Pat Pomphrey

Photos — Left: Pat Pomphrey, Official Photo, Shield-Watkins Field Track, 1962. Right: Captain Patrick Pomphrey, Jr. (Official USAF Photo, 2 Feb 1975)
UT Track:
1963-1966; Hurdler (High & Intermediate Hurdles & Shuttle Hurdle Relays), 4x110y Sprint
Relays; First UT T&F All-American (1966); Team Captain (1966); SEC Champion — Indoor 60
Yard Low Hurdles (1964), Indoor 60 Yard High Hurdles (1964 & 1966), Outdoor 120 Yard
High Hurdles (1965 & 1966), Outdoor 330 Yard Intermediate Hurdles (1965), and Outdoor 440
Yard Relay (1965); National USTFF Champion — Outdoor 120 Yard High Hurdles (1966); and
NCAA Place Winner — Outdoor 120 Yard High Hurdles (4th in 1965), Indoor 60 Yard High
Hurdles (5th in 1966), and Outdoor 120 Yard High Hurdles (3rd in 1966).
UT Academics:
BS Degree, College of Engineering, Engineering Physics, December 1966; Honorary Societies —
Sigma Pi Sigma (National Physics Honor Society) and Phi Eta Sigma (First Year University
Student Honor Society); Social Fraternity — Lambda Chi Alpha, Epsilon-Omicron Zeta Chapter
(Member Student Senate, Men’s Chorus).
Military Service:

  • USAF, Active Duty – 6 Jan 1967 to 28 Jun 1976
  • Inactive Reserve 29 Jun 1976 to 10 Jul 1981
  • Highest Rank – Captain (0-3)
  • Vietnam Era Veteran

Primary Military Duties & Duty Stations:

  • 1967-1970, Base Civil Engineering Officer (Facilities Officer), 3535th Civil Engineering
    Squadron, Mather AFB, CA; Tasks included Construction Management and Inspections, Red
    Horse (Theater of War Construction) Training, Broken Arrow (Nuclear Accident)
    Qualification, Sonic Boom (Legal) Evaluations, Management Systems Computerization,
    Squadron Officer Duties
  • 1970-1972, Graduate Student Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH;
    Masters of Science Degree in Engineering Physics (Optics), Master’s Thesis, “New Nd:
    YAG 4F3/2 to 4I9/2 Laser Transitions”, GEP/PH/72-15, Air Force Institute of Technology
    (June 1972)
  • 1972-1976, Physicist, Optics & Lasers, Kirtland AFB, NM; Air Force Weapons Laboratory;
    Project engineer, Air Force (Tri-Service) Laser System, Sandia Optical Range, Kirtland
    AFB, NM.

–   Carbon dioxide gas-dynamic laser test planning, integration, test analysis, and contractor
liaison. Expert in laser effects, propagation, laser physics (carbon monoxide emission
spectroscopy, wavelength control), resonator design (parasitic suppression,
ring-resonator installation and analysis), and systems integration of the Air Force Laser II
(AFL-II) and Airborne Laser Laboratory (ALL).
–   Section chief supervising four technical and one support personnel.
–   Participated in first time laser-effects tests on pressurized fuel tanks forming the basis
for the current airborne laser missile defense strategy.
–   Participated in first shoot-down of a drone-type aircraft by a high energy laser beam.

My time at UT, and the times we lived in, shaped my future in ways that can only be appreciated
looking back. I’m privileged to be associated with such a group as the Rohe Track Era athletes,
present and departed.

Medals, Awards:

  • Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, w 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Air Force Longevity Service Award (AFLSA) 5 Jan 1971, w Oak Leaf Cluster, 5 Jan 1975
  • National Defense Service Medal (NDSM)
  • Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM) for Outstanding Achievement 1 Jul 1975 to 1 Sept
    1975; awarded for accomplishing a milestone experiment that provided experimental
    verification of the capability of Gas Dynamic Lasers to produce significant power output at a
    wavelength of 9.271 micrometers
  • Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM) for Meritorious Service, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster 16
    July 1972 to 17 Jun 1976; awarded for outstanding professional skill, leadership, and
    ceaseless efforts resulting in major contributions to the effectiveness and success of the Air Force
    High Energy Laser Program

Air Force & Club Track:
1967-1970; Member Forty-Niner Track Club (Long Beach State College, CA), Athens Track
Club (Oakland, CA), US Air Force and Armed Forces CISM (Conseil International du Sport
Militair) National Track Teams.

