Happy 2008. A good number Best-Alivers convened at Bill Murray’s TX BBQ in preparation for USAFA’s first Bowl appearance since 2002, the Armed Forces Bowl against Cal on New Years Eve. As you can see from the photo below, most of our stalwart football team fan classmates were all wearing their brand-spanking-new blue AFA football jerseys with the big “75” emblazoned on the front and back along with our class emblem on the front, manufactured by Ben Bosma’s firm and facilitated by Mark Volcheff. The scribe purchased two and gave one to Mrs. Scribe as an anniversary gift to celebrate their marriage 19 years earlier to the day. Confused, Mrs. Scribe thought “75” was for the 75th floor of the tallest building in Seattle, where the reception was held. Of course, this is the same Mrs. Scribe that asked, 2 months after Mr. Scribe was promoted to Major (in the USAFR, as she didn’t know him in the actives), “What did you say you are.....An Admiral?” Note: this is a true story. Anyway, our Falcons did well but couldn’t survive a rally by Cal after a three-TD lead. California was ranked No. 2 in the nation in October before losing six of seven games. Others at the game include Buck Rogers and Jeff Chappell. Dave Commons, Dale Meyerrose, and Kent Traylor participated in the Athletic Fundraiser the night before the game.
The Ring. You may recall, as our Fall 2007 Checkpoints deadline loomed, a USAFA 1975 Class Ring was up for auction on eBay. We didn’t know who the ring belonged to at the time, and the seller was less than forthcoming with information. After the purchase we discovered the inscription has two lines in cursive. First Line: Ed Kasl; Second Line: Omnia Vincit Amor (Love Conquers All). Ed knew his ring was lost, and suspected it was his, but the seller would not acknowledge the request for information. We may or may not find out more about this later.
Anyway, a little Class Ring Heritage review is in order: “With financial support from the Class of 1968, the AOG has established a class ring display on the second floor of Doolittle Hall. This display is designed to include one ring (actually worn by a graduate) from each class. The AOG maintains a display of class rings and is working to acquire additional class rings to create a heritage ingot containing one of each class ring, a portion of which will be included with each new class's ring. After the Association of Graduates has collected two rings from each class (one for the display and one for the ingot), Jostens will melt one ring from each class into a single ingot. A piece of this heritage ingot will be added to the production of all future Academy rings. From then on, all rings will include a piece of every Academy class.”
For those wondering, the Class of 1975 has one ring on display. It was donated by JT Wolter. It has a red stone and a cross. Inner inscription reads JT Wolter Dirty Thirty. Did you know? The standard for Air Force Academy rings is White Gold. Yellow Gold is not authorized. The Ring mystery and purchase created some dialogue among us. Mark Holmes: I too, lost my class ring, a 14 Kt white gold with a blue glass stone. I was at a party at a house in C-Springs, took a bath, left it in the soap dish and when I went back later after the party was over it was gone. I was just sick. My folks were kind enough to replace it years later with a Stainless ring as a replacement. Johnny Sims: That makes me grateful I recovered mine from Iraq . . . and much more grateful that the class was thinking of replacing it for me for the 30th Reunion! And lastly, there were offers from Rudy Roth and Bob Miglin to investigate creating a database of all our rings. Great Idea! David Beck closes: The [ring on eBay] discussion also started me thinking about where I want my ring to go after death (which I hope is not in the near future). I'm not sure what I'll decide, but this might make an interesting question to poll our classmates.
Classmates. Paul Lotakis is the new Great Pacific Northwest POC. Mark Fry the previous Geographic POC, has taken a DoD job as an AFJROTC Teacher at Lakenheath American High School in England. Mike McClendon has been reassigned from the WPAFB area to Langley AFB, VA. Stan Gorenc landed at Tucson and is working for Raytheon as their Director for Missile Defense Business Development. BG Duane Jones has left Ramstein AB, Germany for the Pentagon. From Chuck Willis: BTW Just have to brag. My son Michael, Class of '98, was just promoted to Major, effective yesterday! He has also has two Bronze Stars from his previous assignment. Mark Volcheff has joined Mark Beesley as a member of the Durango Group. Mike and Jan Goyden became grandparents in January 2007 and their son Chris was married in July. Tom and Debbie Peterson’s son Chad was ordained into the Lutheran Church followed by other son Jess’s marriage a few weeks later.
