Caught in the Checkpoints Feedback Loop. Here I am, taking down the Christmas tree and getting ready to go to the Freedom Bowl, yet compelled to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day (since that will be the holiday-of-interest by the time you read this). Hope I get more St. Paddy’s Day cards from you guys than the “barely-enough-to-put-a-scare-into-the-mailbox-spider” supply of Christmas cards I received. As a matter of fact, reflecting on this puts me in a holiday spirit that’s apparently akin to what one experiences at Kunsan AB, Korea: Lee Colburn sent me the 80TFS card: “NEITHER CAN YOU!” was the message inside. Also got a letter from him back in October that included the news of his marriage to an Air Force (major) physical therapist, Jeanine, whom he had met at Homestead. At that time Dave Commons and Lee were both flight commanders in the 80th. Dave was, according to Lee, also heavily involved in the Juvat “Boys Choir.” I won’t even attempt to explain that one. I will say that Dave had better write/call soon or I’ll be forced to publish a few of the rumors I heard. Lee also included the news that Steve and Colleen Martin (godparents Colburn’s son) has settled in Miami where Steve is with Eastern for the past couple of years. Steve apparently passed on (from the Grad Airline Pilot Hotline) that Don McDonough is based in New York with Eastern and Paul Kent is with Northwest Orient out of Seattle.
Counting Down the Kids/Rest of the Christmas News. Four! The Willis’ Christmas card was signed “Wayne, Amy and 4!” With four kids you can imagine that the letter was filled with his ballgames, scouts, and numerous activities… I’m not sure how Wayne finds time to fly the F-15 at Holloman. And it’s for sure I can’t see how Amy manages to be “companion, mother, business lady (seller of fine fabrics), college student and choir director.” Three! Dale, Linda, and the three Meyerrose girls are back in Washington DC. Dale says he’s back at the Pentagon because he didn’t learn enough the first time. I’ve got my own suspicions…move over Ollie North! Two! I had to include this picture of the Donnelly family just to ask you, is that Mark’s old summer mess dress that his son is wearing? Lucy said that Mark’s work at HQ MAC is interesting and they’ve made lots of friends but Mark would rather be flying. For those of us who know Mark, not a very surprising revelation. One. (Pardon me for being a trifle self-indulgent but none of the other ‘75ers with only one child sent a card…besides, it’s a heck of a picture)! We’re doing just great and, as I said at the outset, getting charged up for the Freedom Bowl. The “It’s-A-Small-Air-Force-World” theory has caught up with us again as we discovered Tiffany’s third-grade teacher was a high school classmate of Wayne Willis! Debby has gone to work for the American Express and I’ve made a move within McDonnell Douglas Helicopter. I’m now the engineering project manager for our commercial and “light-military” helicopter products.
Yea, But Has He Ever Had Anything Published in Checkpoints!? Jim Sills (HH-53 pilot extraordinaire, Class of '74) authored a really interesting article in the November ‘(87) Guideposts magazine. It details a rescue mission he commanded to pluck a Russian doctor off a ship…in the midst of a tropical storm! Seems Comrade Doctor had acute appendicitis and Jim had tungsten steel…ah, Jim was really brave. I hope Jim’s wife, Sindi, and daughter, Christine, don’t mind if we share a little of their pride in our classmate for such a humanitarian/heroic act.
There Was Noting Else To Do So I Thought I’d Write/Call. Got a letter from Jim Kochevar who’s a pilot with USAir, living in Corapolis, PA with his wife, Dena. He’s a Reservist at Andrews and has been with the airline two years; long enough to know that Chris Fillar, Craig Federson and Jeff Krumeich are also with the “when I say I lost an engine, I mean I LOST an engine” airline. (Special pat on the back to Mark Scott, who Jim mentioned as the guy who shamed him into joining the AOG and writing to me)!
