Jerry Gill said that his sweet, strong, and beautiful Dorothy died on Christmas day after 50_ years as a loving wife and mother. After 27 years, the breast cancer finally won. Dorothy Swann Gill, 72, of Roswell, GA passed away on Christmas Day 2012. She was born on Valentine's Day in 1940 to Adolph and Ruby Waller Swann in Roanoke, AL and grew up in Birmingham. After graduating from Auburn University in 1962, she traveled the world for 26 years as an Air Force wife then settled in Roswell. She was active in the Roswell UMC choir family for 23 years. She is survived by her devoted husband of 50 years, Col. Jerry Gill, 3 daughters and their families - Susan & Clay Saunders; Leigh Ann & Jim Kane and Beth & Andy Wren; 8 grandchildren - Hillary, Meredith, Olivia, Trevor, Max, Wesley, Drew, Sarah; and sister - Nancy & her husband, Tom Brechin. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org in her honor. Neal Westbrook, Mike Rawlins, Jimmy Poole, Johnny Caughman, and Sam Barazzone attended Dorothy’s services.
Our class is quite proud of Mark Anderson’s recognition by the AOG as a Distinguished Graduate. Congratulations from all of us, Mark. It was well deserved! Mark will receive his 2013 DGA at the Founders' Day Dinner scheduled for Friday, April 5, 2013. It would a wonderful tribute to Mark and his family for as many of his classmates as possible to attend. Please watch for the appropriate AOG e-mails announcing the time and place of the presentation or simply go to www.usafa.org and register yourself and a spouse/guest for this special event.
Terry Storm’s Chairman’s Journal in this issue of Checkpoints is his last, since his term on the AOG Board of Directors is ending. He greatly appreciates all of the support of our classmates in his efforts to enhance the effectiveness and cost-efficiencies of the AOG. We all thank you for your many efforts on behalf of our AOG and Academy, Terry.
Hector Negroni reports that the Class of 1961 DC Bunch held their November Luncheon at the Springfield Country Club, Springfield, VA. Once again, through the courtesy of Charley Dixon, they were treated royally at his Country Club. After a beautiful prayer by their Chaplain (Twy Williams), they had a status of the DC Bunch report by Lowell Jones and a report by Bill Foster on the activities during the most recent Air Force-Army game. Bill was not able to give them a total description of the tanks that rolled over Air Force during the game, but he said that the Air Force cadets did not know what hit them. During the meal, they discussed the normal litany of ailments and medical problems by our class members. While they seem to be aging gracefully, their visits to the doctors are more frequent. Charley Dixon gave them a scalpel-by scalpel account of his recent eye surgery. He claims that his vision is 20/20, but his hearing has not improved. They took turns yelling into his good ear. For a bunch of 70-year-olds, they are doing pretty well.
Mark Anderson said that Jim Ulm, Bob Wagner, and he are starting to work on a reunion of their Reese pilot training class: 63B. They have never held a reunion and decided if they don't get moving, it will be a small group! Tentative plans are late spring, early summer of 2014 in San Antonio. More info will be forthcoming to those involved.
John Boesch is 3 weeks into the "hip replacement flight." All is well so far. John is also currently serving as "tech advisor" to Frank Kiszley, who is soon to join that flight. John has been sworn in as 1st VP for the local MOAA Chapter, and serves on the Board with (past President) Jerry Lefton.
Stu and Marnie Boyd are struggling with an addiction and need your help. They are addicted to Les Miz. Six stage performances and the movies of course—and they just got the original movie made in 1934, which runs for close to five hours and is in French (subtitles, thankfully). If one of you knows of a good program, let them know.
Because people continue to inquire, Bob Brickey provided a very short update on their granddaughter, MiaBella Brickey. Mia is doing beautifully in every regard. She is enjoying school, ballet lessons, and her Soo Bahk Do martial arts in which she is not allowed to do the sparring. She must always stay away from people who are ill, due to her immunosuppressed body, which keeps her new heart healthy. They are still ever grateful to so many who have expressed concern, prayers, and aid for Mia.
Pat and Marilyn Buckley continue to enjoy their endless summer in Satellite Beach, FL. Pat’s hip joint resurfacing is healing well, and he is approaching 3 miles at 6 mph on the elliptical strider as well as enjoying dips in the Atlantic Ocean for some swim exercise. Pat and Marilyn attended an alumni group television session to watch the Air Force/Army game. They had a good time, except the score! Being an optimist, Pat organized a Space Coast Alumni session to watch the Air Force/Rice Armed Forces Bowl game at the local Beef O’Brady’s. They and the 30 grads had a good time, except for the score, again! Otherwise, they have had relaxed time at home, except for all the doctor’s appointments. Pat and Marilyn will be going to the UK, Italy, and Spain in February and March. They will be at their Spanish home on the Costa del Sol (Velez-Malaga) from 26 Feb to mid March with two empty bedrooms (maybe) if anyone is in southern Spain and wants to visit.
Doug and Dee Cairns report that they are still in Montgomery, AL, enjoying full, uncomplicated retirement. Last year they enjoyed watching their eldest grandson, Chris, graduate, take a real job, get married, and move his bride from Wetumpka, AL, to the big city of San Francisco. That those two kids seem to enjoy living in the strange land of Congresswoman Pelosi is of concern to most of the Cairns family who are retaining their Southern roots. Cathy, Chris’s mom, is a nurse who directs a crew of cardiologists in town and maintains a watchful eye on Doug and Dee. Chris’s and Jordan’s wedding was cause for the other two grandkids to come for a month’s visit from their home in Italy. Nathan and Katye are teenagers and attend the DoD Naples American High School. This then became a grand “re-Americanizing” month for the kids since they have been over there for 8+ years, and counting. Rob seems to have become the indispensible man on the staff of CINCNAVEUR, so they may never come home. Doug enjoys monthly golf with Steve Ho, Jimmy Poole, and Ron Jones.
Michele Cowan, AOG Customer Service Supervisor, realized that Trel and Dick Coppock had lost their complete collection of AOG Christmas ornaments in the 26 June wildfire. She sought out a benefactor willing to purchase all she could find in her limited stock of past ornaments and sent them along to the Coppocks. She found a generous spirit who, wishing to remain anonymous, purchased some 10 ornaments, including the Class of 1961 "jewel," and asked that they be sent to Dick and Trel with a simple Merry Christmas. They arrived just as the Coppocks were decorating their tree in the (Saint) Nick of time. The "usual suspects" prevail, and they are so very grateful to both Michele and their very own Santa. The true Christmas spirit was indeed evident to Dick and Trel, and they are touched by such generosity. They wish all classmates and their families all the blessings of the New Year.
In June 2012 Randy Cubero was selected to run another charitable foundation called Parents Challenge, a 501C3, in Colorado Springs. This charity provides low income families with financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants to move their children to a better performing school or to enhance their child's academic performance in their current school with supplemental materials and programs, like tutoring and purchasing a computer. Parents Challenge is part of the National School Choice Movement, which believes strongly that parents need to be more engaged and empowered in their child's education and that they alone should make the educational choices that will give their child the best chances for success. Randy indicated that it has been a real eye-opener to understand what has happened to our K-12 public education system, especially after so many years of running the Falcon Foundation and dealing with only top tiered academically performing students trying to enter the Air Force Academy.
Dick Davis enjoyed the hospitality of Carl Granberry and his new wife, Lura, a high school chum. Carl has a well-fed herd of horses on his Winona, TX, property. And Heather, Dick’s horse, is joining that herd as a guest. They spent the day together, and Carl showed Dick his family’s metal-bending plant where they make rings for brooms and mops. He also showed Dick the improvements he has designed into his metal-bending operation. They are formidable accomplishments, demonstrating applications of his education in mechanical engineering and Double E. Very impressive.
Bob Dean said he is into doing a lot of exercises. To exercise his legs, he walks back and forth from the kitchen to the computer room 30 times a day. His bending exercises include bending over 5-6 times a day picking up Golden Retriever puppy poop. To exercise his arms, at 4:30 p.m. every afternoon he lifts a heavy glass of vodka with an olive in it 30-40 times. For some reason, he can't remember what he does after 5:30 p.m.
Tom and Anne Eller spent a couple of weeks starting with Thanksgiving in the UK with son Rob Eller and family (USAFA '96), then hosted their other children and grandchildren in Colorado for Christmas. Tom and Anne plan to spend several weeks in Kauai this winter before going to Atlanta and back to the UK at the end of May to celebrate their 50th with all of their children.
Richard Fairlamb has been Flight Captain of the Order of Daedalians Flight #23/DFW since mid-year 2011. This flight has the same number as the F-4 squadron Richard commanded at Spangdahlem AB, Germany in the late 1970s—23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. Flight 23 is one of the largest of the 70+ flights in the international Order of Daedalians at 209 members—holding steady over the past few years. The flight hosted the National Convention in October 2011 and has supported two academic university-level scholarships, a CAP cadet solo program, and CFIP high school AFJROTC cadet solo program annually during recent years. Flight 23, under Richard’s leadership, was awarded the “2012 Jimmy Doolittle Award” by Daedalian National HQ. This is the second time Flight 23 has received the Doolittle Award, the last time being in 1997. Just to keep out of trouble, and out of local watering holes, Richard continues to generate some revenue as a Business Continuity and Recovery consultant and teacher, and finds a little time to keep VFR and IFR current in his 1957 Cessna 182.
Paul Hinton ran a Half-Marathon at Disneyland with his oldest granddaughter. The thing started at 0500, and they had to be in place at 0430. When he got up, he thought, "Exactly what the devil is it that made you agree to this?" Save for the hour, however, it was a delight. It was grand but what a comment on time.
Highlights from Henry and Peggy Howe are the memories they have of their five-week trip down under last fall. They spent four days aboard the Coral Princess II on the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling some of the loveliest waters they had ever seen. They explored the Daintree National Park by four-wheel tour bus and encountered the salt-water crocodiles and flightless emus. Then they went to Darwin and lived in Karnda National Park with the kangaroos, wallabies, and more crocodiles. They spent a week driving (yes - on the wrong side of the road) through the outback around Alice Springs, Ularu (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon, and Kata Tjuta. They topped off the Australian adventure with a week in Sydney seeing the local sights and the Blue Mountains. They visited only the North Island in New Zealand, where they spent another week climbing the trails around Mt Ruapehu and rafting on the Tarangi River, then lounging in the hot thermal pools. Their underground adventure took them into the glow-worm caves.
