December 2016          Foster Bitton

75 Ways to Leave the Rat Race. Simon and Garfunkel sang about 50 ways to leave your lover back in the days when we had flat bellies, knew we were invincible, and sported hair density greater than 12 follicles per square inch on the top of our taters. Now that our stomach muscles have taken a more relaxed outlook and most of our hair has long since navigated the maze of city sewer systems and washed out to sea, we have only our invincibility to hold on to, and it appears some of us are using our retirement time to exercise our right to demonstrate our invincibility – at least in our own minds. The following are some of the exploits of ‘75ers during the last quarter.

Raider Ramstad, a "pro-caliber" sky diver, jumps all over the world in international events and has now taken up "body flying" using a flying squirrel suit as seen on 60 Minutes and a plethora or YouTube videos. On one of his recent flights he went out of control three times with a new wing body suit and, after trying to deploy his main parachute, came perilously close to performing an operational check of his invincibility. Fortunately, his final emergency parachute automatically deployed at 750 feet and allowed him to avoid the no-notice “can-you-survive-this check. He sustained a neck injury because he was inverted when his chute deployed; but that’s all in a day’s work for the invincible. 

Paul Kent took the post-retirement trip he mentioned in the last exciting episode of The Kent Chronicles (aka Checkpoints). He and two others hiked almost 200 miles of the John Muir Trail and other areas during a 25-day period. He credits all the high-altitude training from 1971-1975 for contributing to his survival. Presumably he’s talking about riding the buffer after midnight and running to classes following the obligatory oversleep after an all-nighter. He admits that he isn’t in the Larry Farris class of bucket-listers, but he says he is better than Larry in more ways than you could shake a crooked walking stick at. (The last declaration may or may not have been fabricated by the ever-humble Class Scribe; it’s up to the reader to determine if it’s true, partially true, or totally laughable.)

While we’re on the subject of classmates roaming the backwoods in search of youth, sanity, and Sasquatch, in early August Jeff Chappell, Mark Schoning, and Ted Hilbun, embarked on a ten-day circuit of the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier. At least, that was the plan, but the Trail’s reservation system was kaput so they showed up at 0800 daily hoping for the best. They spent the first two days and nights on the Northern Loop. Their trip journal is as follows:

“Day #1: Went fine. Bathed our tired feet in an ice-cold stream.”

“Day #2: Threaded our way through a forest that looked as if the Jolly Green Giant had played pick-up sticks. We made it to White River and across the first fork, only to be stumped in our efforts to find a route across the second fork without fording the river, which was running high and fast. Not wanting to be the lead story on the ten o'clock news we retreated to another campground and revised our plan of attack.”

“Days #3 through #10: Due to fierce competition for the park’s hikes, we decided to camp outside the park and do day-hikes. The advantages were that we had a fire every night and our packs were lighter.” 

The intrepid trio is considering trying to book the Wonderland Trail trip again next year, and it welcomes anyone who would like to join in on the journey. It goes without saying, youth and sanity are not required…and a belief in Sasquatch is optional.

Some of our recently retired classmates have opted for less strenuous ways to engage the rigors of retirement.

Henry Esposito retired after 18 years with UPS and 21 years in a blue uniform. Now he and his wife live the good life in Little Rock and pilot their motorhome into the US northwest and the Canadian territories during the hot summers.

Jim Marshall retired from Atlas Air after ten years. He reports that he enjoyed the world travel but the multiple time and dateline crossings took their toll on his body. (This raises the question of whether or not dateline-crossing is the Kryptonite of the previously mentioned invincibility. It’s an interesting theory, but who in his right mind would want to test it out?) Jim and his wife, Kathy, sold their house in Oregon, put most of their worldly possessions in storage, bought a motor home (35 Class A, towing a car with a canoe on top), and have been on the road in the US and Canada for more than a year. During their travels they stopped long enough for Jim to get his second new right knee. Birding is an activity that people with multiple knee replacements can enjoy, so Jim and Kathy have been doing a lot of it. They plan to spend another year on the road to get the wanderlust out of their nomad systems, and then they might settle down in Panama or Costa Rica. No word yet on whether they already hablan Español or are planning to listen to recorded lessons while watching the birds.

