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Jesse Eldred Stay's Autobiography Part 2
Jesse Stay’s Autobiography Part 2
POST OVER SEAS AIR FORCE
Our first assignment after returning from the war zone was to a B-24 combat crew training group at Tonopah, Nevada. I was assigned as the Base Operations officer but I also flew as an instructor on occasion and was able to pass on some of my experience to the new crews. Tonopah was in the middle of the Nevada desert and there was practically no family housing We were advised not to take our families with us but after a 29 month separation we were not about to live apart unless it was absolutely necessary. Helen, Sharon and I moved into the Mizpah hotel for a few weeks until we found a converted coal shack which we rented for forty dollars a month. It had a bed, a toilet and a wash basin and had been lived in by a hired man. Helen and Sharon had to go to the hotel and pay to take a bath. I could shower on the Base. We ate all of our meals in the restaurant or in the officers' club on the base. It was really tough on a two year old, who was trying to learn to accept her strange father, to live under such unsettled circumstances.
In June 1945 we were sent to Command and Staff School in Fort Leavenworth Kansas. This was a ten week course and proved to be an important part of my military education.
Needless to say, there was no housing in Leavenworth either so we felt fortunate to find a bedroom with kitchen privileges in a home with a very nice family by the name of Teets. This was our first chance to really be together in any degree of comfort. We were treated like members of the family and really enjoyed this period. We also met a number of wonderful Church members in Leavenworth. We met in the Odd Fellows hall above a store in down town Leavenworth. It was at this course that I had my first exposure to military science and tactics and where I learned about the important role the military forces play as instruments of national power in containing the worldwide expansion of Communism.
At the conclusion of this ten week course, Helen and Sharon took the train back to Los Angeles and I drove back to Tonopah in our car. While I was driving back they announced that the atom bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. A few days later the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and World War II was over.
Prior to leaving Tonopah for Fort Leavenworth the war had ended in Europe and a point system was established to provide for the first release of members of the armed forces. The point system was based on total time in the service and time in combat. I was told that I had enough points to be released immediately. I sought the advice of my bishop and stake president and they both advised me to stay in the Air Force. A few days later I received orders to attend Command and General Staff School. I had always intended to go back to college and at least get my bachelors degree but I thought I would attend Command and Staff School and make my decision about getting out later.
When I arrived back in Tonopah I was fortunate to be assigned to live in a duplex on the base. This base housing was of temporary wooden construction covered with tar paper but it was so much better than anything else in Tonopah that we were delighted to get it. I fixed it all up on the inside and was going to drive to Las Vegas the next day to pick up Helen and Sharon who would come that far from Los Angeles. That night I received a telephone call from Helen informing me that Sharon had contracted Polio and was in the Los Angeles County Hospital.
I went to the Base Commander the next morning and asked for a leave of absence to be with Helen and Sharon. I will always be grateful to the officers over me for their kindness in this instance. I was told to take off and the paper work would follow. I cleaned our things out of our house and was on my way to Los Angeles by noon. I was given a three week leave and transferred to Ontario Air Base so that I could be near home. Sharon was in the hospital for two weeks receiving the treatments devised by Sister Kenney. Then she came home to my mother's house and we had to continue the treatments. Every couple of hours we would get a woolen blanket steaming hot in a pan then we would put it on her back and legs and cover it with oiled silk to keep in the heat.
When Sharon had first become sick with a fever and a head ache, Helen had to wait several hours for a doctor to see her. As soon as the doctor saw her he sent them to the County Hospital to be tested for Polio. On the way to the hospital Helen stopped by the Bishop's house and asked him to give Sharon a blessing. Though Sharon had some muscle weakness in her legs while she was growing up and had to wear corrective shoes for a while, she has had no trace of the disease in her adult life for which we are very grateful. The disease was virulent and the doctors expected that there would be some crippling effects.
I was assigned to a-fighter-interceptor squadron at Ontario Air Base and learned to fly P-38's. I was only there for a few months, however when I was sent out to Kingman, Arizona to receive thousands of World War II surplus airplanes and turn them over to the civilian run Reconstruction Finance Corporation for disposal.
All of the B-24's from my group on Guam were flown into Kingman for disposal, along with hundreds of others as well as many different types of airplanes. These were either sold on the international market or sold by the pound for scrap. Several B-26's were sold to a contractor who sold them to Cuba. I expect that these were the same B-26's which bombed the invasion forces during the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
While I was at Kingman on temporary duty, the base at Ontario was turned over to the civilians and I was transferred to March Air Force Base in Riverside, California. Helen and Sharon were living in Los Angelesat her mother's home and I would fly home for the week ends whenever possible.
I was at Kingman for about six weeks and then was assigned to the Organization and Manpower office at March Air Force Base. In this capacity I was sent to Personnel Management School for three weeks atOrlando Florida.
When I returned I was assigned to the Organization and Manpower office on the General Staff of Twelfth Air Force at March Air Base. Helen was still living in Los Angeles, with me commuting by bus on the week-end. I got a call at about one a.m. on a Monday morning from Helen's mother telling me that Helen had gone to the hospital to have our second child. I had just left Helen the evening before to return to the air base and I had to wait until morning to catch the next bus back to Los Angeles. I got to the hospital in time and Randy was born in the early afternoon on June 17, 1946.
In the meantime I had been given the opportunity to apply for a regular commission in the Army Air Corps and I was in the first group of reserve officers integrated into the Regular Army after World War II.
