By 7 a.m. Madera’s Col. Clay Garrison arrives at Fresno-Yosemite Air Terminal. Not to catch an early morning flight, but to serve his country as the new commander of the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard at its Fresno airbase.
Even by the age of 6, from the yard of his country home with mother, Mary Ann, and father, William, Garrison looked to the skies at the sound of an aircraft’s engine. It helped that his father was very interested in planes.
“I guess it runs in the genes because my father was an airplane nut,” Garrison said. Garrison attended Easton-Arcola and Dixieland schools and graduated from Madera High in 1984. While in high school he began his flying career at Madera Airport. His first flight instructor was Madera resident Bob Koch. Garrison completed all his civilian flight training at Madera and flew solo on his 16th birthday, even before he got a driver’s license.
After graduation and receiving his flying license it was off to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He received his officer’s commission upon graduating from the Academy in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering...