James Kratzer — Personalities Plus

James A. Kratzer has lived in Portales eight years. He is active with the Friends of the Library chapter for the Portales Public Library and enjoys reading, sports, bowling, cycling, volleyball and looking for books.
What do you think about Portales?
“I really like it here! Since I frequently moved around while with the United States Air Force, I have plenty of places to compare Portales with. There is a strong sense of community, friendly people, a relatively cheap cost of living and plenty of wide open spaces. When Pam and I moved to Portales, we were struck by the strong sense of community and civic pride. Portales has several parades and constantly has community events going on throughout the churches, school, Eastern New Mexico University and otherwise. A stronger sense of individualism, ruggedness, and belief in God is alive and well here. And I really respect those values.”
 
Who is your hero and why?
“Gen. Colin Powell, when he was the Joint Chief of Staff and currently as Secretary of State. He came from a common background and made through the military ranks to become the nation’s leading general for many years.”
 
What is your greatest hope?
“To regain a sense of strong moral and ethical values. I’m really chagrined by the dog-eat-dog mentality that seems to be engulfing America and the world.”
 
If money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place?
“Invent a system by which people are measured and evaluated by what they are doing to make the world a better place to live in. Today’s world is dominated by ‘doing a job’ and ‘making money.’”
 
What is your greatest individual accomplishment?
“Being commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 34 despite being repeatedly told I could never do it. I was “too old,” “too this” or “too that.” Then being the weather flight commander servicing a B-52 Bomber squadron during the Persian Gulf War. Then also being the weather flight commander of Dhahan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, immediately after the terrorists bombed the compound.”
 
When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult?
“Becoming a meteorologist.”

If I could do anything I would:
“Become a TV meteorologist here in Portales.”

Tell us about a happy time in your life:
“Pam and I would take vacations to the Black Hills of South Dakota in the mid-1980s. We had an old 1964 Chevrolet pickup truck and what I called a “Jed Clampett” camper. We had really good times touring through the Black Hills, hiking through ghost towns and camping in our hillbilly camper.”

What’s your favorite TV show?
“‘The Rifleman.’ The introduction to that series is still the best! I love when the Winchester is spitting the bullets then Lucas McCain looks you in the eye.”

What’s your favorite smell?
“The smell of rain on the High Plains.”

What would you like printed on your gravestone?
“Weatherman who lived and died by the color of the sky.”

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
“I’ve had several of these kinds of days. The weather is in the upper-70s, sunny skies, light winds, and I’m taking a leisurely stroll with my boy or grand kids along a trail or along the railroad tracks.”

What do you like about your job?
“I’ve had past jobs where I actually would craft the weather forecast and brief my Air Force customers from the White House Staff, congressional delegates to the Persian Gulf B-52 Bombers flying to nail Iraqi targets. The challenge of nailing a correct forecast is like bowling a 300 game. My current job is designing and testing weather computer software for tactical U.S. Army Weather Systems. I also trained the Third Infantry Division this past January in Kuwait prior to the U.S. led March invasion. I get great satisfaction that our Air Force Combat Weather Teams use the software I help design and test.”

Tell us how your met your spouse:
“I met Pam over a local Pennsylvania game called ‘Spoons.’ I cannot remember how the game goes, but I know I won the game because I fell in love with Pam on the spot. When she flashed her blue eyes and smiled, her dimples just melted me down to become a useless rubbery substance. Twenty-three years later, I love her more than ever.”

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
“‘The Time It Never Rained’ by Elmer Kelton.”

Whose your favorite author?
“My short list is Elmer Kelton, Eugene Cunningham, Ernest Haycox, Terry Johnston, and mystery writers, Dick Francis, J.A. Jance and Michael McGarrity. No. 1 is Elmer Kelton. He writes a Western historical fiction that brings you right into the book’s characters life and you agonize and laugh over the situation.”

— compiled by Helena Rodriguez