When Helen came home from the hospital we bought a home in Riverside, California which we lived in for a couple of months. We had an Ice box which would run all over the floor when we forgot to empty the water tray, a dining room set which we bought used, an old rocking chair and a set of box springs and a mattress which we put on the floor. We also had a crib mattress for Sharon and a bassinet for Randy. This was our first home after four years of marriage. We had been married for four years and had lived together less than six months but we loved each other more than ever.
Since I had decided to accept a regular commission and make a career in the military I didn't know how I would be able to go back to school and finish my formal education. Then one Saturday in July 1946 while I was serving as duty officer for Twelfth Air Force Headquarters, I saw on the Adjutant's desk some papers offering those officers who had recently been integrated into the Regular Army an opportunity to go back to college for up to two years to complete a degree.
That very day was the last day applications would be accepted for the coming school year. The Adjutant had not told us about the program. I immediately went to the Western Union office and sent a 115-word telegram to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel US Army Air Corps applying for the schooling. A week later I received my orders to go to UCLA for two years to obtain a degree in Industrial Management. In August we sold our home in Riverside, moved to Los Angeles and bought a home on Airline Avenue in Westchester, near the Los Angeles Airport. The Lord blessed us and had given us the opportunity we wanted. We spent two wonderful years there going to school.
While going to school at UCLA I had the first opportunity to serve in the Church since I joined the Army. I was called to serve in the Elder's Quorum Presidency as second counselor to President Ralph Chalker in the Westchester Ward. I enjoyed this service very much and learned a great deal.
One morning in February 1948 I got up at 5:30 am to stand in line to register Sharon for Kindergarten. They only had so many spaces and they allowed the children to register on a first-come first-serve basis. When I got home about 9:30 a.m. Helen's mother was there. She often came over to visit so I didn't think much of it. I then went-to school and had two three-hour finals. When I got home at 7:00 p.m. my mother was there and she informed me that Helen had been having pains since the middle of the night and had gone to the hospital and had a baby girl at about 4:30 that afternoon. Helen didn't tell me because she didn't want to worry me when I had finals to take.
I rushed over to the hospital (From Westchester to Pasadena) and found Helen sitting on the edge of the bed chuckling to herself. Our new baby was Linda and she hasn't been a moment's bother to us since. Helen came home from the hospital in four days and we stopped at a carnival on the way home and took Sharon and Randy on some of the Kiddy rides.
I graduated from UCLA in June 1948. General of the Army Omar Bradley was our commencement speaker. He was one of the great generals of World War II and a fine gentleman. He said we have not learned to live with the power we now have. "We know more about killing than we do about living. Our greatest challenges are social and economic, not military."
After graduation I was assigned to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, office of Information, in the Pentagon. In 1947 the military services were integrated under a Secretary of Defense and the United States Air Force was formed from the old U.S. Army Air Corps. Secretary James Forrestal was the first Secretary of Defense and Secretary Stuart Symington, later a Senator from Missouri was the first Secretary of the Air Force.
I had served as a press officer in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for about six months when Secretary Forrestal organized a joint news room in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in order to get control of the Services who were fighting their battles in the press. I was placed in charge of the Air Force desk in the Joint press room. For about six months there were two officers from each service serving in the joint operation. Then the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs was formed and the whole press operation from each of the services was brought into this office. I was left in charge of the Air Force Press Desk but now I had ten other Air Force officers under me. The Army and Navy had similar groups in the Joint Press room.
I served there until May of 1951. During this time we were concerned with the formation of NATO and General Eisenhower was appointed Commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers (SHAPE). I attended the ceremonies in the Pentagon where this appointment was announced. Someone said this headquarters was like Venus De Milo--lots of SHAPE but no arms. We were concerned with the demilitarization after World War II, and also with flying saucers. I wrote the press release saying that the Air Force was discontinuing the investigation of Flying Saucers because we had found no evidence that there was any substance to the reports. The public wouldn't let us quit and even today, years later, the Air Force is still plagued with this nonsense.
I was assigned to cover the White House press conference each week and was present when President Truman announced that following an attack on South Korea by North Korea, the United States would support the South Koreans. This was the beginning of the Korean War.
General Douglas MacArthur was relieved of his command because he had publicly disagreed with President Truman concerning the conduct of the Korean War. President Truman was committed to a limited war and General MacArthur said "There is no substitute for victory."
While I was working in the Pentagon, we were living in Arlington, Virginia at 1402 No. Adams St. We were part of the Arlington Ward, Washington D.C. Stake. The Arlington ward was meeting in the basement of the woman's club in Alexandria, Virginia for the first year we were there. During this time we were building the Arlington Ward Chapel, which we moved into and enjoyed for the last two years of our stay. For the next twenty years or so, we contributed every month to the building funds of every place we lived, and were happy to do so. Helen and I both worked in the MIA presidency for awhile and for the last year I was the Scoutmaster. We made many wonderful friends in Arlington and we are still in touch with some of them.
One day in May, 1951, while I was at work at the Air Force press desk in the Pentagon, I received a telephone call from our Bishop, Miller Shurtliff, asking me if I would be interested in spending the next four years at BYU in Provo, Utah. An Air Force Reserve officers' Training Corps had just been authorized at BYU and President Ernest L. Wilkinson had called Bishop Shurtliff to see if he knew of an Air Force Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel whom he could recommend as a good Latter-day Saint, who would like to be the Professor of Air Science in charge of the AFROTC program at the "Y". I had been promoted to the grade of Lieutenant Colonel a few months previously and was therefore eligible for the job. After talking to Helen on the telephone, I called President Wilkinson on the phone and was selected to come to Provo.