Classmate John Ossiff threw his own 50th Birthday Party in Pasadena, CA this year. He retired this year after his third act: he taught elementary school for 20 years following his stint as a lawyer and a decade as an Air Force officer (RF-4 WSO). John sent invitations for his “50th” to fellow Bull Sixers for several years. Was he using a different numbering system, or had he developed a more complex mathematical explanation for using 50? It piqued the curiosity of some Bull Sixers enough that they traveled from Arizona, Chicago, and Boise to find out what he was thinking. Turns out, it was just a number. After that was cleared up a good time was had by all, and John is still soaring high because no one mentioned to him the difference between being invincible and delusional. We suspect he’ll celebrate his 65th birthday in 2050.

Larry Farris, Wayne Willis, Bo Montgomery, and Russ Trinter represented the Best Alive at the Falcon Pride Club Golf Tournament held on September 9th at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado. The group sponsored a hole and actually eagled it. There’s more to the story than that, but the rules of confidentiality that cover lawyers and other shysters also apply to Class Scribes, so I can’t divulge any details unless my palms are greased or someone casually asks me at an unguarded moment. The group shot a 64, which, in the words of one of the group members, “wasn’t bad for a bunch of social security-eligible has-beens.” We can’t argue with that. Bo Montgomery reportedly had to see a physical therapist the next day after carrying the other three all 18 holes of the tournament. 

Paul Kent at 12,100-foot Mather Pass


Paul Kent on the John Muir Trail


Jeff Chappell, Mark Schoning,
& Ted Hilbun in the wilderness


Mark Schoning, & Ted Hilbun
at Longmire Headquarters


Jeff, Ted, & Mark outside Sunrise Lodge.
Mt Rainier in the background 


Along the trail, above tree line


Larry Farris, Wayne Willis, Bo
Montgomery, & Russ Trinter at the
Falcon Pride Golf Tournament

Checkpoints Extras

Mark Lenci on Veteran's Day


Today is Veterans Day in the United States. Some of you are veterans. To some of you, a “veteran” may be an abstract concept. I would like to ask for 10 minutes of your time today to make this day more real, more personal. You know me. I am but one of millions of veterans, and today I would like to share a part of my story as “your veteran” with you as but one humble representative of those millions of veterans. 

This story starts in February 1942. The situation was bleak for the allies, particularly in the Pacific. The US Pacific Fleet had been crippled at Pearl Harbor 3 months earlier. A seemingly unstoppable Japanese wave was taking country after country along the western Pacific rim in an advance toward Australia. General MacArthur was cut off and US forces were about to surrender in the Philippines. By mid-February, the Japanese invasion fleet was staging to take Java. The Japanese bombed Darwin, Australia. The allied fleet knew that there were no reinforcements coming. They were to hold the line on the other side of the world while allies began to rebuild their military forces. The goal was to prevent the invasion of Australia. The remnants of the allied Pacific fleets – Dutch, British, US, Australian – sent a force of 5 cruisers against a significantly superior Japanese naval and air forces. The ensuing battle became known as the Battle of the Java Sea. Of the allied capital ships, only the heavy cruiser USS Houston and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth survived.

Houston and Perth refueled and attempted a night escape from the Java Sea through the strait between Java and Sumatra (Sunda Strait). Radar was a new technology and neither were equipped. The cruisers ran into the full Japanese invasion fleet in the middle of the night. Although greatly outnumbered, they did not retreat. They engaged in a night long gun battle with the invasion fleet. Both Houston and Perth were sunk with great loss of life. Only 368 of the over 1,000 Houston crewman survived. The few survivors were captured, taken to Singapore to be combined with the captured British garrison. They spent the war on construction projects in southeast Asia, among them the bridge over the River Kwai – made famous by a movie of that name.

