March 2024          Foster Bitton

Now that’s short! Mike McClendon competed in the National Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) event in December 2023 flying his stock Maule M-7 235-C, which he hangars at his private airstrip in Texas. He came in fourth with a combined takeoff and landing distance of 360 feet. To put that in context, he could have done the takeoff and landing on the grass square in the middle of the terrazzo and had 250 feet to spare. In fact, he could have taken off and landed on the roof of Mitchell Hall! It’s all a matter of perspective. The roof of Mitch’s would look like a postage stamp to a pilot on short approach to it, but the length of the floor under the roof probably looked like a two-mile-long tarpit to Jerry Wallace before he started his bare butt run in 1974.

Mike and Jan Goyden attained the rank of great-grandparents with the help of their granddaughter, Helen. Mike had an L4-L5-S1 spine fusion in early November, followed by seven weeks with a back brace, the removal of which allowed him to start physical therapy. It’s a slow process, but it beats the alternative.

Your lowly scribe (moi) has a similar tale of woe. In late September I had a fusion of vertebrae C2 through T2, because, apparently, the discs between those vertebrae only had a 70-year warranty on them. The doctor removed a one-inch-wide and 6-inch-long channel of bones and smooshed discs from my spine and attached two 6-inch titanium rods to the vertebrae on both sides of the gap with what appear to be decking screws because, as he said, “Without the rods your head will just flop around.” Two months later, while I was waiting in the doctor’s reception area, wearing a neck brace and minding my own business, a woman plopped down in a chair next to me, leaned over and said, “So what’s the deal with you?” I gave her a short answer which I felt tactfully implied that I wasn’t interested in carrying on a conversation with a nosy stranger. She didn’t get the hint and proceeded with more questions about the medical procedure I had undergone. After I gave a short explanation about what the procedure had entailed, she said, “Oh no, that’s not what the doctor did. If he had done that, you’d be dead.” She then went on to tell me what the doctor must have really done. Lesson learned: When approached by a stranger in a reception area, it’s not enough to just avoid making eye contact. You also have to feign deafness.

Are we that old? A guaranteed way of feeling your age is to hear about children of your classmates pinning on ranks you revered as a cadet only a few short decades ago. Dave McDaniel checked in to say all is well in Spain, and his son the rocket scientist has transferred to the Space Force after pinning on eagles several months ago. Bran McAllister’s son, Dan, Class of ’04, pinned on O-6 last November and is serving dual-hatted as the A-3, Director of Operations for the Oregon Air National Guard, and Deputy Commander of the 142nd Operations Group at Portland ANG Base, OR. Apparently, there’s not a lot of originality in the McAllister clan, as evidenced by the fact that Bran flew Eagles his entire career, and 20 years into his career, Dan is flying them too. Like virtually all Eagle drivers, they would probably say, “Why fly anything else?” And the correct answer is, because the Warthog exists.

Mike Magee waited a little longer than most of us to start a family, and as a result he now finds himself flying the Falcon 2000 Classic corporate jet with his son, Sean, as second-in-command. So far the father and son crew have been assigned together for flights to Napa, Seattle, Nova Scotia, Grand Cayman, Aruba, and Barbados. Sounds like a tough gig. Sean has 1100 hours of flying time, and Mike, having flown for 48 years straight, brings the average flight time in the cockpit to something more comforting to the passengers.

Gernot Pomrenke spent more than 48 years in uniform and as a civilian before retiring last December. He spent two decades with the AF Office of Scientific Research, and prior to that, several years with the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Projects Agency. More details about his career can be found in the Checkpoints Plus section of 75bestalive.org.

If you haven’t visited the 75bestalive.org website lately, it’s worth your while to log on and explore the plethora of Best Alive information it contains. It’s recently been redesigned, and it now sports a cleaner and more modern look with larger photos throughout, and larger type to better accommodate failing eyes or smaller screens. Checkpoints Plus contains recent photos with narrative comments from classmates all over the globe, ranging from Brian Duffy wearing a turkey on his head to David Beatty staring at a solar eclipse from his backyard. Hint: click on the thumbnail photos - you’ll be amazed at how much more detail there is to see in a full-sized photo.

