Checkpoints          March 2021              Foster Bitton

GBNF: John Sutton, CS-28, passed away on 14 Oct 2020. “Ebola” Bill Lyerly, CS-40, passed away on 26 Dec 2020. Obituaries and classmate remembrances for John and Bill are posted on the GBNF page of 75bestalive.org. (Links, Right)

The allowed number of words for Checkpoints for each class has been shortened by 25%. If your submission didn’t make it this time, don’t give up!

Kudos:

Dave Ehrhart was elected the new chairman of the USAFA Board of Visitors last November. Well done, Dave!

Mike McClendon was the first classmate to apply for and receive the FAA Master Pilot Award, which requires, among other things, 50 years of flying! Other classmates may also qualify for it, but Mike is the first one to claim it. He’s too modest to say “na, na, na, na, na,” so I did it for him. (Photos 1 & 2 Below)

Bruce Fritzsche did an outstanding job as the Local Coordinator for Wreaths Across America at the USAFA Cemetery on 19 Dec 2020. It was a tremendous tribute to remember and honor over 1,300 graduate and veteran resting places at the Cemetery. (Photo 3 Below)

Rich Chanick sent a note to Jim Carlson last December about challenges COVID-19 had placed on Father Gary Oreshoski’s parishes in SD. It wasn’t about religion, it was about helping people and a classmate. Word was sent out to the class through the Squadron POCs about ways to give Gary a helping hand. The class responded, and Gary was “overwhelmed” by the response. He noted, “it reinforces the goodness of people who care for others that are unknown to them.” Kudos to Rich and everyone else who took part in this thoughtful act of kindness.

A one-time Zoom social call with CS-33 Cellar Rats and CS-40 Ali Baba Thieves to toast our 45th anniversary has evolved into a weekly meeting to discuss race in America. Troubled by George Floyd’s death, Al Bready initiated and leads the group that meets every Thursday, sharing diverse experiences and opinions, but always in a respectful and thoughtful manner. World peace hasn’t been achieved yet, but they enjoy the camaraderie and the understanding gleaned from spirited discussion of a wide range of views.

Doing Retirement Right:

Phil Gronseth is vying hard for the DRR Award. He retired on 1 July, and on 1 August he, Larry Fariss, and three others started out from Denver to hike the 485-mile Colorado Trail. The final 80 miles to Durango were particularly challenging due to an early September snowstorm. The group spent four days near 12,000' post holing through snow up to 2 feet deep and setting up camp in the snow, finally arriving in Durango on 15 September.  Any hike you can walk away from… (Photo, Right)

Scott and Janet Smith snuck down to Cozumel, Mexico, for two weeks of SCUBA diving. Wearing masks at 80’ below sea level among the coral and fish of Palancar Reef is the epitome of social distancing! (Photo, Right)

The degenerates who play in the annual Fairway Frankie Farris Hacker Classic took the show to Alabama in November. The usual suspects made up the august group of geezers, wheezers, and hackers. They played five rounds on Robert Trent Jones Trail courses, after which Kim and Jim Corrigan hosted the champion’s dinner. Jim, being the host of the outing, tried to avoid taking the top golf honors, but with the likes of Roy Rice and Tom Popp in the mix, he would’ve had to play left handed with crooked clubs to lose the championship. Rod Hennek took home the trophy for the individual with the greatest potential to improve. (Photo, Right)

Alan Krukowski retired from Delta in 2018 and has since spent a large part of his time volunteering for church, school, and a local hospital. The summary of his submission is noteworthy. “I am pleased to report that I have never felt more value and calling than I do these days.”

Dale Smith is happy to report that he and Sharon are going on 41 years, their two children are gainfully employed, and that he’s retired but busy managing family summer cottage rentals in southern NH. Note to Dale, “retired” and “managing” don’t belong in the same sentence.