There was no way in 1942 for the United State to know what happened to Houston and Perth. Houston was “overdue and presumed lost”. In March and April of 1942, the people of the city of Houston, Texas, raised the money from private donations to build a new cruiser, USS Houston CL-81, almost unbelievable today.

In May 1942, President Roosevelt sent the following message to the people of the city of Houston:

“Our enemies have given us a chance to prove there will be another USS Houston, and yet another USS Houston, if that should become necessary, yet still another USS Houston, as long as American ideals are in jeopardy.”

Over 50 years later, in 1994, I was the “yet another USS Houston”. I took my USS Houston on a voyage retracing the last voyage of our predecessor. The voyage started in Darwin, Australia where the outpouring of affection from the Australians was amazing. They remembered the US Submarine Force (operating out of Darwin and northern Australia) as the only combat force holding the line against the Japanese in those dark days of 1942. In 5 days in Darwin, my crew could spend no money because of the incredible Aussie hospitality. The “dial a sailor” hotline could not keep up with the requests to invite my sailors home to spend time with Australian families. Survivors of the Australian cruiser Perth visited us and gave us items to put on the sea when we reached the location of the wrecks of USS Houston CA-30 and HMAS Perth.

I positioned my USS Houston directly over the wreck of the cruiser Houston. I and my crew are hard pressed to describe how we felt. Below me was the resting place of my predecessor, Captain Rook of the cruiser Houston, and over 700 of his crew. Capt Rook was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Now over 50 years later, we returned to make good President Roosevelt’s promise of “ yet another USS Houston”. Several of the survivors had asked they be buried with their shipmates. We carried out their request as the sun set and fired a salute. I truly felt I was part of something much greater than our ship. I was part of a line starting with John Paul Jones. A line that fought on wooden decks, and steel decks, in the air, and now underwater. A line that extends into the future as long as there is an America. The words “duty before self” never struck home more. I felt inadequate as we tried to honor those who went before us, the veterans.

This veteran came away from nearly 30 years of service convinced that freedom is not free. It is bought dearly every minute of every day by those that serve. It is bought by the families with single parents that serve for months on end at home while the other parent serves abroad. These are people that live by the words “duty, honor, country”. They are the people that are serving today for you. 

John F. Kennedy said “my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for country.” Today, on Veteran's Day, I suggest that what you can do for your country is find that veteran you work with, live by, have in the family, etc. Have the courage to reach out in some manner and say a simple “Thank You.” That is more than they will expect.

Your Veteran, Mark
Captain, US Navy (retired)
Formerly Commanding Officer, USS Houston, SSN 713

The photo is of the wardroom (officers) of USS Houston SSN 713 that made it all happen when I was in command. (Mark is kneeling, center)


Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate          Bruce Mitchell


Bruce Mitchell: I represented the Class of '75 at the November meeting of the AOG Senate. It includes embedded briefing slides from a few of the USAFA/AOG leaders who spoke to the CAS this month. I believe you will find concept pictures from Falcon Stadium improvement project plans to be most interesting. The CAS election has been concluded and all nominees were elected, as stated in the minutes. The AOG board (Larry Farris is our classmate, currently serving on the board) met the week of 28 November to consider a full agenda, including plans for next year's election of board members and plans for putting the re-organization of the AOG/Endowment under a single CEO (if that is what is decided by the board) before the AOG membership for a vote in the same/pending 2017 election.

The most important thing I need to remind you is to vote in the AOG election next Feb/March. Look for details from the AOG after the first of the year. If you are not an AOG member or need to renew your membership, now would be a good time, because you must be a member to vote in this election and we need a 25% quorum for the election to be valid. We likely will have a classmate on the slate of new board members to be voted upon in the coming election - stay tuned for that news. This makes your vote in the 2017 election even more important!
Please let me know if you have questions or comments to take up with the AOG.




