Stories about Jack
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For close to 20 years, we enjoyed Jack's company at our IPMS club's infamous after-meeting, late night diner meals at a local Albuquerque Village Inn. Jack lived an hour north, in Santa Fe, but made an effort to attend our club meetings. Frequently when we got together, Jack would share information with us about the Vietnam Airwar; I still remember his detailed and fascinating account of the Igloo White campaign against the Ho Chi Minh Trail- it was a real education, the first time I really understood what that phase of the Airwar was all about. Once I asked him what his favorite plane was from the Vietnam War; without hesitation, he said it was the Phantom. If there's a possibility of sponsoring a special award at the Nationals in his memory, I would humbly suggest it would be for the best Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom II.
For us in ASM, Jack is best remembered for his sense of humor; he never failed to have us chuckling at our get-togethers. Conversation once turned to the Japanese Navy's plans to send their new ships on a goodwill tour, and Jack said, "Yeah, the Akagi, the Kaga, the Soryu and Hiryu," which had us in stitches. Like a lot of clubs, we have our share of characters, but no one could match Jack's genuine wit.
For me, my earliest introduction was a name stamped on the back of a Kodachrome color slide taken at Andrews AFB in 1970. There it was: "JACK D. MORRIS." Pretty bold. In the world of aviation photographers, putting your name on the back of a slide meant you wanted everyone to know, you took that slide. And in those days, trading color slides was a dance, much like trading baseball cards. If you wanted a certain airplane for your collection and you had something to trade with, you performed this back and forth dance thru the mail, hoping to get what you asked for. It was years before I got to meet Jack D. Morris. We found we had a lot in common not the least being military aviation, love of guitar music, distilled adult beverages, a well made burrito and the obligatory shared humor on many topics. For years we met annually around the country to salute the service of the F-4 Phantom II. The days of film and motor drives are now gone but, like Jack Morris, not soon forgotten. I've scanned some film images for all to see what a crew we were and how Jack appeared faithfully with his photo vest that resembled something rode hard and put away wet...very, very wet. We'll meet again at the e.o.r. Jack. Just after the clouds part and the eternal light shines upon us..
Rosanne P Stollman
Jack's mother and my father were siblings.
I have fond memories of my parents going to visit Jack's parents where i would be shuffled off to Jack's room to play during the visit. Jack would often have a classmate already playing with him so i could be roundly ignored. In that Jack went to an all-boys school and i to an all-girls high school, we had little practice in co-ed mingling but i kept hoping Jack (and friend) would pay attention to me but it would never happen. And i was never allowed to even touch the extraordinary model railroad system set up in his folks' store basement. Considering how small our extended family was, Jack was certainly my closest cousin and as adults, we became much closer, even from long distances.
We were roommates at NYU for 3 years, and we served on the NYU Varsity Rifle Team. There was lots more.
Both – We both majored in Aeronautical Engineering and both paid our way through undergraduate school by working 15-20 hours a week at the NYU Solid Mechanics Research Lab. Our boss was Herb Becker.
When I reported to work at the lab, I would say – “Good afternoon, Herb.” Becker was also our instructor in our Aircraft Structures class. I would always greet him upon entering class – “Good Morning, Dr. Becker.” It never would have occurred to me to do otherwise in the given circumstances.
Becker challenged his class – “Submit a proposed exam question and the solution. If your solution is wrong, don’t show up for the exam - you flunked it. If the solution is correct and I use it, don’t show up for the exam, you have earned an A. If the solution is correct and I don’t use your question - thanks – show up for the exam.”
I never took an exam in Becker’s class. Because we were trusted colleagues, Becker would show me his drafts of the upcoming exams to get my feedback. I always wished that Jack and our other buddies would ace the exams but feared that if they did too well, he would suspect that I had broken his confidence.
In the Solid Mechanics Research Lab, Jack got to hone his draftsmanship skills by preparing the illustrations for our technical reports to our sponsors – the most important being Wright-Patterson AFB. I earned a semesters pay on my first day on the job. I was tasked with proofing a progress report. I pointed out that there were “two t’s” in Patterson.
