June 2024          Foster Bitton

50th Reunion News: Jeff Hackett and Dick Dye have been selected as the chairman and local class representative respectively for our 50th reunion. Their management and leadership skills were deeply vetted during the selection process, but the major determining factor was that they didn’t try to flee the country on false passports when President-for-Life Jim Carlson told them they could have the thankless jobs only if they were willing to do them for no pay. They jumped at the opportunity, which means Jim overestimated their awareness of what the jobs entail and should have asked them to pay for the privilege of being abashed and abased. Expect to hear more from the Jeff and Dick show via your squadron POCs in the near future.

Where is… President-in-Hiding Carlson, will be moving back to the mainland at the end of the summer. At some point during the last four years, he stumbled upon the realization that paradise isn’t an island, it’s a state of mind. He also figured out that following a wife who is bringing in the big bucks and still climbing the ladder is good for one’s retirement portfolio.

Jeff Chappell took his 3rd Annual Snowbird Odyssey to Arizona and spent time with Sandy Terry, Dave Keene, Jerry Cooke, Bruce Hopkin, and Jeff Hackett. None of the people he visited have asked me to warn other classmates of his future travel plans, which means Jeff probably isn’t making unpleasant noises at the dinner table anymore.

Dennis Brooks makes his way around the Robson Ranch Seniors Community in Denton, TX in a legally “motorized wheelchair” that looks, smells, and drives just like a golf cart. He mentors owners of flying camera drones, and his cart is called Drone Control Central.

Steve Wojcicki retired on Merritt Island on the Space Coast of Florida. His genetic makeup must have a need for speed because a few years ago he bought a 2015 Porsche Cayman GTS that he drives only on the Sebring Raceway (3.74 miles with 17 turns). The track requires each car to pass a technical inspection before it’s allowed on the track, and drivers must attend classroom instruction and drive with an instructor until cleared solo. Steve has passed all of the requirements and now drives number “75” solo every chance he gets.

Tony and Cyndy Mahoney have already been to Antarctica and the South Caribbean within the first quarter of 2024, and they hope to beat their current record of traveling 190 days in a calendar year.

General Sandy Vandenberg and his wife, Anne, are living in Tucson, AZ. In late March, Chris Goetsch, Rick Layman, Dale Meyerrose, Ken Nease, and Bentley Rayburn traveled to Tucson to pay the General a visit. Dale reports that at age 95, “General Vandenberg remains engaged, as sharp as ever, and much as we remember him.” He added that the General remains one of our biggest supporters and is extremely proud of the Class of 75.

Significant Events: Sam Ryals will be commemorated in the Colonel Sam K. Ryals Annual Program Management Excellence Award, which will be given annually to the WPAFB Program Manager that best exemplifies the integrity, knowledge, values and leadership qualities of Colonel Ryals. Column space doesn’t allow a detailed listing of the criteria for the award, but it’s obvious that Sam left an indelible mark on the acquisition and program management community at WPAFB. After he retired, Rick Pyatt snagged him to work at Goodrich Corporation as the Director of Air Force R&D and Acquisition Programs. In Rick’s words, Sam was “THE PERFECT hire…and was THE smartest guy in our company on all acquisition matters and program management/contracting issues.”

Mike “Goody” Gudmundson was involved in an aircraft mishap on January 12th while landing at Mesquite Municipal Airport. His Harmon Rocket II, a high-performance taildragger with a bubble canopy, flipped over on landing, pinning Goody in the cockpit. The first responder at the scene, a trauma surgeon station at Nellis AFB, could not detect any vital signs when he reached Goody, so a trio of responders removed him from the aircraft and started chest compressions until Emergency Medical Services arrived and transported him to a hospital in Las Vegas. Goody was in a coma for 44 days, but in true Goody style, one of the first things he asked for upon regaining consciousness was a bowl of strawberry ice cream. His neck was broken in the mishap, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, but he remains in high spirits, often bantering with the hospital staff. After you read this, feel free to have a bowl of strawberry ice cream in Goody’s honor, and if you have a couple of extra prayers in your pocket, it wouldn’t hurt to include him in them. His plan is to attend our 50threunion, and with a little help from his friends, that is very doable.

GBNF: Tom “Pete” Peterson. Details can be found at 75bestalive.org.

There were a lot of great inputs with photos this quarter. You can see the ones that couldn’t be squeezed into this column by going to 75bestalive.org. Click on the Checkpoints button, scroll to the bottom of the page, select June 2024, then scroll down to the Checkpoints Plus section.