Air Force vs New Mexico at the Cotton Bowl


Bill Murray: Great game and outing at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, but we couldn't stop the NM Lobo Offense, losing a close one 45-40! So frustrating! Great showing by the AOG, grads and retirees in the Dallas area, as well as many grads who traveled long distances to see the game and the Texas State Fair! I guess our fans won the coin toss for getting the shady side of the field, which was only right since we outnumbered their fans 10 to 1! Both end zones were devoid of fans which was a little discouraging, but the spirit of the Brothers in Blue prevailed. Go Falcons!

1. Dave Ehrhart & Bill Murray  

2. Bill Murray & Wayn Nelson  

3. Bill Murray & Larry Fariss  

4. Mike Matte & Bill Murray



1. Dino Crenshaw clad in what is apparently his newest Christmas gift. (Perry Lamy, December 2016)

2. Mac & Linnea McIntosh at Lake Tahoe. (October 2016, Linnea McIntosh)  

3. Randy & Zita Mason and family, Thanksgiving 2016. (Zita Mason)  

4. Kurt Bock: 13.1 miles...check. Crossed the finish line together....check. Hugged Goofy at mile six to wipe the sweat off my face...check. Kurt Bock & daughter at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (November 2016)




5. Daniel Roose & Chappie Hargrove. (Daniel Roose, October 2016)  

6. Tony Mahoney & family, Halloween 2016. (October 2016)

7. Duane Lodrige: Thanks to my Dad for his distinguished Army Air Corps and USAF service! (November 2016)

8. The Class of 1966 presented a check for $1 million for its 50th Reunion Project. The money will go to support the ongoing Falcon Stadium renovation project. Athletic Director Jim Knowlton (second from right) and USAFA Endowment CEO and President Mark Volcheff '75 (right) accepted the check from 1966 classmates Class President Jim Murphy, and gift committee chairs Col. (Ret.) Vic Andrews and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) D. Hans Mueh. (USAFA AOG, October 2016)




9. AIR FORCE! (USAFA AOG, October 2016)

10. Times Change (USAFA AOG, October 2016)

11. Jeff Hackett at West Point for the Air Force-Army Game, seemingly stunned. (Tom Sutton, November 2016)  

12. The Command In Chief's Trophy back in its rightful location. (USAFA AOG, November 2016)




13. Mac McIntosh, daughter Rachel & wife Linnea. From Rachel: Dad spoke at the Annual American Legion's Veterans Day dinner last night and talked about Tribute Hall at Marshfield High School. He introduced Giz as his granddaughter and she was SO PROUD. (Rachel McIntosh Tuller, November 2016)  

14. Larry Bryant & daughter Emily, after an ambulatory ascent of Pike's Peak. (Emily Bryant, October 2016)  

15. Sandy Terry:  This is my daughter Sarah, with me and my wife at her wedding in October in Winchester, Virginia. Sarah is a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department and her new husband is an Army Civilian stationed at the Pentagon. Great to see the next generation is picking up where we are leaving off as we all start to think about heading into retirement! (Sarah Terry, November 2016)  

16. Jim Dill at Tampa Bay Buccaneer Stadium: I should have worn my orange and blue...I didn't think there would be many Broncos Fans but so far much more orange than red. Final Score: Denver 27 Tampa Bay 7. (October 2016)




17. Jim Marshall and his young fan preparing to cheer on Air Force against Boise State. (Final Score: Air Force 27 Boise State 20) (November 2016)

18. Bill Murray: Can I say "Favorite" Uncle Bill with 10 nieces and nephews under age SIX at Thanksgiving! (November 2016)  

19. Linnea & Mac McIntosh with grandchild #?, at Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona. (Rachael McIntosh Tuller, October 2016)

20. Tom & Patty Darner likely contemplating the geopolitical ramifications of the the seismic changes sweeping across Cuba and their effect on the Conch Republic and the greater Carribean region. (October 2016)




21. Gary Whitfield in Pétionville, Haiti: I was flying food and relief supplies out to hurricane victims in remote areas in a Cessna Caravan, with an occasional stab victim or someone else coming in to hospital! Supporting an organization called, follow Facebook link to photos. The blue shirt is genuine USAF, from a surplus store for $2, only one size larger than my shirts from the 70s! (November 2016)

