Joe Arzate describes how he entered the military and became a Cobra pilot
Joe Arzate, a Vietnam veteran, describes how he joined the military and became a Cobra pilot.
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, what year did you graduate from high school?
ARZATE Actually, what happened to me, like my wife was telling you, I got married when I was a junior in high school, so I quit school and I got married and I had 4 kids. And I have 4 great, wonderful kids by my ex-wife. And, uh, I quit in the 11th grade. And what I did, of course, I went to work different places. But when I was 18, I joined the Guard, the National Guard, and that triggered my military career. The National Guard, by me joining the National Guard, it opened career doors for me, not that I knew they were going to, they just happened to open career doors for me. When I went through basic training, I graduated from basic training and then I went through artillery training, and when I went through artillery school, they gave us GED classes and I got my GED and that’s, that’s one of the career steps that the military opened for me. When I was going through basic training in Louisiana, of course, basic training was kinda difficult. I was an athlete, so … I had a … my commanding officer, he was a captain, he was a Puerto Rican. His name was Romero, Captain Romero. And one day, we were getting ready to finish basic training and he calls me to his office. And that private picture that my wife showed you, that’s where I’m at. I’m wearing a jacket. I’m wearing fatigues in the bottom and Romero called me to his office and he says, “Arzate.” I say, “Yes, sir.” He says, “I been watching you through this basic training period.” It was like three months. He said, “I’ve been watching you, and you’re a pretty good athlete. I’ve been watching. You’re always ahead of everybody. You always run the miles and the training and the physical training ad everything and all your military training, I’ve been watching you. I’m very proud of the way that you’ve accomplished yourself.” Says, “Have you ever thought about going to OCS?” I said, “No sir, I sure haven’t.” He says, “Well, you need to think about it, young man.” And I said, “Well, thank you very much, sir.” And I got up and saluted him and I started walking out, right? So, I turned around and said, “Sir, what exactly is OCS?” That’s what I had, how much I knew, right? I said, “What exactly is OCS?” He says, “That’s school training so that you can be an officer. And I really feel that you have the aptitude to be a officer.” I said, “Oh.” Said, “Okay, thank you.” He says, “I’m gonna put it in your records,” and he did. So, when I got done—all of my National Guard training, which is 6 months—when I came back to my unit, of course, they read the write-up that Captain Romero wrote on there and they said, “Arzate, we need you to go to OCS. We’re gonna get a select committee and we’re gonna review your records and see if we can’t nominate you, select you to go to OCS.” And, uh, a few months later, they called me into the office, and says, “We’ve promoted you to sergeant.” I was a private. They said, “We’ve promoted you to a sergeant because you have to be a sergeant to go to OCS and we’re gonna send you to OCS. I said, okay. Forty years later, I’m a major, plus everything in between.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Right, okay. So, you went to basic. You went to the National Guard at 18.
ARZATE: Yes, sir.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Why was that? I mean, why did you join the National Guard?
ARZATE: Well, you know, I was married and young, didn’t know any better, had no counseling whatsoever when I was young.
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, none of your family members were in the armed forces.
ARZATE: Well, they had been. My uncles had been. Remember, my father was killed when I was … then I moved in with my grandparents and I did. I had two … I had two or, actually, three uncles who served in the military. As a matter of fact, one of them was still serving in the military, one of my uncles. It was … They were like brothers because I was raised by my grandparents Older brothers and, yeah, all three of them, my uncles, served in the military. Uh, one Marine, no, two Army, two Army and one Air Force. Yeah. I really don’t think that because they served drew me to serve. They, uh … I really wasn’t really around them that much whenever they were in the military but it wasn’t because of them that I joined the National Guard. I joined the National Guard because I liked the military, what I could see. And then, when I was recruited to go to the National Guard and talk to them, I felt that it was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t because of my uncles that served. It had nothing to do with that. I did all that on my own, and, uh, of course, there were, the main reason was, I was thinking of a career. Here I was, a high school dropout, people were telling me, “Well, all you’re gonna be is a laborer.” You didn’t graduate from school, no college, you got married young, you got kids. You can go pour concrete, whatever, you know, pick cotton or whatever. Of course, the cotton thing’s slowly fading away. It was still there in my era, but not as much, you know. The equipment came into play. But no, I looked at it as, well, you know, I got a career, you know. I wasn’t expecting to be an officer, never. Because like I said, I didn’t even know what OCS was. So, uh, I said, I’ll be a soldier. I’ve got a career and I can take care of my family and, anyway, that’s how I ended up going Guard.
