Classmates. Michael Gudmundson, Bill Schussler, Chris Glaeser, and Jim Carlson held a practice Reunion at Alexis Restaurant in Mendota, MN. Although they didn’t discuss their summer 1971 BCT experience of being gassed in Jacks Valley with a 100% solution instead of the intended 10% mixture, and the unpleasant after-effects, they did have an enjoyable evening reminiscing. From Duane Jones: “At Dave Ehrhart’s Change-of-Command for the Air Force Legal Service Agency, as the ceremony ended, the two-star host announced to the assembled masses that the President was forwarding Dave’s name to the Senate for confirmation to Brigadier. Talk about down to the wire. Commander, lawyer, and now, selectee. Let’s hear it for the old guys!” From John Charlton: Dave Tillotson moves onward and upward at the Pentagon.
From Dave Wallace: Two more One Stars have been nominated to appointment to Major General: Al Peck and Eric Rosborg. Also from Dave: a nice AF article about our classmate, Maj. Gen. Stanley Gorenc, who watched his younger brother, Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, pin on his first star. (AF News Release Below) They are 2 of 271 general officers in the active-duty Air Force out of more than 350,000 Airmen. While they do not know for sure whether they are the first set of brothers to serve as generals at the same time, they do believe they are the first Slovenian-born brothers to serve together as generals in the U. S. Air Force. The brothers immigrated with their parents to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1962 when they were 8 and 4. Our humble classmate Stan added “"We didn't know the language. We didn't know the culture, and we came to learn (that) the United States is truly a land of opportunity."
Al Piotter retired at the Pentagon on June 29th. Classmate Brig Gen Duane Lodridge, ANG graciously agreed to preside at the ceremony. From Jim Carlson: “Phil Benjamin hung up his blue suit in June. Phil has been low-key for as long as I've known him – and he stands out as having the highest measured IQ of any in our class.” Pretty cool, Phil. I didn’t know that! If you are in Seattle, maybe you can help me program my VCR now that you might have some free time? It continually blinks “12:00”. Duane Jones, Benjy's former roommate at the Zoo, conducted the ceremony and did an outstanding job of highlighting his many accomplishments. The scribe admits he is remiss in tracking promotions and acknowledging all the appropriate accolades to our deserved classmates who have advanced in rank or completed years of service to our country. Not intentional, I assure you. Lazy, Yes. Intentional, No.
Thirtieth Reunion. By the time you read this, the 30th will be a memory; and I am sure a good one for those of us lucky enough to be able to attend. As the scribe, I get lots of correspondence about all things class related, and I got a kick out of reading how some of our classmates were maneuvering with the “Baby-Sitting” logistics. Specifically, Bill Taylor, with triplets that just turned 1, and a three-year-old. In his search for a solution, he mentioned Marty Miller, with one-year-old twins, and possibly a younger child. Dean Cox was planning to bring his 4 year old and 7 month old. And Mike Marro has 2 children he takes to child-care every day. If Fred Whitican does bring his 15 year old daughter to baby-sit, as planned, she should be able to finance her social life for quite a while with her earnings from this one long weekend alone. This got me thinking about the “spectrum.” I know we have classmates with Grandchildren that are older than these children. Now, there is no need to turn this into any kind of competition, but your humble scribe would be curious to know: First, the oldest offspring (and yes, I am sure this child was born shortly after or even before June 4, 1975; scribe note: statute of limitations have long past; this accomplishment should be a source of pride now); Secondly, the youngest offspring; and Lastly, the oldest Grandchild.
Patty Chapman wrote they would not be at the reunion as oldest son T.W (USAFA 2004) graduates UPT in Del Rio the same weekend. Second Son Ben graduates USAFA 2005, and Third Son is in USAFA 2006. The scribe has no words to appropriately acknowledge this parenting par- excellence. BG Al Peck sent his advance regrets about not being able to attend, as he is at an undisclosed location in the desert. He adds: “Living the dream, but won't get released to party with the Best Alive.”
From Jim Carlson: “I spoke with and extended the appreciation of our entire class to Bill Boisture, USAFA '67, who has generously provided the means to fly our combat-injured classmate John Sims (CS-21) and his wife Violeta to our 30-year class reunion – and he tells me that all this is being done strictly from the point of view of Air Force Academy graduates banding together for fellow Air Force Academy graduates. He and I agree that there should be more of this kind of thing within our community. I also want to say a huge thank you to our classmates Barry Ketchie and Bill Davis who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
I Didn’t Know. “Smacks” and “Squats”? Where did these derogatory terms that were directed at us in the 1971-1972 time frame (for some of us, directed on a continuous basis) come from? From Jim Carlson: “After the initial shock of the M-80 round that went off a few days after July 5, 1971, and the world as I knew it turned upside down, it was another 3 weeks (when we marched into Jack's Valley) before I got over the initial shock of being a “doolie”, and discovering why we were called "squats" and “smacks”.”
Squats – because our physical training consisted mainly of squat thrusts.
Smacks – the sound our puny little bodies made each time we hit the wall when an upperclassman walked by (followed by, "By your leave, Sir!")
Now we know (in case we forgot, or chose to forget).
Harassment Kudos. Jim Carlson congratulates Mike Anderson, the POC for 14th Squadron: “Unless I missed someone on the count, I think that CS-14 is the first and only squadron to have ALL their guys verify and update their online. I just noticed that Billy Stephan was unable to withstand your benign leadership and my incessant hammering – and finally logged in! Every squadron except yours (mine included) has at least 1 holdout. And it's generally on principle or something.”
Prayers. Carl Van Pelt’s son Matthew died in a motorcycle accident in July. From John (Juan) Kambourian: “Still in Brasilia doing God’s work. Planning on making the reunion if my wife Kim’s medical condition permits it; looks kind of iffy right now. Don’t know whether I told you, but Kim was diagnosed with a very advanced bladder/cervical cancer last August just after we arrived in Brazil. Three massive operations, radiation/chemo therapy later she is still fighting for her life. Things don’t look very promising but we are still praying for a miracle.” Randy Barrett was very seriously injured in the crash of his seaplane in upstate New York on Tuesday, July 5th.
Duane Lodrige retiring Al Piotter. We could have called this the "Al" event: among the classmates that showed up were Al Bready and Al Green. Others who witnessed Al Piotter's well-deserved recognition of 30 years of service to our country included: Bill Lyerly, Phil Benjamin, Mark Beesley, Dean Cox, Don Henney, Dave Ehrhardt, Jim Carlson, and a touch-n-go by Steve Redmann. There were, altogether, 12 classmates for this gathering!