Our norm was to screw around until midnight, then do our schoolwork until 3 AM. Jack and I tried to avoid early morning classes, but one semester we had no choice but to register for a class at 8:00 AM. Every day, we would show up 10 minutes late and the instructor would stop his lecture and say, “Eisenberg and Morris - late again.” One morning, half-way through the semester, when we were about to enter the classroom, I told Jack, “Let’s perform an experiment. You go in. I’ll wait outside.” Jack agreed and was greeted by the instructor with – “I give up. Which one are you? Morris or Eisenberg?” In his mind, we had no separate identity.
Jack and I commuted from our respective homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn in our Freshman year. Our Sophomore year we roomed together; then, in our Junior and Senior years we moved to a triplex dormitory suite and Miles Miller joined us.
One day, my dad came to visit. Jack, Miles, and I spent hours cleaning the place up so he would not get the true impression of our lifestyle. Dad walked in, looked around, and delivered his summary judgment: “What a pig pen!”
Jack, I, and our buddies invented Frizbee. We would toss steel beer trays. It was very painful if you didn’t properly catch it. We also discovered the process of freeze distillation. We would buy unpasteurized apple cider and let it ferment. Then we would put it out on the windowsill on a January night and, in the morning, throw out the ice – then repeat the process night after night. By the time it came to celebrate our birthdays (more about that soon) we had a very potent Applejack liquor.
We also dabbled in miracles. Ira Berkowitz had a single room across the hall from us. He had a pet hamster named Lysistrata. One day, when Ira was gone, Jack, Allan Pifko, and I introduced into her cage a horny male hamster. We removed it before Ira’s return. I think Pifko gave it to a cousin. Anyway, it was never to be seen again at NYU. But, Ira was left in puzzlement at Lysistrata’s immaculate conception of a litter.
Amanda, you might be interested to know that Allan sang for four years in the NYU Glee Club. He continues his singing career in a NYC Chorus that performs annually in Carnegie Hall. At NYU Allan wore the traditional Black Tie and Tails and the non-traditional Keds sneakers. He was tall, so he was in the back row and could get away with it.
At the last minute, at the end of the Sophomore Year, when it was time to commit to Advanced Corps ROTC training, the Air Force raised the tour of duty for pilot candidates from training + 2 years to training +6 years. In part, because I was in lust with Linda Mantovani, I chickened out. Jack and Miles went on to distinguished USAF careers. Jack as an Engineer; Miles as a Pilot.
The AFROTC had two honor societies – Sabre Air Command (SAC) for the Lower Division and Arnold Air Society (AAS) for the Upper Division. I was Commander of the SAC; Jack, the Comptroller of SAC; and Jack graduated as Commander of the AAS.
Jack was a victim of age discrimination. The norm was, upon graduation from ROTC to be granted a Reserve Commission as 2nd Lieutenant, but the select few (Jack and, I think, one other guy) who were “Distinguished Military Graduates”, received Regular Commissions. Jack and I were graduated from NYU at age 20. The USAF gave him a Reserve Commission because he was not an “adult”. They converted his commission to “Regular” on his 21st Birthday. It mattered because USAF seniority rules measured your status from the date of your Regular commissioning.
Jack’s first tour of duty was to get a MS degree at the University of Colorado. Meanwhile, I, on the rebound from a “Dear Marty letter” from Linda, married, Myra. As a 20-year old “kid”, my dad had to sign the Marriage Certificate. He could have saved me some grief had he declined.
I spent another year at NYU’s Solid Mechanics Research Lab before moving on to Sikorsky Aircraft designing helicopters. We lost touch until sometime between April ‘64 and April ‘65 when we ran into each other at the NY World’s Fair. We re-bonded immediately and enduringly.
