A Day Late And…Another Day Late! So much for the New Year’s resolution to be an on-time Scribe. Lots of “good” reason – still very busy at work, weather in Arizona has been too wonderful to be inside, still in a funk about the San Francisco Bowl, and so forth. But that’s akin to explaining how you would have max’d the PFT except for all the working out nonsense.
First, thanks to all of you who sent good wishes on the "early" wedding; everything went splendidly and we're just enjoying every day and everything – together! Publication and mailing schedule may make it a moot point but I’ll nonetheless extend a class-wide invitation to our purposely belated reception (AKA “the Big A__ Party”) – if you’re going to be in Phoenix area on 22 March call me for directions and details.
Christmas Mailbag. You have to love some folks’ allegiance to tradition (even if it’s a sharp-stick-in-the-eye reminder that I haven’t sent cards since Bush became president – the father!). Both Kent Traylor and Dale Meyerrose (actually I suspect it was Carole and Linda) sent cards from the 99th First Flight Ball in North Carolina. I understand they were there with Phil and Chris Pearce (who didn’t send a card but get a mention because they call/email fairly regularly). Chuck and Roxanne Holland’s Holiday letter came all the way from Bolivia – between business and pleasure there’s been quite the world travelers; hither and thon in South America and joined up with the whole Holland plan to celebrate Ed and Bonnie’s (Chuck’s parents) 50th wedding anniversary for two weeks in Ireland. Chuck and Roxanne are hoping to come back to Maxwell in the fall. Kids in high school, kids in college, and 737ss were the common theme in Mark/Lucy Donnelly’s and Scott/Jan Smith’s greetings. The Donnelly’s are still in Maryland, daughter in high school, son Scott at Penn State, Mark with Southwest out of BWI. Smith’s in Virginia, Scott II in high school, Jenny at George Mason, Scott with Delta out of JFK. Fifth and final USPS Christmas card came from the reliable Danny Brooks; he and Leslie are a bit further down the child-rearing path as Becky graduated from Abilene Christian University last summer. At this point Becky’s back home in Knoxville, TN and has joined Leslie in the teaching profession and (no surprise) Dennis remains the “neighborhood computer guru” (could have used to sell last month why attempted to use my computer with Chris’s).
Falcon Backers Home And Away. Unfortunately I was unable to catch any USAFA football games in person this year. Apparently I'm not only missed some great gridiron action – I failed to catch some notable “Best Alive” tailgating. Jim Burling orchestrated several get-togethers for home games; from what I’ve seen/heard a good time was had by all. Photo we are including includes: from left in the front row: Colletti, Arthur, Hente, Webber, Wells (love that uniform!), Dye and Rosebush. Back row: Kallman, Schuman, Cross, Barrowclough, Bryant, Fraser, Burling, Black, Adams and O’Shea. And Jim Carlson provided proof that even on foreign ground our Class colors were flown!
In addition to those caught on film, classmates Miglin, Piotter, Wojcicki, Meteer, Della Pia, Snelgrove, Hente, Wells and DeSisto were at the game/festivities.
Collective Class Kudos. AOG folks gave me a heads-up to Air Force Association website announcement that Duane Jones was 2002 recipient of the Thomas P. Gerrity award which recognizes outstanding contributions in logistics.
Mentioned in last column that Leon Smith-Harrison was returning to the uniformed fold; here’s the proof! It will be hard to tell in the small-sized black-and-white reproduction in the magazine, but I’m thinking they issued Bentley some gray hair with that second star. In any case, welcome back Leon! At the other end of the spectrum we find Steve Pitotti who retired at the end of November; no word on what he and Sarah are planning. And Hugh Gordon retired “in place” (will be working at the same desk/job as a civilian) at the first of the year.
