Brigadier General Richard Baughn is an American hero, decorated fighter pilot.
flew Mr-51 Mustangs during the World War II.
He is a command pilot with more than 7000 flight hours incl 5000 in fighter planes.
He had five business trips in Vietnam.
He wrote a novel about the air war, The Hellish Vortex: Between Breakfast and Dinner.
He is also a tennis player.
In September, Baughn will turn around 100years. He lives in Austin, Texas, a college town and state capital with tree-covered hills and a river running through the downtown area. He plays tennis twice a week at the Lost Creek Country Club.
Recalling his tennis adventure, Baughn says, “I probably played tennis a dozen times before high school, but I was really into soccer and basketball.”
It wasn’t until now 1974that Baughn’s love of tennis really ran away.
“I only started playing when I was assigned to Saigon, Vietnam, where I had two tennis courts next to where I lived,” he says, highlighting the happy accident that led him to the sport.
“Before that, I used to play golf in my spare time. My work schedule in Saigon didn’t allow enough time to play golf, and the old French golf courses weren’t the safest of places.”
Baughn says he had a pretty good serve in his youth and preferred the base game.
His forehand is the strongest part of his game. Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were among his favorites.
At Lost Creek Country Club in Austin, Baughn has a regular game. “I have four other old men to play with.”
Referring to his experience as a fighter pilot, he gave everyone a call sign. They are allocated by age. “As the oldest, I am Geezer One. Geezer Two is 95Old Three is 92Geezer Four is 86and Geezer Five is 75. We call him Junior.
“Most of the time we have four healthy for doubles.
“A few years ago we had a fairly decent level of play, but now it has deteriorated. The slippery slope of the century really gets steeper later 85-90. Due to frail backs, imbalances, strengths, etc., we had to modify our games – especially our servos.
“When young people ask about our game, I reply that we have the mobility of the fence posts and if the ball hits our racket we can get it back.
“In fact, we are approaching this level of the game. However, this does not discourage us! We still play or try to play and we usually do it twice a week.”
Apparently, the camaraderie between Baughn and his fellow players continues.
Reflecting on his tennis experience, Baughn says, “Tennis is a great sport and my only regret is that I didn’t start it sooner, maybe when I was five or six years old. Even my late start was a strong mental and physical stabilizer.
“Being an ancient old man was wonderful therapy. I am sure that in addition to a wonderful wife, a good diet and a break in the genes, tennis has contributed to my longevity.
“As a little kid, I felt like flying, and being a fighter pilot in my adult life, even after losing more friends than I can count, I was a happy camper.”
From sky to court and page, General Baughn commands admiration. My interview with him was conducted by e-mail. At the end of our conversation, he logged out like this:
Dick – An ancient fighter pilot, older than the dirt, but still beyond