Recognition is Back. Never knew it left, you say? But there has been nary a word about Hell Week? So a general inquiry was made. Bruce Mitchell responded that in the current environment, it is absolutely Politically Incorrect to refer to the week before Recognition as “Hell” Week anymore, so it will not be mentioned again in this column. And with this PC stuff, I’m guessing Shower Formations aren’t a regular occurrence anymore, either? I’ll check on this.
3rd Annual Graduate Leadership Conference at the Zoo this Summer. We will hopefully have 10 classmates in attendance. The AOG limited each class to 5 representatives – but our class seems to have acquired some kind of influence or deference from the powers that be. I’ll quote our class Prez Jim Carlson: “75 might well be evolving to become a discriminating force in the future of the Academy as the 60's decade classes grow thinner. The Supe is a '73 grad and we share a brief span of common experience and outlook with him and those early 70s classes. That commonality appears to dissipate with the advent of the 80s and later classes. We're getting to, if not at, the top of our game with respect to our alma mater, classmates. Hopefully, the rest of the class will get brief impressions from each of the guys below, who represent a broad slice of our class. It will be interesting to see if they draw differing interpretations from the same briefings and Q &A’s they receive.” In a future (next) column, I’ll list the attendees and a synopsis of some observations.
Passings. Jose Ricardo Castro-Aguirre passed this life for another on April 16th. He was the first Salvadoran to graduate from USAFA. The scribe received word from his CS-20 mate Charlie Buck that his wife Katy passed away, her battle with cancer finished on February 1. Charlie adds “the local Lawrence newspaper and TV station both did nice pieces about her (a lot of other people had fallen in love with her, too).” Katy was the school nurse in Lawrence, KS. A delayed story from Bran McAllister: "My father (WWII fighter pilot) died of ALS in 2004. His dying wish was to fly in a formation with his son (F-15 pilot) and grandson (USAFA ’04). We accomplished the feat 6 months before he died, flying with Air Combat USA in Fullerton, CA. We had a wonderful experience, documented in the local media.”
Classmates. From Charlie Beadling: we are having a 30.5 year reunion for the CS-16 Chickenhawks this weekend (Jan 28-29) in Las Vegas. It looks like we will get 12-13 (out of the 15 plus+2 non-graduating classmates) in attendance. We just had such a good time at the 30th we decided to keep it going. From Paul Lotakis (per his attempt at a Class of 75 Puget Sound Seahawks reunion at a downtown sports bar): “As they say it was an ill-conceived plan that was perfectly executed. I was the only one that showed (to my knowledge). It was crowded, noisy and no place to sit. Everyone got there super early and marked their territory. I looked around and could not identify any chubby-aging ex-cadets. I gave a waiter 20 bucks to snag a chair (without a table) and a view of the game.” Duane Jones has been honing his skills as a web site jockey with a cool look backwards, leaning on Al Bready's good nature and immeasurable patience. What did Al do to deserve this? From Dave Clough: "Check out Dale Meyerrose in Aviation Week and Space Technology's Feb. 27th edition. He retired as a 2 star and is now CIO for Director of National Intelligence.”
Phil Gronseth was awarded the “Wakin Character Award” for his efforts as the one-person “mission element head” in charge of character development at the Prep School. Phil teaches Chemistry there. There was a nice article lauding Phil in the local paper. Makes us proud. From Dave Wallace: “Attached please find a photo of LtGen Doug Fraser, 11 AF/CC, a certified '75 Success Story. With him is his wife Rena, my wife Col Jan Wallace, and me; the occasion was the 11 AF Awards Banquet at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska last Friday 3 March 06. Doug officiated. We were there because Jan is the 354 Mission Support Group Commander at Eielson AFB, Alaska, a part of 11AF.”
From Jim Burling: “Dick Webber is on the 2-star nomination list and celebrated with classmates on Feb 26th at the Peterson Club. We don't have too many classmates' promotions to celebrate anymore!” True! At least not in the AF anyway. John Quattrocki adds (and sends the photo): “Congratulations on your promotion – well deserved and good for all who depend on the finest Air Force in the world. Your time on SERE cadre did nothing to prepare you for this but I am sure the attached photo is fun for you, family, and everyone else in the class.”
From Raider Ramstad, who seems to be having too good of a time and forgot he is in his 50’s: “This is the NFL of skydiving . . . 25,400' AGL breathing O2 until exit, 5 Hercs in tight formation, all the ear blocks, sinus infections, hypoxia, stomach viruses, hangovers, bud buzzes, etc, not to mention extreme stress and pressure to perform. Yahoo, baby." From Scott Baxter: My son came back from Iraq on leave in December and got married – baby is due 26 days from now. From Bill Murray: "Stick (Mark Stickney) and I recently got together with our wives in Dallas for some good food, fellowship and golf! He’s still with Northwest Airlines as an A-320 Airbus Captain living with the pay cuts, and I’m still with Lockheed Martin trying to get my salary up to where he was cut to!” From Kevin Lanzit: “I left the US-China Commission to take a job with the Institute for Physical Sciences on 1 March. I am off The Hill and now working in McLean, VA.” From Buck Rogers: "Michael E. Rogers will be entering the USAFA with the Class of 2010. Young Mike Rogers is excited. He has visions of being a fighter pilot (don't where that comes from), then Test Pilot & Astronaut, and culminating in being the first man on Mars – a real "Buck Rogers" story!!! I just hope he graduates!!!”
From Rick Pyatt: "My wife was unpacking old boxes last weekend and found my purple A-jacket. Amazingly, I could still zip it up. I'm sure I was stress testing the material, but I felt like a peacock anyway. Still looking for my pointy hooded parka, although I think my Dad has it.” From Barbara (Michael, aka “Spike”) Johnston: "Jack Shine and wife Debbie just moved to Shanghai with business, and plan to be there for 3 years. Additionally we are very proud of our only child Josh as he is about to graduate from Harvard in June.” BG Mark Beesley retires effective 1 June. From Duane Jones on Muddy Waters’ retirement: “It was a really nice ceremony. Chief of Staff took great deal of time highlighting some personal stories about our classmate's great spirit and good works. Dean Cox, Lance Grace, Rick Pyatt, and I were happy to see him so well recognized. Sad to see him go.”
Closing. A comment from Bruce Mitchell that probably pretty much sums up most of our reflections as OUR era comes to a close: “Bentley Rayburn retiring...I feel a strange disturbance in the force. It truly won't be long until we (' 75) are officially active duty has-beens.” As Duane "LoDrag" Lodrige adds: “Bentley has certainly represented the USAFA Class of ‘75 well!” Amen. And the latest from Bentley: “I know I’m nuts, but through an amazing and perhaps providential turn of events, we find ourselves back home in Colorado preparing to run for the open congressional seat here in the 5th District of Colorado. John Gaughan is our campaign manager.” On the other end of life’s spectrum, a word from Bill Taylor: “Our triplets turned two yesterday, so it should be easy sailing from now until they’re sixteen . . .” Count on it, Bill.
A note from the AOG: a survey to all graduate members should have been sent by the time you are reading this. Please fill out and return the survey.