[Class Scribe Paul Kent]
New Scribe. After a highly rigorous and competitive search, I have been bestowed the honor of “Temporary Scribe Until Someone With Actual Talent Is Found." And my ego will not be diminished just because no one else even volunteered. Yes, we all took for granted that Jeff Hackett would be “Scribe for Life.” But after 20 years, the man does deserve the break he has asked for. All I ask for is a little empathy in my attempt to replace a man whose wit and penmanship cannot be matched. Actually, Gentlemen, I ask for one more thing: Information. You see, I am embarrassed to say I do not remember all of us. Yes, I have read Jeff’s missives about all of our highs and lows; and sadly, some names and faces do not sound familiar. In fact, at our 20th Reunion, when Dean Spraggins crouched down and did 3 circles around me before rhetorically and embarrassingly asking “Paul?”, I knew that maybe I looked different, too. Jeff probably knows every name and some information about each of us. Thankfully, in this day of electronic communication, you can send me updates and pictures of your life and any of our classmate’s life that are too lazy (well, let’s say humble) to send anything in. Send me stuff early and often. So, even if it is only a one-sentence update: send it in, boys.
Classmate Updates. Mike Goyden (squadron nickname “Vito”) was selected Colorado Coach of the Year with an undefeated High School boy’s soccer championship team which was nationally ranked #8. His High School girl’s soccer team had its best season ever with its third consecutive league championship. This is the same Colorado state where we spent 4 years of formative training in the mid 1970’s. As the bulk of us have left the service of our country, it is great to hear about contributions likeVito’s.
Small World Department: From Jeff Chappell: I arrived (at the Cincinatti airport) …. On my way out of the airport, I saw a lady wearing a distinctive black parka emblazoned "USAFA 75." I asked her where she got it, and she said from her husband, and I said "And he is???" You could have knocked me over with a feather when she replied "Sandy Terry." They were sending a daughter back to BYU …”
Jack Kummerfeld, succumbed to cancer on 19 Oct 2004 in Cocoa, FL.
From the "how weird is this?" category: From Duane Jones: Duane Lodrige is the deputy commander of the JTF - Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. As such he will be leading the Inaugural Parade, and in particular the Presidential Escort Detail as it steps off from the US Capitol east steps on 20 Jan. Less significant, but certainly adding to the '75 flavor, will be my role marching directly behind him for the same event. So what are the chances that 100% of the Air Force officers in the Inaugural Parade Joint Armed Forces Staff would be '75 guys named Duane?
Us. Since this is my first column (and since I have zilch for input) I am obligated to retrospectively analyze who I am penning to and about. I believe we still hold the dubious record for greatest attrition from a Military Academy for a 4-year course. But why? “Who cares?”, you muse. Yes, but on with it. Certainly, the ending of the unpopular Viet Nam war before our 2nd Class Year contributed. But starting with the late 60’s and accelerating in the early 70’s, there truly was a “Peace, Love, and Hare Krishna” prevalence in our society. Everybody had long hair and was smoking pot. We just didn’t fit in, and a lot of us left, physically or emotionally. For the truly strong in character (not me), we are better off. Those were 4 tough years we went through; tougher for some than others. And where are we now? We’ve lost some. Others are sick. We have Generals and classmates that were court-martialed and sent to jail. We have millionaires and classmates that live hand-to-mouth. We have classmates that still look like Adonis, and others that are overweight, bald, and ugly. And I am not talking just about me. Some have been divorced more than once. Others are lifelong bachelors. Some are grandparents many times over. Others have infants. But we all have one thing in common: We attended an all-male military academy at the base of the Rampart Range in the early 1970’s. And that is who I will respectively address this column to. Well, maybe not always respectively, but always “heartily.”
New Website. For those of us that read Checkpoints only for the Class of 1975 Update Page (because of the superior literary quality; well, at least in the past), you may not be aware that for all things “Zoo-like”, there is a new web site, www.usafa.org. You will need your graduation ID (75xxxx) to register. And once you log in, you can search for all those lost classmates that owe you money, and get in contact with them.
