In August of 1952, some 1,143 Aviation cadets, student officers, student pilots, and pilot officers from virtually every state in the union and numerous foreign countries began gathering at ten pilot training bases to form USAF Pilot Training Class 53-F. This group of young men came seeking the coveted silver wings of a USAF pilot and the opportunity to join the great fraternity of the few --- the aviator...+
The class consisted of 858 American and 285 Military Defense Assistance Pact students. Of these, approximately 900 succeeded in gaining their silver wings. The careers that followed varied from the routine to the spectacular. Many served the mandatory tour and resigned. Others served for many years, retired and pursued second careers of varied types. Tragically, many have died... in combat, accidents, and from health problems. Probably our most notable classmate, Edward W. White, who became an astronaut, died in a capsule fire. Many of our Iranian classmates were assassinated in the coup of 1979.
bond formed during the pilot training remains a strong one. A
casual meeting between Jake Watson and Donald Condra in 1990
resulted in a sentimental journey back across the years to
1952-53 that generated desire to gather the class together once
again. Their initial thoughts were to have a reunion of their
training bases - Greenville AB, Hondo AB, and Webb AFB. But the
idea caught on and they were encouraged to include all 20 bases
and all classmates that could be located. So the search began for
53-Foxers. The first class reunion was held at Panama City Beach
in October 1995 in spite of major adversity presented by
hurricane Opal. Tragically, Jake Watson passed on during
preparations for the reunion in 1998. His dedication to the
reunion efforts never wavered and he continued working even on
his final trip to the hospital. He was posthumously selected as
permanent Wing Commander in 1998.
The search is not complete. The included roster contains 262 names of entering students and may not include all. Of these, 75 are deceased, 58 have never been located, 8 have not been responsive to contact attempts. Address lists at this time is for 121 members. Remember, other Foxes are welcome.