GBNF. Classmate Charlie Bergman (CS-25) passed away on December 25, 2016, in Deer River, Minnesota. His Air Force career spanned 26 years and included command of the largest bomber squadron in the Air Force. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Sher; son, Nicholas; daughter, Holly (Lieberman); and granddaughters, Chloe and Adeline.
Plunging Into Greatness. Alas, Rick McAlister never made it onto the front of a box of Wheaties…but he was recently selected for induction into USAFA’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Not too shabby for a guy who habitually wore speedos to events and let gravity do most of the work for him. In case some of you have forgotten Rick’s accomplishments in the diving program, or you were too busy sweating over papers and problem sets that instructors produced like rabbits at a magic show, Rick won the NCAA championship in 3-meter diving in 1974, becoming the only national champion in the history of the men’s swimming and diving program. He was undefeated in both 1- and 3-meter diving competitions during his career while helping the 1974-75 team to an undefeated dual-meet record. A four-time All American, Rick earned the honor in 1973 for the 3-meter, in 1974 in both 1- and 3-meter and in 1975 in 1-meter. He was also a three-time team most valuable athlete. Kudos, Rick. Well done. The induction ceremony will be held at the Colorado Springs Marriott on April 15th.
Songbird Flies Again. Mark Wells recently fulfilled his boyhood dream of aircraft ownership by acquiring the title to a 1978 Cessna Skylane. He christened it “Songbird.” Sound familiar? Like every other red-blooded American boy growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s with a television that pulled in three channels through a set of rabbit ears sitting on top of the box, Mark spent a fair amount of time on Saturday mornings watching Schuyler "Sky" King chase ne’er-do-wells in his Cessna 310B. It had a bright yellow paint scheme, but we didn’t know that because we watched the series in living black and white. Many a lad developed aspirations of flying while watching “Sky King,” and virtually all of us also developed a serious, lifelong crush on Penny. In addition to being a dedicated historian, Mark is also a shameless autograph hound. In 2006 he wrote Gloria Winters (Penny) a fan letter and got an autographed 8x10 photograph in reply. Mark’s wife, Donna, reportedly wasn’t threatened by his correspondence with an 80-year old girlfriend, but will she be so understanding about the time he’ll be spending in “Songbird” searching for bandits and cattle rustlers to chase? Your humble class scribe personally recommended that he forego the old west notion of bad guys and more profitably spend his flight time patrolling the local golf courses and dropping bags of flour on slow players. Even if he were caught, what jury would ever convict him for ridding the land of such vermin?
Here’s a copy of the 8x10 Gloria Winters sent to Mark. Feel free to photoshop your name in place of Mark’s then hang it in a prominent place to act as a catalyst for you to tell your grandchildren about life before cellphones, reality TV, and Facebook.
Another One Finds it to the Exit of the Maze. After 20 years active duty in the Air Force and 21 years flying for Fedex, Steve Vreeland hung up his goggles and flying boots on December 31st. He and his wife, Sheila, plan to spend the summers in the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains, and the rest of the year they’ll be playing with their two granddaughters in Collierville, TN.
Be the first on your block…Dennis Brooks sent in a reminder that Wolfgang, an Austrian artist with whom Dennis has kept in touch, has designed a cardboard model of the Cadet Chapel, and he plans to give free access to download the model. Dennis translated and enhanced the instructions so they’ll be available in German and English. The planned release for the model is February 2017 (one month after this version of Checkpoints was compiled and two months before it was published) so any classmates who are wondering what to do with their newfound free retirement time can just download the PDF files, print the files on cardstock from any big box store, cut out the parts, color the edges, assemble, and then sit back and fantasize about doing a noon meal formation flyby at the speed of stink to the cheers of approximately 4,000 academically oppressed, but newly inspired, cadets. (Download available HERE)
The Tale of the Justifiably Purloined Ball. The well traveled Larry Farris and Wayne Willis were on hand at the Arizona Bowl in Tucson when the Falcons defeated the University of South Alabama Jaguars on December 30th. During a break in the action they had time for a photo opportunity with Jeff Hackett. The ball Wayne is holding is the game ball from the last time AF played on that field in Tucson, the 1973 AF vs Arizona game. Arizona was ranked #12 that year and was favored to win, but Bill Murray stopped a two-point extra point attempt with 30 seconds left to preserve the upset, 27 to 26. Larry recovered the onside kick, and Wayne shorty thereafter got his hands on the ball on the sidelines and refused to give it back to what he described as “the puny Arizona manager.” The ball has been in his possession for the last 42 years, and there are no signs that he’ll be giving it up in this lifetime.