Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Col. Francis Harold Potter, my Dad

Francis Harold Potter, 1921-2009, son of Henry Melville Potter and Efa Hope Carr, was born in Nashville, Illinois and by age 20 (in 1941) he had married my mom, June Magdalen Gurney, and realized that with the war imminent the opportunity for education and a better life lay with the Army Air Corps (soon to be the Air Force). He took his flight training in several places in the south and his first posting was to Japan with the Army of the Occupation. Mom, brother David and I barely joined him in Japan when he was sent to fly in the Berlin Airlift clear around the world in Germany. In about 1950 he became part of SAC (Strategic Air Command) and flew B-36s and ultimately B-52s. Stationed at Beale AFB, Minot AFB and then Fairchild AFB, he retired as deputy base commander there in 1969.

Always liking to write and being good with words, Dad wrote up many of his Air Force experiences and stories and they were published in The Friends Journal, the quarterly publication of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. 

I write about my Dad today because I'm working on his scrapbook. He always loved taking pictures and he and mom kept dozens of his post-war travels. The ones of Japan in the 1947-1949 period are especially interesting. It is my plan to compile his papers and the photos in order, scan them and save copies for family, and then donate his "military life" to the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum  (they want it). I think we tend to think of our father as just "Dad" and not realize the historic importance of his career. I am planning not to let that happen to my Dad's history!

On a trivial note, I once asked Dad if, in all his thousands of hours in the air, if he had ever seen a UFO or anything "scary". He replied no, not really. "There was one time we saw a dancing distant light but only for a minute or two," he said.

(This photo was taken in 1966; he was not a colonel then. Husband John was in the Navy, the Submarine Service, and our son, Benjamin, was age two. And yes, the photo is backwards!)

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