The Carlson Clan

 


One Snowbird and a Sizzle of Arizona Lifers
Jeff Chappell, Sandy Terry, Dave Keene, Jerry Cooke, Lois & Bruce Hopkin, & Jeff Hackett

 


Dennis Brooks in his Drone Control Central

 

Steve Wojcicki & his Number "75"

 

Steve Wojcicki behind the Wheel

 


A Reconvening of the Cadet Wing Hierarchy
General Vandenberg, Front and Center
Clockwise From Lower Left: Dale Meyerrose, Rick Layman, Chris Goetsch, Bentley Rayburn, & Ken Nease


Checkpoints Plus


Mike McClendon: First of all I’ll pass along a comment my wife made recently. I was explaining to her how each class has a motto and before I could tell her that ours’ was 75 Best Alive she said “What’s yours – 75 Still Alive?” I thought that was pretty accurate considering all the 70 yr warranties expiring (my hearing, my back, etc).

More in line with what you are asking is a picture of me flying a Civil Air Patrol glider that came from USAFA. You’ll have to trust me that I’m at the controls, but the reason I sent this particular pic is that it shows the “AF2” under the wing as I pass overhead the photographer, by the way who was Carl Keil ’69. Flying CAP cadets is a hoot and I invite any of our retired aviators that still have it in them to find a local squadron and go check out in a Cessna 182 or whatever they have. Flying teens and exposing them to aviation and motivating many to shoot for USAFA is what we like to call “meaningful work” – which is often missing from old retired “has been’s” like us.

 

Jeff Hackett: David & Lisa Keene and my wife, Chris, and I took an eleven day cruise around Japan & South Korea in March – had a TREMENDOUS time. Marked a return to David's and my late 1970's assignments (David was an Air Traffic Controller for "Taegu High" in South Korea and I was flying RF-4s out of Kadena AB in Okinawa and Osan AB in South Korea). The picture was taken at Glover Garden in Nagasaki, Japan.


Jeff & Chris Hackett, Lisa & Dave Keene

 

Steve Duresky: This photo is me with a 2020 Grad, Matt Iverson, son of ‘76er Bob Iverson, grandson of recently passed Lt Gen Don Snyder, former ACC/DO. Matt flies Gunships out of Hurlburt Field, where this pic was taken. As we know, that class got shortchanged on the pomp and circumstances of June week and all that due to a minor worldwide event that year! So he and three classmates stationed at Hurby and Eglin made a big deal of their O-3 pin-ons for their families. As a family friend, I was asked to officiate and pin on Matt’s bars. A fun event! I even broke out our old Contrails (and my pocket Constitution) as a visual aid!

Fun little story about my dilemma on where to wear my "USAF Retired" pin on this uniform: I've worn full Blues and Mess Dress a few times since retirement, but never this uniform (short sleeve blue shirt) since then. The retirement uniform reg is very clear on where to display the pin - "On the left lapel". That's great if you have a lapel, like the service dress coat. But, is a collar a "lapel"? Hmmm. I looked everywhere for guidance to be sure I was in the proper uniform, but nowhere is it written! I wound up wearing it on my left collar. A fun riddle for any of our pals to share the answer. I'm sure that bridge has been crossed before! Anyway, as the senior (read - oldest and retired) ranking guy there, no one questioned it!

 

Paul Kent: Not a whole lot new. Our house of 28 years is on the market as we look to move to a more “senior-friendly” residence. Like a house with a garage where we don’t need to walk up and down a bunch of outside stairs in the 40 degree Washington rain with our Costco purchases. (You brought up Costco; I’m just expanding on it). Both our kids and grandkids are in Southern California, so Granny (my wifey) want’s a second home down there. I like it up here in the cold rain. And don’t particularly want to own two houses, when one is too many. That’s all the current Paul Kent drama I will share today.


Steve Duresky & 2020 Grad Matt Iverson


Checkpoints Extras


The Sabre Society          Steve Duresky


 

 

Greetings '75 Classmates,

So, I finally pulled the trigger and made a "Sabre Society Level" ($1,000) gift to my beloved USAFA! I've been an AOG member for years, but never quite got around to actually making this level of donation. And I'll tell you, it feels great to have finally written that check!

Why did I do it? Well, after a lifetime of working, raising a family, paying the bills, and just living life, I finally find myself in a position with more expendable income than I've ever had. This is the result of a lot of hard work, good decisions and choices, but also a little bit of luck. And as I look back at my life, I realize that some of the beacons of my life were the discipline and character building that I learned at the Academy. In fact, my USAFA experience, and the foundation it gave me for the Air Force and LIFE, are among my most treasured memories, second only to my marriage and family love.