Anecdote. Not a lot for this column. I wasn’t honored with this position till January 6th eve with a January 10th deadline. You’ll probably find some lame excuse from me at the end of every column until I am justifiably relieved of duty. Hopefully, after a well deserved rest, our “Scribe For Life” Jeff will return. Until the next column, “Seventy Five Best Alive”. That’s 30 years ago if you’re counting. Yikes!
Scribe General. I’ve received lots of requests since my first article. Nevertheless, I have decided to write at least one more column. Captain Dinklesquat in English 101 said it was good practice for when I got a real job; and the way this commercial airline business is heading, this may happen sooner than later.
Classmates. In January, Phil Saenger’s daughter Sammantha got the good news she will be in the Class of 2009. Greg Dunbar was recently rediscovered, living near Fallon NAS in Nevada. His main pursuit is trying to get his girlfriend to marry him. Remember, Classmates, we don’t ask “Why” questions. He wants to come to the reunion. You know what to ask him. In February, Dan Burda updated us with news that he is manufacturing in China, and living there half the year. Mike Heil, alias “Ziggy” and “Doctor”, who is Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate, made us proud by being quoted about future AF technology on the NBC Nightly News.
Mark Wells was just approved as a Permanent Professor at our old Alma Mater. This means he can serve our country past 30 years. He and Donna head to Stuttgart next July for a 2-year sabbatical operational tour at HQ EUCOM. Afterwards, he’ll return to USAFA to run the Department of History again. The only bad news is that he may miss our 30-year reunion. However, he’s relieved that he won’t “have to run it again!” and passes on that Scott Hente and the committee will do a great job.” Dennis Brooks received some well-deserved kudos in a newspaper article lauding his (airplane) model building for sick children at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Bill Murray sent the attached picture of him with President Bush’s former advisor Karen Hughes. Bill was at a wedding in Austin, TX and felt very fortunate to speak to her. Then for his retirement, his wife gave him a signed copy of her book, which he calls “phenomenal.”
From Al Bready: “I bumped into Chris Soto a few days ago and he suggested that we ride our Harleys to our 30th in September. Of course, that immediately prompted thoughts of buying a new Harley for the trip. While perusing the Harley website, I came across the attached picture. The caption under the picture reads: "Mark Holmes, San Diego, and Merlette Andrews, Aurora, Ill., smile for the camera while riding down Main Street." My thoughts were: "Football team manager, our classmate Mark Holmes?" If you look closely, you can see his ring!”
Our newest Star: BG (Select) Duane Jones. Confirmation that sometimes you do the job right, then get promoted. Mike McKim received a newsmaker photo-op recently. He flies T-43s for a company called EG&G, and was participating in simulated hostage exercises. Lastly, on hearing of my new scribe duties, my old doolie roommate Scott Hammond was concerned that I would mention about the time he (felt he) caused us to fall off the ski lift chair at Breckenridge. I assured him I would never tell anybody about this, and as a former Honor Rep, he could take my word on this promise. Remember, Classmates, your confidence is paramount with this new scribe.
Thirtieth Reunion. Given the publishing schedule of “Checkpoints”, you may be reading this as we prepare for our 35th Reunion. The “Checkpoints” that arrived in your postal mailbox around April 25th had a Scribe deadline of January 10th. Nevertheless, here is the quick and dirty: The dates areSeptember 7-11. We will be staying at the Antlers Hilton. Most registration actions will be automated, via the internet. This will be facilitated through the AOG’s new website. Our Class President Jim Carlson has put an enormous amount of work into trying to locate everybody. As we’ve found, some of us do not want to be located. That is fine. However, by and large, the search has been very fruitful, with most 75er’s not even awarethey were “lost.” For those of us that use “Checkpoints” as our only source of “Best Alive” news updates, please pass along this caveat to our classmates who still want nothing to do withthis silly camaraderie and keeping in contact: the email and postal updates you pass to us (i.e., your classmate the Squadron POC, and not the AOG), should only be used by us. In other words, when you update your personal information with the AOG, your classmates can’t directly receive this contact information, and must use the AOG website to facilitate any contact (with a blind unknown email address). Needless to say, this is a good idea on the part of the AOG, and it protects us from the very few unscrupulous that might use the contact information for purposes not intended. But because the AOG will not pass this information along, sending out periodic Class specific updates is problematic. When you register at usafa.org, you get AOG official mailings (including pertinent Reunion information). When you give your trustworthy Squadron POC Classmate your contact information, he can keep you in the loop for anything he thinks might be noteworthy. Confused? Me, too, sort of.
