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March 13, 2012 > Up Mission Peak to Space

Up Mission Peak to Space

Photos By John Ogle

Margaret Thornberry is a strong supporter of Cultural arts in Fremont and is currently president of the Fremont Cultural Arts Council. She is also a member of Niles Rotary. Her brother, John Ogle, has been hiking up Mission Peak three times a week for over 30 years. Now that he is almost 83 years old, he usually only goes half way up.

John was born in 1929 to timber cruiser Hal Ogle and his wife Florence Dillard Ogle in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Raised in a series of Weyerhauser lumber camps in Southern Oregon, John started his education in one-room primary schools. Secondary education began riding a school bus to Keno High School, where he attended high school until the family moved back to Klamath Falls in 1944. Immediately after graduating from Klamath Union High School, he joined the Navy and, after boot training, entered an electronics technician course.

Following his service in the US Navy, John attended the University of Oregon for two years, and joined the Naval Reserve to take advantage of a one month cruise to Acapulco. While returning from this cruise the Korean War started; John was recalled to active duty as an Electronics Technician petty officer. He served on what had been a Kaiser built escort carrier, Sitkoh Bay, devoted to transporting aircraft and personnel from Alameda to either Tokyo bay or Korea. After five round trips, he was transferred to a heavy cruiser which traveled through the Panama Canal and conducted underway training from Guantanimo Bay in Cuba.

After returning home, John graduated from Northrop Aeronautical Institute and was hired as a test project engineer at the Southern California Cooperative Wind Tunnel in Pasadena, operated by the California Institute of Technology. With increased demand for advanced aircraft, each aircraft company developed their own wind tunnel and John was hired by Lockheed Sunnyvale in Information Processing. He studied Electrical Engineering at San Jose State University and, after obtaining an MSEE degree, taught briefly as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering before returning to Lockheed where he met Don Eberwine. They became friends and discovered common interests, including hiking. Later Don and John both participated at the other's wedding. John also worked designing circuits and systems for Applied Material, and later developed and patented plasma sources while working for Lam Research in Fremont.

Don Eberwine was born in Windham, Ohio in 1922 and grew up in Michigan. The family moved to Monroe, Michigan where Don watched as his father built an airplane. Don graduated from Monroe High School and worked at Meyers Aircraft Company. He majored in Aeronautical Engineering at Tri State College, graduating in 1943 and then worked as a Design Engineer for several companies including Lockheed and Martin, later combined as Lockheed-Martin.

Don was drafted, sent to Texas for basic training, and later transferred to Keesler Field in Mississippi. After service in the US Air Force, he continued his aircraft design work, learned to fly and earned a commercial license and multi-engine ratings.

He completed his move to California and did a lot of hiking and backpacking. On one of his hikes with the Sierra Club on Mt. Tam in 1959, he met Kay Keiko. They became good friends and were married about a year and a half later. They began looking for a house in Fremont because it was less expensive than buying a home on the peninsula, had less traffic, and is located closer to the Sierras. Following the purchase of a home in Fremont, they began taking walks around Lake Elizabeth and discovered that a trail up Mission Peak started nearby. Don was soon using the trail, an adventure that lasted many years and became an important part of his life.

Don and John climbed the peak countless times and met a variety of people on their hikes, becoming friends with many of them. John recalls a man nicknamed "Two Dog Dave" because he could run up the hill with his two dogs. John and Don saw members of local clubs or groups who were making the climb and recognized frequent climbers who became their friends including people from the Czech Republic and several Asian countries. Languages of climbers have changed over the years from mostly English to a wide variety of languages spoken by recent immigrants. Climbers were recognized as a select group as recalled by Don who said, "You meet a higher class of people when you climb up Mission Peak."

John has memories of special events that happened on his hikes. One time, he bumped his head on rocks of the peak and blacked out. In another incident, he accidentally got between a cow and her calf, and the cow knocked him down. He was lucky not to be badly hurt. Several times birthdays have been celebrated on the peak.

One climber that John and Don met was Kalpana Chawla. Born in Kainal, India in 1961, she graduated from Tagore School there in 1976 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College in 1982. Kalpana came to the United States and earned a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas and a Doctorate of Philosophy in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado.

When John and Don met Kalpana she was working at NASA Ames Research Center. They reunited with her later on Mission Peak after she had been selected to be an astronaut, part of the six-member Space Shuttle Columbia crew that flew in 1997, making 252 orbits of Earth. In 2000, she was selected for her second space flight as part of the ill-fated Columbia and died in the disaster of 2003. Along with an outstanding crew, the world lost a truly remarkable person.

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