 


Mike McClendon and his STOL aircraft

 


Bran and Dan McAllister

 


Mike and Sean Magee


Checkpoints Plus


Gernot Pomrenke: I’m not sure if it is typical to submit something to Checkpoints upon retiring, but at the encouragement of my good friend and former CS-09 roommate, David Haugen, I am submitting the following for entry into the next Checkpoints. I'm also attaching a snapshot of me (from my visits to Iceland).

In the middle of December 2023, I said goodbye not only to my employer, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), but also to the Air Force, after more than 48 years of service in uniform and as a civilian; starting during the Vietnam War & draft era and continuing through today with its flash points in Europe, Mideast, and potentially Southeast Asia, again. My tenure at AFOSR came in three shifts, the first from 1989 to 1995 while it was still located at Bolling AFB. I was an active-duty military officer serving as the AFOSR Semiconductor & Electromagnetic Materials program manager (PM). I then moved to DARPA to head the Ultra Electronics, Nanoelectronics, and Terahertz basic research programs.

After my DARPA tour I returned for one year in 1999 to head the AFOSR High Performance Computing position. In 2000 I retired from the military and went briefly to the National Science Foundation as director of the Photonics program (NSF/ENG/ECCS). I returned to AFOSR in the summer of 2000 to be the PM for the Optoelectronics and Photonics program; I also had the opportunity to be acting PM for the “GHz-THz Electronics“ and “Laser and Optical Physics” programs. There are hundreds if not thousands of individuals which have been impacted by these portfolios and I appreciated the opportunity to work with them.

 


Gernot Pomrenke in Iceland

Pete Marcuzzo: Another mini Bull Six reunion at the Claremont Hotel in Oakland, California. John Ossiff and wife Nancy were up in July visiting, looking at property in the Bay Area. Had a nice dinner and outing with them. Wonders to all as everyone is still looking young and enthusiastic. Much was discussed over drinks and wine, and all looking forward to our 50th reunion!


Nancy & John Ossiff, Pete & Jean Marcuzzo

 


Checkpoints Extras


Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate


 


Minutes

Just concluded the quarterly CAS meeting (virtual meeting only tonight due to weather), and sharing the 'hot poop' with you, with specific/formal minutes and briefing material to be provided as soon as

33 Senators attended, about average.

Feature speaker was Brig Gen Gavin Marks, Commandant of Cadets since July 2023. BG Marks is an excellent communicator and by all appearances is an earnest, open personality. He spoke for 30 minutes about his "vectors" for refining the 47 month preparation program for all cadets that he is responsible for. He then answered questions (about 20) for a half hour ranging from the DEI at USAFA to renovation of Sijan Hall to Improved Military Training to the resurrection of the Form O-96 in Mitchell Hall. I can tell you that all of his presentation points and answers to grad's (CAS) questions were well reasoned and explained. He definitely has a presence for speaking in public and I thought he demonstrated a remarkable grasp of details given that he has only been on the job for a summer and a semester.

Sidebar note: I had the chance to speak with BG Marks briefly back in Sept in Mitchell Hall at the Class of 2025 Commitment Dinner, and at that time he struck me as a real gentleman.

Here are the Comm's emphasis or focus initiatives:

a. Strengthening a 4-class system (all four classes) of leadership training and active duty service preparation, that makes clear the responsibilities, expectations for and commensurate privileges for all four classes of cadets, across the 47 months program (time) they spend preparing at USAFA. Emphasis on military training angles (prime responsibilities) and reinforcement provided by the Comm shop to the other two USAFA focus areas, academics and athletics.

b. Strengthening cadet's awareness of their individual levels of accountability within (the above) this framework.

c. Establishing a better appreciation by cadets of the profession of arms by the time they graduate.

d. Continuing to work toward reinforcing USAFA's application of and expectations for "world class" standards of excellence.

e. Emphasis on cadets "staying engaged" with the honor code (and not "looking away", to use his words). Realizing that not all entrants to USAFA carry a full appreciation of the concepts of honor when they enter the academy...the goal is to ensure they do have a full appreciation by the time they are upperclassmen and certainly by the time they graduate.

f. Attempting to eliminate "wasted training" or "mal-training" from cadet's fields of view, whenever possible.

g. Continuing to reinforce the imperatives of respecting all people, as the foundational environment for preparing cadets to lead people of all types and perspectives when they are on active duty.

