Extended Holiday Greetings From Sunny Arizona. Even though there’s a considerable time lag between me writing this and you reading it, here’s hoping that the joy and blessings of the Holiday Season are still with us all. It is a gorgeous day here in the Valley of the Sun (most are!) and there’s a plethora of material to pass along so let’s get on with seeing where we’re at and where we're going (although, at this age it’s sometimes less taxing to think about where we've been)!
Up. That's where this distinguished group of classmates is going! Latest BG list had no less than five '75ers on it! Hope the list is published elsewhere in this magazine but right here is where the heartfelt, “proud-to-say-we're-classmates” congratulations are registered for: Chip Diehl, Stan Gorenc, Pete Hennessey, Joe Stein, and Mark Volcheff. No small accomplishment! And I’m sure many of you who are still serving on active duty (and maybe even a few of us Reservists) will be on future lists.
And while we’re on the general (or is that capital "G", General?) subject, I’ll begin the (received) Christmas card list with Dale Meyerrose. His short note talked about hectic life and noted that he and Linda’s “ladies are growing up fast.” Also got a family picture and note from Bentley Rayburn (must be something they teach you in brigadier generals class). Was a very busy year for them, including sending their oldest off to college in Tennessee.
East To West. The rest of the Holiday greetings, from (postmark-wise) from East to West. With great apologies to his wife and daughters, I am including a photo of Bill Lyerly and Chuck Hippler taken during Lyerly’s holiday vacation to Disneyworld. Once again, space constraints won’t permit detailed accounting of all that’s going with Bill, Sylvia and their family, but (what a surprise?) they’re very busy. Chuck is a 757 captain for UPS flying out of Orlando; he has two boys.
And it`s time to do our annual marveling at Mark Donnelly's unchanged address - ten years in Southern Maryland! [Can any classmate on active duty match that for geographic stability?] Of course Mark traveled a lot with his boss this year and even got to learn to fly a new airplane (757s taking the place of old 707s in the VIP fleet). Lucy and the kids are...well, busy! Scott Smith and his family sent holiday greetings from slightly further south in Dumfries, VA. Believe this was first time we’d heard that Scott moved over to Delta Airlines (727s out of LaGuardia) from the cargo flying business. Jan is one of four RNs on the Heart Team at one of the hospitals in Fredericksburg. Kids – busy
On to the South where Chuck and Roxanne Holland are getting ready for a move even further to the south – Chuck has been selected as the defense attaché to La Paz, Bolivia! Lots of things to do (schools) between now and their expected arrival in Jul '00, And just to make sure they're ready for world traveling, Chuck and Roxanne were going off on a two-week vacation to Thailand with his parents in December.
Showing that we’re a well-educated lot, there weren’t any cards from the Mid-west so we’ll move on to the Rockies (oh come on, you know that’s just meant to get one of you Plains-livers to write me in defense)! I think my wife has about as rugged a commute as there is outside of Southern California but it palls in comparison to Wayne Willis’s Albuquerque-to-Orlando trip to the office (of course "the office” is a Delta 737). Hard to believe Wayne and Amy have two already out of the house and that another son, Brian, will graduate this spring (possibly USAFA-bound). Lisa is a freshman and I laughed just thinking about the “deer-in-the-headlights" look on big old Wayne’s face as he wrote me, “What's the secret to surviving a teenage daughter?”
Just up I-25 in Colorado Springs, Jon and Diane Turner may also be checking into the USAFA Class of 2003 Parents Club; Ric’s got a nomination and is being recruited by the football team. Whole family is busy, Jon has taken on position of flight operations supervisor for the 737-300/500 for United in Denver, but they did travel to the Holy Land last summer. Dennis and Leslie Brooks are also still there in “Colo Spgs” and, like so many of you sent their child (Becky) off to college (Samford University in Birmingham, AL) this past year. Denny’s health is still a challenge but it’s always a pleasure and inspiration for me to “read” his positive attitude.
Finally out West there was but one card and that without a note or letter. I’ll only wish for coal in Brian Barnes’ Christmas stocking next year if he fails to send some additional, substantive correspondence later this year! But much better than a card was Debby’s and my visit with Kent, Carol, and Meagan Traylor at New Years. We went up to the Beale AFB “Ranch” for a wonderful couple of days (to follow up on the great time we had together at the WAC Championship game earlier in December). On this trip we got to relax, see Meagan’s horse, took a tour of the U-2 Operations, ate exquisitely (and almost endlessly), and rediscovered the gift of friendship. As a bonus to the weekend, we ran into Brent Hall on the way back to Phoenix. He was “deadheading" back to Phoenix on the same Southwest Airlines flight we were on (he still flies for them). Brent and Kaye just relocated (from Las Vegas) to the same suburb of Phoenix we live in.