Judy had been born on December 15, 1950. We had to cross two draw-bridges to get from our home in Arlington to the hospital at Bolling Air Force Base. Fortunately they were both open because Judy was born within fifteen minutes after we arrived at the hospital. She has always been full of life and energy, always exploring to the limit. She is intelligent and capable and has always been a joy to us.
We had to leave Arlington in two weeks after we first heard of the assignment to BYU. During that time I took the Scouts on a two-day camping trip and worked at the Pentagon, while Helen bore the major burden of getting ready to move and take care of four children including a new baby.
We moved to Provo in May, 1951 in time to attend the commencement exercises and to prepare for the first ROTC classes in summer school in June. I was thrilled to meet some of the General Authorities at a reception in President Wilkinson's home. President McKay and Elder John Widstoe were there. President Wilkinson and I got on well together and he was a good friend until his death in the late 1970,s.
The next four years were like an Air Force assignment 'in the Church. The ROTC experience probably did not do much for my Air Force career but it proved to be a great blessing for me and my family.
AIR FORCE ROTC-BYU
These were happy years for us. The ROTC program at the "Y" was successful. We started the program in the summer school of 1951 with 100 cadets and three instructors. That fall we enrolled over 1000 cadets and for the next two years we had approximately 1800 cadets enrolled each year, The "Y" supplied hundreds of officers to the Air Force during the next four years and graduates from this program have continued to be a leavening influence in the Air Force to the present time.
I tried to teach the cadets that they would make better officers and serve their country better if they lived in accordance with the principles of the Gospel than if they did not. Jay Ballif, who served as Provost and Academic Vice President of BYU,.was the top cadet Colonel one year. Joe Christensen, former President of the Missionary Training Center and now a member of the Seventy was a Wing Commander. Many of our graduates are now retired from the Air Force after more that twenty years of service. I had on my staff a very capable Staff Sergeant by the name of John Lassiter. He applied for the Aviation Cadet flight training program and I signed his letter of ecommendation. He has since become a Brigadier General in the Air Force and after retirement from the Air Force, he was called by the Brethren to serve as a member of the Seventy.
During our stay in Provo, we lived in a home which we rented from Stanley Cox, at 945 North 50th East in Provo. I served as explorer advisor in the Fourth Ward, Utah Stake. Then when the ward was divided, I served as Second Counselor to Bishop Reuben Law and Wayne B. Hales in the University Ward, Utah Stake. Before being called to the Bishopric, I was ordained a Seventy by Elder Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of the Seventy on March 16, 1952. I was then ordained a ' High Priest at the same time I was set apart as a counselor in the bishopric by Elder Stayner Richards, an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, on February 8, 1953.
Our second son, Larry was born on June 10, 1953 in the Tooele Army Hospital in Toole, Utah. Since Judy had come so quickly, we were afraid of the sixty mile drive from Provo to Tooele, so a few days before Larry was due I took Helen to Tooele and put her in a hotel. She would only stay there for three days and insisted on coming home. Larry was his usual cooperative self and gave us plenty of time. We got Helen to the hospital in the morning and Larry was born a little after noon. He was smiling when I saw him a few minutes later and has been smiling ever since.
Gregory was born on May 15, 1955 in the Utah Valley hospital. He was born about 2:30 in the morning and the doctor had invited me to witness the birth.
This was before the days when this was common and he had failed to clear this with the hospital. A big red headed nurse kicked me out of the delivery room and made me wait outside in the waiting room. I am sorry that I have never been able to witness the birth of any of our children. We love Greg with all of our hearts, as we do all of our children. We have been greatly blessed with good children and we are proud of each one.
In June of 1955 we completed four years of duty at BYU and were assigned to the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. This was a nine-month course for Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.
While we were in Alabama. we lived in an Old house about a block from the only chapel the Church had in Montgomery. It was a tiny chapel with a baptismal font under the podium and only two small classrooms in the back.
Our Southern neighbors were very friendly and kind and we also made a number of close friends in the Branch. For a while, I served as the teacher of the investigators' class. This was the first time I had ever been asked to teach and it was here that I learned the principles of the Gospel. I taught out of Elder LeGrand Richard’s book, "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder" and a small book called "The Essentials of the-Gospel.'
Greg had Pneumonia when he was about six months old and had a fever of 103 degrees. They cured him with penicillin for which we were very thankful. Larry was a very active two year old in Alabama. He used to stand up in his crib when he was supposed to be taking a nap and walk the crib across the floor screaming, "Let me out of this trap!" In one week he fell on the scissors and stabbed his forehead just above his eye, fell from the top of the slide and had a few stitches in his head, had the rear wheel of his tricycle run over by the neighbor lady as she was backing out of her driveway with him on the tricycle and ran out into a lake over his head making me run in after him to keep him from drowning. We figured that if he lived through that week, he would live to a ripe-old age.
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND
Upon completion of this course, we were assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In Nebraska, I was assigned as the Wing Executive officer. We bought a nice house on East Manor Drive in a suburb on the East end of town. We arrived while the flying echelon of the wing was on temporary duty, standing alert, at Lakenheath, England. our wing was equipped with six jet B-47 bombers. These were essentially the same airplane as the Boeing 707. Boeing developed the 707 as the first U.S. commercial jet airliner after the Air Force had ordered the B-47s. The 707s used the same wings and engines as the B-47.