I loved my 30 years of active duty after USAFA and was blessed to have had a bunch of really good assignments. The Academy was always there with me-deep in my soul with my class ring on my finger (except when I was flying!) as a daily reminder. In fact, I've asked my family to ensure that three of my USAFA physical items are preserved for as many generations as possible – my ring, my sabre, and my Contrails (our Class of '75 Contrails is a pretty cool looking little number with its silver on gold embossing!). I've even stated this in my Will.

l’ve been back to the Academy a lot over the years – for Air Force business as well as reunions – and it never gets old. I get the same pleasant butterflies driving up the "Hill" that I did back in summer ’7l. And l meet a lot of cadets and grads in the Niceville/Ft. Walton Beach area through my various volunteer activities. I never cease to be impressed by the quality of the young men and women we produce at USAFA that keeps the Long Blue Line going strong and growing stronger in our collective efforts to keep our nation safe.

With all that in mind, l decided it was time to start giving back a little more than l’d been doing over the years. l’m certainly not getting any younger. l want our cadets and grads to be the best they can be and have a shot at chasing their dreams while at school – to try to reach the same level of fulfillment, pride, and just pure joy that l did while I was there. l really think an enhanced experience at the Academy helps produce better officers, which in turn will help better keep our country safe and free.

l'm proud and thrilled to finally be a member of the Sabre Society. l’d like to think that every grad – especially my wonderful classmates – who can afford it will consider joining me (and a thank you to those who are already members). It’s a great feeling to be part of this team!

Steve Duresky '75
Bull Six Squadron
'75 Best Alive!

 

Association of Graduates Class Advisory Senate          Bruce Mitchell


 


Minutes


Character Development
Update


Alumni Relations Update


AFAF Giving Update

Here are my "highlight notes" from the April 2024 CAS meeting, just concluded. Will push the complete, formal minutes to you with briefing slides once they are available.


– Strong overall attendance of roughly 40 senators (out of 64 classes); 17 in person and remainder on Zoom. You may be interested to know that 12x USAFA classes have senators who have not participated at all in any CAS meetings/functions in three years time! CAS President Randy Helms continues to work on remediation of that with class presidents. Class of 2024 president is being briefed on CAS so as to enable the new (pending) graduating class to name their CAS rep.

– Main program tonight was a thorough update briefing about the Center for Character and Leadership Development, given by Dr. Tom Torkelson, a deputy director, USAFA '92. Former tanker squadron and wing commander. Covered the portfolio of CCLD responsibilities and items of interest, in about a 1 hour presentation. Much detail. CCLD has become much more (dare I say completely) integrated into the overall USAFA cadet development program with all the other traditional key mission elements, including additional responsibilities shepherding/assisting cadet leadership of the honor program and associated mentoring and training of cadets on the real meaning of honor for a lifetime lifestyle value system. (probably much improved overall than when we were cadets, IMHO, even though there are those who would attempt to convince us to the contrary). You will be able to see the details in the briefing slides (pending).

– (Although I just heard about it tonight for the first time) there was a recent national media (USA Today) story on how USAFA monitors social media for crisis indicators such as suicide or sexual assault or other potential harm situations from cadet social media posts. You may have or may still be reading about that. I don't understand all of this situation, but the USAFA leadership and the CCLD are involved in ensuring USAFA has done and will continue to do the right things for cadets.

– AOG BOD meets this week, they will be focusing upon preparations for next year's election of board officers. Selection process refinement is getting current attention. Spoiler alert – I'll be reminding the class from now on to year's end to please participate in the election. (So, please vote in next year's AOG election, if you've opted-in as a member) "New" All-grads-can-be-AOG members now stands at 69.3% "sign-on agreement as members" stats from overall alumni population. Goal is 85%. (note; one class tonight reported over 100 souls out of 680 graduating members have lost contact/no known address)
–AOG has a new "next of kin" survivor assistance rep to directly assist after demise of grads, in instances where this is needed. Seemingly off to a great/positive start with many early accolades from grads who have needed and benefited from this service.


– 1 Day 1 USAFA "day of giving" is coming up on 8 May. Goal is participation of donations of any amount, to be used for any cause. If you have not seen publicity on this, you are likely not in the AOG database with active addresses! I have accepted my 1/64th part in the CAS president's challenge for 100% CAS participation.

–
 Reunion News Spotlight; (mainly why I cc:d Jeff and Dick)
–2024 reunion season is set...I didn't have time to copy down all the dates. Some reunions are on "off football weekend" and at least one reunion will be off-USAFA (in Hawaii). I'll make sure Jeff and Dick (et al) get a copy of the briefing slides, so they can see the new pattern emerging.


– The Academy Hotel at North Gate seems to be progressing well, and is reportedly on schedule for early 2025 opening...so it should be available for our class to use with priority for reunion, if that is what our committee decides.

– The chapel renovation remains behind schedule, and I believe there is no possibility it will be re-opened before our reunion.

– TBD impact of Falcon stadium renovation upon our reunion...right now, it seems like at least 18 months remain to complete this project, but I'm lost in the overall "multi-phase" approach to the overall renovation.

