WOODROW WILSON HIGH SCHOOL Alumni
RETIRED AIR FORCE MAJOR LIVING IN ARIZONA
Following graduation from Woodrow Wilson High School, Mike Pettingell '62 attended Portland State University and pursued engineering for three years. Mike remembers being tired of being on academic probation every other term and hoping to stay in college to avoid the draft, he eventually changed to Business Administration, got married, and graduated with a BS in 1967.
"As this was during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army wanted me to lead one of their platoons through the jungles. Not wanting to do this, I ran to the Air Force recruiting station and later graduated from Officer Training School in 1967." Mike's first duty assignment was as a Missile Launch Officer in South Dakota. He states that this was the most boring job in America as the military waited to launch US missiles for WWIII which never occurred. "One consolation was that the Air Force paid for my Masters Degree from South Dakota State University," adds Mike. He then applied for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), commonly referred to as the "Mini-FBI" by Jack Anderson, a noted Washington Post Columnist at the time. His application was accepted and following a lengthy background investigation, he attended the OSI academy in Washington, D.C. and graduated in 1972 as a Special Agent. Over the next sixteen years, Mike commanded several OSI field offices, the last being the Washington, D.C. field office before retiring from the Air Force in 1987 as a Major. From there, he worked three years for Honeywell Federal Systems in Falls Church, VA, as the Corporate Security Manager for their classified government programs.
He recalls that, "one day my wife came home and announced that she was moving to Phoenix for better weather and did I want to join her?" Once they had re-located to Scottsdale, Mike joined Rondo Pools, Inc as a pool designer and salesman. Nineteen years later, he is still working for the company on a part time basis while he and his wife enjoy traveling and retirement. They have since moved to Wickenburg which is about an hour from Phoenix.
When asked about advice to new graduates Mike states, "be persistent and don't be willing to give up so easily! If pursuing a job, research and select the companies you wish to work for, then apply in person and keep coming back until they kick you off their property or hire you! This shows them you are serious about wanting to work for them. Believe me it works. Be willing to accept a low position, then be willing to "earn" your way up the ladder. Learn all you can about saving and investing money and learn the art of negotiating as these skills will help you throughout life. Once you have your first job, begin an investment program and start putting money into equities for your retirement ... this will soon become a habit and you won't miss the income that you invest."