The Cow was born at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii to a career U.S. Air Force pilot and his wife stationed at Hickam AFB. Raised on, or adjacent to Air Force Bases until leaving for California Polytechnic University (San Luis Obispo) at age 17, Second Lieutenant Cow was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps the day before graduation. Two years later, after Basic Infantry Training in Quantico, VA and Primary Flight Training in Pensacola, FL, 2nd Lt Cow was designated a Naval Aviator and promoted to First Lieutenant in Kingsville, TX.

        1st Lt Cow's first operational assignment was with Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2), flying the North American Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" at Camp Pendleton, CA. He was designated a FAC(A)/TAC(A) [Forward and Tactical Air Controller Airborne] and participated in seven combined arms exercises at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, California. During this two-year assignment, he served as a ground FAC for the Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment and flew night systems missions supporting the "Vice President's Task Force Against Drugs" along the southwestern U.S. border.

Advanced Flight Training, Kingsville, TX

With Aerial Observer, Capt. George A. "Yellowhair" Custer, USMC

Cow and Yellowhair over El Centro, California

Cow at Camp Pendleton, May 1983

        In conjunction with two official requests for transition training in the AV-8A "Harrier," 1st Lt Cow returned to Kingsville, TX for duty as a Flight Instructor in the Intermediate and Advanced phases of jet training. During this assignment, he was promoted to Captain, selected for transition training in the AV-8B, and accumulated over 1,800 instructional flight hours. Prior to detaching in the summer of 1988, Captain Cow was the junior graduate at the Naval War College in Newport, RI and received the Naval War College Foundation Award.

Over 600 hours per year in the "Thunder Guppy" gets old fast...

Becoming an inverted spin instructor solved the monotony of formation instruction

Graduation Day, May, 1988, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

        Subsequent to five months of Harrier training at MCAS Cherry Point NC, Captain Cow reported for duty with Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311), which was in the process of accepting new AV-8B's from McDonnell Douglas following a transition from the A-4M Skyhawk.

Harrier training classes at VMAT-203 were small (Cow standing 2nd from right)

Flying with the VMA-311 "Tomcats" early 1989 in brand-new Harriers

Iraqis learned about "the claw" in 1991

The VMA-311 "Tomcats" were an exceptionally youthful and happy squadron before Desert Storm

        In March 1990, Captain Cow and LtCol George Goodwin were the first two Harrier pilots to report to Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) in conjunction with its own transition from the A-4M to become the second Night Attack Harrier Squadron (following VMA-214). After graduating from the Naval Postgraduate School's Aviation Safety Officer Course in Monterey, CA, Captain Cow served as Aviation Safety Officer and Operations Officer with the Wake Island Avengers.

The very last of the A-4 Skyhawks in Yuma, AZ were VMA-211's

Over the R-2507 "Chocolate Mountains" bombing range

After a Level III Flight Demonstration at MCAS El Toro, CA airshow

Upon promotion to major, the Cow deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan for a year of duty with Marine Aircraft Group 12 as Director of Standardization & Safety where he augmented Marine Attack Squadrons 223 and 231. MAG-12 was also populated with F-18D Hornets and EA-6B Prowlers, so the Cow benefitted from exposure to less-exciting tactical jets. :)

On the flightline during Open House at Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni Japan, 1993

Cow with his English students at the Japanese Air Force Academy in Hofu

        Returning to Yuma from Japan in 1993, Major Cow was assigned as Aircraft Maintenance Officer of VMA-211 and saw three consecutive years where the "Wake Island Avengers" were named "Attack Squadron of the Year."     He subsequently served as Executive Officer and Officer in Charge of the six aircraft Harrier detachment aboard the USS Belleau Wood.

The Cow served as XO for both Billy Williams and Mike Smyth

On the roof of Wake Island base operations en route to Okinawa, Japan

On Wake Island with the MAG-13 CO and Sergeant Major along for the ride to Kadena

HMM-262 Harrier Detachment in Singapore with the USS Belleau Wood

   In the summer of 1996, Major Cow detached from Marine Aircraft Group 13 and reported to Maxwell AFB, AL for duty as a student at Air Force Command & General Staff College.     While there, he was selected to remain for a second year to attend the USAF School of Advanced Airpower Studies (SAAS) within Air Force University during academic year 1997-1998.

The Cow (front, left) was class leader of the Seventh class to matriculate from the USAF School of Advanced Air & Space Studies

    After receiving his Masters of Airpower Art & Science degree in June 1998, Lieutenant Colonel Cow was reassigned to "Marine Forces, Atlantic" in Norfolk Virginia, where he served in Operations and Plans as a regional action officer for South and Central America as well as Joint Forces Command.     In July 1999, he was sent to the Republic of Panama to serve as the Operations Officer (J-3) for Joint Task Force Panama.