  • Training base of operations at California State College at Sacramento, CA
  • Competitions at indoor locations including San Diego, Los Angeles Forum, Oakland
    Coliseum, Boston Garden, and New York Madison Square Garden
  • Competitions at outdoor locations included Long Beach, Compton, Los Angeles, Bakersfield,
    Modesto, Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, Walnut, and South Lake Tahoe (Echo Summit),CA;
    Eugene, OR; Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX; Quantico Marine Base, VA; Athens,
    Greece; Dakar, Senegal; Bamako, Mali; Mogadishu, Somalia; Nairobi, Kenya; Dar es
    Salaam, Tanzania; Viareggio, Italy.
  • Ranked by Track & Field News among top seven 110m High Hurdlers in World and top six
    in the United States in 1968
  • Gold Medal Winner 1968 110m HH at the 22nd Annual CISM Games (equivalent to
    International Military Olympics), Athens, Greece, New Phaleron Stadium record
  • 1968 US Olympic Track & Field Trials Qualifier at Los Angeles and subsequent training
    camp at South Lake Tahoe preceding Final US T&F Trials at Echo Summit prior to 1968
    Mexico City Games
  • Finished 4th in 110m HH Trials, qualifying as an Olympic Team Alternate
  • Post 1968 Summer Olympics, joined a US State Department, USAID Cultural Affairs,
    Goodwill Team of 6 World Class Olympic Athletes, competing in West and East Africa,
    November-December 1968
  • 1969-1970. Competed indoors and outdoors prior to retirement from active competition and
    entering Graduate School, August 1970. Last International competition was in Viareggio,
    Italy, July 1970.

Post Athletic and Military Professional Career:

  • 1976-1978, Hughes Aircraft Company, Culver City, CA; Sr. Scientist, High energy, electron-
    beam pumped, carbon dioxide lasers and optical systems.
  • 1978-1999, TRW Space & Electronics Systems, Redondo Beach, CA; Retired as a Senior
    Program Manager. Systems designed and managed included ground, space, and airborne
    megawatt-class high energy, chemical hydrogen and deuterium fluoride lasers, chemical
    oxygen iodine lasers, krypton fluoride excimer lasers. Involved in National Missile Defense
    effort including Special Projects.
  • Awards included:

–   Best 1996 paper award, “ALPHA High Power Chemical Laser Program”, at the annual
AIAA/BMDO Interceptor Technology Conference (08/19/97), co-author.
–   1996 TRW Chairman’s Award, “Uncooled Silicon Optics for High Energy Laser
Systems”. For developing revolutionary uncooled high-power optics, an enabling
technology in the development of tactical and strategic high-energy laser systems”
(05/21/1996), co-recipient.

–   1981 TRW Independent Research and Development Roll of Honor, Principal
Investigator, Advanced Optical Techniques & Alternate Resonator. In recognition of
outstanding work in planning and reporting on this project, as reflected by the high
grade awarded by government evaluators. Such performance is of direct benefit to TRW
and helps keep the Company in the forefront of advanced technology..

  • Patents:
    –   “Interface Alignment System”, Patent #4530602, assigned to the US Air Force.
  • 999-2013, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Senior Staff Scientist,
    Redondo Beach, CA; Edwards AFB, CA; Phoenix, AZ. Consultant on variety of Directed
    Energy, National Missile Defense Programs, including Airborne Laser Program, leading to
    multiple theater ballistic missile shoot-downs, using a megawatt-class, high energy chemical
    oxygen laser installed within a Boeing 747-400F aircraft.
  • 2013-2014 (present), Leidos Corporation (derivative of SAIC), Phoenix, AZ. Consultant for
    ground, sea, and air-based diode-pumped solid-state high energy laser systems.

50 years have taken their toll of physical and mental capabilities, but here a few key

  • Hospitality.  East Tennessee was one of the best places one could have lived in the early
  • Track, What Track?  It didn’t occur to me to ask about the track when Coach Rohe recruited
    me from Northern Virginia. My high school, Bishop Denis J. O’Connell, did not have one
    either. The 340 yard Shield-Watkins Field cinder track with an adjacent infield chain link
    fence made for interesting workouts
  • Dean Planters’ Tobacco Warehouse.  A find! 440 yards indoors and 120 yards straightaway
    for Hurdles. Kerosene heaters. I loved the smell of kerosene and tobacco in the morning!
    Believe I hold the school record for indoor 120 yard HH.
  • Oddities.  Once ran the 120 yard HHs in about 12.9 sec. Vanderbilt University dual meet.
    Whoops! One hurdle flight was left out. So I believe I hold a record for a 9 flight HH race!
  • Trainers and Training Table.  Mickey O’Brien’s “ice it down, and get back out there”
    attitude. Mr. Jim’s mass quantities of food, including “mystery meat.”
  • Wacky road trips.  We’re lucky no one got killed, cars or planes. Remember, these were the
    days before the Interstate?
  • Weather.  Seemed to be always raining. Walking from Gibb’s Hall to the Hill for classes
    was a drill. Not for the faint hearted, loaded with books, slide rules (nobody knows what
    those were anymore), and umbrellas. Cold and lots of snow in winter. Remember
    Cumberland Avenue closed. Track meets in Memphis (cold), Kentucky (wet), Florida
    (muggy), convinced me California was the place to be!
  • Workouts.  Repeat (lots of them) 330s with minute intervals, even for the hurdlers.
    Straightaway 440s along the River: run one way, and then repeat the other. Are you kidding
    me? Should have done more.
  • Weights.  Didn’t appreciate the value of upper body training at the time. We had very little
    facilities to speak of, and it was a drudge to go to the only weight room under the Stadium.
    Should have done more, but did so during my Air Force days.
  • Kennedy.  Yep, that’s where I was when he was assassinated. Remember early afternoon
    workout when word came. Stood along Pennsylvania Avenue during his Inauguration few
    years before. Frozen. Remember President Johnson tour through Campus sometime later.
  • Civil Rights.  Turbulent times in the South. We were in the middle of it. Observers mostly,
    but shocked when first seeing “colored-” and “white-“ only signs in Alabama. Glad we were
    first to rectify the athletics side later.
  • Trains.  Did not participate, but enjoy the stories. And nobody got hurt!
  • Rabies.  No I didn’t get them, but enjoyed the company of the little Terrier, whose name was
    Rabies. Trips to the Smokies and overnights in the Dorm. I’m sure she had a pass!
  • Sac State.  While on my first Air Force assignment at Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA, I was
    given free run of the weight and track facilities on base and at California State College
    Sacramento (then called Sac State), but had to climb fences to use the track, train in the dark
    on the asphalt track (too hot during Sacramento days), repeating hurdles in the dark (good for
    timing). Had to convince my Squadron Commander it was all good. Mostly trained myself.
    Aries Merritt doesn’t know how good he has it training at the World Athletic Center here in
    Phoenix today!
  • 1968 – a year of turning points.  Pre-Olympic training and competition got into high gear