Can you believe?: (these are things I heard tonight, not only from the Comm, but from internal conversation within the CAS).

a. It is projected to cost $579 million to refurbish Sijan Hall (currently the #1 sustainment/facility priority for USAFA, anticipated to be a 3 year project...not yet funded).

b. The Form O-96 "like" rating system is currently available from every table in Mitches via QR code? And, the Comm talked for about 5 minutes about the plusses and minuses of bringing back a viable O-96 "tradition" for modernized/practical reasons.

c. Apparently a substantial number of grads remain disturbed and vocally active about seeing cadets on TV at football games and not in Class A uniforms! Again, the Comm talked about this in a very calm and practical fashion, explaining why cadets don't wear Class A uniforms to most football games. (personal note/commentary, the USAFA intra-service games will never be the same as Army-Navy, but it seems many of our felly alums believe that the "new guys" can/should unseat the senior interservice football contest and its preeminent image).

d. USAFA applicant qualifications remain very, very high.

e. Cadets cannot have mustaches and cannot have beards (allowed by current AF active duty standards), unless they have a medical condition or a religious exemption (and even then, there are limits).

f. Class of 2024 assignment demographics are looking (currently) like: 330 pilot slots, 9 air battle manager slots, 20 RPV slots, 15 CSSO slots, 46 acquisition slots, 44 cyber slots, 56 intel slots, 26 Minuteman slots, 30 Force Protection/OSI slots, 90 Space Force slots (some of which are acquisition related, not all satellite flyers or engineers) These are just the stats I was able to capture in notes, didn't catch them all (comm was reading off the current official projection stats sheet) but you get the idea.

New/Other Meeting Topic(s):

AOG has initiated a new graduate annual award category "Leadership Achievement Award" to be given to grads 16-39 years from graduation. This fills middle ground between "honor graduate award" and "junior graduate award" and I believe will be presented in June for the first time this year. Nominations are open for this award thru Feb 2024.

1 Day - 1 USAFA is slated to be held 8 May 2024 for any/all grad gifting or donations.

Any '75 classmates interested in supporting USAFA Endowment giving programs by any means, (such as publicity or other) are encouraged to volunteer...contact Thomas Lennenberg at the Endowment.

That's the essence of the meeting. Please let me know if you have questions or comments and I'll update you when formal minutes are posted.

Bruce

 

Renegade Idea               Bill Murray


From the publisher:

This is a book that will help you preserve your children's and grandchildren's memories forever! Nothing is more important than family and memories...especially as we get older. Enjoy these short illustrations and record your memories to keep forever, for if they're not recorded, they will be lost forever...


Album


 

1. Steve & Sharon Duresky asea. (January 2024)

2. Otto Dieffenbach: My latest project is a 1974 Yellow T-Top Vette that I intend to take to my 50th Air Force Academy reunion in 2025.

