Searching for a School
From early childhood, my military-minded brother was aware of The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As he progressed in school, he learned what the entrance requirements were. Only two new cadets from each congressional district were admitted each year. They were appointed by the district's member in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ector's student counselor, Richard Owens, helped Ronny fill out the paperwork. Months passed before the answer arrived via mail. Ronald W. Forrester was to experience a bitter disappointment. No move to Colorado Springs was in the cards. Two other aspirants with better grades or more political stroke had received the honor.
Ector had a great staff. Richard Owens put his head together with two teachers who saw Ron's potential and admired his intense desire to fly airplanes for Uncle Sam. These men [Owens, Ron's math teacher James Thompson, and his history teacher, Ray Ferguson] suggested to Ron that his dreams could still come true at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Ray Ferguson himself had graduated from the Corps of Cadets there.
After some discussion with his favorite three teachers, Ron was sold on the idea. He applied for admittance. Richard Owens searched for a scholarship for the young student. This time when the letter arrived, the answer was in the affirmative. The admittance was approved, and Ron received a partial academic scholarship.
Respecting the Traditions of Texas A&M
My older brother could never have loved the Air Force Academy more than he grew to love Texas A&M. All Aggies are true to their school, and Ron was no exception. He loved the military tradition of the university. It fed that for which his soul hungered. Ron revered the military game. The hazing system provided great sport. He loved to play, and he intended to win.
Aggies hold dear certain high moral principles. They do not lie, steal, cheat, or have any truck with those who do. Honorable failure is better than success gained by unfairness. Right is valued above gain, and a reputation for integrity is superior to the attainment of any measure of power.
Another precept is ingrained in the troops. "You do not screw your fish buddy." Never rat on a member of your unit. The innocent will have to suffer with the guilty. In private, the innocent discipline the guilty. The rule ultimately fosters an intense bond of loyalty and friendship among the underclassmen which only grows as the students advance in their studies.
These ideals became a part of my brother. He believed them, and he lived by them.
Fulfilling the Aggie Tradition
My brother logged some major time in the books. He had ambition. No Forrester had ever gone to college before Ronny and Donny embarked on their excellent adventures. With panache, Ron aimed to do it first class. That's right. He aspired to be a rocket scientist. The course of study he chose was aerospace engineering.
Ron's mind was wired for the higher math. He didn't have that heavy duty wiring, however. The aerospace studies provided food for the mind that Ron could not chew. He was smart, but not that smart. The only one he knew who was, was a little, spectacled oriental with a built-in calculator in his head. The calculator was one of those kind that handled logarithms, whatever the heck those are.
After one semester, a change was made in major. A degree in civil engineering would be pursued. Ron could master that.
When those Aggies mustered in December of 1969, my brother was a handsome sight. He was decked out in military uniform, replete with saber and knee-high boots. Impressive he was indeed. How we all admired and loved him. He was to us what Hawkeye was to James Fenimore Cooper in "The Last of the Mohicans." He was our Audie Murphy. He was our hero.
With great pride, my parents watched as Ron received his degree and a second-lieutenant's commission in the United States Marine Corps (he switched to the Marines because his eyes were not good enough to fly for the Air Force).
For four years, Ron had labored in the pursuit of military and academic excellence. On this, his day of graduation of which my parents had longed dreamed, he was everything the whole Aggie student body had hoped to become. He was rough. He was tough. He was the real stuff. He was Texas A&M. His blood was not red. A maroon fluid coursed through his veins.