It just struck me that my dad was born in 1915, which is almost 100 years ago. He passed just after Christmas 2000 (we all got to see the new millennium in together) -- he was 84 and I was 1/2 his age at 42, which seemed sort of symbolic, which is why I left my job and formed my own company with a couple of friends.
I'm lucky to still have my father around. He was too young for WWII. He did his time as a cold warrior in the 50's and 60's in the Army Security Agency. He described one of his duties as "dressing up in East German workers gear, packing a '45, and slipping across the border" [going East]. He was doing electronics things - tapping phone lines and such.
When the Berlin wall went up, he was in friendly territory on communications duty. He received the first communications from Berlin about the wall going up. After decoding the messages, he would encrypt them again with different keys for transmission to the Pentagon and, in this case, the White house. He was the first military or government person outside of Berlin to know about the wall going up.
A bunch of people were on leave when it happened. He said he had to stay up, awake, and on duty for five days straight (as in 24 hours awake for five days solid). When I was quite a bit younger than I am now, I tried to bead his record but only made it four days.
He ended up a teacher rather than an engineer, and I've never met a more resourceful and clever person than him, nor anyone with more integrity. He totally had the knack and passed, at least some of it, down to me.