22. Buck Rogers: Suzie & I are attending my middle daughter Jennifer's promotion to Major in Las Vegas. We now have 2 Maintenance Officer Majors and a Capt F-16 pilot! (October 2016)

23. Gary & Karen Exelby. (October 2016)

24. Bentley & Debbi Rayburn with their grandchildren. (October 2016)




25. Tom Burns: Me with my son Clayton Burns and three of my granddaughters. Fishing in my boat out of the Destin, Florida Pass in the Gulf of Mexico. King mackerel and one 24-pound blackfin tuna. (October 2016)

26. Greg & Peggy Berlan. (November 2016)

27. Bob Hickcox with his family at an undisclosed location. (December 2016)

28. The Conticchio Boys, Gerry (Right) & brother Joe. (November 2016)




29. What a cutie! (And the little girl is pretty adorable, too). (John Scherer, November 2016)  

30. Steve Pitotti with his grandsons. (Becky Pitotti, December 2016)

31. Bill Buchta and family enjoying the fruits of the Napa Valley. (October 2016)  

32. Bob Shappell: My "officer installation ceremony" as National Executive Committeeman. Ken Rynes placed my new Alternate NEC cap on my head at the end of the convention in Cincinnati last month. (October 2016)




33. Michael Gudmundson. (Carolyn Madsen Bates, October 2016)

34. Rod & Vicki Kallman and family at the Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona. (Vicki Kallman, November 2016)

35. Roger & Jamie Olson, daughter Melissa, husband Danny & grandson Andrew. (December 2016)

36. Mark & Bev Lenci, with their growing family. (November 2016)




37. Bill Spencer: Went to get some extra hockey tickets and found an old friend (December 2016)

38. Jeff & Christine Hackett at the Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Arizona. Final score Air Force 45  South Alabama 21. (December 2016)

39. Sandy Terry, et. al. We escaped! Albeit just under the 1 hour limit! Not sure the fate of the world should EVER rest on our shoulders! (Liz Hamilton Terry, December 2016)

40. Don Byers, apparently enjoying a football game with his nephew (Don claims he was faking it so as to save his nephew's reputation...) (Chris Lawton, November 2016)




41. Kent Traylor at the Air Force/New Mexico game (Meagan Counts, October 2016)

42. Chris & Jan Soto (Jan Hobson Soto, November 2016)

43. Bob Oswalt, listening to his beer (NOTE: Requires consumption of at least three beers to actually hear it. Your results may vary). (November 2016)

44. John Loucks & Susan Dee. (Susan Dee, November 2016)




45. Bill Caskey: Who is that old man? Thanks again for the get well bear, Jeannie. (Jeannie Mauser, December 2016)

46. Mark & Mary Dwyer Volcheff and family. (Mary Dwyer Volcheff, December 2016)

47. Charlie Sargent & April Keseric in Seattle. (December 2016)

48. Ollie Lorenz and family at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo. (December 2016)




49. Hugo Posey riding "Lindo" on the Pampas of Argentina. (December 2016)

50. Tom Burns (Left) & friend. (Barbara Norwine, November 2016)

51. Max Della Pia receiving the flag. (October 2016)

52. Don Cunningham with Kristi & Kelly Cunningham. (Kelly Cunningham, October 2016)




53. Hugo Posey making a statement. (October 2016)

54. Jim & Ardis Crossman Hartney with their grandchildren. (Jim Hartney, October 2016)

55. Charlie Wintermeyer: Another photo of the little guy. (October 2016)

56. Comment from a friend: I didn't know there still are dinosuars. Michale & Joan Lischak: You're looking at a pair of them. (Joan Lischak, October 2016)




57. Chris & Jan Hobson Soto, & family. (Mica Soto, October 2016)

58. Dave Williamson. (Mary McLaughlin Williamson, November 2016)

59. Jim & Emily Marshall. (Kelly Marshall Vannoy, December 2016)

60. Leon Harrison-Smith going native, apparently. (November 2016)




Comments powered by Disqus