June 2019          Foster Bitton

Classmate on the Board: Congratulations to Mark Volcheff for being one of six graduates elected to the AOG Board of Directors! No word yet on how this will affect his goal to visit the 23 more countries needed to make the number of countries he’s set foot in an even 100, but Mark has a lot of energy. There’s no doubt he’ll do an outstanding job as a Board Director and still find a way to reach his countries-visited goal. Mark is the third ’75 grad to be an AOG Board Director, following Dr. Leon Smith-Harrison and Larry Fariss.

Joining the Ranks of the Retired: Jacques Van Ryn retired from the Missouri Air National Guard on 9 February 2019. He may have been the oldest serving graduate in our class, if not in the Academy. If any other classmates are still in uniform, feel free to send your claim of longevity to the humblest of all scribes, moi, and I’ll document it in the next issue of Checkpoints.

John “Sully” Sullivan spent 21.5 years in uniform and followed it up with 22.5 years as a professional staffer on the Congressional House Armed Services Committee. He retired as the third longest serving member of the House Armed Services Committee…ever. After 44 combined years in government service it was fitting that Undersecretary of the Air Force, Matt Donovan, said some kind things at Sully’s retirement, and according to one of the attendees, Mark Beesley, some of the accolades were even accurate. Sully plans to spend a lot of well-deserved retirement time with his grandchildren. He’ll probably find them a lot easier to work with than politicians.

Kurt Bock hung up the uniform in 2003 then turned his attention to the financial world where he recently ended seven years as the chief executive officer of a multiline insurance company with about $3.5B of revenue across property casualty, life, and investment lines of business with over 5,000 employees. After seven years of sweating out hurricanes, tornadoes, low interest rates, and plenty of federal and state regulations, he retired on 31 January. He and his wife, Carol, moved to Charlotte, NC the day after his retirement to be near their two children. Like most new retirees he’s still looking at what the next chapter has in store for him, but for now he’s just happy to have found the cheese at the end of the maze. 

Retirements Done Right: Jim “Tony” Mahoney checked in with more proof that life starts at retirement. He and Cindy set a goal to be on the road more than they are at home during 2019, and so far they are meeting that goal. They have been to Panama, Turks and Caicos Islands, Key West, and New Orleans on two separate cruises that encompassed 30 days, and in March they embarked on a trip to Paris and Normandy for more than three weeks. After that their agenda included another cruise in April followed by a run up to Ohio in May to see their granddaughter graduate. That’s a lot of travelling in only five months, but the big question is how many pounds will they gain on all of those cruises? We’ll ask for an update at the end of the year.

David Beeman has found a different way of filling his life-after-career days. He spends a portion of every Spring helping people fill out their tax returns, a habit he picked up when he was stationed in Okinawa. After tax season David volunteers for a variety of projects in the Lions Club. He’s found that giving back is an essential part of a healthy retirement, and it beats sitting on the couch watching couples argue about flipping a house on HGTV.

Old Times: Bill Murray sent in some pictures from his days of coaching football at RAF Lakenheath in 1982. You won’t see them here because they show Bill when he was just a 29-year-old kid, before the crust and gray hairs of wisdom endowed him with the visage of a Greek oracle. But you might find them on the class website, 75bestalive.org. This article is usually focused on recent events, but the account Bill submitted may be the most recent thing he remembers so I’m going to humor him and include it this quarter’s column. As the story goes, Bill was minding his own business as a captain at RAF Lakenheath when word came down from the wing commander’s office that the wing’s bottom-of-the-league football team was looking for a new coach. The wing king heard Bill had played at the Academy and personally invited him to take on the job. Morale was low, the guys were getting hurt, and there were too many flight leads and not enough wingmen, so Bill gathered the team together in a racquetball court and gave them a new coach pep talk. After he was done about a fourth of the team walked out never to return. Good start, Coach. However, the ones who stayed saw the vision, and the team won about half of its remaining games, which lifted Lakenheath out of the cellar and put it back on the map. The moral of the story is, if you’re looking for someone to lift your team out of the bottomless abyss, give Bill a call, but be sure to have him sign a no-motivational-speeches contract.

