As of this writing, Christmas has just passed by here in the arctic Midwest. And I thought I left the sub-zero temperatures behind me in northern Maine–wrongo moosebreath! Well, in spite of the cold, it’s been a very busy and happy time of year. And best of all, Santa brought me a very timely present–a pack of letters to share with you.
Grenada Grunts: Probably the most interesting news of all came from Dave and Sandy Beatty. ’75 must have won the top Air Force award for combat action in Grenada. Steve Groathouse jumped (combat, parachute type) into action with the Rangers on the initial assault. He was soon followed by Bob Awtrey who landed on the first C-141 as an ALO for the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, and Bill “Wad” Stephan, an ALO for the 3rd Brigade. Unfortunately, two days after his arrival, Bob had to head home with Purple Heart in hand; however he was replaced by Dave Beatty. Dave says AK-47 rounds make a peculiar sound, somewhat (but not quite) reminiscent of the notes in Jingle Bells. Thankfully, it appears that our combat veterans were successful and we didn’t lose anyone.
Jeff and Debby Hackett also took time to write and fill us in on the happenings in sunny Tempe. Jeff spends most of his time working as a program engineer for Garrett. His main project is the ADATS missile program, a surface-to-air type, which raised a few questions in my mind about his loyalty to those of us still slipping the surly bonds. However, my fears were allayed when I learned he still keeps his Air Force ties as a USAFA/ROTC liaison officer (Reserves). The two women in Jeff’s life also appear to be doing quite well. His wife, Debbie, is climbing up the corporate ladder at Bullock’s, an exclusive department store in Scottsdale’ and their daughter, Tiffany, sounds so adorable she must have mom and dad wrapped around her little finger by now. To close things out, Jeff passed on some late-breaking news about a few other folks spread around the globe. Chuck Holland is now married (Kimberly) and stationed in Germany as an exec to a SAC general (7th Air Division CC, I think). Brian and Sandy Gomes are still at Mather (T-43s) and they are expecting a visit from the stork very soon. Wayne Willis also has a bambino on the way this spring (his fourth). He’s passing away the time until then flying ADTAC F-15s at Langley. Rich and Mary Chanick continue to astound the business world with their successful Phoenix corporation. And finally, Kent and Carol Traylor will be coming back to the States this spring after three years in Okinawa (F-15s).
Our long distance news comes from Jim and Naomi Marshall. They’re still living the good life in an old-world, thatched cottage in England. Jim’s flying commitments occasionally force him to go TDY to many unpleasant locations such as Italy, Germany, and Oslo, Norway (where he tried his best to avoid the nude beaches–riiiight!). However, Jim and Naomi still found time to increase the size of their family. Their most recent arrival, Colin Patrick is vying with their daughter, Sarah for most lovable child award in the Marshall household. The photo I’ve included below will probably embarrass them, but why not.
Jim and Naomi also sent words on a few more of our number. Ron and Susie Doeppner are living in Mesa, AZ, and have two daughters, Kelly and Sarah. Tom and Linda Smura are masquerading as civilians in Webster, NJ, and apparently enjoying it–they now have five little ones running about. Lamar and Donna Lewis and their three sons, Scott, Kyle, and Daniel, are calling Altus home now. And Chris and Barb Fillar, together with their kids, Jeffrey and Amy, are enjoying New Jersey life at Mcguire.