Here is a plea from our Class Prez: “We graduated 756 out of 1404 Appointments (47% Attrition); if we get two-thirds of us to show up for the reunion, it will be the greatest dang time we've ever had…AND SHOULD BREAK ALL REUNION RECORDS! I've been told by other classes that the 30th is the absolute BEST reunion! To date, we have 68 on regular active duty, 99 Guard/Reserve, 28 deceased (as of this update), 321 retired, and 346 separated (as of the current 2004 Register, 1 Oct 04).”
Gone But Not Forgtotten. We approach a latter midpoint of our lives when too many of us are taking our final flight via a vehicle referred to as “Natural Causes”, whatever those might be for men in their early 50’s. It is with great sadness we must report that, in a short 5-week span, three of us took this journey to meet our Maker for our last inspection. On February 4th, Bill Thompson lost a valiant 4-year fight with cancer. On February 27th, a sudden heart attack took Chuck Riordan from us.
Chuck’s son Charlie is a 4th Class cadet at the Academy. And lest we be melancholy, the mention of Chuck’s name brought smiles of early remembrances to his BCT mates. Apparently, he was a champion “buffer rider” who would don cape and goggles, mount the buffer, and entertain Firsties and all to the song “Leader of the Pack.” Lastly, for those of us privileged to be included in Jon Turner’s postings of his battle with brain cancer, it was humbling testimony to his strength of character and his positive spiritual outlook on life. He left this world for the Next on March 11th.
In addition, from Bentley Rayburn: Chief Larry Garrett, the Wing Sergeant Major during our junior and the beginning of our senior year, passed away March 1, at age 73. And I will add that in January, I received a family update from Pete Strunk's widow, Katie. Pete was killed in April 2003 when a driver swerved into his lane and hit his car head-on. She called her family’s last year an “emotional trauma-coma”, and adds “watch out for the other guy.”
Next Column. Like I mentioned, I’m writing this column just a few days after I received the April “Checkpoints.” So when most of you get around to reading our Class column from that issue, and decide to send me stuff, this column will already be submitted for the May 9th deadline. Also, if the next column is a little sparse, please excuse me in advance. I may be riding a Hawg along side Mark Holmes. But I’ll wear a helmet; and that nosepiece looks painful.
Classmates. Michael Gudmundson, Bill Schussler, Chris Glaeser, and Jim Carlson held a practice Reunion at Axel's Restaurant in Mendota, MN. Although they didn’t discuss their summer 1971 BCT experience of being gassed in Jacks Valley with a 100% solution instead of the intended 10% mixture, and the unpleasant after-effects, they did have an enjoyable evening reminiscing. From Duane Jones: “At Dave Ehrhart’s Change-of-Command for the Air Force Legal Service Agency, as the ceremony ended, the two-star host announced to the assembled masses that the President was forwarding Dave’s name to the Senate for confirmation to Brigadier. Talk about down to the wire. Commander, lawyer, and now, selectee. Let’s hear it for the old guys!” From John Charlton: Dave Tillotson moves onward and upward at the Pentagon.
From Dave Wallace: Two more One Stars have been nominated to appointment to Major General: Al Peck and Eric Rosborg. Also from Dave: a nice AF article about our classmate, Maj. Gen. Stanley Gorenc, who watched his younger brother, Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, pin on his first star. They are 2 of 271 general officers in the active-duty Air Force out of more than 350,000 Airmen. While they do not know for sure whether they are the first set of brothers to serve as generals at the same time, they do believe they are the first Slovenian-born brothers to serve together as generals in the U. S. Air Force. The brothers immigrated with their parents to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1962 when they were 8 and 4. Our humble classmate Stan added “"We didn't know the language. We didn't know the culture, and we came to learn (that) the United States is truly a land of opportunity."
