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Roland began his service in the Navy through an ROTC scholarship. He therefore spent his college summer breaks in training, which included voyages on a destroyer escort and on the battleship USS Missouri. Upon graduation, he was commissioned and began his training as a naval aviator, first at Pensacola, Florida, where he completed basic flight school, and then in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he trained to fly jet fighters off of carriers.
After earning his wings in 1956, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 173, the "Jesters," based at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. He flew the Grumman FJ-3 "Fury," a notoriously cranky aircraft. As an early jet fighter, it did not have a pressurized cabin. As a consequence, Roland, like many other pilots of the era, got a case decompression sickness (the "bends"), which probably caused many of the joint disorders he began to experience as early as his forties.
While he did not see active service in Korea, he was on duty early in the Cold War, including on the USS Forrestal, which was sent to the eastern Atlantic during the Suez Crisis.
Notice how he explains indirectly what he could not say explicitly: his reference to the mange-afflicted lion is a reference to England, one of the powers that precipitated the crisis. His disgust mirrored that of the U.S. government, which felt that Britain and France needed to acknowledge their weakened world role, and needed to keep focused on the communist threat rather than on bolstering their collapsing empires.
After completing law school in 1961, Roland worked as a clerk for Federal Appeals Court Judge Jean Sala Breitenstein. He then joined the Denver-based law firm of Winner, Berg, and Martin. While with that firm, he worked on the right-of-way for Dillon Reservoir and for the Roberts tunnel, which carried water from the west-slope reservoir to the east slope of the Rockies. He also served on the Denver Sewer Board.
In short order, he earned a partnership in the firm, but, following his independent streak, he left the partnership for an individual practice, in which he focused mainly on housing law. He served as counsel to the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and for the newly formed Department of Housing and Urban Development, specifically on their Model Cities project.
At various points in his private practice in Colorado, he was assigned to serve as a public defender for a number of clients, and he also worked briefly as a deputy district attorney for Jefferson County.
Administrator for HUD
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