WONGSRICHANALAI: What was the most challenging aspect of basic training?
ARZATE: Basic training?
WONGSRICHANALAI: This was in Louisiana?
ARZATE: Louisiana? Yes, sir. Yeah, knew that already. I didn’t tell you that.
WONGSRICHANALAI: You did.
ARZATE: Oh, I did? I didn’t think I did. Yeah. Fort Polk, Louisiana, to be exact. Yeah, uh, probably the hardest part is the … You had to live under certain rules and guidelines and there’s a lot of people that can’t do that. They don’t like people shouting at them or telling them what to do. The physical part of it, it was stringent but, to me, I didn’t find it that stringent. But what I observed—and I’m one of the guys, I’m the type of person that if I’m working for you, I’m working for you—you tell me to go do an administrative job, I’m gonna do the best I can to administrate there. If you tell me to go clean the restroom, I’m gonna try to be the best restroom cleaner that you ever had because I’m working for you. Well, I was working for Uncle Sam. I was working for the military. And whatever they … When I had to mop floors, I didn’t have a problem. Other people griped and complained. So, I feel that the basic training part was following orders for some people. Not for me but for some people. I, uh, I never had any major problems going through basic training. Yeah, they were the same old things, fights and that kinda stuff in the bathrooms and what not but, uh, I never did. I said, “Hey guys, I don’t have time to fight or argue or anything, you know.” We gotta get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, you know. But, uh, following orders I think, and the rules and guidelines of following the military, they’re very strict, very strict, and that’s what I found. I didn’t have any problem.
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, when did you show up for OCS? And where is OCS?
ARZATE: Yeah, I don’t … I haven’t looked to see if they have it anymore, State OCS. I’m sure they probably do but now they may send you— because they’ve consolidated so much— they may send State OCS candidates maybe to the regular Army OCS but, in my era, it was in Austin, Texas. It’s a place called Camp Mabry. That’s where their headquarters is, the State National Guard headquarters. They had an OCS program there and that’s where I went. Because I was reserve, National Guard, my OCS consisted of a year, instead of like three months like on active duty. Ours was spread out, because, you know, we were workers and family members. Uh, we’d go like three weeks during the summer and then every weekend for training and then you would graduate the following year. But it was just as hard, just as stringent as going through the regular Army OCS, oh yeah. It was kinda like … OCS to me was like a dream, like a nightmare. It’s like, I close my eyes, went to sleep, dreamed I was going through all this there, woke up the next morning, and I said, “It’s over?” You know, did I really go through that? It was like a nightmare, it was like a dream nightmare, that’s how stringent it was. There was …
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, what was most challenging about that?
ARZATE: Jeez, it was … I was an athlete again and physical training was probably three times harder than basic training. Oh yes, very difficult. Uh, the rules and guidelines were ten times harder than basic training, oh yeah. The tactical officers, they were training you to be an officer. And, of course, you had other classes too. It wasn’t just training. It was classes. It was so demanding that I don’t remember how many of us started … 175, and maybe 75 graduated. And, it, uh … It was all stringent from the time you got there to the time you left. It was stress, stringent. OCS is not easy. That’s the reason there’s not that many officers or else everybody would be an officer. I really felt, down in my mind and in my heart that the drill instructors, or tactical officers they’re called in OCS, their job was to break you and make you quit. And the more candidates they kicked out, forced for you to quit, it was better for them. They enjoyed it. That was their … But when you graduated, they were on your side because, hey, you endured, “So our hats go off to you, because you endured while we were trying to make you not endure.” But then their attitude changed when you graduated. But before that, their job was to kick you out …
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, this was …
ARZATE: Make you leave, make you leave, yes sir. It was hard, yeah.