Al Piotter retired at the Pentagon on June 29th. Classmate Brig Gen Duane Lodridge, ANG graciously agreed to preside at the ceremony. From Jim Carlson: “Phil Benjamin hung up his blue suit in June. Phil has been low-key for as long as I've known him – and he stands out as having the highest measured IQ of any in our class.” Pretty cool, Phil. I didn’t know that! If you are in Seattle, maybe you can help me program my VCR now that you might have some free time? It continually blinks “12:00”. Duane Jones, Benjy's former roommate at the Zoo, conducted the ceremony and did an outstanding job of highlighting his many accomplishments. The scribe admits he is remiss in tracking promotions and acknowledging all the appropriate accolades to our deserved classmates who have advanced in rank or completed years of service to our country. Not intentional, I assure you. Lazy, Yes. Intentional, No.
Thirtieth Reunion. By the time you read this, the 30th will be a memory; and I am sure a good one for those of us lucky enough to be able to attend. As the scribe, I get lots of correspondence about all things class related, and I got a kick out of reading how some of our classmates were maneuvering with the “Baby-Sitting” logistics. Specifically, Bill Taylor, with triplets that just turned 1, and a three-year-old. In his search for a solution, he mentioned Marty Miller, with one-year-old twins, and possibly a younger child. Dean Cox was planning to bring his 4 year old and 7 month old. And Mike Marro has 2 children he takes to child-care every day. If Fred Whitican does bring his 15 year old daughter to baby-sit, as planned, she should be able to finance her social life for quite a while with her earnings from this one long weekend alone. This got me thinking about the “spectrum.” I know we have classmates with Grandchildren that are older than these children. Now, there is no need to turn this into any kind of competition, but your humble scribe would be curious to know: First, the oldest offspring (and yes, I am sure this child was born shortly after or even before June 4, 1975; scribe note: statute of limitations have long past; this accomplishment should be a source of pride now); Secondly, the youngest offspring; and Lastly, the oldest Grandchild.
Patty Chapman wrote they would not be at the reunion as oldest son T.W (USAFA 2004) graduates UPT in Del Rio the same weekend. Second Son Ben graduates USAFA 2005, and Third Son is in USAFA 2006. The scribe has no words to appropriately acknowledge this parenting par- excellence. BG Al Peck sent his advance regrets about not being able to attend, as he is at an undisclosed location in the desert. He adds: “Living the dream, but won't get released to party with the Best Alive.”
From Jim Carlson: “I spoke with and extended the appreciation of our entire class to Bill Boisture, USAFA '67, who has generously provided the means to fly our combat-injured classmate John Sims (CS-21) and his wife Violeta to our 30-year class reunion – and he tells me that all this is being done strictly from the point of view of Air Force Academy graduates banding together for fellow Air Force Academy graduates. He and I agree that there should be more of this kind of thing within our community. I also want to say a huge thank you to our classmates Barry Ketchie and Bill Davis who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
I Didn’t Know. “Smacks” and “Squats”? Where did these derogatory terms that were directed at us in the 1971-1972 time frame (for some of us, directed on a continuous basis) come from? From Jim Carlson: “After the initial shock of the M-80 round that went off a few days after July 5, 1971, and the world as I knew it turned upside down, it was another 3 weeks (when we marched into Jack's Valley) before I got over the initial shock of being a “doolie”, and discovering why we were called "squats" and “smacks”.”
“squats” – because our physical training consisted mainly of squat thrusts.
“smacks” – the sound our puny little bodies made each time we hit the wall when an upperclassman walked by (followed by, "By your leave, Sir!")
Now we know (in case we forgot, or chose to forget).
Harassment Kudos. Jim Carlson congratulates Mike Anderson, the POC for 14th Squadron: “Unless I missed someone on the count, I think that CS-14 is the first and only squadron to have ALL their guys verify and update their online. I just noticed that Billy Stephan was unable to withstand your benign leadership and my incessant hammering – and finally logged in! Every squadron except yours (mine included) has at least 1 holdout. And it's generally on principle or something.”
Prayers. Carl Van Pelt’s son Matthew died in a motorcycle accident in July. From John (Juan) Kambourian: “Still in Brasilia doing God’s work. Planning on making the reunion if my wife Kim’s medical condition permits it; looks kind of iffy right now. Don’t know whether I told you, but Kim was diagnosed with a very advanced bladder/cervical cancer last August just after we arrived in Brazil. Three massive operations, radiation/chemo therapy later she is still fighting for her life. Things don’t look very promising but we are still praying for a miracle.” Randy Barrett was very seriously injured in the crash of his seaplane in upstate New York on Tuesday, July 5th.
