Shame Is A Powerful Force In Our Lives! That, or some once-a-millennium alignment of the planets hit y’all with a burst of cosmic energy that put you in a hypnotic state and forced you to take pen/keyboard in hand to write the Scribe! The mailbox spider packed his bags and left during a 10-day period at the first of September when six (that’s S-I-X!) letters arrived in a 10-day period! Add that to two PRODIGY E-mails, two in-person visits, and some news l gleaned from my company's newsletter and I’d say it’s time to turn the TV off, put the dog out and gather the family around – this should he an informative bit of reading.
Now that I’ve gotten you “up" I must reluctantly slap you down with the news of Tommy Hartwell’s death. Hugo Posey sent an eloquent letter to let us know that Tommy’s battle with Sclerodenna ended on August 17th. I expect the “Gone But Not Forgotten" page will chronicle Tommy’s exploits as a cadet, an officer, and later as a pilot for Southwest Airlines. What a superior person he was, and how he sadly leaves behind a wife (Jill) and two children (Nathan and Marissa). But it’s here, in the Class of 75's little piece of the magazine, where l thought we might conjure up all of our own personal memories of Tommy, make some reflections on our lives/families, and send along our collective thoughts and prayers to Jill and the kids. God's peace to all who share in this loss.
This Space Reserved For Clever Yet Respectful Transitional Comment…at times being the Scribe is a very difficult task!) Hugo’s letter came “dateline: The Pentagon” where he is a branch chief in SAF/IA (lnternational Affairs). His tracking down of fellow CS-40 grads found Gil Braun in F-16 requal at Luke AFB enroute to Misawa AB. In fact, Gil was about to go fly with Kevin Smith who's an instructor at Luke when he got Hugo’s call. Hugo also notes that Bill Lyerly is with AID as the State Department’s expert on communicable diseases and that, following Command and Staff School with the Marines, War College with the Army and bunch of F-I5 flying, John Saxman is 325MS commander at Tyndall AFB.
Forfeiture Of The Joys Attendant To Holy Matrimony. Richard "Dink" Yurko admitted that his first-ever letter to the Scribe was motivated not by a personal sense of shame but rather in response to Susan’s threat to “take the kids and leave" if he didn’t write me. They must have a really “joyful" marriage – it was a 12-page letter! Dink and Susan are both trial lawyers working in the civil defense arena. They have two children (Jenny and Eric) and live in Bridgeport, WV which he describes as a “suburb” (pop. 7,000) of Clarksburg (pop. 25,000) – a country boy's view of the world! I understand that Steve and Sheila Vreeland also deserve some credit for Dink’s letter. Apparently during a visit this summer, Susan and Sheila “abused and shamed” Dink and Steve into gathering info for a letter to the Scribe (why do I close my eyes and see two guys headed on to the patio with a 12-pack of beer saying, “You bet, ladies, we’ll be out quenching our thirst and discussing the accomplishments and notable recognition bestowed upon our classmates," and then, when the door closes, "or maybe we’ll just slam down this beer and swap some lies!”). In any case, Steve is at Andrews AFB flying the top brass around in the C-20. The Vreeland’s have two children (Danny and Kelly).
Other bits and pieces “from the porch": Dr. Bruce Linster (PhD in economics) is a tenured professor at USAFA. He and Debbie have two children. Kurt Bock was/is commander of the 89th AW at Andrews (rumored to have been hurried off to Air War College). Pat Ash and John Tamkun are also C-20 pilots at Andrews although John is on a four-month special assignment to Honduras. Dave Dyche was at Air War College “and is either coming from or on his way to Yokota AB." (I suspect the 12-pack was mostly history at this point!) Dave Miller is the commander of the C-130 squadron at Elmendorf AFB. Jim Rorabaugh, MD, is stationed at Keesler AFB but is acting as the chief surgical resident at Andrews AFB (?). “Jim 'left' the Air Force in 1983 for medical school under an Air Force program and is now committed to active duty through ‘96 or ’98.” (“Susan, do we have any more beer in the house?”).
