It’s summer in the Pacific Northwest as I write this. Actually, I am not writing a thing. I’m assembling email messages and attached photos from classmates who have taken the effort to help the scribe with this column of updates. The scribe greatly appreciates it, as he can then spend his spare time hitting little white balls across terra firma and being pulled on water skis by an underpowered runabout. When the scribe reflects on how difficult it must have been in the olden days for our scribes emeritus, he is truly relieved. Electronic communication has made writing this column a pleasure. And my fellow classmates efforts make it even easier.
Classmates. From Bill Murray: I was on business with Lockheed Martin (F-22) in Atlanta and hooked up with Dave and Sally Young. They're doing great (He's a 777 Captain flying overseas for Delta) and looked great also. From Wayne Willis: Larry (AKA Frankie) "Iron Man" Fariss is at it again (a cross-country bicycle ride). He had a rest day in Salt Lake City in June and I had the pleasure of spending the day with him. I've attached a picture of two real old guys who still look ready to play......shuffleboard.
From Wayne Nelson: Jim Marshall and I had the opportunity to present an AOG scholarship to Tom Finn's son Brian. We did the presentation at Randolph AFB. Brian will attend Trinity University here in San Antonio. My son Alan also attended. He will be going to Texas State this fall.
From Steve Powers: Teledyne Brown Engineering Chief Scientist Dr. Roy Rice was recently selected by the Military Operations Research Society (MORS) to receive its highest recognition, the Vance R. Wanner Memorial Award. Humble Roy adds: Here's an old dude in the F1 Auditorium at USAFA putting about 1,000 people to sleep. If we can bottle my speech, we could all retire on the money we'd make putting sleeping pills out of business. I have an audio recording of my acceptance speech...but all the snoring drowns me out...a good thing. From Bentley Rayburn: “I need to thank you for your overwhelming generosity and kindness to Debbi and me as we pursue our calling to run for the U.S. House seat in the 5th District in Colorado. You have been wonderful with your support, both financially and with your time, talents and prayers for our efforts.” From Dean Cox: Duane Jones is headed to Ramstein; Andy Dichter will be retiring.
From Jim Carlson: Your classmates in greater metropolitan Washington DC, celebrated our 31 years since 4 Jun 1975 at Annapolis, Maryland on 4 Jun 2006. Our class outing was hosted courtesy of Duane Lodrige and Bill Lyerly. Our fine hosts made their personal watercraft available to classmates for cruises up and down the river, extra beer runs, and for water-skiing. It was a fine day to appreciate our common bond and the gift of friendship we extend to one another. Starting at 1400, it was well past 2100 before the last of our classmates finally departed the fix. There were about two-dozen of us gathered for the crab feast and river motoring. Many, many thanks to Duane and Bill for their generosity, patience, and good natures. To those who could not possibly make it due to vast geographic distances, timing, and exigencies – you missed what I consider the best-ever class function we've had outside our formal reunions! This, in spite of the fact that we had to view Mark Beesley without his shirt on (thank heavens he left his Brazilian thong at home). (Photo Gallery Below)
From Charlie Wintermeyer, who is a State Department Representative, Qalat, PRT: “I departed Morocco last June and arrived in Afghanistan last July. The new PRT team here now is largely USAF, which is nice, and we are considering forming the Qalat, Afghanistan AOG Chapter. 2003 USAFA grad 1Lt Joe Myhra, our chief engineer, and I took a 2-day trip to southeast Zabul Province (talk about the middle of nowhere–one town had a camel parked in the middle of the main road, and, in another town, a donkey was tied up to an old Russian APC that was in dust up to its axles!).”
Bill Swiderek gets the Newest Daddy Award. Squadrons 37-40 are coming back! The plan is to have them re-established in time for the arrival of the Class of 2010. From Muddy Waters (edited), recently retired: “I just got back from a very special event held at RAF Lakenheath, UK—the 20th reunion of Operation Eldorado Canyon, the April 15, 1986 attack against Libya and state-sponsored terrorism. Many USAFA grads were involved in the planning and execution of Eldorado Canyon but 20 years later the Air Force still keeps the aircrew names under wraps. Now we can see that it was one of the first missions of the Long War. Eldorado Canyon has been judged by most observers as a strategic success and a major blow to Khadaffi and others like him who openly and brazenly supported terrorism aimed at the U.S. and our allies. During the dining out, the Libya Raiders were asked to stand and check-in when their aircraft call signs were called, a reenactment of our 1986 flight check-in. It is hard to describe the emotion all of us felt when Fernando Ribas, Jr. and Peter Lorence stood to check-in for their dads….they were only 4 and 1 when their fathers went out the door on a secret mission and never came back. There were many fine tributes to our lost friends during the reunion but this was the one that gripped us all—these fine young men standing to take their place in our formation—to honor us and the fathers they never really knew. They both told the veterans that the time they spent with us and with the aircrews and airmen of the 48th FW gave them a closer connection to their fathers than they ever had before.”