Sometimes Don McCarter feels his and Johnnie’s daily activities have become so routine that making a change is a real challenge. They have been blessed to have their kids living close by. They get to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with everyone in attendance with no long distance travel. It is also convenient for them to participate in grandchildren’s activities. Each summer they travel to Hendersonville, NC, for a reunion with Don’s brothers and sister and their families. The group size increases every year. Johnnie and Don love the North Carolina mountains. They especially enjoy the trails in the national parks where the trails are blazed to prevent them from getting lost. Don’t laugh. A lot of people take the wrong turn in those hills. Walking, tennis, and workouts at the YMCA help to keep the body upright and mobile. John and Kathy Dates and Jim and Judy Tulis visit Florida occasionally, and Don and Johnnie really enjoy the time with them. Don took a master gardening course at the Florida Extension service and has been certified as a Florida Master Gardener. He spends a lot of time coordinating the activities of the community garden sponsored by their church, and he volunteers about seventy hours a year at the Orange County plant clinic. Gardening in Florida is an eye opening and mind-boggling experience.
In January, Sam Barazzone, plus Gwen, and Charlie Neel and Dean Jones wowed the cold-weather skiers and brought Breckenridge slopes to their knees. Lynda Neel and Jo Jones remained grounded.
As is their custom, Hector and Joan Negroni will be spending the winter (Jan-May 2013) at their Bonita Springs, Florida, home.
Al and Becky Nunn said that their daughter, Ashley, was married last October. Her husband, Charlie King, is the father of two children, Sophie, age 10, and Henry, age 7. They were married at "The Quack Shack" in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Becky and Al rented the "shack" for a week for her wedding party and "30 of their closest fiends" to stay during the preliminaries to the festivities. While there, Al was treated to an unexpected and unplanned ride in the Rescue Squad van and admitted to the local hospital after experiencing a period of disassociation. Diagnosis was Transient Global Amnesia, a condition which shows symptoms similar to those of a stroke, but is temporary in nature, with no after-affects, and occurs to perhaps one in 300,000 persons. He was the one this time and was released the next day, following the diagnosis. Wedding went off without a hitch. Ashley lives with her husband and his children in Falls Church, VA, so that's close enough for frequent phone calls and occasional visits. Al’s recently resigned from the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross there. Becky continues her activities with theater, having directed four plays for the local theater group, The Lancaster Players. She is currently in rehearsal as director for "How the Other Half Loves," opening March 8.
Nelson and Teri O’Rear had a wonderful Christmas season, starting with spending several days over Christmas with their daughter and her family in Michigan. Then, they enjoyed several days when their younger son’s family visited them in Granger, IN, along with their older son’s family, who also live in Granger. They also celebrated their sons and daughters-in-law anniversaries with a special evening at a very nice local restaurant. Wrapping it up, on New Year’s Eve, their oldest granddaughter and her boyfriend flew from Virginia to spend a couple of days with Nelson and Teri in Granger and Chicago.
Thanks for all who contributed. We hope to hear from you others next time.
Bob Best said that after over two years in construction, Cathy and he are finally in their "last" new home. They had to move before Cathy's school year started, so they are still doing the finishing touches around them, as well as completing the landscaping. Bob thinks they have the most beautiful view in Arkansas! The welcome mat is out. He suggests going to visit them soon, before the economy forces them to convert to a Bed and Breakfast. Pictures below.
John and Lydia Boesch watched more golf than they have played this year. Following long-time friend and touring pro, Paul Casey, they visited Torrey Pines, CA (US Open), Akron, OH (World Golf Championship at Firestone CC), Greensboro, NC (Wyndham Championship), and Louisville, KY (Ryder Cup at Valhalla CC). They recently "popped in" for a birthday celebration with John's daughter and her family, in Boulder. John and Brice Jones shared a mini-reunion during Fleet Week in San Francisco, in October. John is eagerly looking forward to the end of his second (last?) term on the Property Owners’ Association in his community.
George Buchner and Doug McConnell rendezvoused for a trip to Oshkosh, WI for the annual July/August Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) fly-in. Doug lives on Wonder Lake, 30 miles northwest of O'Hare, with Carol and his 105 year old mother-in-law, Nellie. He is a former President of the International Aerobatic Club, which is a division of the EAA. These two former test pilots spent four days viewing and commiserating about props and the jets. There were wall to wall forums on "rich of peak" and "lean of peak", "AV gas Vs. Mo Gas", how to shoot down an ME-109 by Bud Anderson, how to roll your IRA into a hangar and many other esoteric topics unknown to most mortals. The trip was capped off with Chardonnay and steak on Doug's deck overlooking the lake. Why the B-25 photo? George flew from Wurtsmith AFB to Lowry AFB on a B-25 on July 3, 1957.
George and Doug
Jim Darnauer observed a 50th anniversary for the Class of ‘61 when he attended the wedding of his son Joel on Mount Tamalpias on June 08. As he recalls, most of us visited the Nike site there in the summer of ‘58. It was a nice site for a wedding and a happy occasion. Now they are expecting a new grandson early next year. While he is still working full time as an engineer on Bradley vehicles for BAE systems, Joy and he have been doing quite a bit of traveling. In the last ten years, they have made 8 trips overseas: 1999 - Italy; 2001 – Scandinavia and St Petersburg, Russia; 2003 – London and cruise back to NY on the QE2; 2004 – China; 2005 – Greece and the Greek Isles; 2007 – Wine tour around Barcelona, Spain; March of 2008 – Israel and the Nile; and November of this year they are going around the world including the final voyage of the QE2 from England to Dubai where it will be permanently berthed as a hotel and restaurants. Their return will have brief stops in Bombay and Shanghai. Jim doesn’t any plans to retire yet, but he thinks about it. He is not sure what will push him to make the change.
Paul Dean had the privilege of singing with the fathers and sons of choir students at Trinity High School, of Euless, Texas on October 20th. He doesn't have a son at Trinity, but since his son, Mike Dean, is the choir director, he was invited to sing. Singing with a choir of 200 men reminded him of singing with the Academy choir. Trinity High School is noted for its diversity of the student population and has one of the top ranked high school football teams in the nation. Watching the Tongan students leading the football team in a Maori pregame war chant (The Haka) is the highlight of the games. Trinity was the Division V state champion in football last year and is the top ranked team in Texas at the present. Paul just completed his 300th round of golf with the Twin Wells senior golf association in Irving and plans to stick around for several hundred more!
In September, Lou and Kate Hablas traveled to Rapid City, SD, to attend the 40th reunion of the 28th Wing Association. While there, they toured Ellsworth AFB, climbed into a B-1 bomber, and listened to a comprehensive briefing by the present wing commander. Five of the six member B-52 crew Lou first flew with as a young copilot were in attendance, due to the yeoman work of their former aircraft commander, Colonel Bennie Jew. It was a trip full of positive memories.
Pat and Bruce Hinds spent September and October in Europe. It was a good time to visit, with the improvement of the dollar and the lack of tourists making the service great. Most of the time was spent in Eastern Europe since they had never been there before, mainly because of the restrictions on Bruce from his previous occupations. They also spent time in Bavaria and the Alps. One of the highlights was a visit to the old family brewery in Lichtenau that has been in continuous operation since 1489. They returned to Evergreen, CO, for a little elk hunting, fishing and getting ready for the ski season.
Henry and Peggy Howe just returned from a five-day cruise in the Gulf out of Houston. He had spent almost a week in Houston after Hurricane Ike running the CAP communications station while air crews completed the largest civilian photo mapping exercise ever for the State of Texas. The ground teams were busy shutting off the Emergency Locator Transmitters and the equivalent transmitters for boats in the area.
Dean and Jo Jones, and Charlie and Lynda Neel traveled to Wales and England for three weeks in September. Checked out all the canals, locks, tunnels, bridges, and aqueducts on a "Narrow Boat" (6.5' x 65') for a week, with frequent stops at nearby pubs. They were self-crewed but managed to get back with the same number of pieces. The scenery was spectacular. If you haven't done this, GO! They didn't have to face death more than three or four times. They then went to Lincolnshire to visit Charlie's old RAF station and buddies at Binbrook, near Lincoln. The base is closed, there is only one Lightning aircraft left there (privately owned), and the long-abandoned Officers Mess is a MESS. And the buddies are getting OLD. They closed out the trip with a stay in the Cotswolds, in a tavern/B&B that dates back to the mid-1600's. They visited most of the villages, pubs and antique shops. This is the land of Shakespeare, Oxford, the pagan stonehenges, Roman ruins, and Jane Austen. It was just like living in a Thomas Kincaid calendar scene. Huge fun.
Lowell and Sandy Jones left Myrtle Beach, SC (after six weeks there) to head home, as they usually do, via the NC and VA Blue Ridge Mountains, to enjoy the great foliage. Earlier, when they were at the Peachtree Mini-Reunion at Lake Lanier, GA, in April of this year, they found out from Frank and Patsy Kiszely that they have a "log cabin" in Blowing Rock, NC - only a few miles from where Lowell & Sandy would be camping. And the Kiszely's were going to be there when the Joneses arrive on October 13th. So, plans were made, and they spent nearly two full days eating-out, shopping, and having a gourmet meal at the Kiszely's. Lowell & Sandy were pleasantly surprised to meet George and Betty Knebel when they got to the "log cabin". George was a pilot training classmate of Frank at Webb AFB (63B), and since that class had many ‘61er's and George flew C-130s (like Lowell), there was a lot to talk about. By the way, the "little log cabin" is not little. It is a beautiful palace with an absolutely stunning view of the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Frank and Patsy were perfect hosts, and the Joneses now know why they spend a good part of every year there.
