Capt. Samuel H. Fields F-104 Starfighter Pilot of 331st FIS, Webb AFB, 1963

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  1. On Sep 25, 1932, Samuel Henry Fields, was born to CPT Jesse E. and Kathleen S. Fields in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father was serving with the Army Corps of Engineers. Shortly after Sam’s birth, the family moved to the Washington, DC, area. Sam enjoyed being a Boy Scout during his early childhood. He later attended St. John’s College High School and Sullivan’s Preparatory School in Washington DC, and won a competitive Presidential appointment to West Point, entering July 5, 1950 at the age of 17, one of the youngest in his class. Commissioned in the Air Force upon graduation on Jun 8, 1954, he was soon assigned to the Air Force Academy as an Air Training Officer (ATO), serving as an upperclassman for the new cadets at the fledgling academy.

    Sam married his first wife, Sandra Rae Schwartz, on Aug 4, 1956 at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, CO. They had six children: Samuel Scott, Thomas Henry, Sharon Kay, Timothy Arthur, Stephen Michael, and Heather.

    In 1963, Sam joined the 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Webb AFB, Big Spring, TX. There he started flying the F-104 Starfighter and became part of an elite group of men in the “Mach Deuce Club.” In his
    F-104 Starfighter, he was able to fly sustained Mach 2 in what was, at the time, a Mach 1 world.

    During his stay at Webb, Sam enjoyed participating in a Federal Aviation Administration survey to see what effect sonic booms over major metropolitan areas would have on the public. Sam discovered that pitching the nose of his F-104 down just before breaking the sound barrier would add a little extra “pop” to the sonic boom. Understandably, these tests led to restrictions on supersonic flights over much of the United States. Sam later received the Air Force Commendation Medal for devising a deployment plan for a squadron of F-104s to Puerto Rico during the Dominican Republic crisis.

    In 1965, Sam was transferred to Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL, where he attended the Air Command & Staff College and also earned a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University.

    In 1966, Sam was assigned to Ramstein AFB, Germany, as an air operations officer involved in a NATO operation with the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force. He was responsible for the integration of offensive and defensive air operations utilizing NATO Forces assigned to the Central Europe area and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

    In 1969, Sam went to Tucson, AZ, for training on the F-4 Phantom. The following year, he commanded the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron and flew 200 combat missions out of Udorn, Thailand. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal, and twelve Air Medals.

    His next assignment was to the University of Maryland as professor of aerospace technology and director of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Inheriting a program subjected to substantive harassment by students and faculty, Sam quickly reestablished rapport by his personal efforts and was responsible for nearly doubling the number of ROTC candidates during his three-year tenure.

    Sam moved to the Pentagon in 1974, where he would spend the next six years in staff assignments, ultimately becoming the deputy director of Manpower and Organization, Personnel Staff, Headquarters, United States Air Force. Sam was responsible for determining worldwide Air Force manpower requirements and was specifically lauded in the Congressional Record. He received the Air Force Legion of Merit for his efforts.

    Sam’s final assignment was in Hawaii as Director of Manpower and Personnel (J1) at United States Commander in Chief, Pacific Area Command Headquarters, Camp H.M. Smith. On Jul 31, 1984, Admiral William Crowe retired Sam after 30 years of service, stating: “Colonel Fields continues his truly extraordinary performance and his superb efforts have significantly enhanced USPACOM personnel and manpower programs. I know of no one more strongly committed to our national interests, this staff, and our people throughout the far reaches of the Pacific Basin. He refuses to be intimidated by challenges of the toughest magnitude, and he has demonstrated repeatedly that he is one I can count on for expert assessments and recommendations across the board, whether the issue deals with legislative initiatives affecting compensation and entitlements; strike negotiations; education programs; or a military exercise. He is the only principal staff member not of flag rank, but his sage counsel and notable achievements belie his grade. He can do it all.” Sam received the Defense Superior Service Medal for his accomplishments.

    Sam remained in Hawaii, took up tax preparation, and began playing and umpiring tennis. After five years, however, he moved to Arizona to be nearer to his children and grandchildren. He married Julie Anne Blanchetti the next year, and they settled in Tucson, where Sam became heavily involved in United States Tennis Association League tennis. He later served two terms as President of the USTA Southwestern Section. In 2006, he was inducted into the Southwestern Section Hall of Fame. Sam also became a tax pro with H& R Block.

    Sam and Julie enjoyed all of their children and grandchildren but found it especially attractive to visit those living in Hawaii and Denver during the hot Arizona summers. Sam died from lung cancer on Nov 3, 2010, leaving his wife Julie, her daughter Robin, and his six children from
    his first marriage.

    by his son, Scott Fields assisted by Bill Epling

    August 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

  2. Per Amynd

    flotte fotos og pilotjakke denne jakke kunne jeg godt tænke mig at få til min samling af pilotjakker

    August 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

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