albert P. Clark, USAF, Ret.

Superintendent, USAF Academy, 1970–1974

General Clark was superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy from August 1970 through July 1974. Born at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, August 27, 1913, he graduated from the United States Military Academy in June 1936. In June 1942 he went to England as second in command of the first American fighter unit in the European theater. On July 26, 1942, he was shot down over France, and spent almost three years as a prisoner of the Germans in Stalag Luft 3. After world War II he commanded a fighter-bomber wing and an air division, and was director of military personnel at Headquarters Air Force, vice commander of Tactical Air command, and commander of the Air University. He retired from the Air Force in 1974 at the conclusion of his assignment as superintendent of the Academy. General Clark was a command pilot and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters.



Brigadier General George V. Fagan, USAF, Ret.

Director, USAF Academy Library, 1956–1969

General Fagan was director of the United States Air Force Academy Library from June 1956 through March 1969. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 4, 1917, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Temple University, a master’s in library science from the University of Denver, and a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania. He served in Europe during World War II and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. From 1951 to 1954 he taught history at the Naval Academy, and in 1955 became one of the original members of the Air Force Academy faculty. As director of the Air force Academy Library, he built a collection of 275,000 volumes and created a special collection of priceless archive materials. After his retirement in 1969, he directed the Colorado college Library for fourteen years and later wrote a definitive history of the Air Force Academy.



Lieutenant General Bradley C. Hosmer, USAF, Ret.

Superintendent, USAF Academy, 1991–1994

General Hosmer was superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy from June 1991 through June 1994. As a member of the first graduating class at the academy, he became its first Rhodes scholar and first graduate to become superintendent. He was a command pilot with over 160 combat missions.  A graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff and the National War College, he commanded two Air Force fighter wings and an air division. He also served as president of the National Defense University and as the Air Force inspector general. He is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and Legion of Merit.  



Brigadier General Robert F. McDermott, USAF, Ret.

Dean of the Faculty, August 1, 1956–July 31, 1968

General McDermott was dean of faculty at the United States Air Force Academy from August 1956 through July 1968. Born in Boston July 13, 1920, he graduated from the Boston Latin School and attended Norwich University before entering the U. S. Military Academy at West Point from which he graduated in 1943.  He flew P-38’s in Europe in World War II. In 1950 he received an M.B.A. from Harvard then taught at West Point until his assignment to the Air Force Academy in 1954. Under his leadership, the academy’s academic program received accreditation before its first class graduated. He was responsible for an enrichment program that encouraged cadets to pursue interests beyond the core curriculum, a majors-for-all program enabling all cadets to earn academic majors, and a cooperative master’s degree program with six universities that accepted Academy coursework toward requirements for graduate degrees. After retirement in 1968 he became chairman and chief executive officer of USAA, an insurance and financial services company.



Walter A. Netsch, Jr.

Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill Director of Design for the Air Force Academy

Walter Netsch had primary responsibility for the architectural design of the Air Force Academy including the cadet chapel. He was born in Chicago in 1920 and received a bachelor of architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1943. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, then returned to Chicago and worked with the Morgan Yost firm.

He joined Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in San Francisco in 1947, designed air bases in Japan and Okinawa during the Korean War, and moved to the firm’s Chicago office in 1954, shortly before the beginning of the competition for design of the Air ForceAcademy. His other important designs include the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, theInland Steel Building in Chicago, the Regenstein Libraries at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, and the East Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.