GBNF: Gary R. Matson, CS-38, passed away on 20 December 2019 after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. A memorial service was held in January and his funeral will be held at the Academy Cemetery in March. Gary A. Held, CS-28, passed away on 3 January 2020 following a long illness. He was buried in Eagle Point, OR.
AF Football Rocks! Falcon fans were treated to one of the best seasons in Academy football history with a 10-2 regular season record and a win in the Cheez-It Bowl over Washington State University. The icing on the cake was Air Force’s 22 ranking in the final AP Poll. The only losses were to teams in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff rankings. The operative word throughout the Falcons’ season was “heart.” The boys in blue and silver left everything on the field in every game, and added to a legacy of courage under fire. Well done Falcons!
Wayne Willis sent in a picture taken at this year’s Army game. He and four other members of the Willis crew, including his oldest son and three grandsons, were on the field for the march on and helped form the tunnel for the team to enter the field. Note the jersey numbers the young lads and one old geezer are wearing, which just happens to be the number Wayne wore when he was bleeding on the friendly fields of strife in Falcon Stadium. Wayne has a total of 13 grandchildren (9 grandsons and 4 granddaughters) and enough “57” jerseys to outfit all of them. When they’re not on the football field, you can find them on the ski slopes of Utah, and Wayne spends a respectable amount of time on the golf course. Take note, oh ye who feed the fires of industry from your self-imposed office imprisonments, Wayne is doing retirement right!
As an equal opportunity scribe, I am obligated to report on the efforts of those who cling to the notion that work is good for the soul. One such classmate is Spence Roberts. Spence reported that he has now completed three academies. In addition to the aluminum and glass institution, he has also graduated from the Federal Air Marshal Service Academy (as a Federal Flight Deck Officer) for FedEx, and the FAA Academy preparatory to starting his new career as an FAA Inspector in Memphis, TN. He also noted that he didn't walk any tours or have any CDB's at the last two academies. Can they legally be called academies if tours and confinement aren’t part of the curricula?
Troll Commanders Mini-reunion: Steve Eickleman, Tom Finn, and Mike Goyden met in Monument, CO, during the Thanksgiving weekend. Tom, and his wife Gail, flew in from San Antonio to visit their daughter, Sharon, in Denver, where she is attending the University of Colorado to obtain a Doctorate of Pediatric Nurse Practitionership. Steve, who lives in Highlands Ranch, CO, picked them up at the Denver airport, and Mike, and his wife Jan, drove up from Colorado Springs to meet them in Monument. The last time the trio of CS-20 commanders had gotten together was during the 10-year reunion.
Reunion News: We’re in a year that ends in a zero, which means we will once again have an opportunity to meet with classmates we haven’t seen in years and inwardly gloat over how much younger we look than them. Or in Terry Young’s case, look down on the top of everyone’s tater and note the ongoing epidemic of male-pattern baldness. Jeff Hackett volunteered to be the chairman of the reunion committee again, and, since no one else who claims even an iota of sanity put in for the job, he was elected unanimously. Since the Academy has graduated more than 40 classes since we tossed our parade hats into the air, we have eight other classes holding five-year reunions to compete with for lodging, banquet facilities, golf course tournament times, and seats at football games. The competition for space will continue to increase as the Academy graduates more classes, so Jeff put together a survey with options of when and where to hold the reunion and sent it via the squadron POCs to all of the classmates who have a viable email and aren’t in a witness protection program. With 357 (out of 698 possible) classmates voting, the consensus was to hold the 45th reunion in Colorado Springs on a weekend with a home football game. In essence, the class voted to stick with the scenario we’ve followed during the previous reunions. The game we attend won’t be the Navy game because older classes with higher priority rights have already reserved that weekend. Per AOG rules, we will have the highest priority during our 50th reunion.
If you haven’t received an invitation to the upcoming reunion by the time this issue of Checkpoints hits the streets in March, it’s because the date of the reunion is determined by the dates of the eligible home football games, and the latest word is the Mountain West Conference won’t publish the 2020 football schedule until mid to late March. At this point, the reunion could happen anywhere between mid-September to late October. In addition, college football schedules are often dictated by television rights, so game days and times can be changed within just a couple of weeks of the game. In other words, the reunion schedule of events may be a floating schedule until the networks determine where Falcon football fits in the expected viewer ratings on our reunion weekend.
Should you hold off your decision about attending the reunion until the schedule is firm? No, absolutely not. Reunions are about people. Football, golf tournaments, and banquets are just trimmings that go with getting together with friends with whom you developed a bond that could never be formed at a civilian university. If you haven’t been to a reunion before, then this is a good warm up for the can’t-miss 50th reunion. You can also take the opportunity to see Denver and Colorado Springs before they merge into one gag-producing metropolis. In addition, it would be good to see old friends while you can still remember their names, and your own name, and where you put the shoes that are on your feet.