Turbomachinery expert endows Texas A&M scholarship in memory of Vietnam veteran

Turbomachinery expert Dara Childs and his wife, Susan, have endowed a Texas A&M University scholarship in memory of his brother who died during the Vietnam War.The Vandiver L. Childs III, Captain USAF, Memorial Scholarship was established with a $25,000 gift to the Texas A&M Foundation. Each year's recipient will be the junior student making the top grade in MEEN 363, Dynamics and Vibrations.Vandiver L. Childs III died in 1967 during Operation Enterprise in South Vietnam."I thank Dara and Susan Childs for choosing to honor his brother's memory with this scholarship. Dr. Childs has a long history of teaching Dynamics and Vibrations, a class that all mechanical engineering majors take, and his textbook is used in the course. Recognizing the top student in this class each year will be one way to motivate students to pursue a career in this area in which Dr. Childs has worked for nearly four decades," said Dennis O'Neal, mechanical engineering department head and holder of the Holdredge/Paul Professorship.Vandiver Childs was 29 and had served six years in the U.S. Air Force at the time of his death in April 1967. He was a pilot with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force.Born in Ethel, Ark., Childs was the eldest of five children. He spent his childhood in Louisiana and earned the Eagle Scout medal with Bronze Palm. His father's career in wildlife management took the family to Paris, Tenn., during his junior year in high school. A standout lineman for Grove High School, Childs had his choice of scholarship offers and played football for Oklahoma State University, winning All-American honorable mention.After graduation in 1959 with a degree in forestry, Childs joined the National Guard before a transfer to the Air Force. As a B52 electronic warfare officer at Altus Air Force Base (AFB) in Oklahoma, he was part of the "best bomber crew in the entire Air Force," bragging rights earned after rigorous competition. He was first in his pilot training class at Luke AFB in Phoenix, Ariz.Childs chose to fly the single-seat F100 Super Sabre, saying he did not want to be responsible for another man's life. He was a passenger on the reconnaissance helicopter shot down by enemy fire at Doi Ma Creek in Quang Ngai Province during Operation Enterprise, two months into his South Vietnam tour of duty.He was survived by his wife, Olga, and their children: son Vandiver and daughter Melanie."I have a great affection for Texas A&M University, the mechanical engineering department and Aggie students. This scholarship lets me help Aggie students while remembering my older brother," Dara Childs said.The younger Childs followed his brother to Oklahoma State University and earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering. He was working on his Ph.D. in engineering mechanics at the University of Texas in 1967 when his brother was killed.At Texas A&M, Dara Childs holds the Leland T. Jordan Chair in Mechanical Engineering and has been director of the internationally acclaimed Turbomachinery Laboratory for more than 25 years. He is a Fellow of ASME and the recipient of its Henry R. Worthington Medal. His expertise focuses on dynamics and vibrations, dynamics of rotating machinery, and testing to verify dynamics models including fluid-structure interaction forces in rotordynamics.The Vandiver L. Childs III, Captain USAF, Memorial Scholarship will receive continuing funding through sales of his book, Turbomachinery Rotordynamics: Phenomena, Modeling, and Analysis.