As long as we’re bringing out tales from the crypt…Mike Wisloski found a copy of our graduation ceremony program, complete with the graduation order of merit, and shared it with Mark “Magic” Beesley, which is the same as airing it on cable news. Magic forwarded it to his closest friends, but both of them unfriended him years ago, so he sent it to a cross-section of classmates who always give him the kid glove treatment because he has a fragile self-image. Herewith are some of the comments from those who received Magic’s email. “I would like to say I see a one-to-one correspondence with GOM and later success, but (thank God) it isn’t there.” “A study of West Point graduates found the strongest correlation to a successful military career was those who earned athletic letters were more likely to have successful careers.” [That quote came from one of our classmates who spent his entire cadet career on ramps. Go figure.] And finally, from one of our classmates who retired with stars on his shoulders: “I didn't even have the letter thing going for me. The only letters in my cadet records were the ones sent to my father after my two CDBs.” The names of the above have been withheld pending responses to the blackmail letters I sent them. West Point studies, rank achieved in uniform, and other criteria grabbed from the ether aside, I’m betting there were a lot of us who were just happy to have our names on the graduation ceremony program.


Jacques Van Ryn & Deborah


Jacques Van Ryn with a special guest


Mark Beesley, John “Sully” Sullivan,
& Mike Wisloski


Kurt & Carol Bock


Tony & Cindy Mahoney in Paris


Coach Bill Murray in days of yore


Coach Bill Murray in days of yore

Checkpoints Extras

Scribe's Appeal


In the Scribe’s ongoing struggle to unseat Steve Duresky as Class Poet Laureate, he again unleashed his creative juices as a means of inspiring fellow classmates to get off their respective duffs and contribute to the cause.


My Unfavorite Things

Sung to the tune of 'My Favorite Things'

SAMIs in Class A's
   And standing attention
As jerks checked for dust mites
   While wearing white mittens
Writing on papers 
   'Til reveille sings,
These are a few
  Of my unfavorite things.  

  Sitting connies, 
  In dark ages,
  In our caves, like bats.
  But now that we're older and living our dreams,
  We really don't give a rat's.


Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate          Bruce Mitchell




Thank you for your excellent participation in the recent AOG election! I think the election metrics speak for themselves! I’m sure Mark Volcheff very much appreciated the solid class support, as he becomes the third USAFA ’75 member of the AOG BOD, following Leon Smith-Harrison and Larry Fariss. Good luck to Mark in this position of service to our academy.

One thing that sets our class apart from most of our fellow alumni class group’s ability to rally for important causes and efforts is our ability to communicate across the class. I hope none of us takes that for granted! To that point, I tip my hat once again to our class squadron reps, Jim Carlson, Foster Bitton, Bill Estelle, and Marty Stytz for their efforts in keeping us in touch and informed.

Top-level Summary from the April CAS Meeting: (minutes will be posted shortly on the AOG website, under Board of Directors, AOG Governance, CAS, Meeting minutes)

As was indicated (again) via the election participation numbers, the past dozen years of USAFA graduating classes have markedly lower interest manifest in the AOG. This is not a new problem, but it is an important issue that needs the right attention. The CAS has enlisted two young grad volunteers to provide some solution options, and your CAS rep will join them in this effort to provide support and advice on this matter to the AOG BOD. If any of our classmates, particularly those who have off-spring graduates, have ideas about how the AOG can better appeal to and serve these classes since 1995 (hence capture their interest and participation), I’d love to hear from you.
Other topics discussed at the CAS meeting:

– Jennifer Bateman represented the Endowment and spoke on numerous topics of interest to USAFA and the AOG. The search for the new “single CEO” for the Endowment and AOG is underway and it is to be a careful and measured process. Jennifer is very well spoken and projects an outstanding image for the Endowment (even when talking about fund raising, her prime responsibility!).