The Year in Review, by Jim Carlson. As 2007 nears its close, I want to wish all of you a happy holidays (Christmas, Hannukka, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Cycle of Creation, Peace in our time, etc.) We've had a pretty good year as a class. We didn’t lose anyone (assuming our Missing Classmates are alive and well).
We have the largest presence in ZoomieNation (336) (Now Defunct). The next nearest class, '87 has just 76 members registered! We continue to wow the folks at the zoo who notice these things. (from Don Rightmyer '73: How in the world have you guys managed to get so many classmates online and in this ZoomieNation group (Class of '75 Best Alive!) ? ?) If you haven’t been to ZoomieNation yet, Log in. We have a number of classmates going into private business.
Our hard-working Class Webmaster, Marty Stytz, created a class website without parallel and raised the bar for the other classes. Marty's ideas are works of art as far as I'm concerned. Especially the GBNF pages. We continue to produce the next generation of Academy graduates, and more children of notable achievements in life who make us proud to be their parents. We've got about a dozen classmates working their buns off overseas -- and even punching out of aircraft. Your respective Squadron POC should have been on your case asking you to verify your contact information with him. I sent each a spreadsheet to make sure we have the latest information. Please cooperate with your Squadron POCs and update your data. Our webmaster Marty intends to put together a "Google Earth" application that will give you the opportunity to virtually "fly" over a map of the US to locate other classmates. But he needs each of the POCs to deliver. PRE-GRADUATION STORIES: As you know, I've been collecting stories, reminiscences, photos, and other trivia from you from our days as cadets at the zoo. And you've responded with great alacrity, making the collection of memories from those times worthwhile in building a class legacy, as well as fun for me (and others) to vicariously live/share your experiences. I will continue to exhort you to keep sending such electronic memorabilia to me and to Bill Estelle, our class archivist pre-graduation.
Post-Graduation Stories: But we also had careers and lives beyond the zoo. And that's where this next request comes in. Our class archivist, post-graduation, is Bruce Mitchell. He and I have talked about ways to gather the highlights of our classmates' lives after the zoo. Since we seem to be connected more or less via email and the Internet, this is probably the best means to get you guys to participate and even THATS challenging at times! I want to lend my efforts as your class president to this endeavor, and to ask each of you to think about some of the great memories and experiences you've had since 4 June 1975. Many of us have had intriguing careers that were off the beaten path. We've had classmates serve in our sister services, and in government. We also have a strong segment in private enterprise, in teaching, and in medicine -- as well as in the information and defense industries. Over time, I want to hear from each of you. There are potentially over 700 stories out there -- but I'd be very pleased to get half that! Let's start small, and begin with select topics. For instance, how about stories you may have about times you've crossed paths with other classmates. Attached is a recounting of a couple of situations where classmates have run into each other in ways that were memorable. Please put your electronic pen to electronic paper and memorialize your own instances and forward them to Bruce. Future topics may include: what you did in another military branch; what military engagements were you a part of; 9-11 and other national emergencies; singular accomplishments in business or personal life; tales of survival and loss; honors received from your community (don't be shy about this); government service (local to national); and friendships from the zoo that have stood the test of time, to name a few.
Other Examples of Post-Graduation Achievements/Events That Deserve Archiving (remember – send your stories and memorabilia to Bruce Mitchell):
Johnny Sims brush with death in his helo crash
Chronicles of our very own classmate astronaut Brian Duffy
Scott Hente's, Matt Fong's and Bentley Rayburn's political careers (I'm sure there are others)
Chronicles of classmate Business Owners and Partners
Chronicles of classmate Medical Professionals
Chronicles of classmate Legal Professionals
Chronicles of classmate Helicopter Professionals
Chronicles of classmate Airline Drivers
Chronicles of classmates in Education
Chronicles of classmates with PhDs
Classmates who have overcome great physical odds
Chronicles of classmates who served in other Services
Classmates in Federal service
Classmates of the Cloth
Chronicles of classmates making a living outside the borders of our country
Classmates who continue to impregnate their wives
Classmates rescuing, aiding, medically caring for, delivering babies for, and providing other similar aid to fellow classmates
Classmates achieving stardom in the eyes of classmates, whose work (likely quiet and unheralded) of singular distinction deserve to be appreciated and recognized by his brothers
Classmates who have taken paths less trodden
Classmates of character and decency who rightly ought to be celebrated by those who feel themselves fortunate enough to be their friends and classmates
Bruce Mitchell adds: If we could get 300 stories by the next reunion . . .
