Checkpoints          June 2015              Jeff Chappell


The Good: Hopefully most of you know about our 40-year reunion coming up, 8-10 October 2015. The planning committee, headed by Jeff Hackett, is working hard and has a good core of guys, but still seeking volunteers for class gift/fundraising, banquet entertainment, registration/security, widows/surviving children coordination, prep school grad event, and non-graduate classmate coordination. Stay tuned to AOG and your squadron reps for updates.

The Bad (but getting better): Bruce Fritzsche forwarded the following note from Jack Barton's daughter, Shannon: Monday morning (2 Mar) my mom found my dad unresponsive. They took him to Olive Branch Methodist. The CT scan showed no sign of stroke but given his symptoms they called the Brain Attack Team. He was airlifted to Methodist University, where they discovered he did have a stroke, with a clot in his basilar artery. The doctor removed the clot, restoring blood flow to his brain. He is very, very lucky because from what we hear many people don't make it through a stroke like this. Please continue to pray for our daddy...he needs it right now. God has a special plan for him! He continues to show great signs of improvement. Moving both arms and legs. Speaks very faint and is hard to understand. They are worried about his vision and speech. We are all in shock and still can't believe this has happened to someone so healthy and active! Update Apr 20: Dad has been home for almost two weeks now. He is definitely happier at home. We are all settling in to the new schedule. He goes to therapy at the Olive Branch hospital 3 times a week, and then on Thursdays they go downtown for eye therapy. He had a great visit with his sister this week, and an old Air Force Academy friend, Frank, has stopped by several times while he's been in town training. He still is wearing the heart monitor – he has about 2 more weeks with it. After a full month they send it back and make an appointment to get the results. He hasn't complained of any new symptoms so hopefully this is a good sign.

Gary Held’s ex-wife, Kathy, notified Bill Estelle that Gary had a heart attack a few weeks ago. After a week, he stabilized and went in for a bypass and valve replacement. Valve replacement was a success; they opted not to do the bypass. He has been improving slowly. He had a pacemaker put in and may be released from the hospital within the week. [Update: Gary was released from the hospital and is improving daily at home].

Rumors of Bill Lyerly’s demise are greatly exaggerated: Bill sounded great on the phone, has lost 50 pounds, retired from his high-powered DHS job, and is progressing well with cardiac rehabilitation. Cowboy Awtrey, John Charlton, Al Bready, and Hugo Posey have stopped by my house here in Annapolis to help maintain my morale (maybe I also owed them money...), and Dave Hickman called to give me advice from his experience with triple bypass surgery. I very much appreciate all of the various well wishes that I received from numerous other 75ers. Every day on this side of the grass is a great day!

The Ugly: Sorry, there’s only good-looking people in this section. John Charlton reported on the annual DC Dark Ages Party: We had about 50 folks participate. This was the first sighting of Carlson in about a year. I think he is finally over the twin-baby hump and may get re-energized in class affairs once more. Photos from the party show Rick Pyatt, Andy Dichter, Bill Davis, Jerry Manthei, Muddy Waters, Joe May, and Bob “Cowboy” Awtrey.

Fred "Vark" Weems sent an update on his post-retirement activities, sure to make us all jealous and anxious to join him: I retired from the left seat of the 767 at American Airlines in September of 2012. Best decision ever! Loving retirement. I get checks (including SS, I'm really officially old now) from a number of entities that are meant to insure that I do not ever again show up for work. Summer 2013, I went off to Xidian University in Xi'an, China, for a year of language study. Had a great time, and now I can reliably speak the most terrible Chinese ever, in two delicious flavors, Mandarin and Cantonese. I am highly qualified to teach bad habits in several languages now. For now I spend my time in my recording studio, scoring the music for a new ballet I'm creating called Dark Fairy. Pretty girls dancing, what a concept! Some of my dancers made a special T-shirt for me, on the front of which is written Official Dirty Old Man. I wear it proudly. Dawn, my wife of 40 years now, is an ER Doc enjoying some time off between jobs. We'll be looking to move up to the great northwest sometime in the near future.

