Classmate on the Board: Congratulations to Mark Volcheff for being one of six graduates elected to the AOG Board of Directors! No word yet on how this will affect his goal to visit the 23 more countries needed to make the number of countries he’s set foot in an even 100, but Mark has a lot of energy. There’s no doubt he’ll do an outstanding job as a Board Director and still find a way to reach his countries-visited goal. Mark is the third ’75 grad to be an AOG Board Director, following Dr. Leon Smith-Harrison and Larry Fariss.
Joining the Ranks of the Retired: Jacques Van Ryn retired from the Missouri Air National Guard on 9 February 2019. He may have been the oldest serving graduate in our class, if not in the Academy. If any other classmates are still in uniform, feel free to send your claim of longevity to the humblest of all scribes, moi, and I’ll document it in the next issue of Checkpoints. (Photos 1 & 2 Below)
John “Sully” Sullivan spent 21.5 years in uniform and followed it up with 22.5 years as a professional staffer on the Congressional House Armed Services Committee. He retired as the third longest serving member of the House Armed Services Committee…ever. After 44 combined years in government service it was fitting that Undersecretary of the Air Force, Matt Donovan, saidsome kind things at Sully’s retirement, and according to one of the attendees, Mark Beesley, some of the accolades were even accurate. Sully plans to spend a lot of well-deserved retirement time with his grandchildren. He’ll probably find them a lot easier to work with than politicians.
Kurt Bock hung up the uniform in 2003 then turned his attention to the financial world where he recently ended seven years as the chief executive officer of a multiline insurance company with about $3.5B of revenue across property casualty, life, and investment lines of business with over 5,000 employees. After seven years of sweating out hurricanes, tornadoes, low interest rates, and plenty of federal and state regulations, he retired on 31 January. He and his wife, Carol, moved to Charlotte, NC the day after his retirement to be near their two children. Like most new retirees he’s still looking at what the next chapter has in store for him, but for now he’s just happy to have found the cheese at the end of the maze.
Retirements Done Right: Jim “Tony” Mahoney checked in with more proof that life starts at retirement. He and Cindy set a goal to be on the road more than they are at home during 2019, and so far they are meeting that goal. They have been to Panama, Turks and Caicos Islands, Key West, and New Orleans on two separate cruises that encompassed 30 days, and in March they embarked on a trip to Paris and Normandy for more than three weeks. After that their agenda included another cruise in April followed by a run up to Ohio in May to see their granddaughter graduate. That’s a lot of travelling in only five months, but the big question is how many pounds will they gain on all of those cruises? We’ll ask for an update at the end of the year.
In the Scribe’s ongoing struggle to unseat Steve Duresky as Class Poet Laureate, he again unleashed his creative juices as a means of inspiring fellow classmates to get off their respective duffs and get involved.
My Unfavorite Things
Sung to the tune of 'My Favorite Things'
SAMIs in Class A's
And standing attention
As jerks checked for dust mites
While wearing white mittens
Writing on papers
'Til reveille sings,
These are a few
Of my unfavorite things.
In dark ages,
In our caves, like bats.
But now that we're older and living our dreams,
We really don't give a rat's.
David Beeman has found a different way of filling his life-after-career days. He spends a portion of every Spring helping people fill out their tax returns, a habit he picked up when he was stationed in Okinawa. After tax season David volunteers for a variety of projects in the Lions Club. He’s found that giving back is an essential part of a healthy retirement, and it beats sitting on the couch watching couples argue about flipping a house on HGTV.
Old Times: Bill Murray sent in some pictures from his days of coaching football at RAF Lakenheath in 1982. You won’t see them here because they show Bill when he was just a 29-year-old kid, before the crust and gray hairs of wisdom endowed him with the visage of a Greek oracle. But you might find them on the class website, 75bestalive.org. This article is usually focused on recent events, but the account Bill submitted may be the most recent thing he remembers so I’m going to humor him and include it this quarter’s column. As the story goes, Bill was minding his own business as a captain at RAF Lakenheath when word came down from the wing commander’s office that the wing’s bottom-of-the-league football team was looking for a new coach. The wing king heard Bill had played at the Academy and personally invited him to take on the job. Morale was low, the guys were getting hurt, and there were too many flight leads and not enough wingmen, so Bill gathered the team together in a racquetball court and gave them a new coach pep talk. After he was done about a fourth of the team walked out never to return. Good start, Coach. However, the ones who stayed saw the vision, and the team won about half of its remaining games, which lifted Lakenheath out of the cellar and put it back on the map. The moral of the story is, if you’re looking for someone to lift your team out of the bottomless abyss, give Bill a call, but be sure to have him sign a no-motivational-speeches contract. (Photos 3 & 4 Below)
As long as we’re bringing out tales from the crypt…Mike Wisloski found a copy of our graduation ceremony program, complete with the graduation order of merit, and shared it with Mark “Magic” Beesley, which is the same as airing it on cable news. Magic forwarded it to his closest friends, but both of them unfriended him years ago, so he sent it to a cross-section of classmates who always give him the kid glove treatment because he has a fragile self-image. Herewith are some of the comments from thosewho received Magic’s email. “I would like to say I see a one-to-one correspondence with GOM and later success, but (thank God) it isn’t there.” “A study of West Point graduates found the strongest correlation to a successful military career was those who earned athletic letters were more likely to have successful careers.” [That quote came from one of our classmates who spent his entire cadet career on ramps. Go figure.] And finally, from one of our classmates who retired with stars on his shoulders: “I didn't even have the letter thing going for me. The only letters in my cadet records were the ones sent to my father after my two CDBs.” The names of the above have been withheld pending responses to the blackmail letters I sent them. West Point studies, rank achieved in uniform, and other criteria grabbed from the ether aside, I’m betting there were a lot of us who were just happy to have our names on the graduation ceremony program.