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, this is state OCS. So there were folks from all over Texas?
ARZATE: Yes, sir.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Was there an ethnic mix?
ARZATE: Yes, sir. There were blacks and there were whites and there were Hispanics, and Orientals. We had, uh, it was all mixed. Good, obviously good people, if they made it or not, all good people. If they made it through the selection process to make it to the program, you were above the normal soldier, above a little bit. And then when you finished, you were up here, you know. No, there was a mix, and of course, as an OCS candidate, you worked as a team because you had to. You were not gonna graduate if you didn’t work together. If you had a negative against another soldier or your bunkmates or whatever, you’re not gonna make it. Yeah, you had to be brothers, totally brothers, dedicated to each other. Oh, you left your boot over here, [smacking noise] fix your boot. You know, that kinda stuff. Oh, your closet’s not made right, you hung your uniform on the wrong side, put it on this side. You know, that’s the way we were. OCS, it was like this. It was … You never walked anywhere, you always run, you always… . That’s the way it was. That’s the way it’s gotta be, you know, because they put you under extreme pressure that after I’ve experienced what I’ve experienced, it really helped me because, when you’re in combat, an officer has so much pressure in combat, that you have to endure. You don’t have any choice, you got people under you that depend on you. You’re saving their lives or whatever, and, uh, an officer is above and beyond. That’s good I did and I continue with my story because I had other … I commanded combat units.
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, 1969, you got done in 1969?
ARZATE: No, sir. I graduated from OCS in June of 1966.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Oh, ’66.
ARZATE: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, June of 1966. Got a second lieutenant.
WONGSRICHANALAI: And then what happened next?
ARZATE: I went back to my unit and I became an armor officer. Back then, I started out as artillery but then it became armor. I was a tank platoon leader. I commanded a tank platoon, 7 tanks in my platoon. So, we trained, ’66 and ’67. And ’67 officers had to take certain training to upgrade their status, so I went to Officer Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for armor. And I was still a second lieutenant. While I was in Officer Basic, they teach you advanced armor training. It was an armor training center. When you’re in the military, going to different classes, you never know what’s going to happen. They say, “Sir, sir, sir, Arzate and so and so, ten of you report to room so and so.” You reported. They didn’t tell you what or why you were reporting. You just did. So, you go over there and you might have had to take a test for this or a test for that or whatever it was, you know. And it was constantly, stuff like that going on. So, one day I was there taking training, and they call ten or twelve, fifteen names, and they say, you’re gonna take a test. So, we went and took a test. And I remember that test because it … I reflect back on what it was. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, so I just took the test. It was a test to be a pilot, which I did not know but I did notice that it had a lot of aviation questions in it. I mean, you know, and I had never flown before, and out of the fifteen or twenty of us that took the test and I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was just armor with aviation protection and that kinda stuff, surveillance and combat assistance, so what I did was, a few weeks later they called a bunch of names again. And you gotta report to, uh, for a physical. And they told us to report to the airfield, not the hospital, so we all reported to the airfield and we all thought, “just another physical.” Because they were always giving us physicals, you know, constantly. I went to the airfield, and it was the flight surgeons. They had three or four flight surgeons out there at the airfield and they started putting us through a physical, medical physical. And I had hurt my little finger. Remember I had told you I was in artillery? Well, at Fort Sill, as an enlisted, I broke my little finger, right here. And, I mean, you can see it. Right in there, they did surgery. Anyway, uh, I had … It was in my records that I had broken my little finger. So, when my