Military Members


As a way to honor those in the Energetic Exercise Club from past military service,

this page is set aside for our own“profiles in courage”


Dick Altopp RICHARD L. ALTOPP joined the Army in 1957 and began basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. and later, received additional training in Fort Lee, Virginia. He was then assigned duty in Kenai, Alaska-Wildwood Station for two and a half years, during which it transitioned from a territory to our forty-ninth State.  It was an exciting time to be in Alaska and it was his dream assignment; remote, yet an awesome adventure in gorgeous country.In recent years he learned that his post in Alaska was partially destroyed by an earthquake and later used by several local services/businesses.  Ultimately, it was also a prison/correctional facility which Dick likens to a previous experience where his elementary school was destroyed after he left.Dick reports his only military “action” was guarding the Post, the nearby wildlife and the Mess Hall.  That said, he says he loved serving his country while learning valuable life lessons.
 DonFoley DON FOLEY served in the U.S, Air Force for 8 year and 9 months before being honorably discharged in 1969. During that time he was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Zaragoza Air Base, Spain and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.  During the last 3 years of his career, he served as an instructor at Lackland.Don and Shirley were married in July 1965 in Dubuque, Iowa before reporting for duty at Lackland. Two of their three sons were born in San Antonio, Texas and their third son was born in Dubuque, Iowa.Don wanted, for our military page, to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a fallen military hero he met in December, 2012, when he attended a funeral for another veteran-friend from Dubuque, Iowa.During the funeral dinner he was seated next to the commander of the military honor guard, Mike Maher, a 1st Lieutenant in the Army and a chopper pilot in Vietnam. He was wounded when his helicopter crash-landed in the jungles of Vietnam. He spent about 10 years in the military before being honorably discharged. He volunteered with the Marine Corp. in Dubuque to honor deceased veterans. His military service to our fallen heroes ended abruptly when, on January 26, 2013, Mike Maher died in an automobile accident near Dubuque, Iowa. (Don wanted this man’s life to be honorably noted)
 Dick Swortzel DICK SWORTZEL entered the USAF as a Second Lieutenant at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, N.M. after graduating in Mechanical Engineering from Montana State College in 1956. His assignment was in developing suspension systems for nuclear weapons on bomber aircraft. He was also involved with launching sounding rockets during nuclear testing.In 1960, following Graduate School at North Carolina State College,  he was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH.  He was assigned to the Foreign Technology Division of AF Systems Command, doing analysis of telemetry signals from Soviet missiles and launch vehicles.Dick served during the Cuban Missile Crisis and floated around the Caribbean on a Navy Destroyer chasing Soviet submarines and blockading Soviet shipping.  Fortunately, his mission to go ashore and secure the missiles was never implemented.  He resigned from the USAF as a Major after 10 years service.
 MelSanders Mel Sanders, after much thought, decided to enlist in the service in  July, 1955 in Massachusetts to ensure basic training at Sampson AFB (New York), instead of taking basic training at Lackland AFB (Texas) during the summer.Instead of accepting an appointment to take Chinese language school at Yale, he was assigned to a six-month radio maintenance school at Scott AFB (Illinois, near St. Louis).  After graduating radio maintenance school with AFSC 30432A, he was sent to Duncanville AFS, near Dallas, Texas until his security clearance was processed.  Once his clearance was issued, he was shipped to Misawa AB, Japan where he spent several months in the receiver rehab shop, rotating shift assignments before assuming a Scheduling position where he scheduled various maintenance tasks for the base equipment. During this assignment, Mel was able to attend college classes that allowed him to earn over 70 lower division hours while at Misawa, receive a third stripe and qualify for proficiency pay while there.  The only bad memory from Misawa occurred the day after Sputnik was launched. He was assigned the job of stringing new antennas, 30 feet up on telephone poles, wearing spikes, leaning backwards and pulling wires.  He finally offered to re-enlist if he could be assigned to either England or Germany, but when the orders were issued instead for Turkey, right on the Russian border, he decided to end the good times and end his career.