Howdy Best Alive! By the time this hits your mailboxes, Larry Fariss should be a member of the AOG Board, the Dark Ages and its associated parties will be a memory, and we’ll be one retirement closer to the Last Man Standing. So onward with your submissions from the past quarter.
Bill Estelle continues his hard work on 75bestalive.org, recently adding a link to a class Facebook page he established. The key to success is to get as many people as possible to "Like" the page, so here’s a plug: Send the link to your parents, siblings, progeny, friends, enemies, frenemies, neighbors, former neighbors, fathers, brothers, nephews, cousins, former roommates, and request that they visit and register as Liking the page. Last time I checked, there were 40 Likes showing – I know we can do better!
Dan O’Steen from the wild west Texas plains of Marfa sent some great pics of Gen Doug Fraser's retirement ceremony at SOUTHCOM HQ in Miami. John Kearns reported that 14 of Doug’s CS-15 War Eagle classmates made time in their busy lives to attend the ceremony – a pretty impressive turnout for a very memorable occasion.
Dale “Sledge” Hanner: Next week (28 Dec 12) I finish 3 years 42 days return-to-active-duty as the senior Lt Col on Ft Leavenworth KS. It was a great adventure – same stuff, different acronyms. We're now headed back to United Airlines in Denver.
Chuck Schmitz: I am officially done on 29 December. I’ll put in my claim for the Last Man Standing in the Active Duty/Air Guard category. Except for a two-week period of leaving active duty to enter the Guard I’ve been there since graduation.
Pete Blatchley reported on a significant classmate event at Ramstein: Don Lewis, having returned to active duty with 17 AF several years ago and with us in USAFE/A3O for the past year plus, will try retiring again in January. He's probably the most senior O-5 still on active duty, not to mention the last F-106 driver still sporting Nomex. We presented a signed painting entitled "Farewell Old Friends," which features the first two jets Stranger flew–last century – the T-33 and F-106. Don's heading back to his Texas ranch. It's been terrific getting to know a super classmate from across the terrazzo.
Dave Commons: Just received the recent Checkpoints and noted the comment ref Skeet Fraser as the last classmate on active duty. Though not a 4-star, I'm serving on active duty as the US Defense Representative to Saudi Arabia and the Chief of the US Military Training Mission to Saudi. Dubious record, I never thought I'd hang on this long, hindering my golf game.
SO the unofficial quarterly results for Last Man Standing: Dave Commons and Mark Wells. If anyone else wants to stake a claim, please submit it at your leisure. Congratulations and thanks for your service to all the recent retirees and re-retirees.
Steve Eickelman and son Jack went on an 11-day backpacking trip to the Boy Scout Philmont high-adventure camp. Steve worked hard getting into shape and benefited from a few steroid injections for his back before the trip. Yes, he knew he was taking performance-enhancing drugs, just like Lance Armstrong, but thankfully the BSA checked only his blood pressure and weight (too high, too big – no go) before the trek and he was not stripped of his badge and ice cream cone he dreamed about throughout the trek. It was quite an adventure for both of them.
Related note from Pablo Kent: For those of us who have experienced the great privilege of the Philmont trek with our sons, we know it is priceless. For Ike to do this at 59 years old is pretty darn impressive. I experienced Philmont in 2008 with my son, when I was 55, and it took a lot of effort then. Way to go, Ike! I noticed from our latest Delta early retirement program that three USAFA 75 took advantage: Jack Storer, Bruce Correll, Bill Schuessler. All junior Delta guys owe you one for moving us up in seniority!
Dean Spraggins reports in from the Black Hills: I still work part-time for the largest gun parts supplier in the nation, completing 10 years there in September 2012. Recession may still be afflicting other regions and other sectors of the economy, but our business has not been touched. In contrast, a sharp upswing began at the end of summer 2008, and we've been breaking our own sales records, year after year since. And once each year, on 4 July, I don the uniform of a Continental Regular, taking up arms (musket and bayonet) to educate tourists about the common soldiery of the American War of Independence. Near as I can determine, I am the sole such re-enactor in the state (some aspire to the moniker "living historian" but I shrink from such pretense). I have been told that some audience members are so pleased that they rearrange their travel plans to return for subsequent Independence Day presentations, youngsters and additional family members in tow.
Larry Bryant and Marc Hallada saw sons Philip Bryant, ’01, and Josh Hallada, ’02, honored by the National Aeronautical Association with the presentation of the Mackay Trophy in November for their harrowing rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2011.
Tom Barbera and wife Anne visited son Daniel at USAFA during Parents Weekend. “He is a third classman in my legacy squadron, CS29 Black Panthers. Class of 1975 is the Legacy Class for 2015. To my knowledge, he is the only member of the Class of 2015 with a parent in 1975. You never know if your child is suited to USAFA until they go and experience it. After basic summer last year, he explained to me how much he valued the training and how much tougher it must have been for the upper classmen than he and his classmates, as they had to plan all of those activities and get up earlier and stay up later than the doolies. Hmmm – the big picture…that's when I decided he had found the right 'college.'" (For a look back, click HERE).
Andy Dichter has the lead for the Washington DC annual Dark Ages Party on Saturday, 16 March, at Army Navy Country Club. Army Navy recently completed construction and activation of a grand, new club house, and it’s a very attractive venue to host the gathering. We all look forward to picture and stories, Andy and crew, and hope the turnout exceeds expectations.
Until next time, keep the faith and see you around the campus!