August 27, 2003
Just call him Lt. Col. Fritters (USAF-Ret.)
By TOM WILLIAMS
It was almost impossible to be around Ocean City High School sports in the mid-1970s and not know
“Fritters”. His real name was Ken Farrell, but a lot the people who knew him probably didn’t even know
that. And nobody, including Farrell himself, knows where the nickname came from.
Fritters played first doubles on Phil Birnbaum’s varsity tennis team, which won a third straight South
Jersey championship in his senior year, led by Don Barton, the OCHS Player of the Century. Those three
teams are, incidentally, the only three South Jersey titlists that OCHS boys tennis has ever produced. The
1976 team was selected as the Best of the Century in OCHS tennis.
Farrell was also the manager of Jack Boyd’s boys basketball team and active in the stage crew, the band
and the choir. He even did some impressive sports reporting.
Fritters was such an essential part of OCHS that coaches would come to him to get keys to open locker
rooms or the gym. It was a different era, to be sure, one in which a school could place its complete trust in
a 17-year old boy.
But it was obvious even then that Fritters would become a success. He was talented, versatile and he lived
life to the fullest, getting involved in everything that interested him.
Whatever happened to the guy?
Well, he just retired. That’s right, Fritters is now retired, at least from his position in the United States Air
Force. In keeping with what it said in his senior yearbook (“plans to be an Air Force officer”), Farrell went
on to The Citadel and then into the Air Force. But, like his experiences as a high school student, he didn’t
just become an Air Force officer. He became an essential one.
After The Citadel and Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Training at Vandenberg Air Force Base
(AFB) in California, he was selected to be an instructor for the 351st Strategic Missile Wing at Whiteman
AFB in Missouri. While at Whiteman, he earned a Masters of Science degree from Central Missouri State
University. At Eglin AFB in Florida, he earned a Masters of Public Administration (Acquisition) from the
University of West Florida.
“During my first tour at Eglin,” Farrell said, “I was in charge of developing, producing and fielding a new
system that fighter pilots use to practice air-to-air gunnery training, commonly known as dog-fighting. I was
invited over to the initial activation and they subsequently took me up in an F-15 that was acting as the
shooter aircraft against the target we had developed. I got to spend 90 minutes going through simulated
combat shooting against the target.”
The degree at Eglin led him in 1990 to Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio and the B-2 System Program office.
In 1994, he was assigned to the Pentagon. While at the Pentagon, he was selected for and graduated from
Defense Systems Management College.
“While assigned to the Pentagon as a Major working B-2 Bomber related issues,” he said, “I was asked to
help develop a strategy to get a near precision weapon on the B-2 as soon as possible. During a test
mission in Nevada in October 1996, three B-2s destroyed 16 targets with 16 bombs using this system -
vividly demonstrating the ability for individual aircraft to engage and destroy multiple targets on a single
pass. What made this truly remarkable was it was a relatively cheap modification to existing bomb
inventory and was several years ahead of what is now considered the pre-eminent precision weapon.”
In 1997, Farrell was assigned to the F-15 program office at Robins AFB in Georgia where he handled F-15
sales to the Government of Israel as well as support of F-15s already procured by the Government of
Saudi Arabia. He served in that capacity until July of 2000.
“I oversaw all of the F-15 work involving the Government of Israel,” Farrell explained. “I was one of a very
select few US Military personnel personally invited by the Israeli Air Force Chief of Staff (their highest
ranking Air Force officer) to attend the delivery of their first F-15s at their Air Force installation located in
Most recently, he was assigned to the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air (AMRAAM) program. “I was
asked to do what is considered the toughest thing to do in my career field - to standup a new organization
and start a new program. I had to standup and lead a joint 100-person Air Force, Navy and contractor team
in the execution of a $1.5 billion development and procurement effort for a highly classified weapon system
that will provide significant operational and survivability lift to our Air Force and Navy war-fighters well into
Some of that stuff is a little technical, to be sure, but you get the idea. Fritters became almost as
irreplaceable to the Air Force as he was to Ocean City High School. Along the way, he received numerous
awards, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air
Force Achievement Award. He and his wife, Donna, have been married for the past 21 years and have
three children, Katherine (15), Rachael (11), and Stephen (9).
Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Farrell was officially retired from the Air Force in a ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base
on July 1st. He immediately stepped into a civilian position in an industry that supports and works with the
Fritters, who lived just a block away from Ocean City High School, wanted to make a difference in the
school during his four years. He also wanted to make a difference in the Air Force.
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