– Cathy McClain, AOG Board chair provided a detailed update on the recent election.

– Marty Marcalongo, AOG CEO summarized recent AOG activities. Marty received a lot of credit from Cathy for organizing and executing a thorough election process and participation campaign.

– The Chapel renovation MILCON funds were redirected by AF to help rebuild Tyndall and restore Offutt from recent storms. Future of this chapel project is TBD at this time.

– The new visitor center complex planning is progressing, but slowly. This new commercial complex, including a new visitor center, is to be located just west of the Northgate exit from I-25, on both the north and south sides of Northgate Blvd. This is a public/private partnership between USAFA and Colorado Springs, and more conceptual details are available on Bill Estelle’s 75bestalive website.

– The CAS is working through its own participation challenges, with an eye toward active involvement from all graduating classes. (a few classes, young and old, have no active CAS delegate)

– We heard from the Academy and Comm Shops senior enlisted advisors, who talked about the recent plus-ups to the Squadron enlisted advisors (which were eliminated during active sequestration days) and are soon (2021) to be at the 2 per squadron manning level to provide enlisted perspective to the cadet squadrons and to help the AOCs. The Chiefs also updated us on the first, new NCO members of the USAFA faculty – a truly impressive group of people (four so far).

– Graduate Call-ins or ZOOM (virtual conferencing) for listen-only participation in CAS meetings is now possible; covered by a change in CAS operating instructions and approved by the AOG BOD.

– Finally, with Mark Volcheff moving onto the AOG BOD, I need a new “back-up” representative. If any of you are interested in serving via this avenue, please contact Jim Carlson and me. Thanks to Mark for being my wingman for the past two years, and to Jeff Hackett before that!

That’s the top level summary for April. Please let me know if you have questions or comments on the above, or on topics relating to the AOG.

Your Best Alive CAS Rep,
Bruce Mitchell





1. Rick & Pauline Kim at the Great Salt Lake. (April 2019)

2. Bill & Spencer. (April 2019)

3. Stan Jones: Guess who's two today! (Hint: It's not Stan). (April 2019)

4. Rod & Vicki Kallman & the extended Kallman clan.(April 2019)




5. Wes Routh & granddaughter Kelsey. (Mike Routh, April 2019)

6. Bob Hickcox: Grandpa and Granddaughter time at the pizza place! (April 2019)

7. Charlie Wintermeyer. (April 2019)

8. Bruce Hevey & Angela at Fenway Park. (Angela Dupont-Hevey, April 2019)




9. Three generations of Finkes, starting with Rich. (Erin Finke Ridolfo, April 2019)

10. Jim Hartney: At the Trop watching two good teams. (April 2019)

11. Barry & Gladys Abbott. (April 2019)

12. Mike Marro & Carol Macha in Croatia. (Carol Macha, April 2019)




13. Gerry Conticchio & Judith. (Judith Buckley-Conticchio, April 2019)

14. Dave & Chris Ehrhart. (Kara Grimsley Ehrhart, April 2019)

15. Mark & Lucy Donnelly with Mike & Donna Heil enjoying dinner at Fatheads. (Mike Heil, May 2019)

16. Bill Buchta, President of the American College of Occupational and Envornmental Medecine, and Nyla Medlock in the Disneyland Mickey Mouse Penthouse during the American Occupational Health Conference, attired somewhat more conventionally. (Wait, what?). (Nyla Medlock, May 2019)




17. David Hickman with Inga, Will, & Marie Rhodes. (Marie Rhodes, May 2019)

18. Dave & Chris Ehrhart with the family on a Disney outing. (Kara Grimsley Ehrhart, May 2019)

19. Mike Heil & John Blanton at the AIAA 2019 Fellows Dinner and Award Ceremony. (John Blanton, May 2019)

20. John Kambourian: Cinco de Mayo at Guapo's restaurant. (May 2019)




21. Don Byers: Rode to the end of Glacier Point, in Yosemite yesterday with some great cycling people. The views were spectacular!! Cars restricted from the road for a few days!!! God’s handiwork at its best!!! (May 2019)