Duane Lodrige retiring Al Piotter. We could have called this the "Al" event: among the classmates that showed up were Al Bready and Al Green. Others who witnessed Al Piotter's well-deserved recognition of 30 years of service to our country included: Bill Lyerly, Phil Benjamin, Mark Beesley, Dean Cox, Don Henney, Dave Ehrhardt, Jim Carlson, and a touch-n-go by Steve Redmann. There were, altogether, 12 classmates for this gathering!
Thirtieth Reunion. After careful analytical observation and calculated research, the scribe, with help from many others, has concluded that our class can now be re-divided into four Groups, bearing no resemblance to the Groups we were assigned to when were at the Zoo. These Groups will be referred to hereafter as the “A-Jacket” Groups. You can probably see where this is going. The First Group has conveniently lost our A-Jacket, as we can no longer fit into it and still function. The Second Groupcan fit into their A-Jacket, but cannot zip it. The Third Group can fit into their A-Jacket, zip it, but not breathe. The last Group of despicable classmates can fit into their graduation A-Jacket, zip it, breathe, and function normally. This Fourth Group has a select nickname when referred to by the other three Groups, but the scribe can’t print it here.
Although this Checkpoints should arrive via postal mail a few months after our last rejoin in the Springs, this will be the first chance to reminisce about this great event attended by almost half of our surviving members. The percentage is probably greater if we were to tally all of us who got together, registered or not, as many Best Alivers only made it to the Falcon come-from-behind victory and to the Saturday eve individual Squadron rejoins.
Those of us lucky enough to attend don’t need this column to confirm our get together was memorable and enjoyable. Even the Falcon football team snatched Victory from the jaws of Defeat, just as they did the week before when the scribe took his whole family to witness a Falcon comeback over the University of Washington Huskies with only 39 seconds left in the game. The victory over the San Diego State Aztecs during our reunion weekend was due, the scribe is sure, in no small part, to the efforts of 50 plus year old cheerleaders (kudos to Russ Trinter, along with Ollie Lorenz) leading 50 plus year old alumni. Yes, the cheers for this new generation of co-ed zoomies have changed, but we didn’t know them. So we did our old ones. And, of course, the current cheerleaders came over to assist; then left with their mouths ajar in disbelief (and disgust, possibly) at what came out of the mouths of old men. What can we say? We didn’t invent them. We just repeat them. Very enthusiastically, actually.
Friday night we were treated to the voices of the Cadet Chorale, joined later by members of our class who were formal Chorale members. Man, can those people sing. Beautiful. Later we were awed with a “Class of 1975 Retrospective”, courtesy of a major effort by Bill Estelle. Bill says he spent between 2000 and 3000 hours compiling pictures from archives and from a few classmates who sent him photos. And he says there are still more files left in the archives. Amazingly, he adds, “I hope that rather than being the end, this project was a beginning.” He added appropriate background audio and produced a classic that you will want if you haven’t obtained a copy yet. A Mac guy? Cool. While you’re at it, send him some digitized photos from your old photo collection, so the Second Edition will all the better.
Speaking of memories, Jim Carlson, our overworked President, along with his humble scribe, has a great request, which will be facilitated by Bruce Mitchell. From Bruce: “We want to capture our class legacy in writing, for our own and future posterity purposes: 75 at 30. We need maximum input from the class to make this complete and most meaningful. We are working on e-ways to ease and standardize preparation of these narrative inputs from each classmate. They will be collected and input via cadet squadron groups...likely organized and published in the same way. Begin writing down the most compact one page summary of your career and perhaps a humorous, sobering, or otherwise meaningful anecdote from your career, and stay tuned for future information on this effort from your squadron reps.” We’ll be back to you on this one. In any event, any recollections we record now, along with the DVD, will outlive us all. This is what will remain when the last '75er is gone. Our legacy is what we leave behind. This will include photographs, memorials, our legacy gifts, and Mark Modrich's A-jacket (as well as that dreadful quasi-official coat that he somehow avoided ditching the first chance the rest of us got).