The Other Commissioning Program. Received a short note from old friend Dave Fleming to let me know that he and Debbie have returned from NATO HQ in Brussels and taken up residence at Maxwell where Dave is AFROTC/DO. During a national convention last fall, he confirmed at least 10 classmates who are serving as professors of aerospace studies; Mac Macintosh (Loyola), Woody Woodburn (Oklahoma State), Mark Fry (Colorado State), Mike Coman (Embry-Riddle Daytona), Bob Gambrell (Alabama), Dave Dyche (Arizona), Kurt Bach (Illinois), John Gaughan (Michigan), Bob Lynn (VMI), and Barry Abbott (San Diego State). [Hoping one of you can resend group photo not embedded in MS word document].
Also got a note from Dean Spraggins remains in Rapid City, SD. Now working for "one of the several gun shop/gun parts companies that have moved out of California for the friendlier (legal) climate of South Dakota.” I'm sure Dean had city-folk like me in mind when he wrote that, "We're not quite ready to raise cattle or horses, but many of our neighbors do and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the critters (plus the wildlife) each day as we drive 40-plus miles to work. We don’t commute, we treat ourselves to embracing country drives. The only downside is the ever-present risk of another deer strike.”
More Good News On The Medical Front. Kelly Bishop wrote to let us know he’s settled in as a T-38C sim instructor at Moody AFB (program that replaced Fighter Lead-In at Holloman AFB). Says he likes the fact that there is no snow there in Georgia but more importantly he’s loving the fact that latest report from his neuro-oncologist determined he’s as close to healthy as he (the doctor) has ever seen for someone with Kelly’s diagnosis… chemo treatment results were "off the scale" as far as the bell curve goes (Kelly said it was very nice to hear about the curve again).
Don’t Tell Them I Said You Could Claim All Of This On Your Return. For those of us that are participating, wanted to pass along the good news that class campaign has today collected almost $150K in one time gifts, pledge payments, and (corporate) matching donations. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go – contact the AOG to start/increase your giving.
And don’t forget to send your news and photo “donations” to me before the next deadline (late March); Spring Training and the Big A__ party will undoubtedly make it later than I thought.
Hello Classmates! Jim Burling here, pinch hitting for Jeff Hackett on this quarterly input for Checkpoints. So, bear with me, as Lucky Corrigan and Brian Duffy know I was never a very good hitter. Actually, Jeff has been swamped with work and planning all the details with his wife (Chris) for their belated wedding reception. I’m sure he will have a picture of this get together for the next Checkpoints issue. Here’s the news:
In light of the Academy’s approaching 50th anniversary, we are seeking inputs on squadron patches and ask that if any classmates know of the creation, history and significance of their squadron patch, the information should be sent to Duane Reed at the Cadet Library.
D.C. Notes: Dan McCorry organized the 3rd annual COISA (Curt Osterheld Is Still Alive) party. Held Feb 21 at Chevy’s Arlington, VA. This annual D.C. event is growing in popularity with another good turnout of ’75 classmates. As good time was had by all…especially Curt! Jim Carlson was in Tel Aviv on business for an extended period. Not the safest place to be, even as an “accidental tourist.” But he made it through and said it was an enjoyable experience, even though he was constrained to a six-by-two block area of the city. He claims to have some interesting stories that can only be told over a beer (or ten)! Mike Anderson made an easy transition from the USAF’s Legislative Liaison Office to Congressman Dan Young’s Chief of Staff in the D.C. area. Mike retired on January 27 and with four classmates in attendance. (See photo). Mike also included a photo of his retirement gift (to himself) – a brand new maroon Corvette! Ironic that another D.C. retiree, Steve Wojcicki, also purchased a maroon ‘Vette to celebrate his retirement! Watch for these two cruising the Beltway. Space won’t let me include both photos, but they both look like they could jump in their cadet uniforms and head down I-25 for pizza at “G’s”! Jim Hartney has also returned to the D.C. area with a job near Ft Meade.
Other Mailbag Items: Bob (Linda) Orwig wrote from the mountains of North Georgia where he teaches at North Georgia College and State University in the field of Operations Management. They love it all: location, job, school, etc. and say their doors are always open. Scott (Janet) Smith provided an “it’s a small world” story and photo with Chumley (a.k.a. Stan) Collins (CS-30), Bob Morris (CS-09), and myself at lovely Costa Mayo, Mexico. “Chum and I knew we were on the cruise ship together, but both of us were totally unaware that Bob was onboard until I spotted his ‘75er hat at the ship’s shops.” Phil (Chris) Pearce provided photos of classmates attending the First Flight Ball held near Kitty Hawk in December.
