Checkpoints          September 2015              Jeff Chappell

Bentley Rayburn summarized the Legacy Class B-25 Graduation Flyover as follows: Friday, 22 May, was the last time the entire Class of 2015 met. At the end of their meeting, we presented the B-25 flyby and model. Photo shows the 2015 Class leadership (three cadet wing commanders and the class president) and our ’75 reps, 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 in history to wear the Purple Heart. The Class was 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. There was some consensus to have a base of some kind constructed so that we can mount an appropriate inscription memorializing the event, then display it at Doolittle or Arnold Hall. If anybody else has some good ideas, send them our way! The B-25 flew over just after the Wing formed up on the parade field. 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 Classes of ’75 and ’15 and the fact that the 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.

Final point from Class Treasurer Scott Hente: When our class was tasked with the challenge to raise $4,000 for the flyover, they sent in more than $8,000 and I’m still getting checks!

Scribe Emeritus Paul Kent notified us that classmate Tom Kemp was elected Vice President of Flight Operations for Alaska Airlines. Tom is a 31-year Alaska veteran with more than 16,000 hours of flight time, who previously served as director of operations and managing director of standards, fleet and operation control, and as system chief pilot and managing director of line flying. "Tom's commitment to safety and compliance and extensive knowledge of Alaska Airlines make him extremely well-qualified to lead flight operations and Alaska's 1,639 pilots," said Alaska Airlines Chief Operating Officer Ben Minicucci. "He not only possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience, but his integrity and high moral standards personify our Alaska values.” Congratulations Tom!

Phil Gronseth sent in a tear-jerker: Gerry Micheletti donated a kidney to brother Pat, former Minnesota Gophers great and current local hockey analyst. Pat discovered last fall that both of his kidneys were functioning at 13 percent. Pat thought he had hip issues. Doctors believe his kidneys were failing because of years of taking the over-the-counter pain reliever Motrin (ibuprofen) to deal with discomfort stemming from his hockey career. “There’s been some big family stuff, but this is a good one,” said brother Tom Micheletti. “This was an extremely emotional experience to go through and such an ordeal. You have one brother giving his kidney to save another brother’s life. But Gerry did it for the baby of the family, which makes it more special. We were kidding, Pat’s been the one babied his whole life and we’re doing it again when he’s 50-something. We can’t seem to stop ourselves.” Gerry played hockey at Air Force and is still very much involved with them. “When we went into the room to see my Uncle Gerry, he knew all of our names and the first thing he asked was, ‘Did they comb my hair?’ He wanted to look good,” Pat’s son Alex said, laughing. “I’m proud to be part of this big family. I’ve been a nervous wreck, but it’s been really nice to have [my family] here to cheer me up.” Gerry’s kidney was in great condition and is functioning perfectly after surgery.

Phil adds: I've had the joy of teaching at the Prep School since 2002. My first boss was our classmate Larry Fariss! In 2010 I returned to active duty for two years and filled a rated slot in the physics department. I just moved my office a couple ridges north. I was on Leave Without Pay status at the P for two years and then just moved my stuff back two ridges south after my second AF retirement. While on active duty I joined the hockey team staff and just finished my fifth year with them. I skate when the coaches need help with practice, am on the bench doing the line changes during games, and also tutor on trips. My first two years with them we went to the NCAA tournament. What a rush! The team went to the NCAAs five out of six years so our expectations are high. I have breakfast every couple of weeks with a number of classmates: JD Barrowclough, Mike Goyden, Bentley Rayburn, Mike Rosebush, Mike Biedermann, and Rex Hoey are some of the guys who show up.

Bill Caskey sent this photo from a family vacation in Grand Cayman, captioned “Finally got my stars.”

Doug Nelson just retired from teaching at Spokane Community College. He and Edie plan to take a year to make sure everything is in order, then let the Lord be their tour guide for the next 18 months or so.

Cathy, wife of Joe Marksteiner, sent this item: Joe is a competitive powerlifter, regularly competing on the International or World level. In June, we traveled to Salo, Finland, for the World Classic Powerlifting Championships, with over 34 countries represented. Joe won the Silver medal, having squatted 380 lb, bench pressed 203 lbs, and pulled a 407 lb. deadlift. Joe then traded in his National Team Athletic uniform for his Category I International Referee uniform. Back here in the USA, Joe is on the Executive Committee for USA Powerlifting, and developed the scoring program used at our National championships. I competed also and took the Silver medal in my age and weight division, so it was a family affair at the meet.

From golf nut Bill Murray: About 2001, Hill AFB invited Mike Weir to do a golf demo. He agreed and in exchange we gave him a ride in an F-16. The fence behind the driving range was about 300 yards, and that day he was easily sailing them across the fence! I remember him saying, "Hey, I’m hitting them pretty good today...too bad I'm not playing!" I was thinking, how does a little guy hit the ball that straight and that far! I just happened to be at a party recently at the Colonial where Mike was signing golf balls for the fans. I asked him if he remembered his F-16 ride, and his eyes lit up. He even remembered the pilot he flew with and said it was the thrill of a lifetime!

Reunion XL convenes shortly after this publication – hope to see everyone then!


September Extras

Mark Wells' Final Class

Via Facebook: The History Department took a moment today [8 May] to recognize (and surprise) Colonel Mark Wells as he finished teaching his final course with DFH. A 1975 USAFA Graduate, Col. Wells has served several tours of duty with the History Department, culminating with his appointment as the Permanent Professor and Department Head in June 2007. Col. Wells is a command pilot with more than 3,200 flying hours in the KC-135 refueler and several varieties of training aircraft. He will retire from the Air Force during the Fall 2015 semester.