Jerry & Jo (Sucherman) Mason send along news of Jo's son Todd, who is featured on the cover of both major drum magazines, Classic Drummer and Modern Drummer. Todd is the drummer for the rock band Styx and for Brian Wilson, and has just released an instructional DVD that is garnering rave reviews.
Hector Negroni said that in 2009, our government will begin deporting all the weird old people, and he started crying when he thought of all of his USAFA classmates.
PB O’Connor said that the news is sparse, it being so psychologically draining this campaign season. He could go on a rant about how some close friends we thought we knew have refused to even listen to the reasons not to elect BO! Nonetheless, he is proud of his little Town of Caswell Beach "Best Little Beach Town in America" as they host the riders of the Wounded Warrior Project finishing up their NC "ride" there on their beach at a Bar-B-Q sponsored by their community on October 25th. Mer and PB had the privilege of retiring their son Kevin and his wife Cathie from the USAF in August after 23 years of dedicated service. Can't begin to praise them enough for not only their allegiance to our country and its ideals, but also accomplishing the last 17 years of the effort with a totally dependent and still severely handicapped daughter--not to mention two fine healthy sons. Some people fashion their halos well before meeting St Pete.
Mary and John Payne are still living a quiet life on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay at Daphne, AL. Mary is still working and John stays busy running errands, doing chores, working on the lawn, etc. They managed to dodge two more hurricanes this summer. However, due to Katrina in 2005, the home insurance rates have gone up considerably. Some people a little farther south of them even have a problem getting any insurance. For this and other reasons they are looking at moving a little farther north.
John’s son, John, Jr, Major, USMC, is on a short tour in Iraq and hopes to be back in January. This is his fourth time in the area since 2003. Our military is definitely getting stretched. Their thoughts are with all our classmates who are having health problems. This will be a continuing battle for all of us.
Jimmy Poole spent four days hiking the Appalachian Trail in Late October. After seeing "The Bucket List," he has begun to check off some of the things he intends to do before "old age" dashes up.
Dennis Ray has just started to oversee Royal Roads University's programs at five sites in China. They produce more full-time equivalent students (FTE) than Royal Roads’ programs in Victoria. He is also about to launch a family business certificate program with a colleague in alliance with their university. One of the most exciting activities is working on their MBA revision to create what they hope is one of the most innovative MBA programs anywhere. His family is doing well, and he has taken up an exercise regimen once again to help maintain his physical fitness.
After his recent appointment and participation, Terry Storm has been asked by many graduates and others to run for a full term on the AOG Board of Directors. After his key role in hiring T. Thompson, the new AOG CEO, he is certain he is needed to help T fully implement the Carver model of modern Policy Governance that Terry introduced to the AOG, which definitely needs it. Please review the candidate information as you receive it and vote in the election after the first of the year; he requests you please vote for him and advise your graduate friends to do so. He asks that anyone who wants to discuss the Board and/or the candidates to please call (719-476-8111) or email him at email@example.com. He also requests that you please contribute to the AOG’s Saber Society and Annual Fund; the AOG is in financial stress; the AOG and USAFA need your support.
Jack Taylor reports that the Evergreen "Escadrille", i.e., Det. 1, USAFA61, in Washington, gathered at Jack Taylor's house in October for some "Pro Nobis" before everyone scattered and became occupied with the upcoming holiday and winter season.
The Hopps will go to Arizona for the winter in early December, while the rest of them rust and grow moss. So they thought they'd have a nice dinner to send them off. Normally, if they maxed attendance for a detachment event "everyone" would number 11, including wives; however, they could muster only eight since Oly and Betsy Komarnitsky were in Utah, and Holly Kerr was checking on the daughter now residing and working in NYC. Attending were Art Kerr, Gene and Annette Hopp, Corky and Pat Cochrane, Dick McMonigal, and Jack and Linda Taylor. They enjoyed a delicious dinner, swapped updates on the families, and watched a DVD of Gene and Annette's recent Viking Cruise/Volga/Russia river cruise produced by a Russian tour leader on their summer trip to the Gulag. The movie was most enjoyable and of great quality. Obviously, the guy had had some training in photographic surveillance techniques prior to his river gig (and, if questioned, would be able to produce our dossiers). Gene and Annette even performed a Volga River version of "Dancing with the Stars" for their fellow cruisers. Jack gave them a six. By the way, Annette will retire as a flight attendant from Delta the end of October. She'll have more flying time than Gene. So when you see them, ask about their trip to the Kremlin and the Hermitage. They also talked about the idea of joining everyone next year at the mini reunion in the other Washington. They hope to do that. Everyone else is fine and keeping busy. Unfortunately, as we age, it seems that we're reduced these days to discussing the best stool softeners, cholesterol pills and, yes, how silly those ads are for "E.D." None of us can imagine anything lasting four hours. What's the problem with that, anyhow? Oh well...So for proof that they are all still able to stand without support, they offer the photo taken on October 18, 2008, at approximately 1600L, from left to right: Gene Hopp, Art Kerr, Dick McMonigal, Corky Cochrane, and Jack Taylor. Vote!
Bob and Winnie Wagner had a sixteen-day river cruise in July-August from St Petersburg to Moscow. Four days each in St Petersburg and Moscow and a nice time down the Volga waterway. Great sights, and one highlight was standing in Red Square facing the Lenin tomb, with a brightly painted St Basil's to their left and the Gum store (now with religious icons on the facade) to their rear. It was chilling to reflect on the newsreels and photos they had seen showing Papa Joe and his crowd reviewing the troops from the tomb during the May Day parades. Their tour guides stated that eighty percent of the country's wealth is concentrated in Moscow and ten percent in St Petersburg. Those numbers, their walking by the ship's map of this huge country, and their hearing the guides' stories of the Gorbachev/Yeltsin/Putin transition, gave them plenty of material for more reflection. Overlay that with the Russian invasion of Georgia and their reaction to today's economic mess! This month they joined friends in San Francisco for birthday celebrations, and spent two days on the floor of Yosemite Valley and three at Lake Tahoe. They were blessed with beautiful weather on both trips.
Nelson and Teri O’Rear really enjoyed their Rhine River cruise in August/September. The 16-day cruise originated in Switzerland and ended up in Belgium, also visiting cities in France, Germany, and The Netherlands along the way. Visiting Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and hearing stories of how the Nazis decimated the Jewish population in that town from 125,000 before the war to about 4,000 afterwards refreshed their memories of the brutality of WWII. They also saw the area where Audie Murphy won his Medal of Honor during a winter—not summer, as the movie depicted—battle, as well as Arnhem of A Bridge Too Far fame. Two fellow passengers had lived in Holland during the war. One day, two German soldiers went to the home of the uncle of one and shot him to death for being part of the underground then. Although Nelson and Teri took the cruise to enjoy the scenery and see many historic sights, they had not anticipated the history lessons that came with it.
Thanks to all who shared. It is always nice to catch up.
Ginger and Mark Anderson escaped the south Texas summer heat for a few days in Colorado's Estes Park. Beautiful place! And they celebrated their 44th Anniversary on August 1st. Mark is still flying the Cessna and keeping his golf handicap respectable.
Stu and Marnie Boyd have moved out of their barn and into their house. The horses (plus three cats and a dog) have taken over their previous living quarters. Between still teaching at Weber State, training horses, flying with Civil Air Patrol, filling in for the Chaplains at Hill AFB, and continuing to add to the flora and fauna on the ranch—things are never dull. Their irrigation pond is stocked with trout, some up to seven pounds. So, if you go through Utah, take your fly rod.
Jackie and Tom Brophy just returned from a Marian Pilgrimage that began in Portugal, went through northern Spain, (Galicia) then into southern France and finally to Paris. Both of them grew up Catholic and had heard about the Marian Shrines at Lourdes and Fatima but had never been there. It was a wonderful experience and really encouraging to see so many young people. The morning they left Lourdes (Monday, June 30th) there was a group of 1,300 teenagers from Leeds, England, and 700 more from Scotland at a 7:00 a.m. Mass in English at the Grotto. There were about 5,000 folks at the Mass and the teens made it lively in spite of the hour. Tom had spent a lot of time in Spain, mostly at Moron AB and Zaragosa AB, when he was navigating KC-135s out of Westover supporting fighter deployments. That was before things got busy in RVN. In those years they went to bull fights and to the Mediterranean and thought they had seen Spain. They had not. Northern Spain is a different world! It is lush and mountainous, where they raise bulls for the ring but don't fight them. They spent about four days in Compostella in the Parador Hotel. A wonderful old place on the Cathedral Square in what once was a Roman outpost and later a walled city. Tradition has it that St James traveled to Compostella in the first century and started the Church there before returning to Jerusalem and being martyred. The Cathedral, Santiago De Compostella, continues to be one of the most popular points of pilgrimage in the world. That stop was one of the highlights of their time in Europe. They toured with a group of about 30 folks from the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. They were great fun to be with, but they returned to the States when the tour was complete. Jackie and Tom stayed and spent four days in Paris on the Left Bank. Seven years ago they spent about ten days in Paris. It really is a great city to visit, and they were treated very well. Even the waiters were nice to them! Aside from a miserable exchange rate on the Euro, it was a great trip. Jackie and Tom will be in C. Springs in August to visit their son and his family. It will be a "Grandma fix" for Jackie while son, John, and Tom will get to the Senior PGA Championship. Tom is hoping to see a few of our classmates while he is there.
Like many, Dee and Doug Cairns have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. That means that it is time to get ready to start thinking about and researching options for the big 50th. Doug wonders what his classmates have up their sleeves. Dee and he are especially interested in great ideas that are low budget schemes. Their son, Rob, retired from the Army on 30 July in Naples, Italy, where he has been for the past four years. He and his family love being there so much that he is staying on as a Navy civilian working in the plans shop of NAVEUR. Rob gets the COLA. Doug and Dee don’t, so the Euro exchange rate is making it really tough for them to continue their regular cycle of visits − but he is sure they will manage, somehow.