Bentley (Debbi) Rayburn sent a belated Christmas card and note with a beautiful family photo taken at their daughter’s wedding. Bentley is commander of the Air War College at Maxwell AFB. Another Alabaman is battle 1-3 at this time. Jim Corrigan, avid racquet-baller, hunter, golfer and sometimes Delta pilot, won the Alabama State Racquetball Over 40 title and was runner-up in the Open competition. His biggest loss occurred in January with The Great Barn Fire of ’03 when he lost his barn housing horses, tools, tractor and fishing gear. As with all crises, Jim was away on a trip, but quick thinking by Kim saved the horses! Stay tuned for a request to help rebuild the barn! Dr. Pete (Cindy) Krough has settled in south Denver where he is working for Kaiser-Permanente. We were able to attend some football games together last fall, but still haven’t made it up to the slopes for skiing, yet.
Colorado ‘75ers held a Best Alive Tailgate prior to the Wing Open Boxing Championships in March. The Wing Open tradition, still orchestrated by the cdets as a fundraiser for a deserving charity. In attendance were Dale and Linda Meyerrose, Dick and Michele Webber, Jim Eken and son Zach, Larry Fariss, JD Barrowclough, Mike Goyden, and myself. Scott Hente also attended the tailgate to distribute campaign buttons. Scott is running for Colorado Springs city Council in District #1. We wish him well as he would be a great councilman. (Update as of April 2, HE WON! Congrats, Scott!) Mike Goyden also had some good news to pass on. He was honored by the National Federation of State High School Associations as the 2002 Southwest Sectional Coach of the Year for Boys Soccer. As a sectional winner, Mike is automatically a finalist for national coach of the year. Finally, Jim Eken also had good news in that he had been named President of Keller Homes in Colorado Springs.
As I write this article, there are a number of significant events affecting out nation, Air Force and Academy. The sexual assault scandal at the Academy is under investigation at this time. Key leaders have already been replaced and Secretary Roche and Chief of Staff Jumper are personally engaged and have issued their “Agenda for Change.” This weekend, even CNN ran a brief story about the “Bring Me Men” sign being removed. This was a big issue a few years ago, but now seems trivial. This scandal has implications far beyond honor and drug scandals of the past. I am sure you have received letters and/or emails from the AOG regarding this situation. I ask you to stay informed on events. Don’t let the rumor mill get out of hand. For the latest information, contact the AOG website. This site posts the latest news regarding all Academy events. We must help re-establish the credibility of our great institution.
We are also engaged in operation Iraqi Freedom. (Today is day 11). I know many of you are directly supporting this operation in a variety of ways as military, government civilians, contractors, and possibly as airline pilots delivering troops to Southwest Asia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the troops who are bearing the brunt of this fighting and for our leadership that they may make good decisions. The press coverage is phenomenal and has prompted many different emotions at home and throughout the world.
I will close with a passage from Bentley's Christmas letter that says it best. He provides a big picture view, not the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour coverage you are receiving through the media.
“While victory on the military battlefield will enable oppression to be defeated and evil rulers deposed, the more important mission after the bombs stop falling and the guns fall silent, will be for us to fill the void with a message of hope based on the ideas that have allowed our own country to be so great. That would be my prayer, that many, many years from now, when we look back through the corridors of time to these countries and areas of the world where we are engaged in military operations today, the results of our actions taken today will have been to open these areas up so that people can have the freedom to think and express themselves without fear, and that the message of true hope can be heard.”
Like Riding A Bike. Yeah, by golly took an issue off and I still know how to get this thing to the editors after the deadline! A big thanks to Jim Burling for taking the reigns while Chris and I were busy planning/pulling-off our “Big A** Party” in March.