Regressing Back To Kindergarten. In the interest of time, I’ll dispense with the paraphrasing and do the high-tech version of the “Cut & Paste” thing we used to do in kindergarten on all the e-mails I’ve received since the last column. From Jim Dearien (1 Oct): “I’m in Dallas working for Delta. Married 13 years now to Julie... have two girls. My oldest went to USAFA basketball camp this past summer...she called me the first night and said what a good time she was having. I had to call my parents – my daughter had done in one day what I never did in five years - have a good time at USAFA! What a change in one generation” From John Kambourian (4 Oct): “I’ve been out of touch for a while due to a serious accident while l was down in Chile. In February (1998) l fell off a 120-foot waterfall in southern Chile (no, there wasn’t a pool of water at the bottom) and had a pretty close call with death, I did some pretty extensive damage to the old chassis, breaking my back, my right femur, my right arm, and eight ribs. I felt like Humpty Dumpty but the doctors (after an 11-hour operation and 20 units of blood) managed by some miracle to glue me back together – with a healthy amount of titanium, I might add. I’m re-covering extremely quickly and am told I’ll be as good as new in three to four months. We left Chile a year early so that I could do rehab in the States...will be working at State Department for the next two to three years (at least). After seven overseas tours, we’d like to spend some time in the States for a while. By the way, the new air attaché at our embassy in Chile is a '75 grad, Al Piotter.”
Break – Break. O.K., the next e-mail (6 Oct) was from Buck Rogers but it was short and l actually got better informed when we went to dinner with him and his daughter in November. Buck, who's 19AF/DO, was in town as Mishap Board president for an F-16 out of Luke that I did structural damage assessment on (part of my USAFR duties). Megan had come out to see NAU and ASU as she has some interest in coming this way after high school graduation.
Webmaster. Marinus Bosma has included me on two e-mails that were actually pointers to web sites he put together to document (in near real time!): a) a trip to Israel he and Ginny made, and b) a humanitarian mission to Crique Safco, Belize he was involved with.
More excerpts – from Tony Mahoney (20 Oct): “Cyndy and I had a chance to get away from kids etc. and attend homecoming vs. New Mexico a few weeks ago. I’m sure we never did so many push-ups in a season, much less in a single game! I’m with Southwest, going on eight years now…pretty good seniority on the captain list in Oakland but tired of commuting from Las Vegas. We are kept pretty busy with three kids at home and my 18-year-old college student in the guestroom full time. Our youngest just turned one last week, probably the youngest ‘75 offspring, or close to it!”
From Max Della Pia (6 Nov): “I have come full circle – am back on active duty as the Reserve advisor to commander 19th Air Force. I will be spending one week per month and two weeks every other month at Little Rock AFB for the next four years. I'm happy to be back flying but have spent more time there than l have in San Antonio over the past four months.” (Wish space would allow me to pass on the history of how one winds up in a job like this but I’ll just have to tease you with the key words.) “Got my law degree from Marquette Law…during my 6 1/2 years in practice, flew C-130s with USAFR…Desert Storm…Air Reserve technician in Milwaukee...Legis Fellow at Brookings...personal staff of Senator Carl Levin…worked for Colonel Rick Pyatt (Class of ‘75), division chief, Air Force Senate Liaison…finished ICAF in June as a “DG” (with "DG" classmate Colonel Dave Anhalt)...accepted AGR tour to Randolph AFB in August. Just missed seeing my old roommate Colonel Gary Barrentine before he left to be 71 FTW/CV. Nancy has done a great job of getting the house up to speed, often without my help. The boys are growing up fast.”
Steve Pitotti sent an e-mail from Holloman AFB with pledge to follow-up with pictures and stories of other “’75 buds” there. I'm guessing Desert Fox interfered. And from John Scherer who’s vice commander at the Air Mobility Warfare Center (19 Dec): “Was pleasantly surprised when we landed at McConnell AFB (on TDY) last Saturday to be met by Col. John Gaughan, 22 ARW/CV...he‘s been there since August. Just yesterday on an out-and-back to Keesler AFB, I saw Gerry Micheletti, who is the 403 AW/LG – the hurricane hunter C-130 unit. He was hobbling with a cane after having a knee repaired – old hockey injury he says.”
Outer Limits. I'm pushing the editor’s space constraints and my own impatience to get back to time with my family on a beautiful day like today. Encourage each of you to do the same right now…you never know it just might be later than you think!