Gene and Judy Davis joined a Flying Tigers Association (FTA) tour to China in March. Three Army Air Force veterans who were in China were on the trip. A Tiger pilot who was going to go, got sick and couldn't. Of the others, one was a hump (C-46/C-47 Pilot) pilot, a second was a supply sergeant for the Tigers, and the third was a coordinator at the end of the war. The Chinese treated all as VIPs/heros. It was very interesting to see. The trip was a fabulous 18 days included a five day cruise on the Yangtze (with a former MiG pilot river guide—a great guy who taught them Tai Chi)—a trip through the locks that bypass the new Gezhouba Dam, and a visit to Chennault's cave headquarters at the Yangtang Airport. They also saw the Qin Terra-cotta Warriors Museum (and met one of the three farmers who discovered the soldiers) and the Great Wall. Additionally, they visited the Chinese Aviation Museum (MiGs, a T-28, and one of the original P-40s) and enjoyed a Li River cruise. If you want to go on a first class trip to China next March, contact Gene, and he will put you in touch with the FTA. Later, they met their son Chris and his wife, Robbi (both ‘85) in the Wine Country just before Brice's annual get together. Judy and Gene also went to Tryon, NC, in June to hawk his new book, Murder at the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival, at the NC BBQ Championships. E-mail him if you'd like to buy a personalized copy. They celebrated their 46th anniversary at a bed and breakfast in Savannah on the way to Tryon. Below is a picture of Gene and Judy on the Great Wall.
Bob Dean is enjoying his retarded life—oops, he means retired life—immensely. His wife, Patty, is still working as manager of a data communications office about 20 minutes from their home. She loves her job, and won't quit. She is 11 years younger than Bob, and all his relatives said he robbed the cradle. He has three areas that keep him busy: 1) Trading every day on the stock market. He does not invest. He gambles on both long and short positions. He did well in 2007 and is up about 7% this year, mostly on the short side. 2) Alternative Health nut. He continues to research and apply healthy ways to keep himself in top shape. Four years ago, he was on four medications—two for blood pressure and two for cholesterol—and decided to try alternative medicine. After a few months, his blood pressure declined steadily, so he kept cutting the 20 mg pills in half. After 5 months, he stopped taking all medications, even the statins. After six months, even his cholesterol was back in limits. Blood pressure about 125/75, and he was taking no medications. Bob also does yoga and gets a full-body massage once or twice a month. Patty has also been on this program. They have no more medical problems and have not had a cold or virus in four years. Headaches are very rare, and even then mild, and they have no aches or pains. 3) Spiritualism, Occult, and Psychic Activities. He finds it a fascinating hobby. He met several "mediums" who have now become friends, and they have taught him a great deal about many areas of the spiritual and psychic realm. Bob even wrote a book about going from a deep skeptic to having an open mind now. He has met scads of neat people, including relatives he never knew, by pursuing this hobby.
On 5 July Tom and Anne Eller hosted the local members of the class for a 4th of July BBQ and a place from which to watch the fireworks associated with the Symphony Above the Clouds in Woodland Park. Present were Tom and Susan Conley, Randy and Jan Cubero, Dean and Jo Jones, Charlie and Lynda Neel, Terry and Carleen Storm, and Jim and Nancy Wilhelm. Susan’s recent surgery prevented Mike and Susan Quinlan from attending. Great fellowship and an abundance of funny jokes! Tom and Anne also were pleased to have all of their children and their families visit Woodland Park for several days in July. Having everyone altogether is a rare treat that included a family fishing trip to Farish and a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Present were daughter Julie and sons Barrett (Cadet at USAFA) and Connor from Colorado Springs; daughter Elizabeth and husband Steve from Atlanta; and son Robert, wife Kristen, and their granddaughter Anna Katherine from San Antonio.
Erna and Wayne Haring just finished a six week trip using their fifth wheel camper: from Colorado to Minnesota to Battle Creek, MI, to Raleigh, NC, to visit their sons and relatives. They have a cruise scheduled in late August from England to Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, St Johns CN, and New York. Wayne said that he was planning to visit Charles Stebbins on the way to NC, but their campgrounds were too far away in either direction, and they did not have the time.
Haven and Roberta Hill said that their 9th (and last) grandchild, Trevor Leidig, was born July 11th to their youngest daughter, Sally, in Loveland, CO. They were dutifully in attendance for the birth, 9 lbs and 22 inches. And their oldest granddaughter, Shannon Murphy (21), joined them from New Jersey for a week during which they inspected the Dead Sea Scrolls. Haven and Roberta both remain healthy and expect to continue their travel abroad, starting with a tour through the Panama Canal ending in Miami in February '09. Tennis is still the mainstay of Haven’s activities, but golf (twice a week) keeps him ready for combat with Wayne and Dean (when he's in town) Jones. Haven said that they hope to see/hear from other Graytags when they are in the San Diego area.
Peggy and Henry Howe just returned from a short visit with her father in Loveland , as well as with friends in Cuchara, CO, so they made a "low pass" past the Academy going up and down the front range. All continues well with them. He has now made the transition out of the Interim Executive Director position at the Retreat Center since they hired their new Director in May. He said it feels great to have a little more time to do personal and "honey do" items.
Lowell said that DC area attendees at the July 9
luncheon at the Westwood Country Club, Vienna, VA. were: Charley Dixon,
Bill Foster, Lowell Jones, John Kohout, Jack McDonough,
Hector Negroni, Terry Norris, Jim Rogers (their host as
member of the Club), and Bill Sanzenbacher. At the luncheon, they made
the big decision on the proposed 2009 mini-reunion! They received enough
responses from out-of-DC-area classmates to say "Yes, we're going to do it!"
They were briefed on several good hotel research proposals from Bill Foster,
Jack McDonough, Hector Negroni, and John Kohout. Hotel prices (including tax)
ranged from $109 to $200. After considering
Wayne Jones had the thrill of attending the U.S. OPEN golf tournament at Torrey Pines in June and got to see Tiger do his thing. He and Mary recently visited their daughter in Ventura and attended the 56th Annual Lompoc Flower Festival, where her new husband performed on the saxophone with a terrific Latin Jazz band. The next day they took a ferry to the Channel Islands National Park to go hiking; what a beautiful place---highly recommended. They will spend three weeks in Washington State in August visiting family and sightseeing.
Bob Kellock and Samantha are busy visiting,
moving, attending Memorial
Hector Negroni provided a write-up regarding his personal view of the end of our proposed Conference Center Hotel project. It was too lengthy, as well as outside the personal news sought for our quarterly inputs, to include here. If you would like to read it, you can at http://www.usafatoday.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=2519 or https://zoomienation.usafa.org/usafa/groups/30052/view, or you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carleen and Terry Storm spent 12 great days in Italy (Venice, Florence, Capri, Pompeii, Rome, traveling by train and ferry). It was Carleen’s first European trip! During a week in the NW, they also were joined by Pat and Corky Cochrane for a beautiful day at Victoria, B.C. Nice ferry ride roundtrip, plus absolutely gorgeous flowers at the gardens there. Terry also updated Art Kerr, Dick McMonigal, Oleg Komarnitsky, Jack Taylor and Gene Hopp on the AOG issues at a morning get together. Although their week-long trip purpose was a Ketchikan High School reunion near Seattle, they visited many relatives and ex-AF friends in Oregon and Washington. Terry needs all of your good wishes in his AOG Board endeavors.
Gina and Charlie Thomas enjoyed last year's Alaskan cruise, so they went again on August 1st this year. The Holland America cruise departed and returned to Seattle, with stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. In October, they will return to Kauai for a week on the north shore. In between are family and AF football trips. Their neighbors suggest renting out their home since they travel so much.
Neal Westbrook’s daughter and son-in law gifted him and his grandson, Phillip, with a ride on a B-24 named "Witchcraft". He said it was a blast, and he means literally; the wind whips through the aircraft unhindered, and the noise was nearly deafening. He now has a vivid appreciation and admiration for what those guys did over Europe. That was flying, like buckboards was riding.
Jim Wilhelm said that they had a nice '61 get together in Colorado Springs on the 22nd of May. PB O'Connor and Marilyn were on their way from Tucson to Westminister, CO, to see their oldest granddaughter graduate from high school and attend her trumpet recital. They spent the night with the Wilhelms, so what better time to host a party for the old Gray Tags. In attendance: O'Connors, Wilhelms, Neels, Harings, Storms, Jones, Conleys (and son, Andrew and wife), Cuberos, and Worth McCue. Good time had by all! That was actually their second '61 get together. The week before, the Wilhelms hosted a cocktail party for Charlie and Sarah Stebbins, honoring son, Charlie "Brown" and Michelle, on his retirement from the Air Force. The '61ers had a great turnout at the retirement, lending support to Charlie as he conducted the ceremony for his son. Both Charlies did an outstanding job. Our classmates and their wives were all honored to be included. Charlie and Sarah agreed that it was great to have the support of their classmates and friends at this retirement ceremony, as well as happy to see them all. Sarah sent the picture below of the event—(l to r) Charlie, Michelle, and Charlie, Jr.—and said that they took their kids and grandkids to their annual Nags Head vacation spot and had the usual great time together. Charlie is preparing for his last (hopefully) year as Provost at the University of Charleston.
By the time this is printed in Checkpoints, Judy and Tom Wilson will have "survived" a major kitchen remodeling! It's been relatively smooth, but not without moments of pure panic! (Not unlike flying...) They will also have completed their annual get-together with their children and 10 grandchildren for 3 nights and 4 days at a water park lodge in north central Wisconsin. It's always a challenge to get everyone together but certainly worth all the effort. It's a great "bonding" and "catch-up" time for all of them. Coming from four different locations, it's really good for the grandchildren to get to know each other better and to continue to develop family relationships.
If y'all haven't tried it, Judy and Tom highly recommend the experience. They are also hopeful of being able to get to COS this fall for a football game. Tom said it would be great to see many of you there.
Nelson and Teri O’Rear have had a full summer with plenty of grandchildren staying with them. Three stayed for several weeks, plus another three local grandchildren camped out there while their cousins were visiting. We all had a great time, but it sure made the point that there is a very good reason that parents are young! Near the end of August, Nelson and Teri are headed to Europe for a river cruise down the Rhine. They have never tried one before but have heard nothing but good things about them. Hopefully, that will be true of this one since it lasts a couple of weeks.
