ClassMate Bio


Conrad W. McDowell, THS '59, a.k.a Roddy and Mac

Written: October, 2002

After Tottenville I attended Staten Island Community College at night while working for Cities Service Company in downtown Manhattan.  Tommy Augustine (THS ‘59) and Jimmy Moran (I think he was THS ‘58) both worked there too.  I left that in the fall of ‘60 to attend Central College in Pella, Iowa. This is the beginning of my restless youth. Left there just before Thanksgiving and hitchhiked home and started at SICC as a real student (almost) and did okay but in the spring of ‘63 joined my sister Diane, (THS ‘61) and learned about drinking and chasing women.  Also began a part time job with Eastern Airlines down there prior to joining the Marines because I didn’t want to get drafted and I was gonna flunk out for the trimester.  When one doesn’t attend classes one does not do well :>).  Also was doing some theatre work at Jacksonville University in the play, “Detective Story;” I played the part of a hood named Tammy Giocopeti.

The play was to open, but President Kennedy got assassinated and since Broadway didn’t open, neither did we.  We went on the next night and completed our run. I departed for Parris Island in October of ‘64 and completed Aircraft fundamentals training after that and got stationed at Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn, NY.  I was a weekend warrior and Viet-Nam was something that didn’t concern me because I couldn’t add two plus two and get it right.

I was working for Eastern as a full time passenger agent and trying to drink NY dry.  Met a gal who was a stewardess and by now had moved on to NY Airways.  We sorta got married and I volunteered for active duty with The Marines. This was not very smart, since things were rapidly changing in the world but I paid scant attention.  As a real Marine still at Floyd Bennet I participated in a lot of “blues details,” (funerals) and then I received orders for Viet-Nam.  That was a shocker but in April of ‘68 away I went. Since I had been a flying crew member on our “birds” at Floyd Bennet, it was only natural to do the same thing in the RVN except I first had to learn how to fire the M-60 machine gun.  Once I did that I flew and flew a lot.  It didn’t make sense to me, so flying ate up the time - especially flying medi-vacs. I justified that someone had to pick up the dead and wounded and it was okay to fire at someone firing at the wounded.  Anyway I made it back and had been awarded my combat crew wing’s as well as my first air medal.  Big whoop.  Out processed at Treasure Island, CA on Memorial day weekend, so we were held up for the holiday.

It was that weekend that I went into Berkley and found out that the only difference between the hippie’s and us (GI’s) was the uniforms we wore, the length of our hair and who we were fighting.  Returned to NYC with a negative attitude toward my government and the whole world and God.  I either became a dedicated atheist or had become one because of what I had seen in 'Nam.  Anyway went to work with Mohawk Airlines and when their pilots went on strike and unemployment was runnin’ out, I decided to go back to the big mother ... Uncle Sam and work for him.  Only trouble was the Marine Corps couldn’t promise me a rose garden or that I’d be in the wing so that told me that I’d be a grunt and go back to 'Nam.

I wasn’t interested, especially since we had a baby en route. So I talked to the Air Force and they promised me helicopters and I could pick three places where I’d like to go. Got my second choice (which was pretty good back then) and prepared to drive to Fort Worth, Texas. However, right after getting sworn in (about 3:00 PM) we went to her parent’s home in the Bronx and about 3:00 AM our firstborn decided to introduce himself.  Had him at St. Alban’s since I was now back in the military (???? I never really thought that the Air Force was a very military outfit) and delayed our departure for about two weeks.

Began my Air Force career and was surprised to find out that the Marine Corps had caught up with me (I had been separated from the Corps since July of ‘70) and had awarded me the remainder of my air medals.  My Air Force first shirt had them waiting for me and insisted that they be formally awarded to me at Commander’s call.  It was embarrassing, but that’s life.

Went on to do what I had to do until April of ‘75 when I turned myself in for alcoholism and completed the A.F. rehab. program and got promoted in the process:>)  We had had a little girl in Jan. of ‘74.  and when I got sober in April of ‘75, she told me that “if I went through with that blanketity blank rehab. program that she would take the kid’s and leave.  She didn’t and I did and we struggled on for a while  until I had to draw a line in the sand to terminate her drinking because when your 4 year old says “Mommys asleep and her bottle is under the couch”... well something has to change.  She refused treatment and I filed for divorce with the fervent hope that being separated would bring her to her senses ... it didn’t and she died of “hapatic failure, caused by chronic alcohol abuse” and I became a single parent in the military.  Thank God for women’s lib. and civil right’s because that helped clear the way.  I knew that I could raise my children without another woman to screw thing’s up, (how’s that for an attitude:>)? but I had been actively seeking female companionship and had kinda hung on to one redhead in particular. She had two teenager’s who thought that I was cool and we all got along well.

However, as a single parent my focus changed and the children became my world.  She, (Wanda) was in as much turmoil as I and prayed for clarity and somehow God, (with his magnificent sense of humor) saw fit to put us together.  We married in June of ‘78 and the kid’s chose to call her Mommy and their deceased mother was called by them, “Mother”.  We were assigned to The Azores In October of ‘78 and then two years later were assigned to Bergstrom AFB where we were stationed until I retired on March 31 of 1989.  We now live in Fort Worth and I am a postal employee ( I don’t go postal though:>).  The kids are grown and we have five grandchildren.  AA led me back to a “higher power” that I chose to call God and Wanda helped me to understand and accept Jesus.  Our life today is pretty good and we like being together.

I hope that this helps.  I never did get a BS or a BA but I did earn three associate degrees, one in Contracting, one in Disaster Preparedness and one in Postal Administration.

We are both cancer survivor’s and certified trained volunteer’s with The American Cancer Society.

It would be nice to see some of the THSer’s so hopefully when we get my neck repaired we’ll be able to make a trip up there. Our young son is a NYC cop but is with the Marine Corps right now (he was called to active duty in Dec. because of 9/11).  He worked quite a bit on cleaning up the WTC on the “bucket brigade” and on his own time went to as many funeral’s of deceased police and firemen as he could. I asked him why in one of our conversations and he simply replied that “it is to pay my respects.”  He’s a good kid.  Our youngest daughter is married and living outside of Houston and going to school at night to get a degree in geriatric psychology.

The oldest daughter has authored a hands-on science book for 6th, 7th, and 8th grader’s and is home schooling our twin grand daughter’s.  The oldest son and his wife are in California where he is the director of three art studios.  The three oldest grand children are all going to college. The middle of the three just took a break from school and has joined the Coast Guard and is serving in Key West, Fl.


Click his name to send Mac an email: Mac