September 2016          Foster Bitton

A Worthy Cause. Bentley Rayburn, Kent Traylor and Bruce Mitchell represented the Class of ’75 at the annual awards banquet for the Cadet Honor Program held on April 28th. Prior-year donations by our class to the AOG, earmarked for support of honor programs, paid for the event and for the awards. First and Second-Degree Cadet honor reps and their permanent party support representatives attended this affair, along with the Vice Commandant. Award plaques were presented for outstanding contributions by cadets and their military and civilian mentors. Award plaques were presented to the wing honor representative and outstanding honor representatives from the four cadet groups. The organizers of the event and the cadets in attendance at the banquet repeatedly expressed their appreciation to the Class of ’75 for supporting these activities with their donations.

Slimming Down on a Grand Scale. From DoD News, Defense Media Activity: Classmate David Tillotson, DoD’s assistant deputy chief management officer, is taking on the monumental task of tracking the reductions resulting from a delayering initiative aimed at saving $1.9 billion through a 25 percent reduction of Defense Department headquarters staff costs. He noted in a May issue of DoD News, Defense Media Activity, that within the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff, 309 positions are being reduced, including 243 that are filled. In defense agencies and field activities, 1,260 positions are slated for reduction, he said. For those classmates who are hoping to stay entrenched in the headquarters until they reach the big 7-0, relax, Dave said involuntary cuts are not happening at this time.

BUFF Radar Nav to the Rescue. Tim O’Connell lives in Woodland Park, CO, and is a volunteer with the Divide Fire Protection District in the wildland fire fighting group and the technical (as opposed to artistic?) rescue group. On May 12th Pike’s Peak hosted its annual large-spring-snowfall-that-catches-non-mountain-dwellers-by-surprise event and stranded three young women who had climbed to the summit and were on their descent. One of the hikers called her parents on a cellphone, which started Tim and his fellow volunteers on a five-hour rescue that involved hiking through four-foot drifts in the dark. They reached the hikers just before midnight, treated them for hypothermia, and then accompanied them to a waiting ambulance, which took them to Pikes Peak Regional Hospital. One of the hikers was a 26-year-old former Blackhawk pilot. Tim probably tried to restrain himself, but he eventually pointed out the irony of a 63-year-old BUFF radar nav coming to the rescue of a much younger Blackhawk pilot. She acknowledged his point with a smile and chattering teeth. Tim started volunteering at the fire department in 2014 with the intent of only writing grants for it, but he was subsequently lured into going on a couple of calls, and that was the end of his leisurely retirement hobby. His department got 392 calls in 2015 for fire (structure and wildland), rescue, and medical assistance. About 30 of those were either injured/sick hikers on the west face of Pikes Peak or dirt bikes and ATV crashes in the National Forest north of Divide, CO. The average number of calls per volunteer last year was in the 30s. Tim’s count was 104. Do-gooders beware, Tim’s case is a prime example of how a few innocent good deeds can lead to a failed retirement.

Roadrunners Spotted on Mt. Denali. David (1975) and his son David Lee Blessinger (2009), both grads from CS-32 Roadrunners recently took a flying tour to Mt. Denali, Alaska. David is retiring back to Colorado Springs after a 23-year career as a pilot and scientist, and an additional 17 years supporting DOD joint tests. David Lee, a C-130 pilot, is currently flying C-12s, delivering equipment, supplies, and passengers over the remote regions of Alaska.

Grim Reapers Escape Unscathed. Mike DeHart, Dave Ferguson, Jack Storer, and Larry Colletti gathered in Colorado in March at Larry’s cabin near Winter Park for a few days of skiing and reminiscing about cadet days. Mike reports that the skiing conditions were great and, despite their ever-increasing ages, they were still able to maneuver the slopes without any injuries, though they can neither confirm nor deny that there may have been some embarrassing moments. Reveling in their ability to escape the adventure intact, they intend to make it an annual event.

Family Vacation. Speaking of successful getaways, the Mike Goyden clan, consisting of 14 Coloradans, spent 5 days in Disneyland and 10 days in Ko Olina, Oahu at the Disney Aulani resort. During the trip Mike’s youngest daughter, Kelly, got engaged on the lagoon at the Disney Aulani. There were no reports on whether the new son-in-low is related to Mickey or Goofy.