Ross and Benita Shulmister spent a week in the
San Francisco Bay area, visiting their son. The intended highlight of the trip
was the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but Gilroy was so brutally hot it became a short
visit. They made up for it by having garlic ice cream at the famous San
Francisco Garlic Restaurant, The Stinking Rose, where even the garlic is infused
with garlic. Yum.
Thanks to all who shared. It is always nice to catch up.
Mark Anderson reports that he and Ginger added to the list of those who have ventured off to China. They spent 16 days, from the 10th thru the 26th of April, and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. And despite the pollution, China is a great place to visit.
Ken Ballien's son, Paul, is a priest from the Archdiocese of Detroit, which has a mission church on Grand Cayman Island. Paul was assigned as the pastor last summer. Ken and his wife, Dean, visited Paul in February, and they are going back between Christmas and New Year’s this year. They leave for a trip up the Rhone River in France this May, and end up in Paris for three days. Although our class visited NATO in Paris back in ’59, Dean had Paris on her "Bucket List", so off they go. Last August Ken attended the retirement of his son-on-law, Lt. Col. Scott Yost, after 27 years in the Marines. His last assignment was Operations Officer of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and the retirement was held there.
The Peachtree Class of ‘61 Graytags hosted a group of 23 classmates, spouses and significant others at Lake Lanier, GA April 17-20. The hosts were Mike and Ginny Rawlins (Golf Commissioner, Organizers and Treasurer), Sam and Gwen Barazzone (Facilities Chairman, Commissary, and the Hostess with the Mostest), Jerry and Dot Gill (Tennis Commissioner) and Johnny and Suzie Caughman (Smiles and Archives). The Barazzone home was in the center of the activities due to (as the realtors say) location and facilities. The home was previously owned by McDonalds Corp as an executive retreat and Sam and Gwen were happy to let the company take the "McBreakaway" sign, but they did leave the bedroom numbers on the door sills. Attendees were the hosts, Jack Bright, Doug and Dee Cairns, Steve Ho and Lynn Funkhauser, Lowell and Sandy Jones, Frank and Patsy Kiszley, Jimmy and Susan Poole, Jim and Linda Rogers, and Bob and Winnie Wagner. Thursday night was an early arrivals dinner followed by Friday Golf on Lake Lanier Islands. Friday night was a dinner at University Yacht Club on Lake Lanier. Saturday was another day of golfing, tennis, biking, card playing, visiting, drinking, and finished off with a barbecue dinner by the lake. Bob Wagner (Baseball Commissioner) organized a Sunday afternoon trip to watch the Braves and Dodgers game at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and Jimmy Poole provided some dugout box seats. All had a great time. The Dogwoods and Azaleas were in full bloom, the weather was excellent and the company unmatched. We’ll get some pictures on the class website ASAP. Come see us next time. You all hear?
Bob Best reports that life goes on as usual in Arkansas. They continue to look forward to moving into their "Dream Home." Their original move-in date was set for Thanksgiving '07, and then moved to Christmas '07. Delays then moved the date to Easter '08. Now they have their sights set on July 4th. Bob says that it is really hard to describe the work ethic exhibited by their particular "Ozark Artisans", especially without using some of his most profane fighter pilot expletives.
Jack Bright said that he spent a great weekend in Flowery Branch, Georgia—the "Peachtree" gathering of ‘61ers. (See above.) His last day there he went to Acworth, GA, to visit Col (Ret) Roger Graham, USAFA Class of ‘63. Jack flew his first combat mission in the Vietnam War with Roger in 1968—and had not seen him since that time.
Dick Davis attended a party hosted by Dick and Sylvia Fairlamb.
Also attending were Pete and Patty Lane, Tom and Bonnie Williams,
Phil Woods and his girlfriend, Paul Dean and his wife, and Allan
and Skeeter Blaisdell, and two from the class of ’60: John Keunzel and Ed
Nogar and their wives. It was good to see some of these
Kate and Lou Hablas just returned from a trip to celebrate his 70th birthday (a few months early), along with his only cousin, who was celebrating her 80th. They flew first to Seattle, then to Honolulu, where they boarded a cruise ship, "The Pride of America," on which they sailed for seven days, visiting most of the Hawaiian Islands. They enjoyed the cruise, but their flight schedule was too tight to allow them to hit Oahu's major attractions, the beach at Waikiki, and the Arizona Memorial. So, they have tacked up a "must return" tag on the trip, this time just to make the Oahu attractions.
Peter Homes-Ray’s bluegrass band, Annie & Tim's United Gospel Bluegrass Band, has been playing gigs in the Crystal River, FL, area. They seem to be well received. The band is made up of an Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist pastor, a bass player, and Peter. Needless to say, they play gospel music. His wife, Janice, plays hand bells in their church choir. She is still active as a Century 21 Realtor.
Dean and Jo, and Wayne and Mary Jones spent the month of April "down under" touring New Zealand and Australia by cruise ship, train, river boat, bus, subway, and foot. What beautiful countries and tremendous people! The birds and animals are so different, and they were especially impressed with the flying capabilities of the giant Albatross that followed their ship everywhere. Tasmania was some of the prettiest countryside they've seen anywhere. Dean and Jo stayed on a few extra days to attend the International Convention of Forward Air Controllers in Canberra. It was a special occasion, since it incorporated the ANZAC Day celebration and long-delayed presentation of US Air Medals to Aussie FACs from the Vietnam War. It was the trip of a lifetime, for sure.
Lowell Jones and Hector Negroni said that attendees, besides
themselves at the March DC luncheon included: Buckley, Dixon, Foster,
Kohout, McDonough, Nunn, Rogers, and Stackhouse. Ron Muller
was a last minute cancellation due to a big business deal on his organic tomato
farm. They spent more time at this luncheon than
Lowell Jones said that the luncheon the DC group held the end of April, after they heard that Art Kerr would be in town, was fun. It gave them the chance to catch up on Art’s work as the "First Sergeant" (as he put it) for the University of Washington. He was spending time in DC in large meetings on how to run a university. The '61 DC welcoming committee consisted of Lowell, John Kohout, Jack McDonough, and Hector Negroni. Lowell said that their discussions were far ranging. Hector sent a picture of the attendees. (See below.) Thanks to Jim Rogers for getting the Westwood Country Club to let us dine at their very fine restaurant. Their next luncheon may be the end of May.
The community where John and Sheila May live, Bald Head Island, participated in a program supporting wounded Iraq veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Program. The whole community participated—from a real estate company which put up the families in comfortable quarters, to the people running tours of the historic light house, to the pot luck dinner served at the community center. Sheila and John got to take one of the veterans fishing, a role for which they were chosen because John’s now the "Dean" of the Bald Head Island Fishing School. Fishing had not been good, and the weather was marginal. In what must have been an act of divine intervention, the veteran they were fishing with caught a nice flounder. Because of advances in the treatment of battle wounds, a larger fraction of those wounded will survive. As these veterans return to our communities, they and their families need help. The Wounded Warrior program is one which deserves our support.
Becky Nunn, having returned to her home town of Kilmarnock, Virginia, has filed to run for Kilmarnock Town Council. Election is May 6. Spike and Becky have been hard at work "campaigning." After many years being involved to one degree or another, Spike suggested she run. She'll be running for one of three seats, for which four candidates are running. p.s. Becky won the race for Town Councilwoman of Kilmarnock. She takes office 3rd of July for a term of four years.
Thom and Sharon Schutt are flying to China on May 1st with their daughter and her family where they will complete all the paperwork required to adopt 2-year-old Addie Jialin. They will be in China for two weeks to complete the process and get in some sightseeing (and shopping of course).
Bob Smith said that Pat took a fall last year, which resulted in a
double break to her right arm. Although one break healed, the other did not. She
has had surgery to install a titanium plate to stabilize the arm, and she is
recovering well; however, the arm
Charlie Stebbins is now in his third year as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at the University of Charleston, still going strong. (Wasn’t that supposed to be an interim type job, Charlie?) The big news in their family is that Charlie Jr. is retiring from the Air Force this month. He and his family intend to remain in the Colorado Springs area.Terry Storm is up to his nostrils in AOG issues, serving on the Finance and CEO Search Committees. He attended the AFA hockey team NCAA tournament game near Boston, and watched a tough overtime loss. Carleen and Terry are taking a 12-day vacation trip to Italy at the end of May and will see the Cochranes on a northwest trip in July. In February, Susan Conley and Carleen Storm organized a reception and dinner at the Peterson AFB Officers Club in Colorado Springs for Earl Saunders and his new bride, Sondra, who were married in January. Earl and Sondra grew up together and reconnected at a high school reunion. The classmates who honored the newlyweds included Art Kerr, who flew in from Washington state for the occasion; Trel and Dick Coppock; Anne and Tom Eller; Susan and Tom Conley; Jan and Randy Cubero; Erna and Wayne Haring; Peggy and Jim Hinkle; Jo and Dean Jones; Lynda and Charlie Neel; Joan and Worth McCue; Susan and Mike Quinlan; and Carleen and Terry Storm. Terry, Randy Cubero, and Mike Quinlan will be volunteering at the U.S. Senior Golf Open at the Broadmoor in August. He hopes to again speak to Arnold Palmer, who worked for and golfed with Terry's Dad while they both were in the Coast Guard in Cleveland.
Byron Theurer, a.k.a. Chicken Teriyaki, reports that the legendary kamikaze pilot Chicken Teriyaki recently made history when, under the sponsorship of the Las Vegas Valley Soaring Association, he flew his new acquisition, a Schweizer 1-35 sailplane named Iron Butterfly. Butterfly, a 1977 model glider, had not flown for several years. He had previously sworn that he would never fly another T-tailed airplane, but when presented with this slippery insect, he knew he had to make an exception. Teriyaki, known to his many friends as ‘CT’, commenced his first flight by making a flawless tailwheel-last takeoff, only momentarily dragging a wingtip. He concluded this masterful demonstration of airmanship by flying his own patented tailwheel-first landing, a little long perhaps, but still comfortably within the state of Nevada. Below are CT and Butterfly.