doctor was doing all the physical and he was standing right next to me, “No, Arzate, you know, you’re gonna flunk.” But I had no idea what it was for. He said, “You flunked the physical.” And, uh, I said, “Oh, well, what’s wrong?” And he said, “Well, your finger’s broke”. I said, “Well, it’s not broke anymore. Look, it’s okay.” He said, “Nah, nah, nah, it’s broke. I see in your records here when you broke it in school and everything.” Well, it just so happened … It was luck, like I’m saying, career luck. Right next… . On the other side of the table out there was the chief surgeon, flight surgeon, and he overheard this doctor telling me, and he was gonna reject me. And the flight surgeon says, “Wait, what did you say?” He said, “I’m not gonna pass him because he’s got his broken finger. He can’t do maneuvers and stuff like that with his finger.” And the doctor says, “Let me see.” He reaches over and grabs my hand. “Move that finger.” And he said, “You’re gonna flunk him for that?” And the surgeon says, “Well, he’s got a broken finger. Look, there’s still swelling in his finger. And he says, “Alright, well, I’ll pass him.” That would have been a difference of yes and no. One guy overheard one surgeon telling … If that surgeon had been over there, I wouldn’t have passed the physical. I was accepted into the flight school and that triggered my flight school program. So I went to … In September 1969, I got orders to go to flight school. I graduated in June of 19 … Well, I started in ’68. I’m sorry. I started flight school September ’68, graduated in June of 1969, and then in August I went to Copperas Cove, transitioned to Copperas Cove. And there was another career luck, career thing that happened to me. See, the Cobra had just come out. They used Hueys for gunships. When Bell made this Cobra and it was nothing but a gunship platform, not troop carrier. It was a battleship close support combat aircraft. It had just come out. It was like an Air Force pilot who had graduated from Air Force flight school, he was saying, “Oh, you’re gonna go to transport, you’re gonna go fly this, you’re gonna fly that.” All the pilots wanted to be a fighter pilot, you know, F-16s. Well, they had a couple of static displays they had flown in from Bell Helicopter, and we all went to go see the Cobra and it was like. Oh man, it was like Star Wars for us, you know? And anyway, we, uh, it was a great aircraft. Anyway, right as we graduated from flight school, like a week before I graduated, my commander, he was a major, he called me in. He says, “You’re getting ready to graduate, Arzate. Congratulations. You did everything great and we really appreciate you. What do you think about them Cobras?” And I said, “Oh, sir.” I said, “Sir, Cobras, every one of us in this flight program would give anything to be a Cobra pilot.” “Well, would you like to be a Cobra pilot?” And I said, “Well, sir, everybody would like to be a Cobra pilot.” He says, “Well.” He says, “We can only send the top ten students of our graduating class to Cobra school and you were one of them.” He says, “Would you like to go to Cobra school?” I say, “Yes, sir. Where do I sign?” Of course, you didn’t have to sign. And, uh, he says, “We missed your class by one week.” The first class of the Cobra school transition. He said, uh, “You’re gonna go to the next one, Savannah, Georgia.” So, that’s where I went to Cobra school.
WONGSRICHANALAI: And where was the flight school?
ARZATE: The flight school started off at Mineral Wells, Texas. It was called Primary Helicopter Training and you went there 6 months and then the advanced. If you survived that, then the advanced was at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Now, of course, they’ve consolidated now and closed all of that and it’s all at Fort Rucker now. The whole program is Fort Rucker. And then you had to survive over there. And, uh, then Cobra was at Savannah, Georgia. I graduated from Fort Rucker, Alabama. It was good. Enjoyed it. It was great. It was an experience. Especially going, you know, especially going from, you know, a few years prior to that, I was a high school dropout. I was a concrete laborer. That was gonna be my career supposedly. Everybody thought, right? And then, only in America. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I’m sure other countries have their, their career. But, I went from a high school dropout with a GED, I had made first lieutenant.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Now, at what point were you promoted to first lieutenant?