While the Air Echelon was in England, I was assigned as the commander of the rear echelon at Lincoln. They had left all of the odd-balls and trouble makers behind and I had an interesting two months. In addition to the normal drinking and driving problems with the local police, I had an airman put his head in an oven and commit suicide, and a sergeant and his wife who got drunk and ran into a train, killing the wife and smashing the sergeant's brain so that he was nothing but a-vegetable. They had six kids and no close relatives so I had to arrange for their care.
On the way home from England, a C-54 transport plane with fifty of our ground crew on board was lost in the Atlantic and we had all of their families to notify. Then a few weeks later, a National Guard T-33 jet trainer ran into two B-47s parked on the ramp refueling. All three aircraft were destroyed. The pilot of the T-33 and two crew chiefs were killed and the re-fueling pits caught on fire. I wondered what kind of an outfit I had joined.
After things settled down I was assigned as wing executive officer for a couple of months before I was sent to Topeka Kansas for B-47 flight training.
Topeka was about ninety miles from Lincoln and for the next three months I would drive my old 1949 Chrysler from Lincoln to Topeka Sunday night and drive back to Lincoln on Friday night after each week of flight training. Helen and the kids stayed in our home in Lincoln. This was in the middle of winter and it was a very difficult period for both of us. My week-ends at home kept me sane.
Upon completion of flight training I returned to the base at Lincoln and was assigned as commander of the 371st Bombardment Squadron, 307th group. This was the same squadron I was in when I flew overseas in World War II. I was squadron commander for about a year and the wing was reorganized. We got a new Wing Commander and I was made Deputy Wing Commander for Supply and Maintenance. I had three maintenance squadrons under me and was responsible for the supply and maintenance of all the B-47s and KC-97 tankers in the wing.
During the last year at Lincoln, with the leadership of an outstanding Wing Commander we set an all time record for getting SAC bombers in the air for scheduled flights. When I left we had completed over a thousand scheduled training and simulated combat flights in B-47 without missing a single scheduled flight. I received the Air Force Commendation medal for this service.
While we were in Lincoln, Helen served in the Winter Quarter's District Primary presidency and I served as scout master, then as a member of the District Council and as President of the District YMMIA. We made many dear friends in Lincoln, in and out of the Church. We met in a nice Branch chapel in Lincoln and there were enough members in the branch for a fair sized ward. There are four universities in Lincoln and with the Air Base people we had a very active group with programs for all of our children for a change.
I kept this job until I received orders to go to the Air War College at the Air University at Maxwell AFB in Alabama again in the summer of 1959.
We arrived at Maxwell Air Force Base in August, 1959 and were given quarters an the base. These were old permanent barracks which had been converted into duplex apartments. We had all of the facilities of the base available to us. This was the only time in our Air Force career that we lived in government quarters. It was good to meet some of our old Montgomery friends from four years before and to make new friends on the base and in the Branch. I was again called to serve on the District Council and had to drive to Birmingham for District meetings.
War College was an interesting and exciting experience. We had world authorities come to talk to us on matters of international affairs, new technology, military strategy in support of national policies, and many other interesting and exciting subjects. We took a cruise on the nuclear carrier Enterprise and watched anti-submarine exercises. I wrote a thesis on "The Lack of Centralized Military Control in the Armed Forces of theUnited States". This was a historical review of the events which lead to the then impotent organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This thesis was later accepted by the George Washington University as my master’s thesis in International Affairs in 1963.
As we neared the completion of Air War College in May of 1960 we were anxious to know what our next assignment would be. The class had a graduation party where all of the assignments were read. We received orders to Ankara, Turkey. We still had a couple of weeks before the end of the end of school, so we started to learn a few words of Turkish. We had left much of our house hold goods in storage in Lincoln, Nebraska, so I made arrangements to have them shipped to Ankara.
About a week later our orders were changed. I was promoted to Colonel and we received orders to the Sixteenth Air Force Headquarters at Torrejon Air Base, near Madrid, Spain.
We were very happy about the promotion and the change of assignment. We thought our furniture was on the way from Lincoln to Ankara and that we would probably never see it again. Fortunately, the transportation office at Maxwell Air Force Base could not keep up with their work load and had not ordered the shipment so they were able to make the change in destinations.
We spent three very happy years in Spain. I was assigned as the Director of Information for Sixteenth Air Force. This was a Strategic Air Command Air Force, with three B-47 bases in Spain, three in Morocco and a KC-97 tanker base in the Azores. B-47s and KC-97 tankers would come to these bases for three months temporary duty, from their permanent bases in the United states and stand alert, loaded with bombs and fuel, ready to take off in fifteen minutes in the case of a Russian attack.
I am convinced that these bombers on continuous alert and those on alert in the UK and in the United States, were a strong deterrent to Russian adventurism during the fifties and early sixties. In the late sixties the B-47s were replaced by intercontinental B-52s and the overseas alert bases were no longer needed.
We had an active Church group in Madrid made up, of American servicemen and civilian employees of the U.S. Government and their families We made many dear friends in Spain, in and out of the Church. We still treasure these friendships after all the years have passed.
While in Spain, I served as a counselor in the branch presidency of the Madrid Servicemen's Branch ' and after we had been there a few months, I was called to serve simultaneously as the President of the Spain Morocco District of the French Mission. We had servicemen's groups at each of the three bases in Spain, the three bases in Morocco and the base in the Azores.