Like Falling Off A Bike. It was on the other hand a painful experience to attend the memorial service for Pete Strunk here in mid April. Pete was killed in an auto accident. A large number of folks representing family, friends, church, current coworkers (Northwest airlines), and former coworkers were there to say goodbye, and to extend support to Kathe and the girls. I didn’t know Pete at school; we actually met when I helped him get his first off-active-duty job in the mid-80s, but he was likable/admirable in every way from the start of our friendship. Sorry now that we had fallen out of touch over the years (inexcusable – we live less than 12 miles apart).
On an only slightly less somber note I report that CW4 John Sims (Maryland Army National Guard) suffered severe head trauma in a UH-60 Black Hawk crash in Iraq in March. He was initially treated in Kuwait, evacuated to the USNS Comfort, and then moved to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was transferred in early May to Virginia medical center in Richmond, VA. Hope some email excerpts from Scott Smith, John Charlton, and Jim Carlson who have all been to visit John will bring you up-to-date; “Neither he nor his copilot are sure whether they went down because of mechanical malfunction or enemy action… He suffered compression injuries, broken bones, and severe head trauma… not yet able to read; can recognize some words, but cannot comprehend sentences, and has some difficulty with retention; still has some form of short-term memory loss… John’s not sure where his next stop will be, but further treatment is almost a sure thing; John has lost his airline job, and most likely his Guard job, so he’s concerned about how he’ll be able to make a living when he is ready for release… I am proud of his service to our country and was personally refreshed to see a classmate taking this “bump in the road” so well; I really am proud to have him as a classmate.” (JH: as we all are)! For those that may not have been reached by email, note that there’s a move afoot to pump up the ‘75 class fund in order that we might be in a better position to help John and his family in some way. Whatever you feel is right ($5 – $50 has been bandied about) send to Scott Hente.
Be Sure You’re Not At The Airport When Your Ship Comes In. The proverbial clock is ticking for those who don’t want to miss getting on board the Golden Princess for Class of ‘75 Caribbean cruise (Jan 04). Twenty-four hour buffet/bistro, largest casino afloat, full-service spa with ocean-view gym, a wide variety of bars and lounges, four pools, and a wedding-at sea-program officiated by the ship’s captain – what more can you ask for? Arrangements are being handled by Keoki Alge, at Cruises Only. I recently ran into one confirmed “cruiser” – Lamar Lewis was captain of the Southwest Airlines flight I took on my way to USAFR duty in Albuquerque. Lamar looked great and said that life was good; he and his wife/family are still in Napa CA and he’s still an ardent golfer. Lamar’s an experienced cruise-taker and says this looks like a smoking-good deal.
The always newsworthy Bill Murray sent a couple of emails this quarter – one providing details of daughter Rosemary's wedding (pictures of the lovely bride were included but none with dad so I can’t include here). His second note announced the change of assignment at Ogden ALC – Bill is now the F-16 System Support Manager.
After Twenty-Eight Short Years. Saw a note from Walt Burns announcing his retirement; Walt will be staying in the Tidewater area and starting a business with Joe May. Don Henney will also be getting new work clothes out of the same old closet; he’s remaining in the DC area where he’ll be taking on job as civilian comptroller for the 11th Wing serving Bolling AFB and the National Capital Region. Bill Percival lamented that he, “cleverly timed my retirement this summer to coincide with an airline industry crisis. Nevertheless, fearless in the face of adversity… and stop loss be damned…” Also saw a note that said Chuck Nystrom was retiring and one from Jim Fellows that announced his retirement was delayed for 60 days (March timeframe) while he took the reins at 62 AW/CC. And a just-in-time email from Jim Burling announced that he had just returned from a golfing weekend with Bill Hughes and Jack Huffman in Milwaukee which celebrated 32nd anniversary (July 5th) of our first walk up to now nameless ramp and Jack’s retirement from USAFR. Jack flies for Southwest of Chicago and lives in Lake Geneva. Bill and his wife, Peggy, live in Milwaukee where he's an attorney.
