Checkpoints          March 2016              Foster Bitton

[Class Scribe Foster Bitton]

Terrazzo Tracks. On 1 January 2016 classmate Mark Volcheff started serving as the new President/CEO of the US Air Force Academy Endowment. Mark succeeds General (Ret) Steve Lorenz, and he is eagerly looking forward to this opportunity. In his words, “it’s an incredible privilege and an awesome way to give back to our alma mater by raising funds for the Academy that either the government cannot fund, cannot completely fund, or cannot fund in the timely manner needed by the USAFA recipients. Donations to the Endowment provide the extra margin of excellence to cadet programs and capital projects in line with donor wishes, or, if unrestricted, to Superintendent priorities.” The Best Alive can help Mark get started off right in his new position by 100% of our class making some form of a 75 donation…. $75, $1975, $7500, whatever you think you can do.

Awards and Decs. Rick Pyatt is a member of a team that recently won United Technologies Corporation’s Horner Citation, which recognizes teamwork and the ability to leverage UTC’s collective strength across business units and functions to advance the corporation’s interests. Rick’s team received the award for developing and executing a comprehensive strategy across the entire customer decision-making chain to secure contract awards for both the Marine One Presidential Helicopter and the U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Rick was also recently announced as the head of the UTC Aerospace Systems Washington Office and as the Vice President for Government Programs. His principal role is to lead the military business development efforts across the services. Classmate Sam Ryals is on the team as well, serving as Director for Air Force Programs at the Air Force Research Labs.

Maintenance and Repairs.  Dick “Mac” MacIntosh has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, complicated by an abortive attempt to surgically remove the tumor. In his own accounting of his condition, “Once I was opened up, the surgeon discovered the cancer had spread to the liver and hepatic vein, so they stitched me up and we moved on to chemotherapy and potentially radiation therapy. I’m in the second of three three-week cycles of Abraxane and Gemcitabine infusions - a clinically proven combination that may put the cancer in remission and prolong life for 12-18 months. We learned a lot about managing side effects in the first three-week cycle, lessons we're trying to apply to this cycle. The side effects accumulated over the three-weeks; I spent part of three days in the last week in a fetal position on the bed with everything - including my teeth - aching. Lost 6 more pounds that week, but gained it back during the recovery week.

“Still down 20 pounds from norm, trying to ingest 2000+ calories, 100+ grams of protein every day, and working out several times daily. The physical exertion is a reminder of good health and the endorphin release helps physically and mentally. With so much out of my control, it's comforting to control the exercise, to set daily goals, to push for one more rep.

“Could not do this without Linnea. We've got a large group of supporters, mostly affiliated with the high school track and field team I coach. I continue to keep a vision of good health, family, and team success in the forefront of my thoughts.”

If you have any spare thoughts or prayers, feel free to include Mac in them. More information can be found about his ongoing fight with cancer below.

15 Minutes of Fame.  Charlie Sargent made a short foray into the world of Reality TV by playing a major role in an episode of “Married by Mom and Dad,” which aired on TLC on December 13th, 2015. The premise of the show is for singles who haven’t been able to find their soulmates using the conventional methods to place the picking and choosing of their mate in the hands of their parents. Didn’t this kind of thing go out of style in civilized society a few centuries ago? Most of us can see all kinds of reasons not to go down this aisle, such as Mom wants a doctor in the family even if he has halitosis that could drop a rhino at 50 yards, and the fact that if Mom and Dad do the choosing they permanently give up their right to say “I told you so” when the new son-in-law reveals his addiction to gaming and welfare checks. But the producers either overlooked these possibilities or they were drawn to the alluring light emitted by sponsors willing to pay for anything that attracts viewers who shun reality in favor of unusual scenarios. Charlie and his wife were tasked to find a bride for their 30-year-old son, Mitch. Attempts to contact him for more information were unsuccessful. Anyone who watched the show can submit your observations on it for the next publication of Checkpoints, although you’ll probably have to answer a few probing questions concerning what state of mind you were in to be watching reality TV.

Then and Now.  During last year’s reunion CS-15 was one of several squadrons that got together, shared some old times, and took some pictures. Hugo Gray provided the pictures from a party at Jim “Pickle” Dill’s house in Monument along with the squadron’s class photo from the 1975 Yearbook. The pictures provide a study in contrasts. The squadron photo from 1975 shows 18 cadets, of which only 6 could be accused of harboring anything close to a smile, five look like they’re going to the gallows in the morning, and the other seven are clearly wondering why they are being forced to pose for a class picture when they would undoubtedly rather be back in their dorm room studying for an International Affairs final. However, the group gets positive points for everyone looking at the camera.

Fast forward to 2015, and it would appear that during the intervening 40 years virtually all of them found something worth smiling about. The scowls and death row glares have been replaced with ear-to-ear grins, but it would seem the more upbeat mood came at the price of discipline since at least a fourth of them are not looking with 90 degrees of the camera or they’re almost entirely hidden from view.

A picture of the lovely wives at the same event would explain why all of the guys are smiling. Unlike their unruly husbands, the brides of CS-15 all found a way to stop talking long enough to look at the camera for the picture. Well done, ladies!

Look for more photos and additional information about Best Alives on the class websites.

 

Extra:  Bruce Mitchell attended the AOG Class Advisory Senate Meeting on 12 January. Read the minutes of that meeting HERE



 

March Extra

Mac McIntosh

The following are some words from Mac McIntosh written on December 15th, 2015 during his fight with pancreatic cancer. He’s obviously in it for the long haul, and his attitude is world class.

Started the third three-week chemotherapy cycle Monday with encouraging blood tests and potential chemo radiation included in the fourth cycle.

Two cancer markers are decreasing, but still a little above normal and a recent CT scan reveals no growth/slight decrease in size of the pancreatic tumor(s).