During the summers of 1961 and 1962 we took three weeks off each year to tour Europe with our family. The second year Helen's Mother joined us, We pulled a travel trailer loaded with food and a tent. We camped wherever we went. During the two trips we were able to see most of the great sights of continental Europe. It was a fantastic family experience and we felt closer as a family than ever before.
Timo traveled with us on our first trip because he was only one month old and still nursing but we left him in Madrid with our two maids on the second trip. We were able to show him Europe twenty years later when we picked him up at the completion of his mission in Portugal and re-visited most of the sites we had seen before and also visited England for five days.
Timo was born on June 3, 1961 in the Torrejon Air Base hospital. We named him Timothy.Val in memory of his grandfather Valantine. He has always been a special source of joy in our lives.
While we were in Spain we had the special privilege of serving as hosts to Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Sister Kimball, Eldon Tanner and Sister Tanner and Elder and Sister Mark E. Peterson.
President and Sister Kimball stopped in Spain for a couple of days on their way from a visit to the Holy Land. He had his throat operation a short time before and he could barely talk in a whisper. He met with our servicemen's group in Madrid and Helen and I took them for a visit to Toledo the next day. He bought us a perdiz lunch (Spanish partridge) and we had a day together that I will never forget.
Elder and Sister Tanner visited Spain because he was the Supervisor of the West European Missions at the time. We had a very special visit with them and we were privileged to have them for dinner in our home. Judy danced for them in a flamenco dress.
Elder Peterson visited with his wife on assignment for a District Conference. He brought the film "Windows of Heaven" but we talked him out of showing it and asked him just talk to us. People had come to conference from the three bases in Morocco and from the Azores as well as the bases in Spain. We could watch a film anytime but we could only hear an Apostle on very rare occasions.
While President Tanner was in Spain he and I approached the Spanish government to see what they would let the Church do legally in Spain. Generalisimo Francisco Franco was the dictator of Spain at the time. He had come to power at the end of the revolution in 1939 after defeating the Communist controlled republican army. He was committed to the restoration of the monarchy and the re-establishment of the Catholic Church as the official church of Spain.' Priests were paid out of tax money and the Catholics were very much in control. There were about twenty thousand Protestants in Spain but they could not own property, publish literature or proselyte in any way.
President Tanner and I visited the North American desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The official in charge had been stationed in Canada and knew of President Tanner who had been in the government and was president of the company that built the Trans-Canadian pipe line. We told him that the Church didn't want to break any Spanish laws but would like to do all that we could legally-do in Spain. We were asked to put our request in writing so that we could get an official reply. I wrote a letter for President Tanner to sign and we submitted it through the American Embassy in Madrid to the Spanish government. A few weeks later I was transferred back to the Pentagon and a week or two later President Tanner sent me a copy of the reply from the Spanish Government to the effect that there was absolutely nothing the Mormon Church could legally do inSpain. They said the Government had a concordat with the "Holy See" not to allow error into Spain. President Tanner had written on the bottom of the letter, "What do we do now?". It is a special thrill for us now to see the growth of the Church in Spain since Franco's death and the liberalization of the government under the King Juan Carlos. We now have a temple in Madrid and several stakes and missions in Spain.
We left Madrid in July 1963 on a commercial 707, hoping for a fast trip home with our six youngest children, including two year old Timo. Sharon had left Spain the year before to attend BYU. We wound up with a two hour lay-over in Lisbon, a five hour flight to the States and when we arrived over New York there were thunder storms so we were diverted to Boston. We spent a half hour on the ground in Boston before returning at low level through terrible air sick inducing turbulence to New York. After disembarking and working our way through customs with eight people and all of our luggage, we took two taxis to the New York Port Authority where we caught a bus for McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, where we had reservations to spend the night. It was a long day.
The next day I took a bus to New York City and went to the dock to pick up our car which we had shipped ahead. Then I met a representative of the Winnebago Company at a Service Station in New Jersey and took delivery of a fourteen foot house trailer which we had ordered from Spain. Then I went back to McGuire AFB, picked up the family and we drove to Washington D.C.
We lived in a trailer camp for a week or so while we looked for a house to buy. We finally settled on an unfinished new home in Woodbridge where we lived for the next five years.
Sharon was attending the BYU in Provo, Utah and had become engaged to an ex-missionary, Keith Holbrook Brown. They were planning to be married the first week in September. We drove the family with the trailer to Provo, picked up Sharon and drove to Grandma Valantine's house in the Highland-Park section of Los Angeles. Then I hitched a ride on an Air Force plane out of March AFB back to Washington D.C., leaving the family in Los Angeles to prepare for the wedding and to visit cousins etc.
My assignment in Washington was Chief of Information Planning and Evaluation in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Information. My office was at Bolling AFB, across the Potomac Riverfrom the Pentagon. We would go back and forth to the Pentagon by water taxi. My deputy was our dear friend, Lt..Col. Arthur Paul who had been my deputy in Spain. While the family was in Los Angeles and while they were finishing our house in Woodbridge I lived in the Visiting officers Quarters at Bolling.
Near the end of August I flew back to Los Angeles for Sharon's wedding in the Los Angeles Temple and her reception in the beautiful home of one of Keith's relatives in Pasadena, California. She was married onSeptember 3rd, 1963, then they went back to school. Sharon graduated from the BYU and when Keith graduated they went to the University of Illinois for graduate work and finally back to BYU where Keith got his Ph.Din Physics. He is a scientist of national note and they have raised a-wonderful family. We love them all.