ARZATE: Oh, uh … It took about two years. I made first lieutenant. And then it took a year for me to make captain. Then it took ten years to make major. I had those captain’s bars tattooed on my shoulder. But I went through a lot before I got promoted.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Okay, so during this time, where was your family? Still in San Angelo? Or …?
ARZATE: Yes, sir. I got divorced in 1969, uh, when I was going through flight school. My wife and I, we got married so young, and, uh, I had just, I had just turned 18, no counseling, no education, no marriage counseling. The reason I got married maybe, is that okay? The reason I got married with my first wife, is that, uh, the Hispanics back then, and not so much now, but back then, in Hispanic culture, they had, uh, their culture was that, “Hey, you took my daughter out and you kept her after a certain hour.” Their culture was that, “You’re hurting our pride, our respect to my family, you kept my daughter, you know, you dishonored my family. You’re gonna have to marry her.” That was, that’s the way it was back then. And, my wife, my girlfriend, she was my girlfriend then, and I had only dated her like, three times. Yeah, I knew her in school, but I had only gone out with her three times and we had gone to a drive-in theater and it was one of those nights, where the full moon, it’s like daylight, right? And when we got out of the theater, we went to the park and we were just talking and it was like daylight, you know. To me it was daylight. So, when I took her home, it was like one o’clock in the morning and her dad and mother come out and said, “No, you cannot leave her here. You kept her. You cannot ruin our pride. You ruin our heritage.” And they were old fashioned. They said, “No, she belongs to you.” Said, “Oh my god …” So, I took her home to my grandparents. I told my mother and dad. I said, “Dad, what do I do? I couldn’t leave her there. I couldn’t leave her out in the middle of the night.” I told my grandmother, “Fix her a bed over there and, you know, she’s gonna spend the night and tomorrow we’ll take care of business.” Well, anyway, long story short, what happened is, I ended up getting married to her. My dad wanted to send me to California because he had a son that lived in California, my uncle. He said, “Here, son. Here’s a bus fare and everything. You go to California and you don’t ruin your life, you know.” That was my only education part of marriage. He said, “Don’t ruin your life. You’re too young. And I’ll take care of this.” And I said, “I can’t do that. I cannot leave her to face … I don’t know what’s gonna happen to her. They kick her out. I really don’t know, you know.” Bottom line, we ended up getting married. And, out of those, we were married for 9 years, and out of those 9 years of getting, of marriage, we had four kids. But those kids happened to develop … We’d break up for 6 months, come back together for 2 months, then we’d break up for 3 months, 6 months, and then we’d go back together for 2 months and then we’d break up. It would just break and go, break and go, break and go. And, whenever we got together was when the kids came about. Well, the end result was we both agreed that, hey, we were too young and “You’re going through flight school and you’re gonna go off and best thing for us to do is get a divorce. I go on with my life and you go on with yours.” So, I ended up getting a divorce, and, uh, during that time period, when we were breaking up and everything was when I met Paulette. And then when I got divorce, she and I got married. We’ve been married for 47 years, so, here I am, 3 kids later.
WONGSRICHANALAI: She says she’s from Fort Worth?
ARZATE: She … I met her in Fort Worth.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Okay, what were you doing in Fort Worth?
ARZATE: I was … I left here and went to work for General Dynamics, there in Fort Worth. It’s a Lockheed plant now but it used to be General Dynamics. They used to build an F-111 and I used to work on the line as an inspector. When guys did their jobs, I would go and inspect their jobs and make sure they’re done right and then give them the inspection sticker that you put on there, you know. But anyway I worked there, and it was during that time when I was called on active duty to go to flight school. But I had met her and, then I started flight school and I started flight school in September ’68. Well, I had already met her before that and when I graduate from Primary Helicopter School, before I went to Rucker, she and I got married and then we both went to Rucker. She lived in Fort Worth. And, because I was going to Fort Rucker, we wanted to be together and, you know, we had agreed to … We were gonna get married and we got married. Been good. It’s been real good. And I’ve got real good rapport with my other kids, with my prior marriage’s kids. They’re great. I’ve got 4 great kids that just … They’re real good. I’ve got good rapport with them. It’s kinda difficult when you’re divorced and my ex-wife, she kinda talks to me every once in a while but not really. She’s been married, you know, uh, but that’s life. I endured.