Bill Murray recently visited Buck Buchanan with Chad Hennings (USAFA ’88) in Dallas. Buck was Equipment Manager for football at the Prep School. He retired a SMSgt in the Air Force and immediately got hired by Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys where he worked for another 20 years as their Equipment Manager. When he retired from the Cowboys, his son, Buckey, took over his job. You won’t meet anyone more genuine, nice or sincere than Buck Buchanan – he’s a one-in-a-million guy! He’s struggling with health issues right now and will probably never leave this facility, but many at USAFA owe him a debt of gratitude, most of all me!

Ken Finn has been flying 767s out of ATL to Europe and South America for the past 16 years, about to join the Empty Nester’s Club as his last daughter marries next year.

From Mark “Flying Squirrel” Holmes: I’d taken up jet packing for my 60th and ended up on a magazine cover (Positively Aware). Still doing that, but wanted something new for my 61st birthday and decided to take up skydiving. I decided to get out of the plane into the air itself and see what that offered. I’ve hooked up since with Raider Ramstad, who’s the Eagle to my Fledgling and has been jumping since the Academy and has too many jumps to count. I went to a DZ north of here to watch him and 69 other skydivers between 60 and 85 go for a world record formation of seventy skydivers.  I came out to the truck and found a note on the windshield with the words “Fast Neat Average…Class of ’16…we’re camped behind you”. Turns out four cadets took their spring break camping at the drop zone and flying for a week there. I didn’t get the chance to fly with them but did meet up and plan to have dinner at Mitch’s during the reunion at their table. The long blue line continues!

Bill Estelle published some great photos of our Legacy Class of 2015’s 100th Night banquet [in the March on-line Column] – see them and other juicy tidbits at 75bestalive.org. Until next time, keep smiling!



 

Doolittle Raiders B-25 Graduation Parade Commemorative Flyby

John Magoffin: I fly the B-25 Mitchell bomber for the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. We have a chance to get our B-25, Maid in the Shade, to Colorado Springs the week of the USAFA 2015 graduation. Our summer tour is scheduled to begin in Pueblo, CO on June 3rd. I have been promised that if I can get the sufficient support and funding, we can launch a week early and make the graduation.

Marty Stytz: Please pass on to your squadrons that the B-25 flyby for the 2015 graduation is approved by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The flyby will be during the Graduation Parade, the day before graduation. We're collecting to pay fuel and flyby expenses for the Commemorative Air Force; no one makes any money. Any leftover money stays in the class fund. The Class of 1975 is the sponsor for the Class of 2015. We're the first class to accomplish a flyby for a graduation event.

Bentley Rayburn: Let me give you a quick debrief regarding the activities surrounding the 2015 B-25 flyover from this end. Last Friday, the 22nd, was the last time the entire Class of 2015 was going to meet together. It was their big briefing on the upcoming graduation week and all the activities that were going to take place. A number of us were able to make a presentation at the end of their meeting in front of the entire class and present the B-25 flyby as a tribute to their class from their Legacy Class of 1975.

To mark the occasion, we presented the class president with the model of the B-25. Attached is a picture of the Class leadership (the three cadet wing commander for the year and the class president) and our ’75 reps. From left to right, Mark Wells, Jim Eken, Scott Hente, Larry Bryant and me. Bill Estelle took the picture. The cadet holding the B-25 model was their class president, a former JTAC enlisted man, Andrew Dane – one of the few cadets I’m sure to ever wear the Purple Heart. We took a second picture in the hallway so we could get Bill in it. 

The Class of ’15 seemed genuinely enthusiastic about our gesture. We told them that when the B-25 flew over, they needed to remember that it was our personal recognition to their class from ours and comes with all our best wishes for their service as Air Force officers. We grabbed the model back from them and told them we’d take care of getting it on display. We talked briefly about what we might do with the model. Scott Hente and I are happy to take care of it, but there was some consensus to have a base of some kind constructed so that we can mount an appropriate inscription memorializing the event and then display it somewhere at the Academy (the AOG? Arnold Hall? Somewhere else?) and then let the Class of ’15 know what we did. If anybody else has some good ideas – send them our way!