You Heard It Here First. Last quarter Paul Kent reported he was going to retire after 32 years of flying, and he followed through on that threat. His last flight was from Amsterdam to Seattle where he was greeted by a water-canon salute, and on the ramp his daughter, son, and son-in-law surprised him by coming in from out-of-state and holding a huge sign that read “Congratulations, Captain Paul/Dad, We Love You.” That caused Pilot Paul to create a few waterworks of his own.

Golf, Followed by Golf, Golf, and More Golf. Larry Farris has one of the more active bucket lists on the planet. His list has included hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada (done), riding his bike across the USA (done), biking the Tour de France route (done), and biking and backpacking New Zealand (done). Four years ago the next item on the list was to attend the Masters in Augusta. Obviously, Larry likes to do things in a big way, so the lead up to the Masters included ten rounds of golf on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Trail in five days. He tried to convince several classmates to join him for the entire trek, but only Dave Pratt (his USAFA roommate) was game enough for all five days. Jim Corrigan and Roy Rice (who both lived in the local area) joined him for several other days, and Wayne Willis jumped in for the first two days. Rod Hennek was able to get Larry and Dave tickets to the Par Three tournament as well as Masters Day one.

Larry subsequently decided to expand the golf extravaganza into the “Falcon Hacker Classic.” This year the “Third Falcon Hacker Classic” gathered the last week of April in Rod Hennek’s “small Lake House” in South Carolina for three days of golf, exaggerations of personal accomplishments, great food, and great fellowship. The invitee list expanded to 12 to fill out three foursomes…appropriately named Fast, Neat, and Average. They played five courses, including Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Gary Player designs…and all decided that Gary Player is an evil, evil man. This year’s attendees included Chairman Larry Farris, Host Rod Hennek, Charter members Dave Pratt, Wayne Willis, Jim Corrigan, Tug McGraw, Russ Trinter, Bo Montgomery, Bruce Fritzsche and Brian Duffy. Sponsor’s exemptions were granted to Dave Commons and Craig Matt.

The overall medalist was Dave Commons with Craig Matt as “Tail End Charlie,” but the real winner was Chairman Larry Farris who carded a score of 90!! (His previous record was just north of 100). Tim O’Connell take note; this is the way to conduct a successful retirement.


Roadrunners (Blessingers) on Mt. Denali


Mike Dehart, Dave Ferguson, Jack Storer,
& Larry Coletti in Colorado 


Goydens showing the Shaka


Goydens in Ko Olina, Oahu at the Disney Aulani resort


The Kents arrive


Attendees at the “Third Falcon Hacker
Classic” in South Carolina.  

Checkpoints Extras

Doolittle Raider Remembered


Kevin Donovan: In the early and mid ‘70s, the Doolittle goblets dominated the massive Arnold Hall display case at the US Air Force Academy. It wasn’t close – certainly in size and beauty, but here in front of us was living, breathing history. Those named on the upright goblets lived somewhere among us right now. For me and countless other cadets who stopped by many times during our four years to ponder this exhibit, the Doolittle Raiders were mythical and yet, through this display, a corporeal link to the aviation heritage that underpinned our Academy existence. We breathed planet Earth’s air with these legends who themselves were forever linked to one another in a private sanctuary of heroic adventure. 

And now we are down to one. Staff Sergeant David Thatcher died on June 22nd in Missoula, Montana, not far from where I now live. The loan survivor, Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole, builder of the portable goblet display case, has now seen all of the Raiders pass in review. 

Sergeant Thatcher was tail gunner on the B-25 Ruptured Duck. His story has been told many times. When I heard of his death in the local newspaper, I knew I would go to his funeral; indeed, I yearned to attend, to be transported back to my days at the Air Force Academy and to 1942. 

As one would expect, Sergeant Thatcher’s funeral was hugely attended. Attuned to and accepting of his war hero status, the family nevertheless spoke of a quiet, loving man, a simple Montana mailman in his post-war years. Others recalled the Tokyo raid for us, detailing David’s heroism in helping save his crew. Graveside, a B-1 roared overhead, shot like an arrow across the sky. And then came the B-25, its deep-throated engines growling and angry. It circled the throng below in low passes, like an eagle desperate to frighten off scavengers surrounding a chick just fallen from the nest. Conceding her helplessness, the B-25 circled ever higher, finally disappearing toward the white-capped mountains.