Dink also talked with John Saxman (see above) at the time of Tommy Hartwell’s death. John advises that Dave Janetta is secretary of the Department of General Services for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was mentioned as a possible appointee to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy left by Senator Heinz' death a couple of years ago. Ted Hilbun is ops officer in an RC-135 Squadron at Barksdale AFB. Rob Dorsey’s commanding a transportation squadron at Spangdahlem AB. Jeff Newmann flies for Delta and for the New Orleans Air Guard. Finally (those lawyers sure know how to talk on!), Dink lets us know that Chuck Hippler and his wife, Rose-Marie, are expecting their first child in November. Chuck is a 747 flight engineer for UPS and flies C-5s out of Dover for the Reserves. Check it out! – news on 15 classmates from one letter; there must be a wife out there who can get her husband to do even better than that! Our many thanks to the Yurkos!
Remember The Term We Used For A Previously Unused Jar Of Peanut Butter? Yup, previous to this column, Roy Rice was also pure and had maintained a chaste existence in regards to communicating with his Scribe. No more. The well-traveled LtCol. Rice is now the deputy director of the Office of Aerospace Studies at Kirtland AFB and as such "have a lot of smart people who do all the work and I get all the credit! (Didn't they teach us well at the Zoo?)" He and Deborah, who he describes as the “Okie from my first assignment”(Tinker AFB), have two daughters.
Dave Blessinger is with AFOTEC at Kirtland also and Roy says they run into each other often, which is pretty much a miracle in my book given Roy's TDY history! To SPACECOM in August - Roy had dinner with Jim and Mickey Burling. Roy admits that he and Jim barely squeaked by Jim’s two boys in a "bloodthirsty game of No Run Whiffle-Ball and notes for all of us that, "40-year-olds ought to know better than to try to compete with unbridled youth!” To Langley AFB a couple of weeks ago – Roy bumped into Rod Gunther and his family at a restaurant and learned that they had just arrived from Europe. Rod's going to be working in Requirements at Air Combat Command. On a previous trip to Norfolk – Roy ran into Bob Marr; was so flabbergasted at Bob’s appearance, “has not aged one day since 4 June 75” that he failed to mention what Bob is doing. To the Pentagon in July – Roy saw Bob Gambrell who was “about to finish his sentence there and be allowed to escape to points unknown." Roy also remembered seeing Chris Soto at the Pentagon about a year ago where he was working USAF/TE.
Occasionally, Roy goes home to read the mail and answer the phone, from which he gathered the following nuggets. Steve and Joey Brown are at Kadena AB where Steve is commander of the 12th Fighter Squadron. Bruce Fritzsche is with the Athletic Department at USAFA. Dan Burkett finished his Joint Staff assignment and is on his way to the F-16 SPO at Wright-Patterson AFB. Bob Akers is “liaising" (l think Roy invented that word) with the friendly folks on Capitol Hill. Mike Murdoch is now the commander of the 34th Combat Airlift Training Squadron at Little Rock AFB. Ralph Rhye, wife, and two children returned from Germany this summer and he is now the base civil engineer at Columbus AFB; “there is no one in the Air Force who can un-stop a toilet like Ralph... when he is not fishing!" (Only a former roommate would speak so fondly of a classmate.)
Another Case Of The 18-Year Itch. The third “I've never done this before!" letter comes from Mike Meraviglia who is an MD-80 captain with American Airlines and living in Austin, TX. His wife, Marty, teaches nursing at UT Austin and they have four children. I wonder if anyone in the class can match the accomplishment Mike noted next to his return address: “since 1978!" Mike let us know that Ben Phillips is also flying for American but out of Chicago. Mike (who lives over 1,100 miles from me) also advises that John Fritz is flying for America West and living in the Phoenix area (a very few miles from me). John and Karen had a baby boy in August. The last time Mike heard from Duane Lodrige (which is certainly more recently than the Scribe has!) he was a captain with U.S. Air living in Annapolis, MD.