CT and Butterfly. CT is the one brandishing the banana
Jim Wilhelm wanted everyone to know that due to "out of sight" diesel prices, the old Blue Bus will not be making the trip to their daughter in Kentucky. Old Blue will be on station at the AFA football games for another year of tailgating!
Tom Wilson found out May 1st that their grandson, Mick Powell, did "officially" decline the appointment to the USAFA class of 2012. He decided to spend a year of additional study in Germany and to reapply to the Academy for the class of 2013. The extra year of growth and maturity will help him overall, and they are all confident he will be offered another appointment next year. Hope they aren't wrong! Otherwise Judy and Tom are doing well adjusting to retirement—and enjoying it thoroughly. That may change, however, as they begin a major kitchen remodel!
Nelson and Teri O’Rear have spent more time in Iowa lately with their daughter and her family. Their son-in-law went to Kuwait in January and will return in July, and three young ones keep their mother on the go—particularly their 6-month-old granddaughter. Everyone has had a good time, but all will be glad when July arrives and their dad returns.
The Class of 1961 Hotel Project Team is still in discussions with the Superintendent.
Jack Bright took a short trip in early December to Eagle, Idaho, to visit with an old friend, and then a short diversion to Las Vegas to visit his son and his family. The trip and visits were GREAT, of course. For whatever reason, Jack’s 5-year-old grandson is presently fascinated with AIRPLANES! Jack took him out to Nellis to see the Thunderbirds display, but arrived there a couple of minutes after they closed. So they went over to where they had numerous old fighters mounted on display, and he was thrilled! Jack thinks he may have to schedule a trip back there in November and take him to see the Aviation Nation air show.
C.G. and Janell Carson are still enjoying life on their Iowa farm. They now have 12 Percheron horses, with the birth of the most recent causing them to miss the 50th anniversary celebration of our class swearing in last summer. Although farm life keeps them busy, they did get away to visit and vacation a few times with family, including grandchildren, this past year.
Don and Peg Danborn are doing well in Arvada. Following a high school reunion in Illinois, they visited the O’Rears in October. They all took a guided tour of Notre Dame’s campus. It is amazing what universities can build when they have a multibillion dollar endowment. It was great seeing each other again. Don and Peg enjoyed a family home Christmas, with all of their children and grandchildren.
Tom Eller first started teaching at the Academy in January 1969—39 years ago, as the first USAFA graduate in the Astro-Computer Science Department. He last taught in that department in December 1981, 26 years ago. This spring, due to a professor shortage, Tom is teaching Physics 110 at the Academy. This physics—kinematics and dynamics—has not changed much since Isaac Newton, but how you teach it has. It should be a fun semester. At the end of January, Tom will also be General Chair of a Space Flight Mechanics Conference in Galveston. Similarly, Earl Saunders was also recalled to fill a one semester position teaching Geospatial Sciences. Earl said that he doesn’t think that he is the oldest instructor on the faculty, but he’s in the top five.
Dean and Jo, and Wayne and Mary Jones enjoyed a couple of fun outings together in the fall. In November, they met in Las Vegas for the USAF’s 60th Anniversary celebration at Nellis AFB. This keeps alive their string of having made all the decadal anniversaries there. As usual, the flying and static displays were world-class, including a spectacular airshow by the new F-22 Raptor! Their stay at Loew's Lake Las Vegas made the visit all the more enjoyable. In December, they met in Acapulco for some beach and golf exercises, along with special arm lift workouts involving large margarita glasses. They all came home quite fit—NOT! Wayne and Mary’s Christmas season was made very special with the marriage of their daughter, Julene, to Isidro Yanez on 29 December. The wedding was held at an historic rancho site in the Santa Paula Valley, followed by the reception in Ventura, CA, where they will live. Julene is a court interpreter in Ventura, and Isidro is a clinical psychologist and professional musician (saxophone). Many family members came from all over the west, and a good time was had by all!
Nine stalwarts attending the 28 November 2007 luncheon at Legal Sea Foods in Tysons II in northern Virginia: Bill Foster, Lowell Jones, John Kohout, Hector Negroni, Tom Pattie, Jim Rogers, Bill Sanzenbacher, Bill Stackhouse, and Twy Williams. Lots of seafood and much to talk about. Twy filled them in on his sailboat trip with his brother to Maine and back, including a couple pictures of them and some family along the way. Bill Stackhouse related that they were then buying new furniture for the mansion in progress, so it should be ready for a party in a couple more years. Lowell suggested offering at the Redneck Reunion that the DC guys organize a mini-reunion in the DC area one of these coming years. They discussed some options, and knowing that nothing is cheap in the area, several volunteered to look into some possible places to do it. They haven't formed a committee yet, but the entire DC luncheon group will be asked to help if they do come up with a workable plan. Jim Rogers proposed their next luncheon (probably mid or late January) could be at the Vienna Country Club, where he is a member. Many of them have been there several times for parties by him and Linda, and that will probably be their next get together.
Things in Baker City are going well, according to Bob Heriza. He had a procedure done in September that has really changed my life. It was a fundoplication (done orthoscopically). The doctor thought Bob’s hiatal hernia had been with him since he had been eating Tums and throwing up all around the T-37 during preflight! Any Graytags who have a hiatal can email Bob, and he will fill them in on the relatively simple procedure. Skiing is great there. Lots of snow and no lift lines. He says to ome on out West, skiers.
Larry Karnowski’s list of Good News/Bad News continues to be entertaining. Bottom line is that he is staying busy, including participating in some Squatty Body events following his Polish Pond Pork Festival.
Bob Kellock and Samantha revisited their new nest in Patagonia, AZ, over
the holidays. They added furniture, spruced up the grounds, winterized the utilities, counted the javelina herd that went by (about 25, all ages), and enjoyed a great New Year's Eve party at the local hotel! For a number of reasons, the Boeing traces may stay connected until the spring of 2009. Even that may change, too, depending on how much they enjoy the planned frequent visits to the nest!
Pete Lane relates that on Jan 20, 2008, Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Denton celebrated the 20th anniversary of its pastor-Peggy Ogden-Howe, the wife of Henry Howe. Peggy is a highly respected clergyman-woman and is doing a great service with her flock.
Phil Lane reports that Nancy and he had a great time visiting with Bob and Jan Brickey and Pete and Patty Lane in Denton the evening before the Falcons took on California in the bowl game. They enjoyed watching a CD of Air Force beating Utah in 1958 that Bob transferred from a film he salvaged from being thrown away and burned. Bob, the chief chef of the evening, treated them with a great meal, with ample help and hospitality from Patty, Jan, and Pete. Phil grabbed a book that Pete co-edited, Warriors and Scholars, which was published a couple of years ago. It includes a number of papers about wars from WWII to terrorism, which Phil is finding to be very interesting.
Meanwhile in Tucson, Jerry and Jo Mason hosted a party to celebrate the Air Force win over California in the Armed Forces Bowl. (Well, it wasn't their fault that the party went better than the game!) Attending were (left to right in the picture below) Jim and Nancy Wilhelm, Jerry and Jo Mason, Marilyn and PB O'Connor, and newlyweds Dave and Kathy (Mize) Beck. The Masons want to remind all that their guest house is always open for traveling Graytags.
Hector and Joan Negroni celebrated the arrival of their fifth grand child, a girl by the name of Emily Augusta who was born 11 October 2007. This January Joan organized a 70th birthday party for Hector to which over 100 family, friends and classmates were invited. A good time was had by all and Hector reminded everyone that "how long you live has nothing to do with how long you are going to be dead."
Bill and Rhoda Stackhouse are in their new house and enjoyed having their daughters and their families there for Christmas. Bill sent a picture (below), and it is quite nice. Although he is still putting on the finishing touches, which he may be doing and continuing to improve it for a while, Rhoda says that he did a fantastic job. They said their doors are open for guests. It sounds as if Bill won’t be spending all his time around their house since he said that he will now be pursuing Moby Striper.
Terry Storm is up to his eyeballs in issues, many contentious, having been appointed to the AOG Board of Directors to replace a member who resigned. He welcomes any input from our class, as does Charlie Neel, our class senator. Charlie will serve longer, and Dick Fairlamb will begin earlier to span the time between now and after our 50th Reunion in 2011 (since Terry can’t do both). Terry went to the Bowl game in Ft Worth and saw Bob and Jan Brickey, Randy and Jan Cubero, Dick Fairlamb, and Pete Lane. He knows others also attended.
Chicken Teriyaki (aka Byron Theurer), the world's oldest living kamikaze pilot, reports that he is regularly conducting air superiority sweeps over Jean, Nevada, just 30 miles down I-15 from Sodom in the Sand. His selected air supremacy vehicle is a club-owned Schweitzer 1-26D "Geezer Pleaser" clear air mass interceptor, rumored to be capable of Mach 0.15 in a vertical dive (once). Teriyaki, known by many of his classmates as the troll who lives under the bridge, is also directing an acquisition effort to buy an evolutionary improvement to the 1-26D (tentatively identified as the as the 1-26E "Super Pleaser") and operate it under the watchful gaze of the Las Vegas Valley Sailplane Association.
Charlie and Gina Thomas spent the eight days before Christmas moving their daughter Elizabeth and family. Elizabeth and husband, Jesse, are both teachers and were busy teaching during the move. Charlie and Gina put their AF experience of 17 moves to good use. Also, grandson Eric had his fifth (and hopefully, last) surgery on December 15th. The 22-month-old is doing great, with no tubes or bags attached.
All is well in frigid Minnesota. Tom Wilson said it's a winter-wonderland now: clear, COLD, and beautiful. They can enjoy it since they will be spending March in Florida. In fact, their three children, one spouse, and 10 grandchildren will be together with them over Easter, hopefully, so Life is Good! Judy and Tom also have some exciting news to share: their grandson, Tamalyn's son, Mick Powell, has received a nomination and appointment to USAFA, Class of 2012!! Y'all can imagine their pride in Mick. This should also serve as a warning to the C. Springs residents that they will be seeing more of Judy and Tom over the next few years!!! Mick may take a one-year deferment though, to study in Germany or Austria before going to the Academy, pending acceptance into the Foreign Exchange Program. Stay tuned. Three generations of the Wilson family USAFA graduates—is the Air Force ready???
