Summer 2003          Jeff Hackett

Like Riding a Bike. Yeah, by golly took an issue off and I still know how to get this thing to the editors after the deadline! A big thanks to Jim burling for taking the reigns while Chris and I were busy planning/pulling-off our “Big A_ Party” in March.

Like Falling Off a Bike. It was on the other hand a painful experience to attend the memorial service for Pete Strunk here in mid April. Pete was killed in an auto accident. A large number of folks represent family, friends, church, current coworkers (Northwest airlines), and former coworkers were there to say goodbye, and to extend support to Kathe and the girls. I didn’t know Pete at school; we actually met when I helped him get his first off-active-duty job in the mid-80s, but he was likable/admirable in every way from the start of our friendship. Sorry now that we had fallen out of touch over the years (inexcusable – we live less than 12 miles apart).

On an only slightly less somber note I report that CW4 John Sims (Maryland Army National Guard) suffered severe head trauma in a UH-60 Black Hawk crash in Iraq in March. He was initially treated in Kuwait, evacuated to the USNS Comfort, and then moved to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was transferred in early May to Virginia medical center in Richmond, VA. Hope some email excerpts from Scott Smith, John Charlton, and Jim Carlson who have all been to visit John will bring you up-to-date; “Neither he nor his copilot are sure whether they went down because of mechanical malfunction or enemy action… He suffered compression injuries, broken bones, and severe head trauma… not yet able to read; can recognize some words, but cannot comprehend sentences, and has some difficulty with retention; still has some form of short-term memory loss… John’s not sure where his next stop will be, but further treatment is almost a sure thing; John has lost his airline job, and most likely his Guard job, so he’s concerned about how he’ll be able to make a living when he is ready for release… I am proud of his service to our country and was personally refreshed to see a classmate taking this “bump in the road” so well; I really am proud to have him as a classmate.” (JH: as we all are)! For those that may not have been reached by email, note that there’s a move afoot to pump up the ‘75 class fund in order that we might be in a better position to help John and his family in some way. Whatever you feel is right ($5 – $50 has been bandied about) send to Scott Hente.

Be Sure You’re Not At The airport When Your Ship Comes In. The proverbial clock is ticking for those who don’t want to miss getting on board the Golden Princess for Class of ‘75 Caribbean cruise (Jan 04). Twenty-four hour buffet/bistro, largest casino afloat, full-service spa with ocean-view gym, a wide variety of bars and lounges, four pools, and a wedding-at sea-program officiated by the ship’s captain – what more can you ask for? Arrangements are being handled by Keoki Alge, at Cruises Only. I recently ran into one confirmed “cruiser” – Lamar Lewis was captain of the Southwest Airlines flight I took on my way to USAFR duty in Albuquerque. Lamar looked great and said that life was good; he and his wife/family are still in Napa CA and he’s still an ardent golfer. Lamar’s experience cruise-taker and says this looks like a smoking-good deal.

The always newsworthy Bill Murray sent a couple of emails this quarter – one providing details of daughter Rosemary's wedding (pictures of the lovely bride were included but none with dad so I can’t include here). His second note announced the change of assignment at Ogden ALC – Bill is now the F-16 System Support Manager.

After Twenty-Eight Short Years. Saw a note from Walt Burns announcing his retirement; Walt will be staying in the Tidewater area and starting a business with Joe May. Don Henney will also be getting new work clothes out of the same old closet; he’s remaining in the DC area where he’ll be taking on job as civilian comptroller for the 11th Wing serving Bolling AFB and the National Capital Region. Bill Percival lamented that he, “cleverly timed my retirement this summer to coincide with an airline industry crisis. Nevertheless, fearless in the face of adversity… and stop loss be damned…” Also saw a note that said Chuck Nystrom was retiring and one from Jim Fellows that announced his retirement was delayed for 60 days (March timeframe) while he took the reins at 62 AW/CC. And a just-in-time email from Jim Burling announced that he had just returned from a golfing weekend with Bill Hughes and Jack Huffman in Milwaukee which celebrated 32nd anniversary (July 5th) of our first walk up to now nameless ramp and Jack’s retirement from USAFR. Jack flies for Southwest of Chicago and lives in Lake Geneva. Bill and his wife, Peggy, live in Milwaukee where he's an attorney.

USAFA Twenty-Eight Years Later. If you didn't see the email Bentley Rayburn sent on 4 June, let me know so I can forward it to you. Bentley offered an excellent report on his visit to USAFA in late April. He was there at the invitation of the Chief of Staff, as were representatives from every other graduated class, to meet with all 1st and 2nd classmen. In Bentley’s words, “The purpose was to ‘put a stake in the ground’ with regard to the current crisis at the Academy surrounding all the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against a number of female cadets, and say to the Wing, in essence, ‘It’s time to move on.’” Closer to home, Bentley let us know, “Mark Wells is holding down the fort running the history department… The dean and others all remarked about Mark’s strong leadership and steady hand on the faculty. Bumped into Larry Fariss as well. Everybody is effusive in their praise for the great job Larry was doing as commander of the Prep School. Saw Larry Bryant, too. Larry of course, retired a few years ago but still teaches in the Computer Science Department, and doing great. Rod Kallman’s son Lance found me and said “Hi,” as did Mark McConnell’s son, and Ric Turner, John Turner’s son.” Bentley mentioned that Tom Skillman is on staff at Air War College with him.

Collect Calls Not Accepted. … unless of course you have something really good (with photos) for the next column. Calling your attention to the fact that Chris and I have moved into the new millennium by killing off hard-line home phone in favor of mobile-only service. As for photos this time, I’m saving us from Déjà Vu as the leading candidates were highly redundant with last issue: 1) margarita-influenced group shot of DC Best Alive crowd, and 2) wine-influenced shot of Phil Pearce and Mike Perry in tuxedos (on the occasion of son Sean Pearce’s wedding which Chris and I also attended).

Not to disappoint the editors or you – I'm now late and over the word limit but there's still time/space to urge you to hug the ones you love – it’s later than you think.


Checkpoints Extras










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