WONGSRICHANALAI: Uh, did you ever come back and visit your grandparents?
ARZATE: Yes. Yes, sir, yes. When I was, you know, whenever I graduated from flight school and I was ordered to go to Vietnam. I had orders … All of us had orders. Well, I say all of us … Most of us had orders to go to Vietnam because the war was going. Report to Vietnam in September of 1969 and I was assigned to the 11th Armored Cav. This unit right here. It’s the 11th Armored Cav. And, uh, and I was … We lived out in the jungle. We lived out in the middle of the jungle. It was a little dirt strip. It was like a rubber plantation but it was like a dirt strip. That’s what the 11th Armored Cav. was fighting the war out of. Matter of fact, when I got there, the squadron commander, which is a colonel, a full bird colonel, was Patton. Patton III, the son of the mean old Patton. Well, he was my squadron commander, not my troop commander but my squadron commander. My troop commander was a major and, uh, I served under Patton for four months because they would only … Combat … Combat, uh, command time was, was only a year. They gave you a year. They turned them around because there were stepping stones for promotion, you know. If you commanded a combat unit, you were …you’re good enough. Well, he made general. Well, but, he had already … .I got in there the last four months of his command time. And then there was a … .My commanding officer after that was a colonel named Starry. He also made general later on. Commanders that came out of 11th Armored Cav., they all made general because it’s a … The 11th Armored Cav. was kinda like an elite unit, an elite combat unit in the military, kinda like the 101st Airborne Division. And I served under them and I came back. I served my tour with all my battles and all the grind and everything. It wasn’t good, but, uh, I was one of the few that made it back. I went to flight school. I got orders to be an instructor pilot and I became an instructor pilot in the Army flight school program at and, uh … I had gotten orders to go to Savannah, Georgia to be a Cobra instructor pilot. But I wanted to be close to home because my kids were here, so I asked to go to Mineral Wells, to be an instructor pilot there and they gave me orders to be there even though I was also an instructor pilot in Cobra. I mean, I went through the training. And I stayed there for about a year and a half, then I got orders to go back to Vietnam again and they needed Cobra pilots again, so I went back to Vietnam and I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and there was an air cavalry unit that belonged to the 101st Airborne Division and I served under them. I, uh, uh, I came back and, uh, … When I came back there was … They were … It was during the Carter Administration. I don’t know, you may be too young, but, uh, you remember they had a fuel crisis back in the 80s. Not in the 80s. It was back in the 70s. It was in like ’72-’73, they had a fuel crisis here where convenience stores didn’t have any gas to sell. People were pushing their cars to get gas cause Carter—I think it was Carter—the Carter Administration. I wanna say the Carter Administration. Had to be. He was one of the worst presidents. And, uh, during that time period, because of the fuel shortage, they downgraded all the pilots. You could still draw your flight pay and all you had to do was get your physical. But they reassigned 99% of the pilots because of the fuel shortages. And what they did, because I was a commissioned officer in armor, they sent me to Fort Hood and I became a tank company commander. I was the commanding officer of a tank company there with the 2nd Armored Division. And I kept that for about a year and then … Or a year and a half and then they put everybody back onto flight status. Well, about that time, when they started putting everything back, putting everyone back into flight status … What happened is, the Vietnam ’74 … The Vietnam War was closing. We were putting our tails between our butts and running, you know, which was not good. You know, I went over there to finish the job. Anyway, the military started reducing the military and I was one of the guys that was reduced, so I went back to the Guard. I got out and went back to the Guard, and, uh …
WONGSRICHANALAI: ’74, so that would have been Mr. Ford.