– I'm trying to evoke '73's reunion lessons learned from their chair AJ Ranft (also a CAS member) and will share accordingly as soon as I can get a copy/softcopy.


– Remember, the majority of reunion planning with grad classes has been outsourced.to a central contractor, event planning firm.


– AOG is still trying to engage directly with USAFA full-time staff to help improve the overall reunion experience for grads. CAS is still trying to help influence this process improvement cycle.

Per usual, please let me know if you have specific questions.

Bruce

 

Class of 2025 Legacy Event: Ring Dining In


 

1. Bentley Rayburn, Larry Bryant, Dave Haugen, Bill Buchta, Gary Shugart, Greg Black, Scott Hente, Jeff Hackett, & Paul Williams. (Larry Bryant, May 2024)

2. ibid, with spouses. (Association of Graduates Web Guy, May 2024)

3-4. Guest Speaker Bentley Rayburn. (Association of Graduates Web Guy, May 2024)


Album


Memorial Day 2024


 

1. '75ers (Bruce Mitchell, Lee Colburn, Mike O'Shea, Jeff Hackett, Bruce Fritzsche, Gary Shugart, Foster Bitton, Dick Dye, Larry Fariss, & Scott Hente) gathered at the USAFA Cemetery to honor fallen classmates. (Bruce Mitchell)

2-4. USAFA Cemetery this Memorial Day. (Bill Estelle)

 

 


Class of 75 Annual Graduation Day Anniversary Reception


 

1-4. The assembled masses in Colorado Springs. (Larry Bryant)


 

1. Stan Jones: Beautiful day for a hike in Rocky Mountain NP with my daughter Cara. (April 2024.)

2. Mike Rosebush: Today I treated one of my granddaughters to her 14th Papa-birthday celebration. We went horseback riding on the beautiful trails at the Air Force Academy. We both had soooo much fun!! (April 2024)

3. Bruce Hevey & daughter at the local Daddy Daughter Dance. (Angela Dupont-Hevey, April 2024)

4. Bob Walden with grandson Nathan about to depart for Cape Girardeau to watch the eclipse. (Robert Burch, April 2024)

 


 

 

5. Michael Heil & son Ryan pointing at something. It's a bird, it's a plane. (It's the eclipse). (April 2024)

6. Paul Desisto & Kim visiting with Japan friends Dulce & David. (April 2024)

7. Bill Spencer holding a fish. (April 2024)

8. John Kambourian holding the latest member of the family, 13-year old Junebug. (Jennifer Kambourian, April 2024)

 


 

 

9. Bob & PJ Walden at the baptism of their latest granddaughter, Charlotte Rose. (Christie Thomas, April 2024)

10. Mike Gould ('76) & Dale Meyerrose at the recent Long Blue Gray Line Social in Colorado Springs. (USAFA Association of Graduates, April 2024)

11. Al Morrison amidst his family. (Lindsey McCannel Morrison, April 2024)

12. Mickey & Jeannine Clemons celebrating her birthday with family. (Jeannine Clemons, April 2024)

 


 

 

13. David Beatty: Just hangin' with the Duke. (That's Dave on the right). (April 2024)

14-15. Don Byers with daughter Jennifer & grandsons Bryant (Left) & Cade (Right) with their school awards. (Jennifer Lawton, April 2024)

16. Stan Jones: Another snow hike today! (May 2024)

 


 

 

17. Don Byers: Had a great day riding to Glacier Point above Yosemite! The views are spectacular!!! (Half Dome, Left, Nevada & Vernal Falls, Right) (May 2024)

18. Ted Thompson: Had the honor of giving these two cadets their first flights. (May 2024)

19. Jim Marshall & grandchildren, including his most recent Kinder Graduate. (Kelley Vannoy, May 2024)

20. Oleh & Veronika Nemeth Stefaniuk with recent grandson graduate Luke. (Leanne Steinberger, May 2024).

 


 

 

21. Mike Matte & friends. (Deborah Belisle, May 2024)

22. Dave Ruddock: Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife Patti!! 72 years old with the heart and attitude of 22!! Many more years of adventures for us!! (May 2024)

23. Barry & Gladys Abbott enjoying Mother's Day with friends at Hidden Lake Winery. (May 2024)

24. Rick Kim: Seeing these kiddos at the finish line reminded me what this is all about. (May 2024)

 


 

 

25. Kelley Bishop (Far Right) and team being honored as winners of the National Space Society Chapter of the Year Award for 2024. (Ken Ruffin, May 2024)

26. Al Morrison with his two young charges. (Lindsey McCannel Morrison, May 2024)

27. Stan Jones: Took the grandsons to watch Thunderbirds practice at USAFA today. (May 2024)

28. Steve & Jacqueline with grandson Ian on his birthday. (Jennifer Durham-Schnackel, May 2024)

 

 


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