The task of our office at Bolling was to make information plans and set informational goals for the Air Force's external and internal information programs and then to evaluate their effectiveness. I was working in the office one day when we heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. We were all saddened and shocked by this terrible news.
After Sharon's wedding we drove with the family and trailer back to Woodbridge expecting to move into our house which had been promised to us. Unfortunately the house was not ready so the real estate company put us in a motel for a week. During this week the kids started school and I had to work each day. It was rather hectic. Finally we settled into our home and I commuted twenty-five miles to and from work each day for the next five years.
After returning from Spain in July 1963 I was assigned for three years in the Directorate of Information, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, where I served as Chief of the Communications Studies Group (1963-1964), Chief of the Public Information Division (1964-1965). This included supervision of Press, Radio and Television and Books and Magazines Branches. I also served as Chief of the Plans and Programs Division (1965-1966).
During this period we were involved in the war in Vietnam and we worked closely with the White House and the State Department public affairs offices.
I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam for a week to observe the Air Force public affairs operations. I also took advantage of the opportunity to fly as a passenger on a low level flight in a C-23 spray plane over theAshaw Valley, trying to defoliate the trees where the Viet Cong were hiding.
In November of 1966 I was assigned to the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) where I served as Deputy Director of Defense Information. In this capacity I shared in the responsibility for directing the Department of Defense organization concerned with relations with national news media representatives, magazine and book publishers and authors, and entertainment television and motion picture producers. I served as Acting Director of Defense Information for six months without a Deputy.
I retired from the United States Air Force August 31,1968. I received the Legion of Merit for my service in the office of the Secretary of Defense.
While I was working in the Pentagon from 1963 to 1968, we lived in Woodbridge, Virginia in a new colonial style, split level house with five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
We were happy there. Randy, Linda and Judy graduated from Woodbridge High School. Linda was chosen as Miss Congeniality and Judi was Home Coming Queen when they graduated.
I was called to serve as Scout Master in the Woodbridge Branch for two years and then was called as Branch President where I served until we left Woodbridge in September of 1968.
While I was in the Pentagon I took classes after hours from the George Washington University for two years and received a Master's degree in International Affairs. I had received partial credit for my course in theAir War College and the university accepted the thesis I wrote for War College for my Master's thesis.
In September 1968 I retired from the Air Force as a Colonel after 26 years and 10 months of service. We sold our house in Woodbridge and accepted a position as Assistant for Public Affairs to the President of the Church College of Hawaii, in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii.
CHURCH COLLEGE OF HAWAII AND BYU
On our way to Hawaii we stopped in Provo, Utah for a few days to see Linda married to Darrel Danielson.
Then we drove to Sacramento and shipped our car and took an Air Force flight to Honolulu.
In Laie we lived on Naniloa Loop across the street from the Polynesian Cultural Center. I worked for President Owen Cook for one year. During this time I served as Scout Master and for eight months as an ordinance worker in the Hawaii temple.
While we were there Judge Whitaker who founded the motion picture studio at BYU, came to Laie with a production crew to produce the Church film "Johnny Lingo". Judge had been my Deacons' advisor in Huntington Park Ward and he asked me to come back to BYU and work as his Assistant Director of Motion Picture Production. We had three children attending the “Y”at that time so we decided to accept his offer.
We left Hawaii in August of 1969 and moved into a home at 411 East 3050 North in Provo, Utah where we lived for the next fourteen years.
I worked as Judge whitaker's assistant until he retired in 1974. At that time I was appointed Director of the Department of Media Production where I served for the next nine years. Our task was to produce films, film strips and video productions for the Church and the university. To augment the studio income and help pay our overhead we also produced a number of prize-winning educational and motivational films which we sold to businesses, schools and other universities.
Some of the films which were produced at the studio while I was Director were: "The First Vision", "Where Jesus Walked", "The Restoration of the Priesthood and the Organization of the Church", "Morality for Youth", a series of biographical interviews with Church leaders including Ezra Taft Benson, N. Eldon Tanner, Mark E. Peterson, Le Grand Richards and Joseph Anderson.
Some of the educational and motivational films were: "Uncle Ben", "The Gift", "The Mail Box”, "John Baker’s Last Race" and others.
This was a rewarding and exciting time. We worked closely with the General Authorities on the Church productions and had many spiritual and faith promoting experiences.
During our years in Provo I served as Explorer Advisor in the Edgemont Third Ward for a year. Then I was called by the Stake President of the BYU Sixth Stake, Wayne B. Hales, to be the Bishop of the 44th married ward in his stake. I served as Bishop during the years 1970-1972. Then I was called by Elder Thomas Monson to be President of the BYU Sixth Stake (married). I served as Stake President from 1972 to 1976. I was then called to serve as a member of the Sunday School General Board where I served until the Sunday School General President, Elder Russel Nelson, was called to the Council of the Twelve in 1978 and the members of the General Board were all released. I was then called to be High Priest Group Leader in the Edgemont Third Ward where I served until I retired from BYU in September 1983 and we moved to Huntington Beach,California at the end of the year .
COMMENTS WRITTEN IN THE SEVENTIES
6 Dec. 1970
The last eight month period has been the most richly rewarding period of my life. Having been ordained a Bishop and called to preside over the BYU 44th Ward in May 1970, my life has been filled with experiences of a spiritual nature which have brought me closer to my Father in Heaven and convinced me that He takes a hand in our lives and blesses us when we do his will.