Nelson and Teri O’Rear have been enjoying their family in the Midwest area, plus a visit from their Air Force son, Brian, and his family. He is currently stationed at Nellis AFB in the Test and Evaluation Group. Their son-in-law recently departed for six months in Kuwait. Not a bad time of year to leave winter in the Midwest, but he will pay the price when summer temperatures begin in Kuwait.
Tom Eller reports that the USAFA held the Falcon Heritage Forum to honor our graduate heroes, October 17-21. Several of our classmates were on the program: Lee Butler was the dinner speaker on the last night. Charlie Neel, Tom Sutton, and Judy Moorberg made presentations to cadets during the Forum. On Friday afternoon 4th Squadron mounted a plaque on the wall outside the room that Monte Moorberg had occupied as a First Classman. Present for that ceremony were Judy, Charlie and Lynda Neel, Tom and Anne Eller, and a host of cadets and officers. The plaque commemorates the action for which Monte received the Air Force Cross on 2 December 1966. Classmates may recall that Brice Jones had presented the Plaque to the Cadet Commander and the AOC of 4th Squadron during our reunion in September, 2006. On Saturday night after the football game, several classmates had dinner together at The Blue Star: Judy Moorberg, Lynda and Charlie Neel, Erna and Wayne Haring, Joan and Worth McCue, Lorraine and Tom Sutton, Doreen and Lee Butler, Anne and Tom Eller, Jan and Randy Cubero, and Jim Hinkle.
The Virginia contingent cheered on the tough Falcon team at the Air Force-Navy football game on September 29 after the spirited Alumni Association’s Tailgate Party. Bill Foster had reserved a block of seats in the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium through the USAFA Saber Society. The weather was bright and sunny – but not the outcome—as Navy came back in the fourth quarter to prevail. But that did not stop the group from partying at the home of Bill and Theda Foster. The Virginia group consisted of John and Joan Kohout, Hector and Joan Negroni, Jim Rogers and Linda Cain, Bill and Rhoda Stackhouse, Charlie Dixon and Liz, Ron Muller, John Sullivan, Bill Sanzenbacher, Spike and Becky Nunn, and Jack and Diane McDonough. P.B. O’Connor and Mer brought the warm weather up from North Carolina; Jerry and Sue Lefton left the golf courses in Pinehurst; and Gene and Judy Davis arrived from Florida with Gene’s new mystery book. Jim Cassidy also attended the game with them. Once Bill Stackhouse stopped talking about his almost-complete new house, the wives took the picture of the well-fed Graytags. Note the sunburned faces!
Jerry Gill said that they were 18 years after the "velvet revolution," but six members of ‘61 successfully penetrated the iron curtain. In early September, they cruised down the "Blue" Danube to Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech.Republic. The river flooded, and it rained almost every day, but they emerged victorious! The warriors and their spouses were: Gene and Judy Davis, Bob and Winnie Wagner, Jerry and Dorothy Gill, Doug and Diane Cairns, and Jimmy and Susan Poole. (See picture below.)
In late September John and Casey Goodley went to Beijing, China. They walked on/along the "Wall" a bit. From there, they went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and down the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges and the new dam. They flew back to Beijing to Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. Nobody they spoke to had any idea what had happened, if anything, in the Square. They were requested not to ask while in the Square. John did ask a Chinese police officer and a Chinese soldier if he could take their picture and very quickly got the idea that they did not think that was a good idea. From there they boarded a cruise ship and went to Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Viet Nam, and Bangkok. While on the ship one day at lunch, a couple sat down and they began to talk. The gentleman looked at John’s ring and asked where it was from. He told him. His comment was," I went there too in the class of '60". It was Gary Karschnick and his wife. They had several good visits. Gary even allowed John to sit and eat "at ease". It was nice to see him again. They had been stationed at Vance AFB at the same time, too. Viet Nam and Bangkok sure have changed in the last 40 years. China, in town and along the river, was very polluted----smog everywhere they went. The Chinese have traded their bicycles for 250cc motorcycles. They had a good trip. After they returned, they and Jack Bright went out to their favorite Catfish restaurant in San Antonio. Now that they are back Jack said that they have to start learning how to golf all over again.
Henry Howe said that, as Garrison would say, "It has been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone." but then go on to describe just how "unquiet" it has been. He feels he could start much the same way. On September 20, as the vice president of the Board of Directors, he was asked to step in to fill the position of Executive Director of the Briarwood Retreat Center when the current director was fired. He was to be there to "take the keys and escort him out". That was the start of a whirlwind that has returned him to a full time job without the benefit of a pay check. This is the Retreat Center where he directed the Evacuee Center for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita victims. He figures it has proven that you are never too old to learn something new. In the process he has learned a lot about the legal process and how to correct past management deficiencies. He hopes that a search committee will soon be able to recommend a new director and that he will be able to return to "retired" life by early next year. Just before this hit, he and Peggy were able to take a couple of days off to visit their daughter, Tricia, at Kirkland AFB where she is completing transition training into the MC-130. After training she will return to Eglin AFB and deployments into the sandbox. They had a great time seeing the sights and hiking in the mountains.
You may recall that Brice Jones gave a short speech at our First Day celebration in June. Several classmates had asked Brice to have it printed, and George Buchner had videotaped most of it, so the resulting compromise was that you can now watch it (3:59) on YouTube if you search for Class of 61 First Day, or click on this link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=lHjvk0cYhik
Dean and Jo Jones joined with several other members of the Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute for an enjoyable tour of China in October. They visited Beijing—which is moving into high gear for the Olympics—Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, terra cotta soldiers, and silk and porcelain factories. They also went down the Yangtze River on a fun three-day cruise. The Three Gorges and the Dam are spectacular. They completed the tour in Shanghai, which is deservedly described as "New York City on steroids". It is a beautiful city at night. Overall impressions were that BIG is everywhere (people, cars, buildings, new highways, factories, pollution), economic vitality (and capitalism) are highly visible, the natives were friendly and curious, and, like NYC, its a great place to visit, but they wouldn't want to live there.
Lowell and Sandy Jones have just completed their annual fall trip pulling their faithful Airstream to Myrtle Beach (six weeks), the Redneck Reunion, and other stops along the way. The Redneck was a huge success. On their way back home they stopped a couple of days in Atlanta, which has a growing group of ‘61ers in the area. They had a nice luncheon with Dot and Jerry Gill, Sam Barazzone, and Mike Rawlins (who couldn't make it to the Redneck—flying, as usual). They had a lot of fun and laughs - especially about the Atlanta area running out of water. Lowell reports that Sam said Lake Lanier (his home is on the shore) was 17 feet lower than normal.
Bob Kellock and Samantha opened their little nest in Patagonia, AZ, over the weekend of 3-4 November. They find it comforting to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. During their first night there, their dog, Shoshone, a Pom/Chow/Australian Sheppard mix, went on alert several times. When Bob took Shoshone out for a "walk," she quickly pointed out that the resident javelina (now Javiar) was in the yard. She chased it, it chased her, Bob chased it, and Bob and Shoshone went back into the house! Bob and Samantha plan a formal announcement of abode shortly, and Bob expects to break the Boeing traces in less than a year.
This retired life gives us time to get into all sorts of things, some of which we probably would have been better off staying out of. Joanie and Lee McCleskey attended their 50th high school reunions (hers in Arkansas and his in Georgia) and, yes, it was fun seeing all the "old folks" at the gatherings, especially those they had not seen in up to 50 years. They were also able to help their daughter and son-in-law in Edmond, OK, by looking after their 19-month old grandson while those two went to a wedding in Dallas. The downer was that their grandson had contracted a serious "bug" which infected Lee’s sister, his parents, and Lee. They were able to make it back to College Station for a while before going to Louisiana to help their son and daughter-in-law with a newborn they had adopted there. That turned out to be a real fiasco as their son and wife, along with their other five children, have been shuttling between Baton Rouge and Northern Virginia trying to jump through some additional hoops laid on by the bureaucrats in child adoption in Richmond. Although they received full cooperation from the State of Louisiana and the baby was signed over completely to them about four weeks ago, VA still says they cannot bring him into their state until all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted. They refuse to agree to the novel idea of an interim/temporary approval so their son and his family can be together in their own home and he can continue his work in Fairfax. This is really "worst case" without much of an end in sight. Other than that, Lee and Joanie stay busier than ever and are enjoying life.
Lynda Neel said that she and Charlie depart for South America on 26 November and return on the 23rd of December, sightseeing on both ends of a 16-day Holland America cruise. Charlie’s sister and her husband will be with them. They will fly into Santiago, Chile, sightsee for five days prior to their cruise which will stop in two other ports in Chile, sail around Cape Horn, stop in the Falklands, make two stops in Argentina (to include Buenos Aires), visit Montevideo, Uruguay, and finish their cruise in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They will sightsee in Rio before flying home. Then they will drive to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Christmas Eve to be with Kris and family.
