Scribe General. I’ve received lots of requests since my first article. Nevertheless, I have decided to write at least one more column. Captain Dinklesquat in English 101 said it was good practice for when I got a real job; and the way this commercial airline business is heading, this may happen sooner than later.
Classmates. In January, Phil Saenger’s daughter Sammantha got the good news she will be in the Class of 2009. Greg Dunbar was recently rediscovered, living near Fallon NAS in Nevada. His main pursuit is trying to get his girlfriend to marry him. Remember, Classmates, we don’t ask “Why” questions. He wants to come to the reunion. You know what to ask him. In February, Dan Burda updated us with news that he is manufacturing in China, and living there half the year. Mike Heil, alias “Ziggy” and “Doctor”, who is Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate, made us proud by being quoted about future AF technology on the NBC Nightly News.
Mark Wells was just approved as a Permanent Professor at our old Alma Mater. This means he can serve our country past 30 years. He and Donna head to Stuttgart next July for a 2-year sabbatical operational tour at HQ EUCOM. Afterwards, he’ll return to USAFA to run the Department of History again. The only bad news is that he may miss our 30-year reunion. However, he’s relieved that he won’t “have to run it again!” and passes on that Scott Hente and the committee will do a great job.” Dennis Brooks received some well-deserved kudos in a newspaper article lauding his (airplane) model building for sick children at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Bill Murray sent the attached picture of him with President Bush’s former advisor Karen Hughes. Bill was at a wedding in Austin, TX and felt very fortunate to speak to her. Then for his retirement, his wife gave him a signed copy of her book, which he calls “phenomenal.”
From Al Bready: “I bumped into Chris Soto a few days ago and he suggested that we ride our Harleys to our 30th in September. Of course, that immediately prompted thoughts of buying a new Harley for the trip. While perusing the Harley website, I came across the attached picture. The caption under the picture reads: "Mark Holmes, San Diego, and Merlette Andrews, Aurora, Ill., smile for the camera while riding down Main Street." My thoughts were: "Football team manager, our classmate Mark Holmes?" If you look closely, you can see his ring!”
Our newest Star: BG (Select) Duane Jones. Confirmation that sometimes you do the job right, then get promoted. Mike McKim received a newsmaker photo-op recently. He flies T-43s for a company called EG&G, and was participating in simulated hostage exercises. (Right). Lastly, on hearing of my new scribe duties, my old doolie roommate Scott Hammond was concerned that I would mention about the time he (felt he) caused us to fall off the ski lift chair at Breckenridge. I assured him I would never tell anybody about this, and as a former Honor Rep, he could take my word on this promise. Remember, Classmates, your confidence is paramount with this new scribe.
Thirtieth Reunion. Given the publishing schedule of “Checkpoints”, you may be reading this as we prepare for our 35th Reunion. The “Checkpoints” that arrived in your postal mailbox around April 25th had a Scribe deadline of January 10th. Nevertheless, here is the quick and dirty: The dates areSeptember 7-11. We will be staying at the Antlers Hilton. Most registration actions will be automated, via the internet. This will be facilitated through the AOG’s new website. Our Class President Jim Carlson has put an enormous amount of work into trying to locate everybody. As we’ve found, some of us do not want to be located. That is fine. However, by and large, the search has been very fruitful, with most 75er’s not even awarethey were “lost.” For those of us that use “Checkpoints” as our only source of “Best Alive” news updates, please pass along this caveat to our classmates who still want nothing to do withthis silly camaraderie and keeping in contact: the email and postal updates you pass to us (i.e., your classmate the Squadron POC, and not the AOG), should only be used by us. In other words, when you update your personal information with the AOG, your classmates can’t directly receive this contact information, and must use the AOG website to facilitate any contact (with a blind unknown email address). Needless to say, this is a good idea on the part of the AOG, and it protects us from the very few unscrupulous that might use the contact information for purposes not intended. But because the AOG will not pass this information along, sending out periodic Class specific updates is problematic. When you register at usafa.org, you get AOG official mailings (including pertinent Reunion information). When you give your trustworthy Squadron POC Classmate your contact information, he can keep you in the loop for anything he thinks might be noteworthy. Confused? Me, too, sort of.
Here is a plea from our Class Prez: “We graduated 756 out of 1404 Appointments (47% Attrition); if we get two-thirds of us to show up for the reunion, it will be the greatest dang time we've ever had…AND SHOULD BREAK ALL REUNION RECORDS! I've been told by other classes that the 30th is the absolute BEST reunion! To date, we have 68 on regular active duty, 99 Guard/Reserve, 28 deceased (as of this update), 321 retired, and 346 separated (as of the current 2004 Register, 1 Oct 04).”
Gone But Not Forgtotten. We approach a latter midpoint of our lives when too many of us are taking our final flight via a vehicle referred to as “Natural Causes”, whatever those might be for men in their early 50’s. It is with great sadness we must report that, in a short 5-week span, three of us took this journey to meet our Maker for our last inspection. On February 4th, Bill Thompson lost a valiant 4-year fight with cancer. On February 27th, a sudden heart attack took Chuck Riordan from us.
Chuck’s son Charlie is a 4th Class cadet at the Academy. And lest we be melancholy, the mention of Chuck’s name brought smiles of early remembrances to his BCT mates. Apparently, he was a champion “buffer rider” who would don cape and goggles, mount the buffer, and entertain Firsties and all to the song “Leader of the Pack.” Lastly, for those of us privileged to be included in Jon Turner’s postings of his battle with brain cancer, it was humbling testimony to his strength of character and his positive spiritual outlook on life. He left this world for the Next on March 11th.
In addition, from Bentley Rayburn: Chief Larry Garrett, the Wing Sergeant Major during our junior and the beginning of our senior year, passed away March 1, at age 73. And I will add that in January, I received a family update from Pete Strunk's widow, Katie. Pete was killed in April 2003 when a driver swerved into his lane and hit his car head-on. She called her family’s last year an “emotional trauma-coma”, and adds “watch out for the other guy.”
Next Column. Like I mentioned, I’m writing this column just a few days after I received the April “Checkpoints.” So when most of you get around to reading our Class column from that issue, and decide to send me stuff, this column will already be submitted for the May 9th deadline. Also, if the next column is a little sparse, please excuse me in advance. I may be riding a Hawg along side Mark Holmes. But I’ll wear a helmet; and that nosepiece looks painful.