Even though I am now able to spend less time with my family, the Lord has strengthened us and there is a stronger spirit of unity and a greater knowledge of the love our Heavenly Father has for us in our home than ever before.
Our boys go to church in our home ward while I preside over a married campus ward. Judy attends church in a campus ward for single students living in this area. As the result of this division, I seldom have the opportunity to go to church with my family. This has bothered me because I greatly miss going to priesthood meetings with my sons and to sacrament meetings with my wife and children. I was afraid that the boys would lose interest and, to some degree at least, cease being diligent in the performance of their church duties. The Lord has blessed us, however, and in fact just the opposite has taken place. The testimonies of our children have been strengthened, and without me to rely on they are, on their own initiative, performing their duties faithfully and diligently. I am very proud of them.
We have had some wonderful experiences as we have tried to follow the guidance of the Prophet and hold our family home evenings. Recently Larry was leading the discussion and he suggested that we take stock of our family readiness to enter the Celestial Kingdom. After considering our weaknesses such as pride, anger, selfishness etc., we decided to list our strengths and we came up with the following list of things we have going for us as we strive for family exaltation:
We all love each other.
We all have a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.
We all love our Heavenly Father and want to please him.
We all have a desire to live righteous lives and to be worthy of the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.
We concluded that with all the big pluses we have, it would be foolishness to let the minor negative things keep us from our goal.
We have been blessed with good children who are not rebellious and who love the Lord. our family unity has improved and our love for each other has greatly increased. The relationship between husband and wife and father and mother in our home has become more loving and tender. We are working more with a singleness of purpose than ever before. My greatest blessing in life is the sweetheart who has become as much a part of me as my very own heart or mind.
Another blessing in my life is the opportunity I have to work in the production of motion pictures and film strips for the Church. Besides the great satisfaction that comes from seeing our productions affect the lives of people for good, I have the opportunity to meet, on almost a weekly basis, with some of the General Authorities of the Church. During this past week, for example, we presented a proposed film strip on the law of the fast to the Presiding Bishopric and Elder Romney of the Council of the Twelve. Later that afternoon, we showed a new movie on family home evening to Elders Romney and Monson. Elder Monson chatted with Judge Whitaker and me for several minutes after the showing and gave us suggestions for improving the picture.
Later in the week I was called into the office of Elder Monson, where he was meeting with Elder Bruce McKonkie and a Brother Rose, Executive Secretary of the Church Missionary Committee. Elder Monson talked about the requirement for missionary films and asked for suggestions on a film showing pre-baptism fellowshipping, conversion and post-baptism fellowshipping. We expect that we will be asked to make this film or film strip during the coming year.
A few months ago Scott Whitaker and I were invited to spend the morning in Elder Boyd K. Packer's home in Midvale, to discuss his ideas for a motion picture to teach the members of the Church about family home evenings and to motivate them to hold family home evenings regularly. Elder Packer suggested that when I account to the Lord for my stewardship, He will likely be less concerned with how well I have done as Bishop than He will about how well I have performed my duties as a husband and father. He stressed the urgency of the requirement for the fathers in the Church to put their houses in order and be ready to meet our Savior. He mentioned that the family is the fundamental unit of the Church and the only unit of the Church which will go with us into the eternities. In these threatening times, he pointed out that if all the families were organized and functioning as units of the Church under righteous patriarchal priesthood authority, the rest of the Church could be destroyed or made ineffective and the work of the Lord would continue to go on in the homes of the Church.
After three hours of counsel, we all knelt in Elder Packer's family room and this member of the Council of the Twelve prayed for divine assistance in the production of this,film so that it might help to strengthen and unify the families of the Church in righteousness.
In the BYU 44th ward, where I serve as Bishop, live some of the choice spirits children of our Heavenly Father. Every meeting is a rich spiritual experience. I am gaining much spiritual strength from my association with these fine young married people. My own testimony is increased as I counsel with them and receive their confessions and learn of their great desire to do good.
This afternoon, in Fast and Testimony meeting, we had 194 present. A few of these were not members of our ward but were the family and friends of a couple in the ward who blessed their new baby. Still, with a ward population of 204, the attendance today is indicative of the spirituality of the ward.
We always have 100% of our home teaching and visiting teaching done and our attendance at Relief Society and Sunday School is regularly 70%-80% our goal for this school year is to have one hundred per-cent of the families in the ward receiving the blessings of holding family home evenings regularly.
As they stood there, this afternoon, bearing their testimonies and expressing their love for one another, I thought how applicable verse 19 of the second chapter of Ephesians is to the members of this ward:
"Therefore ye are no more foreigners and strangers but fellow citizens with the Saints and of the household of God."
The unity and fellowship in the ward is wonderful The great challenge will be to strengthen the individual members of the ward so that they will be able to stand on their own, when they leave this cloistered environment, and be towers of strength in their own right.
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 29, 1972, just prior to the evening leadership meeting of stake conference, Helen and I were called to be interviewed by Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve. Elder Monson began the interview by saying "Brother Stay, the Lord wants you to be the President of the BYU Sixth Stake."
