By George Stephens
Information Advisory Committe (IAC) Member
Dick Ewers grew up admiring his father, who had earned two Silver stars flying Marine Corps helicopters during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and two Distinguished Flying crosses for combat flying in World War II and the Korean war. Dick decided early in life to follow in his dad's footsteps and become a pilot. This led him to the US Air Force Academy in 1964, from which he graduated in 1968.
In the fall of 1967 he met his future wife, Sharon, during her blind date with another Air Force Academy cadet. She was attending the University of Denver at the time. After courting Sharon, Dick asked Sharon to marry him. They married on January 4, 1969. Dick claims this was the best decision of his life. Yes, they are having their 50th Anniversary very soon.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Dick took a commission in the Marine Corps and was sent to Quantico, Virginia, for officer basic training. He then went to Pensacola, Florida, with Sharon, for Naval Jet Flight Training. He earned his wings in May 1970. The following 21 years he served in the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, flying F-4s (Phantoms), A-4s (Skyhawks), and finally the F/A-18 (Hornet).
Sharon was a complete neophyte to the military way of life, having grown up in Buffalo, New York. She soon found out she couldn’t park in front of the commissary where a star was located in the parking stall! (Those were reserved for admirals and generals). Military protocol was not taught at Cazenovia College in Upper New York, where she attended before transferring to the University of Denver. The family then accompanied Dick to his first squadron duty station at Kaneohe, Hawaii. In March 1972 during a squadron party, the commanding officer ordered all the pilots back to the base to begin immediate deployment preparations. The squadron was going to fly out in 3 days. Dick could not tell Sharon where he was going or when he would return. It turned out to be an unplanned combat deployment to Vietnam.
Along with the crews of 11 other F-4 Phantoms, Dick took off heading west from Hawaii—first to Wake Island, then to Guam, and then to the Philippines. The final destination was Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam. Dick flew combat missions in both North and South Vietnam for about 3 months before returning stateside. He went on to serve in several other Marine Corps squadrons, one Navy Phantom squadron, and one Air Force Phantom squadron before eventually commanding a Marine Corps F-4 fighter squadron. The F-4s Dick flew from aircraft carriers took off and landed in about 150 yards of deck space (or about the same length of one of our par threes) at 150 miles per hour. Dick said it was fun during daytime, but the most demanding thing a pilot had to do in the night. (Talk about pressure to perform. Dick claims this is what made his hair turn grey.) Dick made over 200 carrier landings and currently has more than 14,000 flight hours in all types of aircraft—from the B-52 to blimps. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1989 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After retirement he worked for Westinghouse Electronics Systems Group as an engineering test pilot out of the Baltimore Washington International Airport. He and his family then moved to Edwards, California, where he was a test pilot for NASA. He flew his last professional flight, a NASA science mission over South Korea, in June 2016. Along the way Dick earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Systems.
Dick and Sharon moved to Sun City Shadow Hills (SCSH) in December 2017 after exploring dozens of possibilities in all four corners of the United States. Sharon did her homework and came to realize they had enjoyed their time in the Coachella Valley. The low homeowner’s dues, the amenities, the clubs, and clubhouses in SCSH offered the best value.
They have two grown children and three granddaughters. Their daughter lives in Telluride, Colorado. Their son lives in Western New York where he is an emergency medical helicopter pilot. Dick owns his own Cessna 210, which he keeps at the Thermal Airport. He uses it like a station wagon to pick up and fly family all over the country. They fly back to Western New York every summer to a cottage they own on a small lake. This is a good way to avoid the 120 degrees in Indio in July.
His father is still living at 95. Dick flies over to visit him regularly. Dick’s favorite possession is an F-4 Phantom Arresting Tail Hook, a reminder of his carrier landing days. Dick, we thank you for your years of service to our nation! We are grateful you’ve chosen SCSH for your retirement!
For more about Dick, come to the Discussion Forum Group and hear his stories first-hand:
- When: Thursday, December 13
- Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
- Where: Montecito Ballroom (Front Half)
Refreshments will be served and a small fee is charged at the door. Members can pay $10.00 for a Season Pass to all events.
Residents are encouraged to suggest candidates for the Sun City Shadow Hills website’s Human Interest stories. The Information Advisory Committee is inclusive for all residents in Shadow Hills. You may make your suggestions directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.