Live Appearances: Every now and then it’s nice to actually see some of the old USAFA crowd. Well, I suppose I finally got my fair share of in-person visits during the past few months. I bribed Jed Vanden Dries into coming up and amazing the cadets in my squadron with tales of the world’s greatest F-15 pilot. Since that also happened to be the last home football weekend at USAFA, we decided to take a break from our hard work and watch the Falcons demolish Hawaii. Little did we realize that halftime was to bring us not only another stellar performance by the Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps, but also a visit from that arch-fiend found at all football stadiums–the klutz who trips and falls flat across you while trying to get back to his seat. Just as I was making a solemn oath to never, ever watch another Chevy Chase movie, I looked up and got the surprise of the day. The stadium tumbler was none other than always well coordinated (?) Mike “Fig” McClendon. Mike had come back on a sponsor trip to another one of the squadrons in the wing. To bring you up to date on him, he and Adrienne are stationed at Eglin, and Mike is an RF-4/A-10 test pilot. My visitor list was filled out when Bentley and Debbie Rayburn were able to stop by for an evening. They are still stationed at Hill and claimed to be visiting their mountain hideaway here in Colorado. But you and I know better–they were embarrassed into coming by that earth-shaking news I released in the last edition. Seriously, they really looked great, and I’m convinced they haven’t aged a single day since graduation.
Whatever Happened To…We struck gold in this department over the past few months. Not only did we learn the whereabouts of several lost (not any more) sheep, but some of them even wrote personally. Mike and Ann Gill fall into that category. They’re at Nellis now with the 4450th TFG. While there (about a year now) they’ve run into several people. Carol and Billy Thompson have joined them at Nellis. They have two children, Lance and Lindsey, and Billy is flying the F-16. The Gills’ other contacts include John Wissman at Mather, and Bruce Fritzsche who’s due for a Red Flag visit soon. Bruce is now flying the F-106 at Minot.
Bob Miglin also ended his exile and brought us up to date. He spent 2 ½ years in F-111Es at RAF Upper Heyford with the NATO Tigers of the 79th TFS before returning a little over a year ago to join the AFIT crowd. Just after that he had someone join him when he was married to Susie, a gal whom I’m sure is too good for him. Bob came up with a unique way of making sure he remembers his anniversary–they got married on New Year’s Day, ’83. They should be leaving Wright-Pat this March and the current betting line says they’ll wind up at Eglin. Bob also located another “What Ever Happened To” star. Steve Tibbitts graduated from Tulane and is now Dr. Tibbitts. He married Mrs. Dr. Capt. Tibbitts a few years back and the happy couple is now stationed somewhere in Texas. Well, partially located is better than completely lost. Maybe we’ll get more clues in the next few months.
The final letter in this area came from Terri Meyer Jackson, an ’80 grad at Seymour Johnson. She located Marinus Bosma (or Abdul Ben Bosma, as he’s now called) and I’m extremely grateful to her. It seems Bos’ just left the 336TFS at Shady J for a go at civilian life. He’s alive, well, married with two kids, and is now flying A-7s for the Ohio ANG.
Since we’ve located a few folks, I’ll add a couple new names to the list. I’ve had a request from the field to locate Dale Hanner, Chris Soto, Joe Siniscalchi, and Duke Duhachek. Send out the bloodhounds!
Movers And Shakers: The winter season brought a whole stack of change-of-address cards, confirming that our class is being spread more and more to the four corners of the globe. Since I’ve taken up so much already, I’ll hold it down in this area. Those listing locations only are: Al Green to Holloman; John and Rebecca Owens to Olympia, WA; Dave Defoliart to Champaign, IL; Mark Jefferson to Yorktown, VA; Tom Summers to Wayne, PA; Martin Stytz and Mike Reese here to the Springs; Bill Davis to Phoenix, and Walter Burns to Alconbury. Those sending a little extra information: Jim Marburger is now a student at the University of Texas Law School in Austin; Steve Pitotti is an A-10/F-4E test pilot at Niceville Air Patch; Joe Benner is an aircraft maintenance officer at Fairchild; John Fouts just arrived at Shaw and is flying the O-2; and Jeff Graves is working for the FAA as an air traffic controller in Columbus, OH. Finally, our “Welcome Back to Civilization” award goes to Tom Knabel who returned from one year as the chief, OB-GYN Services at the USAF Hospital in Incirlik, Turkey. He now calls Luke home.
That’s all for now. Keep your spirits up until the summer fun begins again. Writing a few cards or letters will help the Dark Ages speed by. Aloha!