And there stood frail, 100 year-old Dick Cole, perhaps America’s greatest living airman, saluting the casket of his last brother. Did he hope, did he dream, that his would be the last upright goblet in his portable display case? I wanted to tell him how he and his crewmates had captured the imagination of thousands of young cadets and taught us about duty and commitment to each other. 

These days, I think quite a bit about the Academy and my classmates. Our crucible pales in comparison to the Doolittle Raid, but we are bonded nevertheless. I don’t often wear my Academy ring, but this day I did so proudly. Throughout today’s ceremonies honoring Sergeant Thatcher, I carried my copy of Contrails in hopes of strengthening my link to our heritage and to all of you. It worked.


Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate          Bruce Mitchell


AOG Update


Bruce Mitchell attended the AOG Class Advisory Senate Meeting on 11 July. Read the minutes and the AOG update via the links, right.



1. Chris Fillar. (July 2016)

2. Ted Thompson: My wife, Nancy, and I attended the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron (Red Eagles) reunion at the National Museum of the USAF. Also attending were John Saxman and Tony Mahoney with their spouses. (September 2016)

3. Willie Cosby, apparently stunned by the realization that it takes three cakes to hold all the candles required for his birthday celebration (September 2016)

4. Mac McIntosh, Joe & Sue Kahiapo, Honolulu, Hawaii. (July 2016, Linnea McIntosh)




5. Tony Mahoney: That's me and the wife, Cyndy, celebrating Zach’s HS graduation, with High Honors (hence the white robe), Advanced Diploma, Cords for Band and and Orchestra. He leaves next week for orientation at Texas A&M, school of engineering. How my wife, a Texas grad, allowed that is a real mystery! (August 2016)  

6. Rex & Shauna Hoey celebrating their anniversary in Mirren, Switzerland. (July 2016, Shauna Andrews Hoey)  

7. Rod Kallman (Rear, third from left) & Dale Hanner (Rear, fifth from left) with the original F-117 Stealth Fighter Pilots of the "Z" Squadron. (July 2016, MPC Setnor)  

8. Barry Abbott and the Abbott Boys (September 2016)




9. John Kambourian: All these beautiful women keep following me around! (August 2016)  

10. Steely-Eyed Steve & Barb Keen on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney World. It appears SERE training paid off after all. (August 2016, Georgia Randall)  

11. Janis & John Scherer at the Café Normandie, Annapolis, Maryland. (July 2016, Janis Scherer)  

12. KC Schwarz and family at the Abilene Christian game (Final Score: Air Force 37 Abilene Christian 21) (Dwight Schwarz, September 2016)  




13. Ric Rosborg, looking quite distinguished at the Batcheller Mansion, Saratoga Springs, New York, where U.S. Grant and Mark Twain finished Grant's memoirs (Elizabeth Rosborg, September 2016)

14. Otto Dieffenbach & friend (September 2016)

15. Kim Everhart Foreman & James Foreman at Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp. From Matt Foreman: Taken mins before my dad shook Charlie Batch's hand and had to throw Big Ben's sideline pass back to the players on the field. (July 2016, Matt Foreman)

16. Bill Spencer, grandnephew Brendon & the Bird at Coors Field Air Force Academy Day (August 2016)




17-18. Dave Beatty: I quit my retirement job as a cadastral cartographer for Clackamas County in 2012 and went to Canby Bible College on the GI Bill. Great fun hanging around a bunch of teenage friends of Jesus! It is designed to be a two year college that awards an Associate Degree in Christian Ministry, but I was able to milk 4 years out of it on Mr. Obama's dime and I was planning to stretch it to six but the Dean demanded that I graduate. CBC is run by the Four Square denomination and I am a dyed in the wool Lutheran so I was thinking the Dean had had enough of me trying to convert those Pentacostals :-). But now he is after me to teach so I may go back next term as a professor which would be more like work if you ask me...The course was super. We went through the entire Bible, studying each book in great detail. It was very inspirational. The degree actually qualifies me to serve as a pastor in the Four Square church should I choose to apply, but I'll stick with my Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) denomination and be happy serving as a lay leader. I am not sure pastoring is what I am cut out for (although I do enjoy preaching from time to time and I've officiated at a wedding and three funerals so far, so who knows...). (Dave is at far left in the group shot) (July 2016)  