Dedication of the USAFA Memorial Pavilion. From Jim Carlson: I attended the USAFA Cemetery Memorial Pavilion Dedication and Groundbreaking. Other '75ers with me were: Leon Smith-Harrison, Dan Chapman, and Jon Turner's widow Diane. (We are) working out a future guide for our classmates when they visit the cemetery. (see Ed Sienkiewicz's email at the end). I also received invaluable assistance from Scott Hente and Bruce Mitchell to secure my lodging and making my visit as smooth as can be (as always when you have classmates like these). The day was picture perfect. The weather was fantastic, the sky was deep blue with a few white clouds, and the grounds were verdant and immaculate. It was hard to feel too somber on such a day and such an event. It was a day when I, more than ever, wanted to fly–my spirit at least took flight. Leon, Dan, and I visited each of our classmates (me for the first time ever) and said hello to the 16+1 guys from '75 resting there. Among us three, we were able to verbalize a connection with each of our fallen, and to relate a fond memory or story as we stood before their graves. In one of the photos, you will see the shadows we cast over one classmate's memorial plaque. These of course cannot compare to the long unforgettable shadows of comradeship and friendship they each have cast over our own lives. Bill Linn is also memorialized there, but there's no gravesite (he's the 17th deceased classmate).
From Joe Bryant: Before the ball game at the reunion, we met at the cemetery and shared memories around the grave of Ray Johnson. Rod Kallman (Ray's roommate) suggested this. It was a good time of remembrance of Ray and to spend time together, too. I learned one very important thing at the reunion: it was just good to be back there with everyone again. Some of us in our squadron didn't necessarily spend that much time with each other back then – seems we had our little groups – or maybe we didn't even like every one of our classmates in the squadron very much for some reason. But for me, after all those years, any disagreements or whatever had just evaporated. It was just good to be there and to remember the experience that we had "back in the day." I think maybe being at the cemetery that Saturday morning to honor a fallen classmate sort of solidified all that in my mind. Maybe the other squadrons already do something like we did – I don't know. But, I think it would be a very worthwhile part of every reunion for individual squadrons to gather informally and do that at some point during the weekend as a way of honoring those GNBF, and also to maybe solidify the bond with those present. I really enjoyed the memorial ceremony at the chapel, and meeting in small squadron groups at the cemetery would in no way replace that, but for me those few minutes there on Saturday morning were one of the highlights of the weekend.
From Ed Sienkiewicz: Just after our 30th back last Sep, I stopped by the USAFA Cemetery (I had virtually never been there before) and after visiting classmate John Steward's plot, visited each of our deceased classmates (plots) who are buried there. I felt good after doing this "labor of love”. Perhaps we could build a listing of '75ers who are buried there (including plot address). (Done. HERE). Further, working with the AOG, etc., work to get built a master list of all deceased '75ers and where they are buried across the country (and across the globe). Then the '75er gatekeeper(s) of this listing could periodically keep it updated, as our '75er Gone But Not Forgotten list continues to grow (very slowly, hopefully). Many years ago (back in the late 1980s), when I was stationed at Hanscom AFB, MA (and armed with a faded Dec 1976 obit clipping from one of the Boston newspapers, from when I was stationed at Pease AFB, NH, back in the latter 1970s – and, by chance, happened to see the obit of one of our classmates), I visited the Boston area cemetery and plot of our first deceased classmate graduate, Larry Ridge, who was from the greater Boston area and died on 10 Dec 1976 in an auto accident near Mesa, AZ. When I contacted his family (who still lived in the area), they were absolutely tickled that a person unknown to them (but a fellow USAFA '75er) took the time to visit their son and brother. That certainly made my day.