Dan McCorry called a few days after I submitted the last article with a wealth of information about the world at Edwards AFB. He and Robin had just had their second son and Dan was settling into teaching at TPS, where he came after a stint with the F-20 Program. John Howard has also come back to the school to teach following work with the F-16 AFTI. Sam Ryals was teaching at the school but looking for an imminent PCA. Craig Christian has returned to teaching having just finished a tour as the bomber branch chief at the 6512th Test Squadron. Apparently no one organization has to take more than their fair share of ‘75ers, since Steve Pitotti is going the other way, from the school to the 6512th where he’ll be fighter branch chief. Lance Grace and Jim Heald are involved in F-15E testing, Terry Markovich and Dave White are doing likewise with the MC-130 Combat Talon II. Chris Glaeser is associated with the F-16 Lantern Program and, last but not least, Eric Hoganson is a B-1 test pilot.
Lumps of Coal I Found in My Stocking. Yep, the change-of-address cards. At least I got three of the “expanded” AOG-format ones that give a little bit of a hint about what it means. Oleh Stefaniuk is now residing in Rialto, CA and working for Quantum Instruments, Inc. I’m sure Chuck Beadling is “suffering” in his new assignment as the family physician at Florennes AB, Belgium. Literally on the other side of the world you can find David Blessinger in Guam, where he’s the chief of Bomber Scheduling at Anderson AB. Now I’m sure the stuff you wouldn’t sleep tonight without knowing (remember by not writing to me, you’re doing this to yourself): Tom Darner from California to Norfolk, VA (suppose he’s going off to school where he’ll organize a “write your scribe?”); Michael Weininger from points unknown to Homestead, FL; Bob Turner from Minot to an APO San Francisco address; Richard Grasso made a local move in Stamford, CT and Alan Krukowski moved from somewhere in Minnesota you’ve never heard of to another place in Minnesota you’ve never heard of. (God, I love this!!!).
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over. I normally try to leave you with the sweet taste of C-o-A card dung in your mouth as we close; enticing or shaming you (What’s the difference?) into writing/calling me. But not this time! Unless you were totally asleep at the wheel you must have noticed the rather impressive launching of the AOG Headquarters/Alumni House Capital Campaign in the last issue of the Checkpoints. (If you normally just read this article and toss the rest, go get the last magazine and look it over…while you’re at it have yourself committed). The AOG solicited words of inspiration from key members of each class and, since they had already seen so much of my “good work”…they asked Tim O’Connell! Tim forwarded the following along with his generous ($) contribution:
“As you have read in previous issues of Checkpoints, the AOG has initiated their most ambitious project ever. This effort will result in a 32,000 square foot, two-level multipurpose structure west of the O’Club. If you have returned to USAFA recently, you can appreciate the services this complex will provide for reunions, pre/post game activities, class displays, ceremonies, and social functions. And, if you have lived in the Springs recently, you are familiar with the AOG’s desperate need for an expanded, permanent home.
“Of the $5.5 million needed, the alumni (the benefactors of this project) are being asked to contribute $1 million. By my definition this isn’t small change. However, if each living grad contributed only $50, the 20,000 of us would meet the goal.
“Besides asking for financial support the AOG has asked me to pass on two requests. First, seek out classmates who are non-members and pass the word. The AOG can provide you extra copies of the Fall Checkpoints centerfold. Second, if you are able to serve as a base, region, or class point of contact, please notify the AOG. Your leadership would be greatly appreciated.
“Please reread the information on the project with a vision of the social and professional benefits of the AOG Headquarters Building/Alumni House can have for years to come.”
As I said in the last issue, our class has a little negative notoriety when it comes to things like this. My check will accompany Tim’s when I mail the article in. Will you join us?
P.S. Tim included the following news with his editorial. He, his wife (Roni), three children, three horses and dogs let USAFA for ACSC this summer. They’ve taken up residence in a 120-year-old farmhouse they are in Alabama. He’s seen the following classmates at Montgomery: Mike Reese, Greg Berlan, Mike Coman, Lamar Lewis, Clay McFarland, Clay Nobles, Phil Romanowicz, Jed Vandendries, George Walrond, and Rick Pyatt. Tim specifically mentioned that it was Rick’s leg that got broken in four places playing ACSC “safe” softball, so NONE of you guys have an excuse not to write. Maybe even a “Class Photo!?”
P.S.S. The Checkpoints editor has ragged on us class scribes for being overly verbose so, nothing cute, just the same old reminder, it’s later than you think!