19. Bob Hickcox (The reader is invited to complete the caption). (Jackie Henry, September 2016)

20. John Fritz: Never too late to take up a new sport! My new (used) Santa Cruz Blur LT. Thanks to Karena's brother Jeff for scoring this great bike for me. Our place just happens to be right in the middle of ground central for mountain biking at Breck, so thought I better give it a roll. (August 2013)




21. John Saxman: Earning the "Gold" on America's Great Loop. 1 year, 2 countries, 3 Great Lakes, 16 states , 799 hours underway, 2954 gallons of diesel, 5098 nautical miles, many new friends, and unlimited adventures. Loving life at 8 knots aboard "Red Eagle." (August 2016)

22. Kurt Bock & daughter Rebecca. From Rebecca: Two states. 38.6 miles. 7 medals. Coast to coast challenge: A once in a lifetime magical moment with my dad: priceless. (Rebecca Bock, September 2016)

23. Dan Burkett supporting the home team. (Dan Burkett, September 2016)

24. Bill Murray with (Grand?) nephew Asa James. (Leslie Murray, September 2016)




25. Steve Weilbrenner & family enthusiastically exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.(July 2016)

26. Dan Burkett & (hopefully) Elizabeth enjoying the inspirational alpine view. (July 2016)

27. Dan Burda: This is my shredder hotline GX factory manager with our show rotor that displays the different machines we make. You could buy a Mercedes with this rotor or you could shred a Mercedes in one of our machines too. (July 2016)

28. A humble Larry Bryant surrounded by some of his groupies. (Emily Bryant, July 2016)




29. Rick & Pauline Kim: Feeling tall...not! (July 2016)

30. Max Della Pia, Stephen & Leo, a boy & his dog. (July 2016)

31. Tom Knabel testing an alternate form of transporatation, you know, to save the planet. (July 2016)

32. Fred Offutt. (August 2016)




33. Rick Broome: General Colin Powell hung out with us in the studio watching me paint from late 1979 - 1982 and was always begging me to paint something "Green!" He commissioned a print of the Class of 1975's painting "Thunderbirds" now owned by Bentley Rayburn. When I delivered the framed painting to him at his office at Fort Carson was when I discovered he had just pinned on his first star. General Powell hung that painting behind his desk too! (August 2016)

34. Jim Corrigan with Kimberly & Jake Corrigan. (August 2016)

35. Willie Cosby behind the mic. (August 2016)

36. Jeff Chappell. Theresa: He just couldn't keep up. He is really asleep here. No staging was required. Don't know why he ended up holding the kids' stuffed animals. Awwwwwww! (July 2016)




37. Kent Traylor & daughter Meagan at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. (Meagan Counts, August 2016)

38. Rich Finke. (August 2016)

39. Sam Ryals at the California State Capitol. (September 2016)

40. Duane Lodrige & Michelle Faurot at Arches National Park. (September 2016)




41. Bill & Cathy Carrothers: Wrigley in early September before the Cubs were World Champs. We were there to see the SF Giants play them…Cubs beat them by a run. (September 2016)

42. Ric & Alice Lewallen walking in the Cotswolds (Read more about it on their family blog HERE). (September 2016)

43. Charlie Wintermeyer & friend. (July 2016)

44. Otto Dieffenbach: Spent the day biking around Avalon, Catalina Island, with Maria. We had a great time and found a great Happy Hour...Nachos and Margaritas. One, two, three...floor. (August 2016)




45. Jack Barton (September 2016)

46. Carol Macha, Mike Marro, & family. (Anglea Dobbins-Flowers, July 2016)

47. Dan Hanifen: Start of Alaska cruise in Seattle. (July 2016)

48. The three brothers, with Rodolfo Saaverdra Ferrere on the left. (Ed Saavedra, July 2016)






49. Rudy & Virginia Roth with friends. (Kathy West Gandy, July 2016)

50. Steve & Jacqueline Morris with Sheriff Bill Elder, El Paso County, Colorado (September 2016)



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