Army helicopter pilot, Vietnam vet, police officer and helicopter pilot/instructor, school teacher and principal, counter-terrorism trainer for nuclear facilities, security consultant and lecturer, security director, guard service manager, crime prevention specialist, editor of a police training magazine, police academy training manager…these are the “hats” I have worn for the past five decades. On “face value,” it would appear that I can’t hold a job…right?

Interspersed with all these professions, I started college after completing my military career in 1969 as a 23-year-old. Being on a college campus as a Vietnam War “baby-killer” in the early 70s was not a good place to be. I worked my way through college without any student loans for the next eighteen years. In other words, I went to college for a long time, not a good time … no frat parties and such … my wife saw to that.
As varied as my job professions have been, so are my degrees. I have an AA in Physical Education, a BA in Child Development, an MS in Elementary Education, and a PhD in Security Administration. I think that all I am really qualified to do is to teach counter-terrorism to those little 3 - 5-year-old “terrorists” running around pre-school.

I retired a couple years ago for the third time in my life, only this time it is for good. I have retired and/or ID cards from the Los Angeles Police Department, the New Orleans Police Department, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. I was a sworn officer for LAPD, an honorary captain for NOPD, and a civilian employee for LVMPD. Although I hope that I never need them, maybe these “get-out-of-jail-free” cards might come in handy someday.

After working forty-seven years, my immediate goal after retiring was to not drive my wife crazy and to keep from getting a divorce...which almost happened when I started reorganizing the freezer contents by meat type, arranging the dishware in the cabinets by color, and telling her how to do things more efficiently around the house. I couldn’t believe how she had done this without my help and advice for forty-five years.
Being home 24/7, I was having adjustment issues to my new world of not having deadlines and projects to meet on a daily basis. I was waking up early each morning, realizing that the alarm was not set, and that I could actually sleep-in. I was becoming a couch-potato, getting hooked on TV shows like “Army Wives,” and “Dance Moms.” So, it was my wife, Kathy, who encouraged me to do something productive and to write a book. I think that she believed this would probably just get me “out of her hair” for a few months; it took only three before I finished.

Although I have written several short stories for anthologies and have been a columnist for a magazine, I didn’t consider myself a good writer. Not wanting to be an embarrassing failure to family and friends, I thought that I would simply document some thoughts on paper. If nothing else, I’d staple at the top left corner and leave some readings for my children and grand-children. But through a mutual acquaintance and a social event, fortunately I was introduced to Billie Johnson, Publisher for Oak Tree Press. After sharing some casual conversation, she asked me to send her the manuscript that I had written. And now, thanks to her, I have my first book released…Beyond Recognition.

In my military flying career, I had experienced a complete engine failure (at night), an in-flight cockpit fire, loss of tail rotor control, and a couple bullet holes. In June 1976, I was instructing an LAPD pilot trainee when we experienced a loss of power while landing to the top of a mountain pad. Coming just four-inches short from making the pad, my trainee and I impacted and rolled down the mountain 167 feet, exploding in a ball of fire. Tragically, he was killed and I walked away with nearly 70% second and third degree burns.

Beyond Recognition is a memoir and expose` of my accident. It begins with a few police street stories I encountered working as a patrol officer in South LA. As a survivor of Hamburger Hill, I also incorporate a few combat incidents from my flying missions in Vietnam. But overall, the book is a non-fiction account of the jealousies and animosities I encountered as a military-trained pilot in a civilian organization. It tells of my experience in the burn ward, a few of my rehab issues, and my wife’s emotional ordeal, but mostly it’s a legacy of the misled post-accident investigation and false accusations by the chief pilot. It is also a story of sadness and survivor’s guilt.

However, now that my ego has been fed and my head enlarged with success of writing, I am working on my next book about growing up in a small, farming community in southeastern Kansas during the 40s and 50s. It will be titled, “Why All the Elm Trees Died.” If you like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer tales, then I think you will like this.


Ron Corbin served two tours in Vietnam as an Army helicopter and instructor pilot.  He received numerous unit and individual ribbons for combat action, to include being awarded the Air Medal 31 times, once with a “V” device for valor.  Honorably discharged in 1969, he joined the LAPD as a policeman and pilot/instructor pilot for the Air Support Division.  Retiring from LAPD after an on-duty helicopter accident, he finished his college and graduate education.  He holds a Masters in elementary education and a Ph.D. in security administration with an emphasis in terrorism threats to America’s nuclear resources.  Joining the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 1993 as a crime prevention specialist, his specialty was Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).  He attended training in this discipline at the National Crime Prevention Institute, University of Louisville.  His CPTED subject matter expertise led him to be interviewed in Reader’s Digest, Sunset Magazine, PetroMart Business and Las Vegas Life magazines.  He also was responsible for publishing Metro’s in-house training journal, the Training Wheel.  Ron has been a contributing columnist to Las Vegas Now magazine as well as a guest lecturer on Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines, addressing citizens’ personal safety issues.  He is the previous author of stories published in several anthologies, and recently authored BEYOND RECOGNITION (Oak Tree Press), a memoir about  his helicopter crash with LAPD.  Ron retired as LVMPD’s academy training manager in 2011.  He and his wife Kathy have three children, six grandchildren, and live in Las Vegas. 

Ron Corbin

Member of the Public Safety Writers Association
Member of the Wednesday Warrior Writers
Author of: Beyond Recognition
Contributing Author of:
"Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides" ("new" anthology--Summer 2013)
"I Pledge Allegiance...." (Anthology of patriots and heroes)
"True Blue--Police Stories by Those Who Lived Them" (Anthology of police)
"True Blue--To Protect and Serve" (Anthology of police)


I so enjoyed reading about your new book. I've read a little bit about you in Keith Bettinger's book and in "I Pledge Allegiance" and find your story fascinating. Loved the blog part about organizing your wife's kitchen and such. My 42-year veteran cop retired in 2003, so been there/done that routine. I absolutely will buy your book and read it. I am also a first book author for Oak Tree Press and mine is just going to the printer, so will be out shortly - WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.
Kathy Bennett said…

Congratulations on your MANY accomplishments. I'm sure your book is fascinating! Can't wait to read it.

I look forward to meeting you and talking LAPD.

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