BTW, Joe Onne majored in Biology, was in our graduating class, and also was a member of the Rifle Team. Joe was the old man, Jack the youngster. Joe was born in February, Alex Kocsy and I in March, and Jack in April of 1940. To be graduated at the age of 20, meant that we each had to have skipped a grade in K-12. I was enrolled in a Special Program (SP) that enabled high IQ participants to complete Grades 7, 8, and 9 in two years. I assume that the others participated in the same program. It was an era before the advent of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in which smart kids were challenged to do more, rather than be graduated early.
FYI, our NYU was not the 50,000 student university in downtown Manhattan high rises. The College of Engineering and a small Liberal Arts College were in the NYU Heights Campus in the Bronx. It was an Ivy-covered 250 acre campus that looked and functioned as an elite private small college – graduating classes of a couple of hundred, small classes in which the professors knew every student by name (except our 8:00 instructor) – all male, as was the tradition then in Ivy League schools. We were spoiled rotten, but soon to be academically orphaned. In 1971, NYU sold the campus in a real estate deal to the City. NYU merged the engineering school with Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute to create the Polytechnic University of New York (PUNY). Around the same time, all of the New York City colleges were merged into City University of New York (CUNY), and all the state universities were merged into the State University of New York (SUNY).
Thus was created the institutions that came to be called “Sue-knee,” “Cue-knee, “ and “Puny.”
As a young lieutenant, I served with Jack in the F-15 Program Office during the early 1970. We worked together on a number of issues, in particular the GAU-7A [an aerial cannon that didn’t use a brass cartridge]. Jack was a patient, skilled, and wise mentor to me as a Procurement Officer. He was always enthusiastic and clear in explaining complex engineering concepts to this non-engineer.
Jack’s sense of advocacy and personal courage was on display one day at the Pentagon. We had gone from Dayton to DC for a program review. While Jack was presenting to the AF Chief of Staff, General Jack Ryan, Gen Ryan made a comment that was indirect and cast doubt on some aspects of testing that had been done. Jack Morris corrected Jack Ryan, politely but firmly. It was a great lesson for a very junior office – Stand up for your principles and base your answers on fact.
One other wonderful memory of Jack was his collection of photos of USAF aircraft. He had, as I suspect you know, closets full of shoeboxes filled with color slides of just about each and every airplane in the AF inventory. His hobby was to photograph each tail number. I often wondered what became of that collection once he retired.
While I didn’t make the Air Force a career [I became a business professor] I applied the lessons I’d learned from Jack to my research and my teaching and I am forever grateful for our friendship.
We remember Jack as an outgoing and warm individual, who always brought a smile to your face when you saw him. His friendship warmed your heart. Some of our most fondest memories were when he invited us to Prime Rib Night at Quail Run, especially when Dianne was in town. He will truly be missed, Love, Kathy & Peter
A little on our relationship Jack was an Officer. I was Enlisted. It is not so bad in the Air Force, but there is a gap between Officer and Enlisted ranks when it comes to socializing, at least for me. A schism I think instilled in me by my Dad. (Respect your elders and superiors sort of thing.) IPMS has helped me overcome that gap. Many of the IPMS members I know (or knew) were officers on active duty. Talking about modeling is much more comfortable than talking military. It has taken a while but my friendships with Geoff Hays and you, Billy, is a testament of bridging that gap. It takes a while, but it has happened.
Two stories that might give an idea of Jack’s dedication to secrets
He was retired from the Air Force and was working for a contractor. I was riding with Jack in his beloved BMW on a rainy, misty day. We were booking right along on the Interstate. I mentioned that the area was noted for its cops and their radar. He said that radar does not work well in misty weather. Being the dumb crew chief that I was, I just went “Huh?”. He then tells me that radar does not penetrate all those particles floating in air Same for clouds or fog. Asking “How do you know?” got the answer of “I just do. That is all I am going to say about it”. ‘Nuff said. One thing I learned in my career is to not ask too many questions on some things.
On the same trip he told me he had a macro written on his computer that pressing two keys would completely wipe out the computer and anything on it, just in case someone came busting in his office with hostile intent. Who he was working for or what he was doing, he did not say.
All one can do is salute smartly and say “yessir, yessir, three bags full”. (Jimmy Cagney in “The Fighting 69th”)