Adjusting to the new normal that is our lives with cancer, trying to manage reactions to the increasingly predictable onset of side effects. We're keeping detailed logs of activities, caloric intake and exercise. Most frustrating has been inability to regain 30 pounds, with slight progress during last recovery week when we gained back 6. It's amazing how many calories the chemotherapy consumes. Muscles are responding to resistance training with hypertrophy, but there's no "filler" anywhere. I've always had skinny bowed legs, but they're now stringy chicken legs. Not pretty.

We remain thankful for all our blessings. We have a comfortable home, financial solvency, and a large community of supporters. Most thankful for that woman who's shared my life for nearly half a century. Last Friday, she packed Mom, her luggage, wheelchair and walker into the Toyota at 0400 and drove to Eugene for an 0800 flight to Arizona. Mom's settled with my sister in Mesa and they're beginning this phase of their lives together. After living with us as her caregivers for the past 11 years, it's hard to walk by Mom's favorite chair and realize she won't be there watching Samurai movies. Linnea raised kids who've become two outstanding Americans, is the hardest working person I've ever met and continues to out-produce two normal people. Having her as a partner is comforting, inspirational, and the greatest of His blessings.

I continue to draw inspiration from all of you; many have and continue to offer prayers, notes, letters, and other encouragement. I want to share a portion of a note from Alex Brown, a football and track team captain who's enrolled at SOU [Southern Oregon University]:

"I feel like the older I grow, the more I learn to appreciate the life lessons that past coaches and teachers have taught me over my high school career. I just finished my first term/football season at SOU, and I can honestly say that it was more difficult than I anticipated it to be. Yet, when times got tough, or when I was exhausted, I just thought back to our three standards. Marshfield's team standards; live with integrity, compete with class, and add to the legacy. Our head coach, coach Howard, is always preaching about being a man of character, strength, and honor. I just see that as being stacked on top of Marshfield's standards, and it gives me all the confidence in the world. At the end of every home game, we sing our alma mater in front of the entire crowd. It makes me feel at home. And as I sit here, and hundreds of track memories run (no pun intended) through my head, I can't help but to just say thank you. Thank you for devoting your valuable time in order to instill these standards into, not only myself, but all the athletes that compete in purple and gold. Thank you for teaching that discipline and hard work brings results. And thank you for the countless memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. And I can't wait to start hearing about all of your progress and how you will (apologize for my language) kick cancer's ass! Still sending prayers your way. And last but not least, Once a Pirate, always a Pirate!"

Educators know there is nothing more professionally or personally gratifying than feedback from former students that validates your effort, your devotion, and your persistence. Having the chance to work with many more young men and women like Alex is a continual source of inspiration.  

Another is sharing success stories – John Gunther's article about Travis was insightful, moving and informative. We rejoice in his recovery and appreciate how hard he struggled to return to his coaching passion. One of our friends emerged from esophageal surgery after a chemo/radiation protocol at the Cancer Center with no sign of cancer. We chatted with a recent Marshfield graduate who's completed an extensive treatment protocol for Hodgkin's lymphoma and is in complete remission. I told her how good she looked, with that big smile I'd seen on campus so often. When I thought about her success that evening, I looked in the mirror at my bald head, freakishly large ears, and said aloud, "you've got it good, Mac, it's time to MAN UP!"

Contact Mac at piratecoach@gmail.com


March Album

     
 

1. Jim (Tony) Mahoney: A photo of a great American (and a great Dad) on this Veteran's Day. WWII. Navy. Pacific Theater. And served on a mine sweeper! Crazy (Tony Mahoney, November 2015)  

2. CS-15 enjoying the local cuisine during the 40th.  

3. Brian Duffy at the NASA Kennedy Space Center.  

4. Bentley and Debbi Rayburn with many of their extended family in Chatanooga, Tennessee, Thanksgiving 2015. (Bentley Rayburn)

 

5. Perry Lamy with sons Alex and Nick at the Heard Museum Dinosaur Exhibition, McKinney, Texas, December 2015. (Perry Lamy)  

6. Bob Hickox finds his dream vehicle. (Jackie Henry, February 2016)  

7. Joshua, Micah, Jeannine & Mickey Clemons in San Francisco. They appear to be attending some sort of sporting event. (February 2016).  

8. Jim Marshall reviewing a picture edition of Contrails with a member of the Class of 2037. 

 

 

9. Gary Exelby after his successful operation to replace a heart valve or two (Karen Exelby, December 2015).  

10. Perry Lamy: My Dad (holding the Stars and Stripes) in Rome on Tuesday, 8 May 1945 with a couple buddies (Perry Lamy, November 2015).  

11. Dave & Patti Ruddock with their gaggle of grandchildren. (Dave Ruddock)

12. Greg & Peggy Berlan. (January 2016)

 

 

13. Jim Forman. When I went through SERE... (Lee Anne Forman, January 2016)

14. Gary Exelby. (Karen Exelby, February 2016)

15. Ric Dahlstrom & sister Laurel: Two strangers on a night ride on the High Roller. See the blonde on the left (longer hair)? I had to push her out of the way to get this picture. Laurel thought that was funny. Me? Another day at the office. (Laurel Becker, March 2016)

16. Keith Workman celebrating his birthday: Friends, a definition of who I am: Times past pointing toward the present and shining hope into the future, redeeming the present by a caring presence. I am so grateful for so many high caliber, sincere, intelligent, faith and love filled people in a tribe I feel always warmly welcome. This continuity of compassion reflects myself across time and distance. Thank you all for chiming in on my Birthday, making this a special occasion of an otherwise typical day. God's Good on ya. (February 2016)

 

 

   

 

 

17. Jack Barton. (Emily Noel Barton, March 2016)


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