ARZATE: ’74, yes, sir. Mr. Ford? Well, I got out in ’74 and … But it was reduced, the military was greatly reduced. I mean, thousands of soldiers were being, you know, reduced and I was one of them. And I was a captain but when I got out I was still a pilot. So, when I got out, I decided … I told my wife, “I’m gonna go back to college.” So, I went to … I enrolled. We moved back to Fort Worth to be close to my kids. The kids were here but it was close. And I enrolled at Texas Wesleyan University and I went there one year, then I went to, because of the cost factor, I went to Tarrant County Junior College, Fort Worth, which is now a four-year college. Back then it was a two-year school but it was only $50 a semester hour. Texas Wesleyan was a Methodist school and it was like $95, so I … .Me going to school, it was pretty tough. So, I went to Tarrant County Junior College, got an associate degree, then I went back to Texas Wesleyan and I went two years there. And I was a junior and, uh, I finished my junior year. I was gonna be a senior, right? They sent me a letter, uh, from the Internal Revenue Service, from the Department of the Treasury, if I wanted a job to go to work with them. But they wanted me to go to work. I was enrolled at school. I was almost finished with my year semester and they sent me a letter. So, I went in for an interview because, hey, you know, it’s a civil service job. It’s a career. But I was still in the Guard, though. So, I went over there and interviewed with them and they wanted me to quit right now, right then and be one of the revenue employees. So, what I did, I told them, “I can’t go to work with you. I got … I got two more months left. I already paid for everything. I can’t. Now, if you guys still want me after December, then we can talk about it.” They said, “Well, we got your records here. You come back in December when you finish, come back.” So, I went back and, uh, they hired me. I started in the office working, training, then I became a revenue officer. My career was, I was an officer, a compromise officer, basically a settlement officer, and I worked bankruptcies, a lot of bankruptcies. But I didn’t get to finish my senior year because I went to work with them full time. But anyway, I retired with them. But I was also in the Guard and, in the Guard I was a Cobra pilot, I was in charge of the Cobra platoon and that … I was in an air cavalry unit and they don’t have it anymore but, back then, they had it out of Austin, Texas, and later on, I became the commanding officer of the air cavalry unit. That’s how I made major. They made me major and I became the commanding officer of the air cavalry unit, uh, in Texas and I kept it for 3 years. You know, you’re only supposed to keep it for two years and they let me have it for 3 years and after I got my command time there, I went to work for the division staff. I was the division staff officer as a major and I worked for a lieutenant colonel. Of course, I worked for the general and it was the division commander and he had his staff and they were all lieutenant colonels and colonels and I was one of their major assistants, which was probably the worst job I ever had but it’s still a career, you know. So, I worked on division staff for about four years, then, uh, I still had my flight status, even though I was on the division, and, uh, after about 4 years. Uh, we have a unit in Texas that’s called State Aviation Division and they’re in charge of all the aviation in the Guard of Texas. Wherever there’s aviation, they’re in charge of it. And, it’s uh, a full bird colonel position. Well, he needed an operations officer, he says, “Arzate, I need for you”—because I had all the credentials, you know, I had instructor pilots and I had taught, you know, flight school and active military, and I was a Cobra instructor pilot, standardization pilot, all that. And I got my commercial fixed wings ratings. So he says, “Joe, I need you as my state operations officer.” I said, “I’m ready to go. You go and convince that star, that guy with a star over there. You convince him.” So, he went and talked to him and he brought me in. So, I was the State Aviation Operations officer for about 4 or 5 years until I retired. I finally … I had 25 and a half years by then and I said, “Well, it’s time for me to go.”
WONGSRICHANALAI: So, when did you retire?
ARZATE: I retired in June of 1988 as a major, 25 and a half years. And then I retired in ’92 from the Department of the Treasury. Yes, sir.