LEE CROISSANT’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I grew up on an irrigated farm in eastern Colorado and after college spent a summer and fall working for the Department of Fish and Game in the state of Alaska. In the fall of 1961, in Anchorage, Alaska, I married my college sweetheart Barbara Husted. Wanting to fly, I joined the air force, passed the battery of tests, and earned a commission as a second lieutenant. Instead of being assigned to pilot training, as promised, I was trained to be a navigator and bombardier. After 2 ½ years training I ended up as a nuclear qualified crewmember on a B-52 alert crew at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine. My ambitions to become a pilot were frustrated as I sat on alert in a concrete bunker facing off with the Russians during the Cold War.
After two years of sitting alert and flying practice bombing missions, I found a crack in the rigid Strategic Air Command rules and procedures. Much to the disdain of my squadron and wing commanders, I managed a reassignment to air force pilot training. It was a back door maneuver but a fair swap with the air force! They would train me to fly as a pilot and I knew I would have to serve in Southeast Asia; where the Vietnamese War was in full bloom. I received my pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona in 1967. I was sent to Southeast Asia to fly old World War II era airplanes; piston powered, propeller driven, multi-engine, transport aircraft. It opened the door for me to experience unique times and places; an intriguing and nostalgic experience living and flying with the last of the “old prop job” crews. I was emerged into Asian splendor, endless jungle, and adventure unimagined.
During my first two years in Southeast Asia, I flew C-124 cargo aircraft and my wife lived in Tachikawa, Japan. It was there that she gave birth to our daughter Cindy. My third year I flew classified reconnaissance missions in EC-47s, based out of Pleiku and Danang in Vietnam and Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. I was 28 years old when I flew my first load of freight into Vietnam. Little did I imagine that three years later I would depart the war zone not only a seasoned transport pilot but an instructor pilot flying reconnaissance missions in highly classified EC-47s. It was during my three years in Southeast Asia that my flying adventures provided me with the wealth of material to write the historical novel Flyboys, Round Engines and Spooks. I returned to the United States, resigned my military commission, and settled in Denver, Colorado. I flew for various organizations: Saint Anthony’s Flight For Life air ambulance, Emery Air freight, Ports Of Call Travel Club, and United Airlines. At United I instructed for six years at their pilot training center in Denver, Colorado, then flew 737s, 727s and DC-10s for fifteen years. Regulations required I retire at age 60. After several years retirement, I resumed my career and flew for three years flying precision aerial mapping projects for various government agencies.
Currently (2012) I am retired from flying and enjoy my rural home in Colorado.