USAFA Twenty-Eight Years Later. If you didn't see the email Bentley Rayburn sent on 4 June, let me know so I can forward it to you. Bentley offered an excellent report on his visit to USAFA in late April. He was there at the invitation of the Chief of Staff, as were representatives from every other graduated class, to meet with all 1st and 2nd classmen. In Bentley’s words, “The purpose was to ‘put a stake in the ground’ with regard to the current crisis at the Academy surrounding all the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against a number of female cadets, and say to the Wing, in essence, ‘It’s time to move on.’” Closer to home, Bentley let us know, “Mark Wells is holding down the fort running the history department… The dean and others all remarked about Mark’s strong leadership and steady hand on the faculty. Bumped into Larry Fariss as well. Everybody is effusive in their praise for the great job Larry was doing as commander of the Prep School. Saw Larry Bryant, too. Larry of course, retired a few years ago but still teaches in the Computer Science Department, and doing great. Rod Kallman’s son Lance found me and said “Hi,” as did Mark McConnell’s son, and Ric Turner, John Turner’s son.” Bentley mentioned that Tom Skillman is on staff at Air War College with him.
Collect Calls Not Accepted. … unless of course you have something really good (with photos) for the next column. Calling your attention to the fact that Chris and I have moved into the new millennium by killing off hard-line home phone in favor of mobile-only service. As for photos this time, I’m saving us from Déjà Vu as the leading candidates were highly redundant with last issue: 1) margarita-influenced group shot of DC Best Alive crowd, and 2) wine-influenced shot of Phil Pearce and Mike Perry in tuxedos (on the occasion of son Sean Pearce’s wedding which Chris and I also attended).
Not to disappoint the editors or you – I'm now late and over the word limit but there's still time/space to urge you to hug the ones you love – it’s later than you think.
Too Much Of A Good Thing. With some of my other (home-improvement, investment, parenting, etc.) good ideas turned out this successful – response to my AOG email-to-the-entire class requesting inputs for this column was overwhelming! Apologies to those whose news/notes/photos wound up on the editing room floor (editorial staff has word/photo limits).
’75 Tailgates – Home And Away. Jim Burling is lending his leadership skills to home football game tailgate parties and (occasional happy hours in the COS area). He’s equally adept at providing newsy inputs, “(in attendance at Wyoming game tailgate party)… Seven guys in Colorado Springs still in uniform doing good things. Three at the Academy: Larry Fariss – Prep School Commander, Bill Spencer – Director of Plans and Programs, Mark Wells – Head of History Department. Four at Peterson/Schriever: Dale Meyerrose – NORTHCOM/J6 Director of Architecture and Integration, Dick Webber – AFSPC Director of Logistics and Communications, Doug Fraser – AFSPC Director of Operations, Kent Traylor – Vice Commander of the Space Warfare Center. Russ Trinter, wife Suzy and twins Cody and Connor deserve kudos for driving 400 miles for tailgate and game.”
Over 40 of our classmates and their friends/family (200+ people in all!) gathered for Duane Lodrige’s 10th annual good time USAFA – USNA tailgate party. Outcome on the field was disappointing but pictures and accounts of the festivities indicate there was no shortage of high spirits in the parking lot. Don’t know if they got linked up with the tailgate but got separate pregame email from Greg Collier to say he was going with Kathleen and their youngest. Greg is still a 767 international first officer at US Airways and recently hosted his old roommate David Blessinger when he and his family (Nora and two of the four boys) came to visit from Fort Walton, FL where Dave’s working in the defense industry.
No word of a tailgate, but a happier game result: heard from two of our classmates who made USAFA – BYU game. Wayne and Amy Willis, who now lives in Salt Lake City (although Wayne’s still flying out of DFW) were there and noted, “not a prettier site than 60,000 BYU fans dead quiet and leaving early!” Jeff Chappell was also at that game with youngest son, Adam (17), who’s still living at home with Jeff and Theresa, and Adam’s older brother, Daniel, who is a freshman at BYU. Rest of the Chappell boys are near (two sons and one grandson in San Antonio) and far (number one son, Matt, is stationed at Ellsworth AFB with his wife and two daughters). Jeff volunteered for and was accepted by NPS for the First Flight Centennial in December near his parents’ home in North Carolina.