Not the Retiring Types:

Mike Magee tried to retire after spending 34 years with the airlines. However, to keep his sanity, as well as that of his wife, Holly, he took a job flying the Falcon 2000. We, the guardians of the Sacred Halls of Retirement, call this rationalization. By his own admission, Mike is still working at the age of 68, but he’s flying, and he’s going to a lot of places off the beaten path. In truth, there are worse ways to avoid retirement. (Photo 4 Below)

Mark McConnell flew single-seaters and the F-15 during his 16 years in the Air Force, followed by various flying jobs that led him to being a Southwest Airlines Instructor. He and his wife, Andrea, now live in Idaho. With the return of the B-737 Max, his team will need to train 7000+ pilots prior to March. In his own mind, Mark is probably retired, and training pilots to fly the Max is just a profitable hobby.

If the picture you submitted isn’t here, you might find it below.


 

1. Mike McClendon, 2020.

2. Mike McClendon, 1975.

3. Jim Burling: Over 250 people attended [the Wreaths Across America ceremony at USAFA] on a glorious blue-sky Colorado day, including classmates Larry Bryant, Jim Burling, Larry Fariss, and of course Bruce. Attached photo of Class of 75 "representatives:" (Left to Right) Stacy Mark (sister of classmate Mike Mark), Jim Burling, Larry Bryant, Bruce Fritzsche, Dianne Turner-Fritzsche. Photo by Becky Burling Gaughan, spouse of John. (Larry Fariss had departed.)

4. Mike Magee: I have seen some derelict pictures included in these updates, so why not us, LOL! Mike, Holly, & Sean Magee, Covid Free, in front one of our company Falcon 2000’s at PHL airport. July 2020! 


Checkpoints Extras


Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate         January 2021


Bruce Mitchell represented the Class of '75 at the January 2021 CAS Meeting:

We had a magnum CAS meeting tonight with record (virtual) attendance, the Supt Lt Gen Clark providing a detailed update on the state of the Academy and his priorities and worry beads, and many other details. Will get to the details via the formal minutes when they are ready. Here are the highlights:

a.  New CAS officers took charge tonight; President Randy Helms officiated the meeting.

b.  Supt gave an extended, detailed and very open description of his major activities and progress and worries; he is very engaged and he really seems to have a handle on things (my opinion/impression). He has spent a lot of time "hands on" with the cadet wing in recent weeks to help with morale and to pattern leadership in a personal way for our cadets. He is very appreciative of the support he gets from grads, across the board. "USAFA is only as strong as the support it gets from its alumni." Cadet Wing made it back from holiday break with no major issues. COVID still is making everything harder, and the time from now to Graduation will be long and hard on the Hill. But the USAFA response and approach to COVID has been so effective that the other academies are emulating the AF approach in several specific areas.

c.  The e-ballots for AOG elections will go out 6 Feb and we have six weeks to vote on-line as AOG members. '75 had marvelous participation in the last AOG election, but still, WE NEED TO URGE OUR CLASSMATES to vote in Feb, and select replacement BOD members from a slate of 30 candidates and also meet at 25% quorum on two by-law changes. More to follow from me and others on this...I plan to write all our squadron reps directly.

d.  2020 donations to USAFA foundation were very strong (surprisingly strong). Record $36 million of cash collected in single year from donations of all types.

e.  Decisions on 2021 possibilities for class reunions will be made in Feb; AOG will do all it can to re-start and support reunions this year, but the COVID restraints and realities and associated decisions and protocols are not yet determined by the USAFA leadership.

f.  Relative to the USAFA alum who was arrested last week in the Capitol disturbance; the Supt is talking to the entire USAFA permanent party staff and cadet wing tomorrow about how we are held to a higher standard as USAFA grads (or cadets or instructors or security forces or anyone USAFA).

g.  AOG WAS NOT consulted on the decision to move next couple of years' inter-service football games to the Dallas/Ft Worth area...FYI.

h.  There is a whole lot more going-on at our Academy than I can summarize here...please let me know if you have specific questions.

Minutes HERE.

 

USAFA Construction Projects Updates


Air Gardens

 

Air Force Academy Foundation: All of the reflecting pools have been restored, but they are awaiting better weather for the final coating, as the temperature needs to be warmer. They expect to have that completed by mid to late April. The concrete flat work is 90% complete, while the vegetation is expected to start being planted beginning late March or April depending on weather conditions. Overall they expect to be 99% by graduation, with an expected completion date of June 15th. With that being said, any major snow storms, cold snaps do have the potential to delay the project and push back the dates.