Larry Bryant's Retirement

Larry Bryant: Fellow 75 Classmates, I realized last month that I've spent half my life in Fairchild Hall, counting 27 years on the faculty + 4 years as a cadet, so I've decided to finally retire, and I would be honored if you would like to attend the ceremony.

On hand for the 31 August celebration was a large contingent of family, friends, staff, colleagues, cadets and 10 members of the Class of 1975: Lee Colburn, Dick Dye, Bruce Fritzsche, Phil Gronseth, Scott Hente, Rex Hoey, Duane Jones, Bruce Mitchell, Dave Myers and Mark Wells.



1. Retirement Ceremony Invitation.  

2-3. Dean of Faculty Brigidier General Armacost and Larry Bryant. (Bill Estelle)

4. Class of 1975 Contingent (Front, Left to Right): Dave Myers, Rex Hoey, Lee Colburn, Duane Jones, Phil Gronseth, Dick Dye, Larry Bryant, Bill Estelle. (Emily Bryant)

Recent Comments Collected From Disqus

Fred Weems:

I plan on attending [the 40th Reunion], but there's no way I'll meet the haircut standards of 60-16, or whatever the new reg is. Or the weight standards for that matter, unless Santa Claus is the new norm. Oh hell, standards be damned. I think I'll bring one of my concubines instead of one of the wives. All those rock bottom OER's and MOM's were right in my case. Still living the dream! (August 2015)


Dan Burda:

The Class of 1975 was a very, very nice group of men. I am proud of those in 29th Squadron and 14th Squadron that I was able to meet. Miss you all and the great times we had for 4 years. (August 2015)


Stephen Ridge, Larry Ridge's Brother:

I'm trying to track down Rich F. Class of 1975. My older brother was Lawrence (Larry Ridge). Larry passed away on Dec 10, 1976.

See obituary below please:

On 10 December 1976, 2Lt. Lawrence K. Ridge, Class of 1975, died as a result of injuries received in an automobile accident near Mesa, AZ. He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred J. Ridge, 18 Hamilton Street, Hyde Park, MA 12136.

Lt. Ridge attended the USAFA Prep school prior to being admitted to the Academy. As a cadet, he was a member of the 20th Cadet Squadron and participated in the scuba and History clubs.

Following graduation, Lt. Ridge was assigned to the 78th Student Squadron at Webb AFB. He was assigned to the 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Luke AFB at the time of his death.

If you are, or know how to get in touch with Rich F. (class of 1975), I would like to speak with you. From a post on this site, I understand Rich F. accompanied my brother's body home to my family in Boston and met with my Dad (who has since passed). I've always wondered what Larry would be doing these days had he lived. I thought you might have some insight.

I won't take up much of your time. I was just hoping for a brief connection to a part of my life that was torn from me when I was in 3rd grade. I am 47 years old now. I am a stock broker and I'm married with a 6 year old boy and a 5 year old little girl. I live in suburban Maryland and I hope to hear from you soon.

PS. I attended the graduation in '75. I'll never forget it. I wasn't old enough to run down and grab a cap upon all you guys throwing them in the air but my Dad captured it with his little Kodak with the silly little cube flash on top.

Editor's Note: Contact Information was passed to Rich.

September Album


1. Bob Shappell (October 2013)  

2. Bob Shappell: It's a strange feeling to walk to the mound in front of 35,000 people and look up at yourself on the jumbo screen at Miller Park. And yes – my only pitch in a major league park was a strike, right down the middle of the plate. (August 2014)  

3. Mark Lenci in his 1972 Jaguar XKE V-12 (July 2015) 

4. Tim O'Connell (right) and Jacques Van Ryn atop Mt. Princeton in the Sawatch Range of Colorado: Bagged another 14er yesterday (Colorado-speak for hiking to the top of a peak over 14,000 ft). This time with my college roommate. Wore the t-shirt for my "20906" Facebook Friends! (Tim O'Connell, August 2015)  


5. Jacques Van Ryn atop Mt. Princeton. (Tim O'Connell, August 2015)  

6. Mark Donnelly's hockey team won the over-60 division in the Las Vegas tournament. (Mark is rear, second from right, October 2014)  

7. Eric Rosborg and friend awaiting a warmup for their daily walk. (February 2015)  

8. Raider Ramstad (left) and Mark Holmes jumping over San Diego. (Mark Holmes, August 2015)


9. Mac & Linnea McIntosh with their grandchildren. (Linnea McIntosh)

10. Bob Shappell: After almost 2 years since our last competition, Lulu and I were back in the dressage arena competing at 1st level. This is the ribbon from our first ride. Two more blue ribbons and a red ribbon followed this one. We competed in our new American Legion saddle pad we received from the Legion Headquarters staff at Portage. The bridle was a gift from my district commanders. (September 2015)

11. Steve & Joanne Blackburn. (Jessi Blackburn Neff, September 2015)

12. Chuck Hippler and grandson Chase (Class 0f 2019). (Rose-Marie Palevo Hippler, September 2015)


13. Bob Hickcox following his P-51 ride. (July 2015)

14. Duane Lodrige and his new toy. (Scott Giles, September 2015)

15. Jim Dill (Center): I played golf today with my buddies...I had the best round ever and shot an 81...not too bad for an 18 handicap! The view is just so awesome. (September 2015)

16. Sandy & Liz Terry with their extended family. (Lauren Monnett, August 2015)


17. John Charlton and fellow NDU alumni. (National Defense University International Fellows Alumni, August 2015)

18. John Charlton and an assortment of fans at MSU. (Colleen Charlton, September 2015)

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