It was a thrilling spiritual experience to spend the evening with Elder Monson as we determined who my counselors should be and Elder Monson issued their calls. He took time out of our deliberations to speak to the Stake leadership meeting. We finally called Bishop Monte S. Nyman of Edgemont II Ward to be my First Counselor and Dr. Harvey J. Fletcher of the BYU Mathematics faculty as my Second Counselor.
On Sunday April 30, we were sustained at the general session of stake conference and set apart after the session by Elder Monson. The power of the Priesthood was evident in the manner of Elder Monson's actions in the reorganization of the Stake. He also set apart, as Stake Patriarch, the former Stake President, Wayne B. Hales. The Spirit of the Lord was evident in his blessing.
I was not released as Bishop of the BYU 44th Ward when I was called to be the Stake President. The Brethren were considering making the campus wards into branches so that young counselors would not have to be ordained High Priests. Because of this consideration, my replacement as Bishop was not approved for three months. I had the privilege of serving as Bishop and Stake President for that three month period. It happened that my temple recommend expired during this time and I couldn't resist the unique opportunity to interview myself and sign my recommend in all three places, as recipient, Bishop and Stake President.
I have had many rich and rewarding experiences as the President of the BYU Sixth Stake, though I miss the close association with the members that a Bishop enjoys. I felt very close to my counselors and the members of the stake high council and the other stake officers.
While serving as Stake President I was privileged to work with five different counselors. Harvey J. Fletcher was released after a few months of service for personal reasons and Robert C, Seamons was called to serve in his place. President Seamons had served as a stake president in La Canada, California for more than nine years and he was a perfect counselor.
I had the privilege of assisting Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then Acting President of the Council of the Twelve, in setting Brother Seamons apart.
We had an appointment with President Kimball at 11:45 a.m. President Kimball was delayed in another meeting and came to his office a few minutes after noon. We suggested that he not miss his lunch and that we could come back another time. He would not hear of it. After setting President Seamons apart, President Kimball talked to us for about thirty minutes. At that time he told us that in addition to the previous operation on his throat where some of his vocal chords were removed because of cancer, the doctors were now advising that he have the rest of his voice box removed. The malignancy was re-occurring He knew that this would be the end of his public ministry and he told us that after much fasting and prayer and consultation with President Harold B. Lee, he had decided not to have the operation. He would leave the matter in the hands of the Lord and continue in the ministry as long as the lord would spare him. A few months later President Lee died suddenly and President Kimball was set apart as the President of the Church.
I feel that my life is just beginning, that all that has gone before is prelude and preparation for the work the Lord has yet for me to do. I pray that I will find favor in His sight and be spiritually and intellectually ready for each new day, that my character will be strengthened so that I can overcome my weaknesses and be worthy of the blessings which the Lord gives me in richer abundance each day.
In 1975 Brother Monte Nyman was released as a counselor in the stake presidency and called to be chairman of the committee preparing the course material for the study of the Book of Mormon in the Gospel Doctrine classes of the Sunday School. He is one of the most competent scriptorians I have known. He is on the religious instruction faculty at BYU.
At the same time, Brother Robert C. Seamons was released as a counselor in the stake presidency and called to be the President of the Oregon Mission.
To replace these brethren, I was given the authority by the First Presidency of the Church to call and set apart Col. Bartley Day, formerly a member of the BYU Sixth Stake High Council, as my First Counselor andGersheron S. Gill as my Second Counselor.
3 Sept. 1978
Last Friday, September lst, we celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Motion Picture Production Department at BYU. President Dalin Oakes conducted the program and Elder Gordon B. Hinkley of the Council of the Twelve was the main speaker. I participated in the program with Dave-Jacobs by narrating a film presentation, looking back over the twenty-five year history of the Department.
During the ceremony we honored Judge Whitaker, Frank Wise, Scott Whitaker and Robert Stum as the early pioneers in Church film making.
Following the program we had an open house at the studio.
Elder Hinkley was very gracious and spoke of the great value to the Church of the films produced at the studio, past and present. He invoked the Lord's blessings on all of us who are engaged in this work. Elder Hinkley has been closely associated with us in the production of the Temple Endowment films. He is very supportive and kind.
This morning I was called up to Salt Lake City to show the film "Where Jesus Walked" to President Kimball for his approval. The showing was to be in the fifth floor auditorium of the Church AdministrationBuilding. This is the room where the Council of the Twelve hold their regular meetings. I arrived early and had the film ready on the projector and was sitting alone in the room. President Kimball and Arthur Haycock, his secretary, arrived a few minutes before the scheduled time for the showing. President Kimball came over to me and took my hand in both of his. He looked up at me and smiled and told me how happy he was to see me. He then put both of his arms around me in a warm embrace and told me that he loved me. I was thrilled and touched and told him that I loved him and sustained him with all of my heart. This was no maudlin moment but the sincere expression of love between two bearers of the Priesthood. The Lord has surely preserved him for his holy calling as President of the Church and His Prophet on the earth. I am blessed to be associated with him. I know that I am nothing special to him above other men but he has the ability to make each person he meets feel that he loves him more than anyone else in the world. I felt this was a special moment worth recording.
After my retirement from BYU we bought Linda's and Darrel's house at 8882 Bainford Drive in Huntington Beach, California and began our preparations to move.
We had planned to move on the first of the year 1984. Just before Christmas I received a call from Elder Asay of the Seventy. He asked me if we would be able to serve a mission if I were called and if we could leave in two weeks. We, of course, agreed to go if called and he hung up.
A link to Part 3
|File name||Jesse Eldred Stay's Autobiography Part 2|
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