A couple of my classmates have classic Vettes and annually on our ski trip I always ask if they are ready to sell. Well, my classmate, Dave Erhart, indicated that it was time to let his go. His was purchased when we were allowed to own cars just before our junior year. My first Vette was a yellow 69 and also a 4 speed like Dave's so we completed a deal. I was visiting Dick and LaNeal Russ in Oklahoma as I was trying to arrange shipping to California from Ft. Worth. Dick is a championship winning Jaguar XKE restorer and wrote the book on XKE restoration, literally. Well Dick asked if he could get it in mechanical shape so I could drive it to California and I should just transport it to his home in OKC. I tried to talk him out of it since I knew, being a Vette, he would regret it. Just like every Vette restorer, it is a love/hate relationship... The car is now fun to drive with a long list of physical appearance restoration items awaiting after arrival in California. (January 2024)

3. Keith Workman: Happy Birthday to us ! Season brings us to 6, 7 & 71. Our first experience on a cruise ship (CA coast). (January 2024)

4. Don Byers celebrating grandson's birthday. (Jennifer Lawton, January 2024)

 


 

 

5. Mickey Clemons: Had a great time with 4 of our grandkids at the Ice Castles in Cripple Creek. So much fun! (January 2024)

6. Jim Marshall with his newest grandchild. (Kelly Vannoy, January 2024)

7. Ric Dahlstrom & FIVE sisters celebrating their mom's 96th birthday. (Laura Beacker, February 2024)

8. Paul Desisto: Meeting a friend from the Japan days, Mark Frederickson at Wolfgang Puck’s in The Villages. Lookin’ good, Freddy! (February 2024)

 


 

 

9. Mike Heil: With our friends Jim Christopher and his wife Karen after a wonderful dinner at Cleveland’s fabulous Marble Room Cleveland. Highly recommended! (February 2024)

10. Paul Kent, doing retirement right, on Waimanalo Beach, Hawaii. (Stacy Hart Mattingly, February 2024)

11. Robert Hickcox & Marge Terhaar: Six miles into an eight mile trek we stopped for liquid staff of life. It’s nice that Bottle Theory provided an easy shortcut! (February 2024)

12. Rick Kim: Grateful to the ohana for the love as the birthday month continues. Surprised on Valentine’s Day with gifts from the twins & our MAW family, followed by a joint birthday celebration with friend Bill & his wife, Phyllis, continuing with dinner at Choza with Lacey & JP, & dinner with the Kano family & friends at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant in Montana. Thanks to all of you, I’m so blessed to have you for family. Much love & mahalos. (February 2024)

 


 

 

13. Bill Murray: This is a picture of me and Bill Brant, a '77 USAFA Grad and Justice of the Peace for our District in Keller, Texas. I swear I'm not in any more trouble! (February 2024)

14. Greg & Peggy Berlan (Far Left & Right) enjoying lunch with freinds at Daytona Beach Shores. (Carol Graham Nicholson, February 2024)

15. Oleh Stefaniuk celebrating birthday number ?? playing trivia with friends and family, taking home the covented potato. (Veronika Nemeth Stefaniuk, February 2024)

16. Steve & Sharon Duresky stepping out in support of Destin Shelter House, featured in VIP Destin magazine. (February 2024)

 


 

 

17. Jeff Chappell at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. (March 2024)

18. Kent Traylor celebrating his birthday number ?? at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Meagan Counts, March 2024)

19. Three generations of Morrisons with patriarch Al at Soliman Bay, Mexico. (Lindsey McCannel Morrison, March 2024)

20. Rick & Pauline Kim celebrating Rick's birthday number ?? (March 2024)

 


 

 

21. Brian & Jan Duffy with extended family members at the Magnolia Hotel, Houston. (Adam Brown, March 2024)

22. Jim Hartney at Madison Square Garden. (March 2024)

23. Barry & Gladys Abbott at Lake Louisa State Park, Florida. (March 2024)

24. Jim Mahoney & friend KJ Howe at the Vegas Valley Winery. (March 2024)

 


 

 

25. Bob Hickcox: My birthday hat. Already my favorite. (March 2024)

26. Dave & Patti Ruddock doing retirement right, on Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida. (Melanie Mazirow, March 2024)

27. Stan Jones: After 2 days of skiing, I did a gravel ride from Chatfield State Park to the top of Waterton Canyon. 3 days of great weather. (March 2024)

28. Bill Murray: Cloudy day, but lots of bluebonnets in Texas for Easter! (March 2024)

 

 


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