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PROFILE Photos by LaMar Photography & Video


ROBERT CUPERY’S CAREER IN AVIATION IS AS VARIED AS IT GETS, CULMINATING AS THE RECIPIENT OF THE 2015 CHARLES E. TAYLOR MASTER MECHANIC AWARD.


ROBERT CUPERY The 73-year-old from Palos Verde,


CA, got his first taste of aviation as a 17-year-old high school student playing in a marching band. He played tuba for his own high school in Cambria, WI, when he was approached by the owner of a local canning company who offered to give Cupery flying lessons if he would also march in the band in nearby Pardeeville.


“The school needed a tuba player, so I marched in that band, too, and the man was true to his word. He gave me some flying lessons until my mother found out about it and put an end to my flying career,” Cupery explains. “Watching airplanes was amazing, but


6 DOMmagazine.com | dec 2017 | jan 2018


flying one took my interest in aviation to a whole new level.” After graduating from high school in 1962, he followed his brother’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Air Force, volunteering in hopes for an opportunity to “see the world.” But, after completing his initial training, Cupery was stationed at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscada, MI, which he described as being further north and even colder than Wisconsin. In the military, Cupery trained


to repair F-100 aircraft and spent his entire four-year enlistment servicing F-101 aircraft, which patrolled the North American Distant Early Warning (DEW) line along


the Canadian border during the Vietnam War. It was a relatively bland experience since his base only went on alert twice, once when the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba and again when President Kennedy was assassinated. However, he excelled at his job and, as an airman first class, he was selected to lead a team of technicians to maintain the squadron commander’s jet. Although his commander enticed him to re-enlist by offering a fourth stripe, Cupery opted to leave at the end of his enlistment, just three months before the unit shipped out to Vietnam.


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