War veteran delves into GFPS with substitute teaching

Amidst the seemingly chaotic clutter of guns and antiques, there was but one man who knew exactly where everything was and where it came from; Scott Simon, otherwise known as Mr. Simon, has spent nearly his entire life working as a teacher to educate America’s youth. Even today Simon fills his spare time as a substitute.

“I cannot stand to sit around all day,” he said.

Simon was born in 1938 in McCook, Neb., a town of less than 1,000 inhabitants. His mother passed away before he turned one, leaving his father to take care of both him and his older brother, Brett. To provide for them, Simon’s father taught school and coached sports from 1938-1940.

When World War II broke out, his father, who was enlisted in the Army Air Corps, was reassigned to Headland, Ala. Both Simon and his brother worked on their grandfather’s farm during the war.

“I remember the horse pulling the wagon and grandpa snapping the corn. I’d follow grandpa up and down the rows of corn,” Simon said. “He would sharpen his sickle with a red brick.”

Simon said he learned everything he needed to know in life from his father.

“Back then you had to memorize things. You didn’t have the Internet to look them up.” He never drank, either. “That’s why I will never get drunk. I have to be ready to do my duty,” he said.

His high school years were spent in Gothenburg, Neb., playing sports such as football, basketball, and track.

After high school Simon attended the University of Nebraska for five years majoring in electrical engineering, geology, and zoology.

“They were hard on us back then. We had to memorize everything,” he said.

Simon graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1963 and immediately joined the Air Force. He finished sixth in his class of 135 students in flight school.

“Flying was always easy for me,” he said.

He flew several aircraft such as the B-47 Stratojet, the KC-135 Stratotanker, and the F-15 in his two Vietnamese tour of duties.

“Vietnam was hot, sweaty and humid. It was always wet, and it stunk. Things were always rotting. What I remember most is seeing the bomb craters from overhead. I’ll never forget that,” he said.

Simon described himself and his crew as a well-oiled machine; they came back from every single mission unscathed.

“The best teamwork comes from working with the same people. Our boom operator had a dirty mouth, but our navigators were always great,” he said.

His life changed forever one night in August of 1966 at Bergstrom AFB in Texas. Simon said he noticed a girl sitting at a table with an older, grey-haired man. He wrote a note asking her to dance and gave it to the waitress to deliver it. Simon’s future wife, Karen, took notice of the gesture and accepted.

“I just wanted to irritate the grey-haired guy she was with. It turned out to be her father,” Simon said.

A few months later the two of them we’re married in Austin, Tex. A month later Simon got the call for his first tour of duty in Vietnam.

“We didn’t even have time for a honeymoon,” he said.

The newly married couple found time for the honeymoon immediately after Simon’s first tour. The Simons went to New Orleans to celebrate their marriage; a month after that Simon was sent back to Vietnam for his second tour.

He returned to the United States in March 1969. Upon returning, Simon and his wife decided to start a family, forcing Simon out of the active duty military.

He was kept in South Dakota for six months as active duty, but luckily was never deployed again.

“A major once told me to do what you want; the only thing is, you can never look back,” he said.

Simon left military service just months away from being promoted to major. In Dallas, Simon found a job as a teacher in 1969. Although he’s been teaching since then, he said he didn’t like Dallas.

When Great Falls Public Schools called Simon in June 1994 offering a job teaching shop he quickly accepted.

Simon retired from full time teaching in 2010, but he has continued to work as a substitute teacher.

Building cannons and muzzle-loading rifles are two of Simon’s favorite activities. If you want to know anything about muzzleloaders or ballistics just ask Simon. He has been studying ballistics for close to 40 years and is an avid gun enthusiast.

Above all, Simon said he loves God, his family, and his country.

“We were a Judeo-Christian free enterprise country where people come to build a better life,” he said.

Simon’s love for his country is evident at first sight with his U.S. belt buckle and strong opinions on the country as a whole.

He sums up the United States with: “Have you ever tried to crack an American Black Walnut? No way, they’re tough. You can crack an English Walnut but not an American. The USA is the greatest country in the world. If you don’t think so, try living somewhere else and see if you like it more.”