From his roots in New Jersey, Joe DeSantis literally flew onto the world stage as a first-hand observer of world events.
Graduating as number 11 out of 207 cadets in the first graduating Class from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Joe earned his pilot’s wings and spent the next four years, and 4000 hours, flying the military version of the DC-6B all over the world.
Joe earned his first master’s degree in aero-mechanical engineering, and then discovered a life-long love for teaching when he returned to his alma mater to join the faculty of USAFA.
But the classroom in Colorado didn’t hold him for long, as he was called on to fly Air Evacuation missions in Vietnam and Thailand from Clark Air Base in the Philippines.
After a short time flying the C-141, Joe was off to Turkey, where he served as Squadron Commander of the Enroute Support Squadron at Incirlik Air Base. Then the Pentagon called him back from the Middle East for an Air Staff assignment that also allowed him the opportunity to earn a second master’s degree in systems management.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph DeSantis retired from active duty from the Air Force in 1979 but invested his talents in a second career in the Aerospace Industry, working with Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed-Georgia and McDonnell-Douglas. Later he worked in environmental engineering and helped market a new land mine detector, which re-equipped the entire US Army.
Joe has been fondly named “President for Life” of the US Air Force Academy Class of 1959. At the 50th reunion of the class of ’59, he was presented with an award from his classmates for his 50 years of a lifetime commitment to the Academy’s core values: Integrity First, Service Above Self, and Excellence in All We Do.