John Sims Update. John’s recovery from Apache combat crash in Iraq is continuing; in rehab during the week and home (Charlottesville, VA) on the weekends; still some short-term memory problems but progress is being made. Let’s all continue to pray for good health and successful new paths for John and Violeta.
New Traditions. If you didn’t pick up on the new end-of-BCT event, the Warrior Run (pg 48-50) last Checkpoints), or if you wondered who represented our class – it was Dick Dye and Phil Gronseth. Both were very supportive of what they see from the new leadership team at USAFA and offered some interesting thoughts. Dick noted, “I think the real tradition demonstrated today is the tradition of support in times of trouble. The graduates are rallying around the ‘not yet’ graduates in times of trouble at the Academy” and Phil said, “This is my 12th year at AFA and it always seems that once the dust settles after major changes, the Academy is a better place. (However, if you come in my office you will notice ‘Bring Me Men…” taped above the inside of my door.)”
Class Astronomy. Indirectly got the word that more stars have been added. Doug Fraser, Stan Gorenc, and Mark Volcheff have each earned an additional star (Major General’s all). Also caught an announcement that BG Steve Redmann has retired.
Having followed a different career path (12-year break in service), Rick Townsend recently pinned on Lt. Col.'s rank (USAFR). Mike McClendon who works with Rick in both the Reserve world (F-22 SPO at WPAFB) and at American Airlines (Mike 757/767 Captain and Rick 777 F/O) officiated at promotion ceremony. We also need to congratulate Leon Smith-Harrison on his selection to the AOG Board of Directors. Leon wrote to say he sincerely welcomes our opinions or suggestions as he contributes to this important work.
Southern Exposure. Got email from Bill Dalson to tell me about recent Davis-Monthan AFB reunion of Latin American air attachés. Bill and Chuck Holland are attachés in Argentina and Bolivia, respectively. Al Piotter and Kevin Lanzit were also there representing "Management" – Al works Latin America attaché ops for DIA and Kevin runs all USAF attaché business for SAF IA. Bill wanted us to appreciate how apropos it was to gather these four “relics” in such close proximity to the USAF “boneyard.” Bill also mentioned that classmate John Kambourian is also at Argentine Embassy “protecting the world from the over-exportation of great beef and wine.”
Bit And Pieces. From Ben Phillips: "I'm hanging on with American Airlines as a 777 FO out of ORD. In my spare time, I'm working with Air Force National Security Emergency Preparedness (AFNSE) as the FEMA Region 5 Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO). Every now and then I run into Bill Schuessler, the state EPLO Minnesota, and Jack Huffman, the retiring Director of the AF Liaison Officers in Northern Illinois.” From David Beck: “keeping busy in New Orleans as chairman of the Colon and Rectal Surgery Department at the Ochsner Clinic.” From Brian Duffy: “A brief input from the Kennedy Space Center/NASA world: Bruce Hevey is now the KSC Director of IT, Jim Heald is the Director of Spaceport Technology, and Steve Pitotti is an active member of the NASA leadership at NASA HQ in DC.” From Duane Jones: “Am now at the Pentagon working as exec to VCSAF exec (until he figures out I can’t type!). One of my first pleasant surprises was to find SES Dave Tillotson working in the next hallway. He’s doing great in the AF/XI world.” Doug Miller recently did the retirement ceremony thing although the official date is 1 Jan 04. He finished up at Elmendorf AFB, AK where he was Vice Wing Commander. He noted, “The wing went all out for the ceremony and dinner – had a C-130 flyby and honored Allison quite well as she deserves. Our son Ryan (USAFA ’03) came here to retire me. I commissioned him in May, and he retired me; what a deal!” Bob Hickcox wrote from the Boston area: “Retired two years ago after my company (information systems for education) was sold to a large publishing company. I now have a small consulting business (more a hobby), where I work with CIOs and senior Engineering Managers on technology management project-planning problems… Barb and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary this year.”
Over (The Word Limit) And Out (Of Time). Early holiday greetings to all! Whatever/however you celebrate, keep your loved ones close at hand – it’s later than you think.