Different paths, one wrong turn

We were both young, ambitious 17-year-old kids from New York and New Jersey in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas (with our parents' permission).

We somehow survived the system and went on to tech training as Air Policemen. But this was after the Air Force informed us that going to Officer Candidate School to be pilots, which we had originally signed up for, was off the books because a college degree was now being required of all officer candidates. We were given the option of getting an honorable discharge or switching to another career choice. We chose the Air Police option, since we were both interested in criminal justice and had dreams of being leaders and even politicians some day.

We served in Japan and Vietnam together from 1962 to 1965, and then we got out and went our separate ways, but both returned to college and then graduate school in criminal justice on the GI Bill. I eventually became a prison warden, and he went into law enforcement and then started a lucrative private security and investigations firm.

There was one attempt at contacting each other for an update on our careers in 1971 that failed. At the time he was climbing the corporate ladder in retail security, and I had taken a hiatus from prison work to start my doctorate in psychology.

I tried to find my bunk mate through Air Force finding services, but alas no luck. I stepped up my search when the Internet became available in the mid-80s, but my buddy was nowhere to be found.

Around Christmas 2015, I found out why. Two problems: I didn't have his exact name for the right Google search, and he was in prison in New York for attempted murder, robbery and burglary of a notorious drug dealer.

This didn't make any sense, because he was a reserve mounted police officer, a prominent security business owner and an upstanding citizen and community activist. At any rate, we were finally able to make contact and we are now communicating and collaborating on the "rest of the story" for a book and movie to counter the adverse effects that an earlier TV-movie, "With Murder in Mind," had on his failed appeal and subsequent parole hearings. The first thing that has to happen is for him to secure his freedom.

Dr. William S. Cottringer
AF 13759073

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