We have had a lot of rain for the last 10+ days and the weather has been anything but Colorado-standard. But, this morning was a beautiful one with blue skies and some scattered clouds. The B-25 flew over just after the Wing formed up on the parade field. Probably the best picture was taken by Larry Bryant. The announcer talked about the significance of the B-25 and the connection to the Doolittle Raiders and made a very nice mention of the connection between the Class of ’75 and the Class of ’15 and the fact that they flyby was sponsored by our class. There was a very nice reaction from the crowd. All in all, I think it was a great show by our class.

We’ll have to put together an appropriate short synopsis for the next available Checkpoints. Jeff’s deadline is way past for the summer issue. And, by that time, perhaps we can see if anybody (especially the Academy photographers) took any other pictures we might be able to use. Thanks to Doug, Marty and whoever else was involved in getting this event approved. 

’75 Still the Very Best Alive!

 

1. John Magoffin.  

2. Essential Preflight Modifications.  

3. Scott Hente presenting checks to John Magoffin for the B-25 Flyby.  

4. B-25 Model Presentation to the Class of 2015 from the Class of 1975
Scott Hente presents the model to Class President C/1C Andrew Dane while Bentley Rayburn explains the significance of the relationship between out two classes. Left to Right: Mark Wells, Jim Eken, C/1C Andrew Dane, Scott Hente, Larry Bryant and Bentley Rayburn.  

 

5. B-25 Model Presentation to the Class of 2015 from the Class of 1975. Left to Right: C/1C Dan Perkins, CS35, Mark Wells, Jim Eken, C/1C Andrew Dane, CS09, Class President, Scott Hente, C/1C Sophia C. Vasiliadis, CS04, Spring Cadet Wing Commander, Larry Bryant, C/1C Jake Sorter, CS09, Fall Cadet Wing Commander, Bentley Rayburn.  

6. B-25 Flyover (USAFA Association of Graduates WebGuy).  

7-8. B-25 Flyover (Larry Bryant).  

 

9. “TOT Minus Two Seconds” (John Magoffin).  

10. B-25 Model presented to the Class of 2015 by the Class of 1975.  

11. B-25 Commemorative Coin.


Checkpoints Extras

The Checkpoints Columns are a growing repository for additional history, achievements and activities of the Class of 1975, not included in the original published column. Below are links to some (but not all) recent additions.


June Album

     
 

1. Ben Bosma: Samuel Ryals and I flew from Dayton to St. Louis where we picked up Barry Abbott. We then continued our journey to Olive Branch, Mississippi to visit our classmate, Jack Barton for lunch. Frank Dubuisson met us there for a swell time together. We stayed for a few hours and flew back tonight, dropping Barry off on the way. It was an amazing day of time spent with good friends of 40 plus years. Jack is a miracle man! I feel blessed and privileged to have made this little trip. Sally is a rockstar caregiver. He's in good hands.

2. Ralph Paul: Last Thursday [4 June], over 30 members of the United States Air Force Academy Class of '75 gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our graduation. It was great seeing so many of my classmates! '75 BEST ALIVE!!!  

3. Listen to what Greg Gutfeld says about the importance of July 5th.  

4. Max Della Pia and son John. (June 2015)  

 

5. Dave & Sharon Myers hiking the high country. (Sharon Myers, June 2015)

6. Tony Mahoney: Chauffeur for Prom 2015. (April 2015)

7. Barry & Gladys Abbott with their family. (June 2015)

8. Tom Barbera with sons Daniel (left) and Tim. (June 2015)

 

9. Tom Barbera: This picture was taken on the occasion of the swearing in of son Daniel USAFA 2015 (our Legacy Class). Dan is now a sophomore at the USUHS med school in DC. Col Jim Kelley is a retired O6 living in Colorado Springs – a long standing friend from Anne and my days at Wiesbaden Hospital in Germany where we all met. Jim was pararescue, the senior CRNA in the Air Force. We practiced together and he was Dan's sponsor thru his 4 years at USAFA. (June 2015)

10. Don & Debbie Henney with son Daniel, just graduated with his MBA from the University of Texas Austin. (Debbie Henney, May 2015)

11. Kurt Bock & daughter Rebecca. (Rebecca Bock, June 2015)

12. Bill Murray & Ben Bosma at Fatback's BBQ. (Ben Bosma, June 2015)

 

     
 

13. Jim & Emily Marshall and family (Kelly Marshall Vannoy, May 2015)


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