Oral interview recorded at JAX 4-07-88
Flying Midshipman Reunion
[Background: “It's on now ... so's long as that light's on ... Is that light on?" "Yeh." "Go ahead and talk."]
I'm Bill Platte ... I, uh, ... joined the Aviation Midshipman Program from Burlington, Iowa. Then went to Pensacola in June of 1948. Joined Class 13 of ‘48, which was a ... the first large class ... of 5 battalions. I finished Pre-Flight School and went to Whiting to start Basic along about October ['48]. Qualified on the carrier, which was the USS Cabot [CVL-28) in ... June or July of 1949. Went to advanced multi-engine seaplanes at Corpus Christi and was designated Naval Aviator in October, 1949.
Ah, ... my training program covered about 300 flight hours: 200 in basic and a hundred in advanced.
Somebody asked for my service number, which was 507815.
My first Fleet assignment was with VR-23, out on Kwajalein, flying PBM-5As, I was there for 13 months, and was then transferred in what the Bureau said was a tour of ... started in ... transports. I went to VR-3, at Moffett Field, and finished up 30 months there, flying R5Ds and R6Ds. Then went back to seaplanes at NAS Corpus Christi, in what was first ATU-10, then ATU, ATU-501.
When ... after 27 months there, I went to VP-56, Norfolk …
[Background: "Bill Platte!"]
["Hi, how are you, Art?"]
… ah, flyin' ... P5M-1s, and -2s. I don't know how to shut this thing off. I'm s'posed to give my life history in there.
[" (garbled) ... see you, buddy."]
Jeeze, I flew all night ... I came ... I came out of Fall River last night in a Bonanza, and got in at 5 a.m. I'm ... (garbled).
[" (garbled) ... you really did have a night!”]
Oh, yeah! Icing, turbulence, clear down past ... almost to Norfolk.
["I know, it's bad weather up there. Almost down here. I been here since Tuesday." (lots of laughter)]
Ah, so, I was two years in VP-56, ah, ... some ah, ... interesting flying there, both in the north Atlantic and the Caribbean.
I was then sent back to get my degree at Stanford, which I did. Then I got to Line School at Monterey. And, after that, they assigned me to the USS Greenwich Bay, and I had ... which was the Mid-east Force flagship, and I had two tours in the Persian Gulf ... That was ... that would be about 1959, 1960. Ahm ... I proceeded from that ship to OPNav into OP-61 for a three-year tour.
From there I went as the ... first as the Admin Officer, then as the Operations Officer of Fleet Wing Ten at Moffett Field, then deployed to Sangley ... Fleet Air Wing Ten was the first P3 Air Wing ... on the West Coast.
From there, I went as exec, and then CO of VP-29 ... at Corpus Christi. Leaving there in 1968, ... went to MIT for the doctoral program ... it, ah ... was awarded the degree in 1971, and I proceeded to the joint staff, J5, European Division, Plans and Policy, for three more years in Washington.
Then got a air station command, which was, ... at that time was NAF (Siginoa), Sicily. And, after about 26 months in Sicily, I was sent back to the Naval War College as the deputy to the president, and I served ... ah ... under four different admirals, there, including Jim Stockdale.
Um ... retiring in 1980. In April, after 30 ... 30 years commissioned service.
Off and on, I bumped into a lot of ah ... midshipmen, through the years; but ah ... we were small in numbers compared to the mass of other guys that helped run the Navy. So I still keep track of 'em through the Newsletter, and am happy to be able to be here – almost didn't make it.
I have a half-ownership in a ... in a ... Beech Bonanza. I been flyin' about a hundred hours a year for the last six, seven years, in ... this great machine, but it was in its annual inspection. By the time I got it out of its annual with its gripes worked off, the weather closed in up in New England, and just barely got out of there last night about a quarter to nine. Flew all night down the coast, finally broke out of the weather at ... just north of Norfolk. Had a fairly decent flight coming in, and a fairly decent tailwind all the way. It was 6 hours and 12 minutes air time from new Bedford, Massachusetts to Herlong Field in Jacksonville, where the field ... with a fuel stop in Norfolk and one in Charleston.
So I think I'll see if I can turn this thing off, and for any of you (garbled) that hear this, sure glad I could be here.
Note to Lou Ives
20 February 1991
Currently operating a Beech A-36TC Bonanza. If flight physical exams continue to hold up, I should be good for a few more years of enjoyable flying.