–   MIT. Thanks to the powers-that-be, I was able to train at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s field house while doing the Boston and New York indoor circuit
–   Berkeley. Thanks to Sam Bell, Athletic Director at the University of California at
Berkeley, the Armed Forces Track & Field Team was invited to train at the Berkeley
Facilities during the summer of 1968. We were housed at Hamilton AFB , Novato, CA,
then commuted daily to Berkeley where we spent most of the day training. As an Air
Force officer, I was asked to give seminars to the Air Force ROTC group on campus.
1968 was the year of campus riots, killings at Kent State, the assassination of Martin
Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the Civil Rights Act. It was also the height of
anti-Vietnam feelings and demonstrations. We had to wear inconspicuous clothing while
visiting the ROTC Buildings (hiding the short hair among the Hippie population was
another matter). The mayor of Berkeley declared a State of Emergency and the city was
shut down. We got to observe Riot Police and helicopters daily while trying to train for
our events. Surreal!
–   High Altitude Training. By qualifying in the Los Angeles Olympic Trials, I was able to
spend the late summer in South Lake Tahoe, training at the 7377 foot Echo Summit, 28
feet higher than Mexico City’s track. Learned about Sickle-Cell Anemia and Breathing
Techniques learned still practiced to this day. Got some expert hurdle training with Bill
Bowerman of the University of Oregon (and founder of Nike™). Training with other
world-class hurdlers on a daily basis. Food was everything. Catering by same crews that
support Forest Fire Hot Shot Teams. Injuries during training persisted through Olympic
Trials. Vagaries of the sport convinced me having a second career was a good thing
when later offered one of the first Professional Track & Field contracts (which I
–   Goodwill Tour of Africa. Eye-opener for our educational preparation (Euro-oriented)
being inadequate to understand African culture. Cold-war struggles between Communist
and Western interests. AK-47 pushed in my face by Malian soldier. Coup d’etat after
leaving Mali. Long flights over Africa from Senegal, to Mali, to Ghana, to Ethiopia, to
Somalia, to Kenya, to Uganda, to Tanzania. Not to mention time from New York to
Senegal and Tanzania to New York. Caught Asian flu from a real Asian (Chinese).
Safari in Uganda memorable. Cold showers in new dormitory at University of Dar es
Salaam. Housed in un-used hospital in Mogadishu. Walking back to hotel through dark
streets of Kampala at night. Gained respect for our Foreign Service Officers for whom
the US is only a vacation spot.

So many others have commented on their positive experiences with Coach Rohe. I echo those
thoughts. Memorable was his:

  • Organizational ability. For a single coach with only a few assistants to be able to organize
    training, living, negotiate scholarships, organize trips, recruiting, and be there before sunrise,
    then at afternoon practice – amazing!
  • Recruiting ability. Did I mention we didn’t have a track? At the end of four years we had
    the Tom Black Track, world class athletes in both football and track & field, and a reputation
    that enabled the following years to be so successful.
  • Memorable Quotes:
    –   Positive Attitude. “What a day!”
    –   Winning Attitude. “If better is even possible, great is not enough”
    –   Serenity. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to
    change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
    –   My Take Away. “Never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small,
    large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield
    to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” (Sir Winston

My time at UT, and the times we lived in, shaped my future in ways that can only be appreciated
looking back. I’m privileged to be associated with such a group as the Rohe Track Era athletes,
present and departed.