It is probably too late to order the Class Wine celebrating the 30th, but, thanks to the effort of Mark Beesley, many of us got to enjoy it. The scribe saw several bottles on tables on Friday night of our reunion, including our table, courtesy of Dave McDaniel. The vintner, a friend of Mark's, can be reached at his website. [letter to the class from vintner HERE]
Here’s a web site that you must bookmark: usafa75.org. It’s our own site, unaffiliated with anybody except us. You’ll note that you will be given the opportunity to send the webmaster links to your own USAFA centric site. Due to space limitations on the server, links are the easiest method to manage our site.
Classmates. Al Peck sent the following before the reunion: “...sorry about dropping off the scope. I've moved to an undisclosed location…Living the dream, but won't get released to party with the Best Alive. I'll be there in spirit...feel free to hoist an extra beverage on my behalf.” Note from scribe: We did, Al. And for some of us, too many extra beverages. Doesn’t take much these days. Most Recent Dad Award: Steve Else, just became a new father on 7 August. Note from scribe: The competitiveness for this Award seems to be waning, for some unexplainable reason. From Chuck Molzon, now flying for ATA: “I have seen airfields in my ATA career that I had only previously seen in target study during my days in SAC.” Note from scribe: not sure if this is Bad or Good.
Heartiest congratulations to our newly minted Lieutenant General, Douglas Fraser. Major General Dale Meyerrose, will be Chief Information Officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Scott Hammond just pinned on MGen (ANG Georgia) and Bill Schuesller made BGen in the MN ANG. Our thoughts and prayers are with John Kambourian. He emailed his regrets on not attending the reunion. His wife, Kim, passed away, and he will be staying home with their children.Lastly, the scribe needs to acknowledge the kind words from members of our class who did not walk to the stage on June 4, 1975. Several of these classmates of ours attended the reunion, and were genuinely moved, Roger Sheppard and Keith Workman, to mention a couple. This was the first reunion where Jim Carlson made the major effort to reach out to those who did not graduate. I’ll include a note from Keith. I’m going to include it in it’s entirety, because I think Keith gives the best literary credit we could give each other, grad or non grad.
If I haven’t done so, I want to thank you for inviting me to attend the reunion. I am not overstating – I had the time of my life!
I could have never imagined what I would feel seeing these people in person after over 30 years, hearing the unfolding of spectacular careers, admiring in men what I knew only as budding character in young men, walking on the Academy grounds again, spending an afternoon on the beautiful golf course where I used to ‘escape from it all on the hill’, being in the chapel, the stadium, the field house … it was overwhelming. I appreciated seeing the updated dorms. I spent some time in the main library as well as the AOG library in Doolittle. I wouldn’t do justice to attempt here to tell you the value or meaning for me in those few days. I am most grateful for the opportunity and enjoyment of a very well organized event that will live with me as a paramount experience.
As you know, having not graduated with the class, I didn’t expect more than to coordinate my visit to Denver that would coincide with the reunion, in the hope of making contact with a few old pals sometime during that week. I was most impressed by an invitation to attend the reunion events and welcomed the opportunity. I never suspected to find such a reciprocal welcome, in fact, far more. In more than one encounter, in more than one way, and from Superintendent to roommate to mere acquaintance friendships – I found a recurring theme that shook me into a most compelling awareness … brotherhood, friendship and camaraderie are deep and real among the members of our class.
Moreover, the ‘class' is defined, by the graduates of 1975, as the 1400+ who entered that summer of 1971, including the record-breaking number of us who fell out of rank over the course of your 4 yrs there. I was astounded and humbled to find this sentiment and its universal support. I was moved profoundly by the real presence of this fact in the minds of graduates. My expectation of exclusion met in stark contrast with your high standard of inclusion – and served to quicken my understanding of the source of my respect for each of you and unify my own self-esteem with numerous examples of character and integrity that are the common thread between us, it appears.
I went with an attitude of congratulations and honor for a great group of impressive men who are deservedly accomplished.
I returned with healing, perspective, resolution, understanding, self-respect, and a slew of friendships. Priceless.
Thank you again, (Keith)