Jester Rawls

Following graduation in 1960, I worked for several years at various jobs in Sarasota because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in the "real world." I eventually went to Manatee Junior College (1964-1966) and earned an Associates in Arts Degree. By the time I completed requirements for my AA the local draft board was breathing down my neck because the military needed more manpower to fill the needs dictated by the Vietnam War.

I opted to join the Army and went to rotary wing flight school since I always wanted to be a pilot. Between basic training and reporting to flight school I married my girlfriend, Faylene Smith, from Oneco, Florida, in October, 1966. I then headed to flight school in Texas and later in Alabama, becoming a Warrant Officer pilot in 1967. I discovered within a short period that the Army offered much to my liking, and I served from 1966 until 1992.

Over the years I became qualified in a number of Army helicopters, such as the UH-1, OH-6, OH-58, CH-47, and a number of training aircraft. I served a tour in The Republic of South Vietnam, 1968-1969. As one can imagine Fay and I lived in various places during our 26 years of Army service including: Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Eustis, VA; Fort Leavenworth, KS; Fort Knox, KY; Waycross, GA (I was an Area Commander in the Army Recruiting Command); and Taegu, The Republic of South Korea. I visited a few other places either on training assignments or on temporary duty during the course of my career. I took a direct commission in 1971 and retired as a lieutenant colonel. My closest and dearest friends are soldiers that I met at various times and places while on active duty.

I have had almost zero contact with anyone from our high school class over the last fifty years, because I only visited Sarasota infrequently for brief periods. Fay and I have been married for 42 years and have three children: Preston, Charles, and Amy. We also have a eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

For the past 13 years I have worked as an Army contractor (logistics analyst) at Fort McPherson, GA. Fort McPherson will be closing in September 2011, so I will probably retire at that time if not earlier.

Primary hobbies over the years have been photography and collecting various militaria. Fay and I hope to do some sightseeing once I retire permanently.