In Memory of
Howard Stagg 

Howard Josiah Stagg IV
as written by
Howard Josiah Stagg IV 
It’s Thursday, December 9th, 2021 in Lincoln, California and I’m feeling pretty darn good. I thought I’d tell a little story. I’m Howard Josiah Stagg IV. I didn’t always treasure that designation but when I was born, my dad was alive, Howard J. Stagg III, my grandfather, Howard J. Stagg Jr, and my great grandfather, Howard J. Stagg. So there were too many Howard’s so I ended up getting the nickname Josh from my middle name Josiah. My dad was called Howie and my grandfather was Howard, so that’s the skinny.
I went to high school in Wellesley Massachusetts and graduated in 1959. During high school, I played football, was on the track team and high bar. I was a wrestler or as they used to say, a wrestling star and I got a letter, a “W” for Wellesley, as recognition of success in the sport.
My academics were adequate and I was antsy, so as soon as I graduated from high school, I headed to the University of Arizona in Tucson Arizona after applying to different colleges. My old buddy from Maine, Harold Downey, and some of my old friends from Maine attended. I attended for four straight years and graduated with honors in 1963.
During that time, I was a member of the Air Force ROTC and received a scholarship which payed a good portion of my tuition. I was also one of the honorees at the University as a “Hasher” which was a great honor because I served food to various fraternities and sororities and received complimentary food.  So my expenses weren’t too bad. Then I had a little supplemental income from my dad and received $100 or $125 per month to help with pocket change and pay for my beer. So that was the skinny on that one.
During my ROTC days I did some flying and got my private pilot’s license before I graduated. My roommate was my best buddy for 50 years Walt Burr of Obregon Sonora Mexico. My plan was to fly in the Air Force but I got diverted from that.
Around June 1st, 1963 I graduated with a major in economics and history and then married Cathleen Christenson and was commissioned. My Dad and Julie came out and I think “Uncle John" was there. Anyway, that was a big deal. I was called up by the United States Air Force. In 1963, Vietnam had not quite started. And anyone married at that time had a deferment. However, I got called up. I was in Wellesley and operating out of there, sailing with my Dad down at the Cape, hanging out with a few of my buddies having a good time, getting ready to do graduate studies when I received orders from the United States Air Force that said Stagg show up in Texas for intelligence school. Forget the flying, show up for intelligence.
I went with the program. Rushed to get there and found out couldn’t do a damn thing because I didn’t have the clearance. They needed top secret crypto intelligence specialists. My other duties included marriage counselor, fire Marshall, administrator, advisor. I was a Brown bar yellow second lieutenant. I was assigned to an intercept squadron and we just happened to have a boss, Major StCyr, an old flying sergeant who was really good and really savvy. So I reported to him. So I show up in the morning and check the barracks to be sure everything was okay then head for mess hall, have breakfast, finish up at the squadron, and do administrative work. So then it was time for a morning coffee break at the Officer’s Club, then back to mess hall for lunch and then head for the hunting field, shoot trap etc. Then it was happy hour at the Officer’s Club at 4:00pm.. That was our day.
It took five or six months before I got clearance and enrolled and began the Air Force Intelligence School for 6 months. I learned a little Chinese, cryptology, code work, antennae work and understood the intercept process. I learned all that code word and I had special clearance. Bought a house down there. I graduated with Jim Clapper, big hustler, PR guy who ended up Director National Intelligence a few years ago. My old buddy, Lt. Brady Connor, who I had a lifelong friendship with, was another lieutenant. There were a couple other guys who I knew or met in this school who were all good guys and I’d see them in Saigon. We were limited in our travels because we were so highly classified. I happened to be married but some of my buddies were not.
Got assigned to Misawa AFB Honshu, Japan. As some of my buddies would say, the Air Force best kept secret because it was such a great base. I was the first officer to get concurrent travel and base housing at Misawa from intelligence operation. Got that only because of timing. And that timing was bringing F100 squadrons that had been temporary duty at Misawa to the U.S. They were being pulled back because of what they called gold flow. In other words, they wanted to keep all the money in the US and not in Japan for these pilots living and operating. So they were being pulled back because of what they called the gold flow which left housing available. So I was assigned majors housing as opposed to lieutenant housing because they didn’t have any for lieutenants. Got orders and Cathleen and I were on our way to Japan with a weeks vacation in Tokyo on the way over. We flew through Alaska in one of those folding airplanes and got partly caught in an Earthquake in Alaska.
Got to Tokyo and the next morning the Gulf of Tonkin took off and the Vietnamese allegedly attacked some ships of the United States in the Gulf of Tonkin. The next day, they did it again. I’m down in Tokyo having a lovely time, a great hotel and I get a call from Commander at Misawa which is about 500 miles North of Tokyo, said Lieutenant get your ass up here we’re gonna need you. They had me on a C124 cargo prop plane, boy was that sucker noisy, that was the noisiest aircraft in the Air Force. Hospitable reception and we got situated. Assigned to 6921st Security Wing. So I’m up there getting broken in with cryptology Top secret clearance. They were bombing the hell out of Vietnam. I was then assigned to the 39th Air Division and assigned to all US forces. This gave me the unique advisor position. Commander obviously had top secret clearance since he was the boss of everything but I actually had a higher clearance now that I think about it.
My job was to keep Commander briefed including code word intelligence. Had a briefing book and would walk down to his office and say I would like to see the General and the administrator would say how are you, the General will be right with you. I provided secure briefings of anything super hostile going on in Northern Pacific. It was a pretty good deal. Had access to all the key pilots including Bill Schick who was the best senior officer I came across in the military when I served. He was a San Francisco QB who ended up living in Black Hawk California. I only saw him one time because I was so damn busy. He almost talked me into signing up in the Air Force again. Told him I wouldn’t do it unless I was going to pilot training and they couldn’t guarantee me pilot trainings from overseas so if you can’t guarantee it I went to the real world. But he was a really good guy. I would have been in Thailand for a year and an RF4 wing with Col. Schick. It would have been a great adventure with a little hardship and sadness associated with it.
Started law school in 1967. Been a lawyer since 1970. As a pilot, owned Cessna 210, Bonanza V tail, Bonanza straight tail A36, Barron twin engine B 58. Flown to the east coast, Mexico, and around the US. I have seaplane/float plane rating. I am instrument rated. I’ve been a member of the Sacramento Air Squadron and a reserve officer in that squadron as a Level 3 licensed peace officer in Sacramento County since 1970. I am a member of a great motorcycle group called the Rolex Riders and had some great adventures. I’m leaving some other stuff out but we’ve had fun.
I have three great kids doing different stuff. I have this Maine property that the family has enjoyed for years and years and years, including building projects and other events. And we’ve been around the world except in Europe. So there’s the skinny. And I’m sure I’ve left out a lot. But it’s been a good time. It’s been a good life and blessed with lots of unexpected sunshine. So with that I will sign off for the day and I hope we will be back again. God bless all of you; Amen.
We all miss, and will never forget, Howard Josiah Stagg IV.
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