22. Perry & Linda Lavon Lamy with friend Pat. (Linda Lavon Lamy, May 2019)

23. Oleh & Veronika Nemeth Stefaniuk waitng their turn to enter the Franklin Locks in the Fort Myers area. (Veronika Nemeth Stefaniuk, May 2019)

24. David Ruddock with one of his youngest fans at the Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah. (May 2019)




25. Dave Beatty: Here's something I've always wanted! Checkout on a 1925 Model TT truck! Thanks Dave! It goes up there on my I Love Me wall alongside my M551 TC certificate! (We're still waiting to see the Form 8). (May 2019)

26. John Kambourian enoying a small snack (a 32-ounce Tomahawk steak) at Ciao Osteria: Died and gone to heaven!!! (May 2019)

27. Max & Nancy Knepel Della Pia with friend Joan in Dublin, Ireland. (Joan Davis, May 2019)

28. Wes Routh with grandson Drew. (Mike Routh, April 2019)




29. Mike & Sharon Matte. (June 2019)

30. Steve & Jackie Morris with grandson Ian at the London Eye. (June 2019)

31. Bob Hickcox: Finally, 45 years late I am in the driver's seat of a shiny Corvette. The cadet dream car is still a dream, as this belongs to friends, but this close is good enough! (June 2019)

32. Marti Routh: Today at church, Veteran's and Military and their families were appreciated for the service of our country. Afterwards, I had Wes let me take a picture of all the flags, and the cross that we also honor our Lord. Thank you to all that have served our country. (May 2019)




33. Paul & Christine Butalla. (June 2019)

34. Jim & Emily Marshall. (June 2019)

35. Rick Kim: Happy to have worked on the Alaska Airlines float for the Portland Grand Floral Parade this past Sunday. A Airlines provides much of the travel for our Make-A-Wish kiddos flying out of/into PDX. If you’re in town, come watch the parade this Saturday. (June 2019)

36. Chris Soto with daughter Jan at the Cinderella Ball. (Mica Soto, June 2019)




37. Stan Jones: My moment with the Collier Trophy that our Auto GCAS team from Lockheed Martin and the USAF is being awarded tonight. (13 June 2019)

38. Steve Duresky with grandson Shade in Destin, Florida. (Shade Nelson, June 2019)

39. Paul & Sheri Kent in the pillbox atop Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Krista Welsh Mui, June 2019)

40. Randy & Zita Mason, commemorating their anniversary. (Zita Mason, June 2019)




41. Ric Rosborg & his first mate. (Eric Rosborg, June 2019)

42. Perry Lamy with son Nick, celebrating Nick's completion of his CPA certification. (Linda Lavon Lamy, June 2019)

43. Jim Foreman and his family enjoying brunch. (June 2019)

44. Julius Hargrove & family (Why-Vonne Phillips, June 2019)




45. Don Byers & Terra Menefee at Mt. Rushmore. (Terra Menefee, June 2019)

46. Mark Lenci with just a few of his many fans. (June 2019)

47. Joe Marsteiner powerlifting. (International Powerlifting Federation, June 2019)

48. Dave Beatty (Left)Happy Birthday Mom! With Gregg Beatty, Delois Beatty, & Janice Beatty Walukones. (June 2019)




49. Ben Bosma featured in the Dayton Daily News for his engineering achievements. (June 2019)

50. Mike Heil & friend Gary Arnold at the Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. (June 2019)

51. Mike Marro. According to his PR Agent (A.K.A wife Carol): Oh yes he is cool!! (Carol Macha, April 2019)

52. Harry Mathis. (Catherine Mathis, April 2019)






53. Charlie Wintermeyer & family. (June 2019)

54. Randy Mason & family (Zita Mason, June 2019)




Graduation Brochure
4 June 1975



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