I still hold up Curt Osterheld's SR-71 war story in the Ben Rich book "Blackbird" (about K. Johnson and the Skunk Works) as a terrific example. (Below)
Non-Grads. An anonymous letter to Jim Carlson from a non-grad: When did you start including those who did not graduate in your reunions? Is it not a little awkward? How do those who graduated feel about it? And Jim Carlson answers: Non-grads have always attended reunions. But in historically small numbers. And not just our class. I've made an effort to find as many non-grads to join us in all our class activities. Our last reunion broke Academy records for non-grad attendees (over 2 dozen). The reactions have been very positive (see a couple of non-grad views in our class website.and everyone enjoys the camaraderie. I haven't witnessed any awkwardness, and our classmates seem to feel it's all in the family. We've only had one person get upset (at the 25th reunion), but I think it was because he departed the zoo before 3-degree year and had no squadron to latch on to during that reunion. I've remedied that by designating one night at all reunions as "Doolie Squadron" night so that there's an anchor group for everybody.
1971-1975. From Otto Dieffenbach III: A little additional documentation [on our spirit mission to raid the Com's office]. The first photo is from the Army Week office relocation, and I now believe that Jack Storer was behind the camera. The second jpeg shows two shots of a smaller team that tried again before Christmas but the locks were much more difficult to pick so we decorated the outer office. The Form 10 was found on Vandenbergs credenza during the first caper.
Chuck Willis: Re: Gary Whitfield’s question about unbolting the F-104 and moving it one night: I am hazy on the details, however I recall there were only a very small number of us and that we were all wondering where it would end up as it rolled down the "Bring me Men" ramp. I think we borrowed bolt cutters to cut the chain, but I think he is right, we had only to unbolt it. The next day, there was a stern PA warning about molesting the "war memorials" on the terrazzo. Can anyone tell me what war the F-104 fought in? We pulled the stunt in part to upstage my brother's (class of sixty something) moving the Bell X1 that required a crane to get back in place over near Arnold Hall. I am sitting here in a hotel in Vienna, Austria with insomnia about the return to the States. Read this stuff really brought back some good memories.
From Bruno Bethaud: We were 5 exchange cadets that senior year: Stephane Abrial is one of our 5-star Generals. He is actually Chief of the French Air Force. Bruno Dauchet has been a Pilot for Air France for the past 15 years. Marc Bonnet is working for NMJ Services, providing technical manuals in aeronautics (5 years as a civilian now). Dominique Jamaux is working in Thales Airborne Systems (left the French Air Force 15 years ago). Bruno Bethaud, me, working in SAGEM Defense & Security (SAFRAN Group) (left the French Air Force in 1998).
Stan Schoener: Although I did not want or enjoy the 'Senior Year Shuffle', I am finding out there is a nice advantage to it -- any news going around, I get to hear from 2 sources, Paul Lotakis (CS-35) & Jim Carlson (CS-33). Thanks guys! As time is passing by, I really regret not making it to our 30th. I'm anxious for our 35th reunion to get here (and splitting time between my 2 favorite squadrons!). From Bill Rohde: Really great "listening" to all the stories and trying to visualize who's "talking". . . Problem is, I see 20-year-old faces, knowing we probably don't quite look the same.
