The application process for the scholarships includes supplying information about previous academic achievement, a statement of present goals and plans, a 300-word essay, and letters of reference. Completed application packets must be received no later than Saturday, May 1, 2010.
For further information and an application, available in early January 2010, contact Hazel Compton, BVAA Scholarship Chair, P.O. Box 267, Richlands, VA 24641, or by telephone at 276-963-3745. The materials are also available at www.bva.org/news.html and at www.margbva.org.
Dr. Ron Lester is the new BVA Field Service Representative for Region III, replacing Jack Stanton. Based in Decatur, Georgia, Ron is responsible for the area encompassed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The change was effective September 21, 2009.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Ron attended Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning training at a vocational school for one year. He determined after a short time that it was too hot to spend summers in Oklahoma attics. He joined the Air Force in August 1964, planning to become an air conditioning technician.
The Air Force had other plans. There were no openings in his chosen field. The Service told him he was going to be a jet engine mechanic. After training in Texas, Ron was stationed at a base in New Mexico. The Air Force transitioned from the F-84 to the factory fresh F-4C aircraft during that time. In 1965, the planes began service in Southeast Asia. In January 1966, Ron’s squadron began a one-year deployment to Vietnam. Following his service at Cam Rahn Bay, Ron returned to the States and his new assignment at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
While testing for his driver’s license, Ron noticed that he had trouble seeing in the dark. He also had a problem with depth perception. The driving instructor recommended that he see an eye doctor, who said his vision problems were significant enough that he could get Ron out of his enlistment immediately. Ron never returned to the doctor and completed his service in 1968.
In October of that year, Ron went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in Oklahoma City. After ten months, he transferred to nearby Tinker Air Force Base as a mechanic. He worked on the assembly line for about eight months. When Tinker won the overhaul contract on the F-4 in 1970, Ron wanted to work in flight test. His supervisor didn’t concur. Undeterred, Ron sought out the main supervisor and explained to him what he did while he was enlisted. The supervisor promised him, “You’ll be up here (in flight test) this afternoon.” And he was. This proved to be a great move because they needed people who could run the engines and check out flight control systems. Ron went from pay grade WG-8 to WG-11 in a matter of months.
Everything was fine until he was called in for a flight physical examination in 1974. The doctor told Ron he had high blood pressure but, before addressing treatment, he wanted to check his eyes. Ron immediately remembered his experience with the driver’s license test in the service. This time the doctor examined his eyes at length and brought in a colleague for a second opinion. He asked Ron where he worked. When Ron told him he was in flight test, the doctor replied, “Not anymore.”
Ron was referred to a specialist who informed him that he was going blind from a hereditary disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The diagnosis ended his work on aircraft and he was subsequently retired on disability. Ron submitted a disability claim to VA that was originally at 70 percent and later increased to 100 percent since he was not employed.
Ron had been attending school while he worked. He eventually earned a B.S. in Business Management and completed specialized ministerial training. Over the next few years, he worked a