        Upon the transfer of the Panama Canal and all U.S. military installations to the government of Panama on December 14, 1999, LtCol Cow was returned to Norfolk and offered command of a west coast Harrier squadron.     During the Summer of 2000, he received refresher training in the AV-8B "Harrier" at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC and subsequently proceeded to MCAS Yuma, Arizona where he assumed command of Marine Attack Squadron 513, the "Flying Nightmares."

    The Nightmares first saw combat in the Battle of Okinawa during WW-II and stood up as the first AV-8 Harrier squadron in the U.S. Marine Corps following a transition from the F-4 Phantom.     During his tenure as CO, VMA-513 operationally employed all three variants of the AV-8B simultaneously and passed 45,000 mishap-free flight hours, the only Harrier squadron to have done either.

        On 18 December 2001, the Cow was selected for promotion to Colonel.    He accumulated over 4,000 mishap-free flight hours prior to relinquishing command of the Nightmares on 7 June 2002.    As he approached the end of his command tour, instability in South Asia dictated that his orders to Islamabad Pakistan and that country's National Defense College be cancelled.    New orders redirected him to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) in Washington D.C.     On 10 June 2003, he matriculated with a Masters of Science degree in National Resource Strategy and proceeded to Miami, Florida where he assumed duties as Deputy Director of Operations (J35), United States Southern Command.     USSOUTHCOM is responsible for U.S. security interests in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Visiting terrorists in Cuba...

        At U.S. Southern Command, the Cow was privileged to lead a team of officers from each branch of the armed forces assigned to conduct all U.S. deliberate and crisis-action planning for DoD-led operations in Latin America. Notable among the many accomplishments of the Future Operations Directorate was the 29 February 2004 response to the resignation of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, known as Operation Secure Tomorrow. Anarchy and murderous civil strife was rapidly ended via USMC-led stability and security operations followed by an efficient transition to a UN peacekeeping operation in late summer. In addition to service as USSOUTHCOM J35, the Cow was the designated Commanding Officer of the USMC element and director of the Special Technical Operations Office until he achieved three years time in grade and became eligible for retirement as a colonel.

        On 4 November 2005, Cow was nominated by the Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) to serve at National Defense University as a Senior Research Fellow; Deputy Director, National Defense University Press; and Managing Editor, Joint Force Quarterly Journal. On 28 November, he reported for duty at Fort Lesley McNair in Washington, D.C. where he spent his final month in the Marine Corps before officially retiring 1 January 2006.

        The Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) is a policy research and strategic gaming organization within the National Defense University serving the U.S. Department of Defense, its components, and interagency partners.     The Institute provides timely, objective analysis and gaming events to senior decision makers and supports NDU educational programs in the fields of international security and defense policy.     Through an active outreach program, including conferences, international exchanges, and publications, the Institute seeks to promote wider understanding of emerging international security challenges and defense policy options.

        On 19 July 2006, the Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies announced the appointment of Cow as Director, National Defense University Press and Editor, Joint Force Quarterly Journal. JFQ is published for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

29 April 2009 with Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

        On 1 July 2010, The Cow was pleased to take on his first civilian job since college. As Vice President of Tropic Oil Company, he works with a team of professionals that meet fuel, lubricant, and petroleum specialty requirements for clients in Florida, the Caribbean, South and Central America.

Receiving industry risk management award for 5th straight year


The Cow with his friend, LtCol Allen West, at the 2012 Army Ball in Ft. Lauderdale

The Cow is Treasurer and board member of the Deep Draft Lubricant Association, committed to promoting excellence in delivering petroleum lubricants to Deep Draft vessels in the waters of the United States; provide maximum protection for the environment in which they work; promote the interests of the industry by adopting high performance standards and coordinate with firms, agencies, and regulatory bodies engaged in the oil industry in the United States of America.

Industry support for USSOUTHCOM MWR with Vice Admiral Joe Kernan

An aviator possessed of myriad interests and exotic experiences, who, with each passing day is able to recall with greater clarity things that never happened.

Cow over the Salton Sea in a Harrier II+ April, 2002
Photo by Ted "Kodak" Carlson from the ramp of a USMC KC-130
©2002 Fotodynamics (www.fotodynamics.net)

Once I thought, when we were flying,
life was short - and friends were dying -
life was short and brief thought I;
we were flying through the sky.

Life was brief and short for us,
but for townsmen down below,
life was long and life was slow;
life was long for them below.

Now I know, who am below,
life is never long nor slow;
such my burden is, my grief;
life is ever swift and brief.

- Jim Bailey

---©2017 HowNowCow.com