Blast from the past, courtesy of Julius (Chappie) Hargrove: The Story of the “Big Bad Brother” national advertisement:
Long Version: A minority recruiting office was beginning to spin up during our time at USAFA so they contacted a New York ad agency, D'Arcy & D'Arcy (I vaguely recall from the Feb 1975 inscription on the copy), to put a professional piece together and promote it nationally. They were obviously looking for a well-placed gentleman, academically sound, great smile, and desirably an intercollegiate letterman for four years, the team leader type, a/o someone in the exclusive pool for follow-on medical school scholarship. You know, a regular guy on campus. As we recall, our class attrition approached 50% and the same held true for the two-dozen Black cadets that entered in 1971. As numbers would have it, both of those guys could not be reached, were previously occupied, or didn't want to play that day. So an officer and a civilian grabbed me as I strolled the terrazzo from lunch at Mitches on my way to class. They offered me my first pass to miss class legally in my eighth and final semester [frame of reference: my two surgeons didn't accomplish that several semesters earlier; yes, the ONLY tours I ever marched PTEWY (eight) came as a result of missing a GR... when I spent two weeks in the hospital, for TWO different operations- first knee (MCL) surgery, and mandible adjustment (wired upper teeth together) because the braces weren't working too well!]. Sounded like a great deal since I really needed an attitude adjustment. I was one of the 70 classbuds that had their pilot slot taken weeks prior due to the AF change in visual acuity requirements following the end of the Viet Nam War. They did eventually grandfather those 50 of us that could still pass our entry qual, albeit a week prior to graduation. Capt/Maj Thomas Cunningham, USAFA '65, an AOC, played a role since that was his 7-year-old son Tommy in the shot with me. I got to use a rarely worn winter parade uniform combination, giving me satisfaction that my funny money had gone to good use on that item, finally. They staged it, took a few shots, kept all of them, never presented a contract, didn't tell me what it was all about, and I made my next class having never gotten a form-10 [recalling the ole adage: the reward for a job well done is the lack of punishment]. The scope of the project began to reveal itself when Mom's Chicago friend called her in Alabama to congratulate her on her son's appearance in an Ebony ad, then a Philly friend mentioned it in Jet, then Detroit family in Black Business, and so on and so forth. She chided me for not telling her but I let her know that I didn't know. Finally someone said (maybe in the recruiting office) that some 22 historically Black circulation publications carried it as a two full pages ad. Then the Academy flourished and gained two more of Mom's sons for classes of '82 & '84. Also astronaut Brian Duffy's '75 brother even came for '83 non-attributable?
Short (publishable) Version: I was the usual suspect to take a photo, had nothing better to do, the project turned out to be a national minority recruiting campaign done by some fancy New Yawk ad agency, and little Tommy Cunningham made the scene come alive. I was not punished for missing class that day!
Admin. Jim Carlson: The AOG website is offering an “Email Forwarding” as a new feature (No longer available). Our class was asked to ops test it, and it works fine. If you want to create a permanent email address (that privately points to your real email provider), and make up an email address for yourself that ends in "@usafa-grads.com". (You have to first log on to the AOG website, or register there first) The first part of the address is up to you. For example, I use "jimcarlson75" (naturally). This is your chance to get "75" as part of your email address! For the multiple names in our class, such as "Bill Davis", one guy can use "billdavis75" and the other one can use "bill.davis75" or "bill.z.davis75" or pretty much anything that isn't inflammatory or pornographic. Then enter your normal email address that messages are going to be transferred to (you can modify this anytime, such as when you change email providers -- but your "@usafa-grads.com" stays the same). People who email you will use the "@usafa-grads.com" email address and the forwarding to your real email provider is automatic. By using the usafa-grads.com email address for the website, your actual email address will not be retrieved by spiders and other applications that collect email addresses off public websites. Only when you reply to a legitimate email recipient will your real address be revealed to them.
Classmates, one of the neat things about being class president of this class is the fact that there are 40 absolutely GREAT classmates who have voluntarily served as points-of-contact (POCs) for their respective squadrons. In addition, there are 40 more EQUALLY GREAT Backup POCs who make sure that if the primary POC is incommunicado, the backup will make ensure squadron communications are maintained.
As we live our lives, circumstances change, and sometimes events take us away from our normal routines. There have been several instances when the backup has stepped up and kept his squadron informed of class news when his primary has been temporarily offline for any number of reasons.
On more than one occasion, a primary POC who can no longer serve as the communications point of contact between his squadron-mates and class officers has asked his backup to step up and be the primary. The email below is an excellent example of this "change-of-command" process. CS-14 has swapped its POCs as smoothly as any Thunderbird show.
Other squadrons have undertaken similar actions. BTW, CS-11 has a new primary (Marty Stytz) and the former primary is now backup (Tom Calhoun). CS-18 also has a new primary (Bran McAllister) and backup (Scott Carson). Thanks guys!