Cadet Chapel

Association of Graduates: The USAFA Cadet Chapel is now under wraps. The fabric cocoon was completed last week. We won't see the iconic building again for several more years! (March 2021)

Photo, Left: The chapel has finally achieved the shape envisioned in 1956.


March Album

     

 

1. Mark Risi: Out with the old and in with my new look thanks to my 7-year old makeup stylist Ellie. Things papas do for their granddaughters. At least she doesn't have me wrapped around her little finger. (January 2021)

2. Steve Keen (In The Background), astonished at (or perhaps envious of) his friend's committment to the Keto lifestyle. (Kathy Higgins Keen, January 2021)

3. Jim Schuman, during better times: My boys. I can't believe they're all gone. The last one, my baby boy Jukes the chocolate lab, just lost his battle with congestive heart failure. Don't know how I am gonna go on...in pretty deep depression right now, but I know this, too, shall pass....For the moment, I am all out of tears. Rest In Peace boys. (January 2021)

4. Wes Routh: The City of O'Fallon, Illinois, where we've lived for 28.5 years, has banners around town of veterans and the period of time they served. If the veteran was in a war, the banner includes the name of the war. A few months ago, my sons Mike and Tim, in coordination with my wife Marti, paid to have two of them placed with my Lt Col official photo from 25 years ago on them. I was never in an actual war zone, though I served while two occurred and was in the Strategic Air Command for 15 years, so they just put the years I served on the banner. It was a really big shock today when Tim's family picked me up and took me to see them. I talked to Mike on the phone to thank him while we were there. The banners are on the southwest corner of 1st Street and Lincoln and the northeast corner of Lincoln and 2nd Street. They stay up for 1 year, then are given to the family. Thank you Mike and Tim. (January 2021)

 

5. John Kambourian: I'm exploring the inner cowboy in me! (January 2021)

6. Al Morrison and the Morrison crew. (Lindsey McCannel Morrison, January 2021)

7. Paul & Sheri Kent: Good hike from leeward to windward side of the Ko'olau Range. 1800 feet gain. Looking at Waimanolo and Bellows Beach. (February 2021)

8. Eric & Elizabeth Rosborg on a long walk in their woods. (February 2021)

 

9. Dave & Patti Ruddock at Table Rock Beach, Laguna Beach, California. (Lindsey Paddock Collings, February 2021)

10. Bill Murray: I played in a charity golf tournament today for American Airlines for the Michael E Thornton Foundation. We had full access to four Medal of Honor Recipients (Michael Thornton, Bob Patterson, Jim McCloughan, & Drew Dix). What an absolute privilege to be in their presence and hear their stories, which they were reluctant to even mention. We owe our freedoms to these great men! (March 2021) (Left to Right: Thornton, Patterson, McColughan, & Bill Murray)

11. Mark & Mary Volcheff, with son Paul, celebrating Mary's birthday. (Mary Dwyer Volcheff, March 2021)

12. Greg Berlan: Two graduates of Parkway Elementary School getting together for dinner at Columbia Restaurant in Celebration, Florida. (March 2021)

 

13. Ric Rosborg: Great date night on the Severn. For the Zoomies, that's Canoe U in the background. (March 2021)

14. Kent Traylor golfing with buds. (Brian Binn, March 2021)

15. Frank Dressel with his latest creation, the tail and aft fuselage section for a Van's Aircraft RV 14A. (March 2021)

16. Bob Hickcox, post-Pfizer vaccine with post-pandemic hairs. (Form 10 available upon request) (March 2021)

 
 

17. Jim Marshall enjoying the company of his grandchildren. (Kelly Vannoy, March 2021)

18. Paul Kent: Very enjoyable day on Puget Sound with good company. (Dave Stahnke, March 2021)

19. Bill & Judy Murray, Evelyn Muray, & Matthew Wilson at Sadelle's, Las Vegas. (Evelyn Murray, March 2021)


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