Unfortunately It Didn’t Include A Pizza! A quick note, scrawled on a Randolph AFB MWRS Pizza and Deli note pad by Mark Volcheff, showed up yesterday. You'll recall that when we last heard from Mark (winter column) he was getting ready to go off to Air War College but, whoa, what does Randolph AFB have to do with AWC? Nothing! Mark's assignment got changed so that he is now the operations group commander at Altus AFB and, as such, he has to go down to HQ AETC now and then. He’s in charge of all flying training and maintenance for C-5/C-141 aircrew training and next year will get to move all of the KC-135 training in from Castle AFB and start setting up the C-17 schools also. Chip Diehl recently came through Altus to get requaled in the C-141 on his way to McGuire AFB where he’ll be the ops group commander.
Back To the Shame Thing. I sent a card to Dave Wallace at Air War College threatening to conspicuously join his wife for lunch at the Hill AFB O'Club during my next reserve trip if he didn’t write with some word of classmates at the “Big Boys" School. Worked like a champ – he sent his reply "Special Delivery!" He says that the ’75 crowd makes up over five percent of the AWC Class of '94 including Dave, Kurt Bock, John Charlton. Jim Corrigan, Gary Craig, Bill Dalson, Andy Dichter, Steve Duresky, Dave Ehrhart, Steve Farnham, Bob Lynn, Phil Martin, Clay McFarland, and Carl VanPelt. I'm sure Dave would be disappointed if I didn’t pass on his comment on the demanding AWC curriculum: “We are required to play golf on Wednesdays!" Just don't mention that to me next April 15th.
Even The Old Electronic Mailbox Spider Is Jumping! Got two more first-time writers over the PRODIGY E-mail system. Chuck Schmitz is a full-timer with the Ohio ANG, navigating KC-135s and doing time in Plans and Intel. He and Gloria live near Columbus and have two sons. In Chuck’s words, “What a spread, but it does provide an instant baby-sitter." His classmate update tells us that Chuck McLucas is flying for Northwest Airlines and that Mike Ruth is at NORAD.
Second dose of electrons came from Rod Kallman who wanted to correct the passed-down news from the last column suggesting that he is at ACC. He was at ACC, he’s now commander of the 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, NV. He “only” gets to strap on F-16s but has the interesting job of leading a squadron that flies F-4Gs, A-10s, F-15s, F-15Es, and F-16s. He and Vicki have three children. Rod says the whole family is enjoying that “down-home family atmosphere of Las Vegas." Rod, go to 100 percent – your brain's starting to gray out! Also at Nellis: Doug Harrison who’s in Wing Scheduling and (as rumored in last Winter’s column) Bentley Rayburn who is commandant of the Weapons School.
Hey, I Know That Name! While perusing the McDonnell Douglas Aerospace-East monthly newsletter l noted an article commending 53rd Fighter Squadron (Bitburg AB) and their commander. LtCol Robert Turner on 80,000 accident-free flying hours. That milestone has been reached by only three other squadrons in the long history of the Eagle! Congratulations Bob!
I'm confident that all three of the F-15 squadrons at Langley AFB will be gaining similarly positive recognition in the near future. This prediction is based on information that Kent Traylor brought with him on a quick overnight stop at Luke in May. Proud to say that 67 percent of the squadron bosses jobs in the 1FW are held by our classmates: Mark Jefferson is commanding the 27FS, Mike Straight has the 94FS, Kent is Mike’s ops officer, and Jim Hartney has the Ops job in the 71FS.
A Chapter From My Soon-To-Be-Released Book “Risk With Wealth!” lf the Hackett family ever wanders up to the aforementioned Land of the Quick Buck you can rest assured that Debby will be placing all the bets. This conclusion is based on what could have been a wonderful evening we spent with Brian Gomes at the dog track here in Phoenix a couple of months ago. Brian and his (USAFR KC-10) copilot were in town preparing to do a fighter drag to Maple Flag for the folks out at Luke when we came up with this “great” entertainment idea. Through 10 races the boys scrutinized the race form for facts and figures, carefully checking notes and placing “Box Quinella" bets on only the most worthy animals while Debby, her mom and Tiffany made Place/Show bets on “the one with the cutest name" and/or “the one that weighted the least." You guessed it, we got shut out and the ladies paid for dinner! Looking at all of the ripped up losing tickets Brian and I couldn't help but realize that it was much, much later than we had thought.