Hector gave the following account of another very successful Gray Tag event. The 9th Annual Class of 1961 Redneck Riviera Reunion was successfully held in Orange Beach, Alabama from Friday 19 October to Monday 22 October 2007. Once again, they are indebted to the Reunion Committee chaired by Jimmy Poole and composed of Doug Cairns, Neal Westbrook, and Jerry Gill and their charming ladies. They are also indebted to Mer O’Connor for designing their official T-Shirts and to Jimmy Poole for arranging the "production" of the T-shirts. They also give special thanks to Gwen Westbrook for the delicious mints that were part of their "welcome package" and to Lydia Boesch for the delicious fudge and lemon bars. This year's version of this highly popular class event was attended by 50 loyal class members, spouses and significant others, and was highlighted by the Beach Wedding of Pat Buckley and Marilyn Kitching. Among those attending were: Jimmy and Susan Poole, Doug and Dee Cairns, Neal and Gwen Westbrook, Jerry and Dot Gill, Bob and Winnie Wagner, PB and Mer O'Connor, Jerry and Sue Lefton, Jim Rogers and Linda Cain, Bill Lane and Ruth Harris, George Buchner, Pat Buckley and Marilyn Kitching, John and Mary Payne, Bill and Theda Foster, Jack Bright, John and Lydia Boesch, John and Sheila May, Sam and Gwen Barazzone, Gene and Judy Davis, Charlie Dixon and Liz Powers, Rees and Pauline Wagner, Steve Ho and Lynn Funkhauser, John and Suzie Caughman, Dick and Sylvia Fairlamb, Lowell and Sandy Jones, Jim and Patty Hourin, and Hector and Joan Negroni. Festivities started Friday evening with the traditional "Ed Zompa Memorial shrimp boil meal" followed by a special musical concert by an excellent local redneck band ("Top Hat and Jackie") that knew "all their old and nostalgic songs." On Saturday, they broke up in smaller groups and engaged in a bevy of activities. The golf bunch, headed by Jerry Lefton, went to the Pensacola Naval Air Station Golf Course for a round of golf where records were broken, money exchanged hands, and balls were lost. The fishing crowd, headed by Bob Wagner, went to the wharf and boarded a boat for an all day fishing excursion. The notable absence of Charlie Stebbins and his "unparalleled chumming capability" significantly affected "the catch" but the group managed to return with a record haul of red snapper and trigger fish. Joan Negroni headed the "shopping expedition" to the nearby Grand Hotel in Point Clear, shops in Fairhope and the Foley Outlets. Jerry Gill organized a tennis tournament, Sam Barazzone was in charge of the cycling "Tour d’Orange Beach", and Rees Wagner led the sand castle and body sculpting effort. The less athletic watched football games. Around 1800 hours, Saturday, the boys and girls marched to the seashore in separate, but military precision formation, to witness the memorable and romantic seashore wedding ceremony during which Pat Buckley and Marilyn Kitching committed matrimony. Pat Buckley led the men's parade with a lighted torch followed by PB O'Connor's leadership in singing the Air Force Song while the women marched to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries under the leadership of Marilyn Kitching, also holding a lighted torch. A four piece combo provided the nuptial music, Jimmy Poole read the appropriate Bible verse, and all joined in a rousing rendition of Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a bullfrog....) To mark the occasion, they collected sand and seashells, placed them in a memorial container, and presented them to the newlyweds. Marilyn also received a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses, and the couple presented the assembled guests with wedding cake and ice cream after dinner. Dinner was a catered "Low Country Boil". On Sunday, they met for a superb brunch at Ginny Lane Bar & Grill. After brunch, the golfers went golfing, the ladies went shopping, and couch potatoes watched football. Sunday evening they polished off the "leftovers" and danced to the wonderful music of their fabulous local redneck band, "Top Hat and Jackie." Following those activities they engaged in a heavily contested game of Charades which ended "in a diplomatic tie" to make sure that no feathers were ruffled.
Some of the Attendees
The Wedding Party
The Bride and Groom
Earl Saunders noted that after nearly two decades of tailgating at USAFA football games, Jim Wilhelm has decided to retire his beautiful renovated Greyhound bus that served us so well all those years. It had been the gathering place for ‘61 in Colorado for years with a class flag poised overhead, and its blue and white awning protecting us from sun, rain, and snow. The "class women" often congregated inside to combat the cold as they "wagged their tongues" about "whatever", and the old geezers huddled outside with libations and endless stories about "nothing." November 3, 2007, when AF whipped Army, was the last Saturday that we will see the old bus parked on the apron of Falcon Stadium. Earl served his famous Colorado Chili to a gathering of the Colorado contingent (Wilhelm, Haring, Storm, Eller, Neal, D. Jones, McCue), joined by a small group of out of towners (B. Jones, Brickey, Anderson). It was a great Saturday at USAFA and we will all miss the wonderful times at the bus in future years. Jim said that he was sorry it had to come to an end, but 20 years was probably enough. The old bus is 54 years old now but still able to make the trip. It was time to pass it on to their daughter and son-in-law so that they can enjoy the camping with their two boys.
Charlie and Gina Thomas just returned from two weeks in New York City. They rented an apartment so that Charlie could attend his 50th high school reunion; have family visitors; and host a neighbor from Albuquerque who ran the NYC Marathon.
Lots of fun - a cruise around Manhattan, along with visits to Saks, Bloomingdale's, and great restaurants. They are home for a day and then off to Las Vegas to visit more family.
USAF pilot training Class 63A, Webb AFB, Texas, held their first ever reunion on October 12, 13 and 14, 2007 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Washington, D.C. The members of the Class of ‘61 attending were Tom Brophy, Mike Rawlins, Ken Staten, Dale Tabor, and Bud Utendorf. Jim Ahmann (who was the first Air Force pilot to solo the T-38) was in the Middle East on business and was unable to attend. Other ‘61ers in the class were Don Box and Burke Morgan, now deceased. A reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres at the Marriott was on Friday evening. On Saturday a field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Museum near Dulles Airport was followed by happy hour and a sit-down dinner at the hotel. On Sunday a visit to the one-year-old Air Force Memorial concluded with a ceremony honoring the eight deceased members of the first class to fly the T-38. Unfortunately, Tom Brophy was unable to join them for the picture on Sunday morning at the Air Force Memorial as he and his wife Jackie were being honored at another gathering in the Washington area. (See picture below.)
Class 63-A, Webb AFB
Neal Westbrook said that the German students of Craig AFB’s PTC 63B were hosts for their class reunion at Johannisberg, Germany. Johannisberg is known for its very fine Riesling Wine, so of course they toured a 13th century monastery now fronting as a winery and a former palace now fronting as a winery. They also enjoyed a day on the Rhine viewing castles, churches, towns, and vineyards. Gray Tags and spouses in attendance were: Dave and Christine Hmiel, Doug and Dee Cairns, Bobby and Anne Grace, Jim Hinkle, and Gwen and Neal Westbrook. Great time! Following the reunion, Gwen and Neal spent several days touring Germany via Fulda, Berlin, Dresden, and Buchenwald. Berlin was a surprise, much more than the wall, rather a "must see" city. Buchenwald we want to forget but should not ever. East Germany is still recognizable, with a long way to go.
Tom (TWC) Wilson said that he has been waiting for a lllllooonnnggg time to say this: I SOLD MY BUSINESS AND AM NOW OFFICIALLY SEMI-RETIRED!!!
The final payment was received in early October, and he is now in the process of cleaning up and transferring "stuff" to his buyer. He and Judy are also working on their new "life style" and daily schedule. They are adjusting to his being at home more. So far they love it! He plans to keep busy with home projects and working part-time at Wal-Mart -- just kidding. He is going to broker used and reconditioned/re-manufactured shopping carts. Hopefully, he will be successful enough to be able to fund some or all of their travels. Life is good -- they are reasonably healthy and wonder where the days go. That's a good thing!
Roger Woodbury said that he and Mary Sue joined Sue and Jerry Lefton in Atlantic City in early October for a couple of days. Jerry and Roger played in a scramble golf tournament (four person) sponsored by the Wyndham Time Share organization. They finished out of the money (two shots off the winning score) through no fault of Jerry's. Roger said that Jerry is amazing, and that he would never want to play him for money. Sue did well in the casinos, but Mary Sue’s injured arm kept her from playing in the golf tournament. She recovered well enough to play in CT during the activities of Roger’s 50th High School reunion the second week of October.Nelson and Teri O’Rear took a very enjoyable trip to Europe in September—except for the part where his pocket was picked on the sixth day of their 18-day trip. It took a while (the next to last day in Europe) before Visa got a new credit card to them, so they were quite grateful to be traveling with friends. They enjoyed our football team’s 41-24 victory over Notre Dame, as well as their visit with Tom and Anne Eller just before the game. Life stays interesting in the South Bend area.
Tom Eller, our Class President, delivered the welcoming comments at the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1961’s First Day at USAFA. Site of Lowry AFB. 5 July 1957—5 July 2007:
Welcome fellow members of the USAFA Class of 1961, our wives, children and grand children. Also welcome to our guests Chuck ’59 and Linda Ferrari, Al Sigman, ’62 and Geraldine, Jim Bowman, and Tom ‘66 and Kathy Markham and Greg Anderson, ‘72.
Many thanks to Richard and Sylvia Fairlamb, for the idea and to the Fairlambs, Jim and Peggy Hinkle, Dale and Kay Tabor, and Ross and Benita Shulmister for putting on this event. It was a privilege to have Dick be our master coordinator. As an aside, I note that Dick’s and my bricks at our class memorial in front of the Doolittle Hall are side by side and that our cadet numbers are adjacent. Good person to be beside.
Our Class Officers here today are: Earl Saunders, Secretary; Mark Anderson, Treasurer; Charlie Neel, Initial AOG Senator; Terry Storm, Next Senator; Dick Fairlamb, Third Senator.
18,263 days ago we began our journey together.
Here are some interesting facts about the world we lived in on our first day: Milk cost $1.00; Bread was 19 cents; gasoline was 24 cents; Postage was 3 cents; the Average annual salary in the US was under $4,500, and the average house $20,000. Teddy Bear by Elvis Pressley and Love Letters in the Sand by Pat Boone were at the top of the charts; and the top movie was The Bridge on the River Quai. The Impala and the Edsel were both introduced that year. And for the first time more margarine was used than butter in America.
I have participated in one (ours) and observed several other 1st Days: ’64, ’80, and 2011. 1st Days spawn many memories. The class of 1964 just passed the 47th anniversary of their 1st Day with a flurry of emails. Steve Ritchie swears that I was the first cadet he encountered and that I shook him up so much that he had to look at his name tag to remember who he was.
The Class of 1980’s 1st day in 1976 was unique since it included female cadets for the first time. You’ll recall the famous photo of General Tom Richards’ step-daughter, in a tight skirt, looking over her shoulder, and heading toward the "Bring Me Men Ramp" with her suitcase in hand.
Last week I was at the 1st day for 2011 because our grandson is in that class—another third-generation cadet following Earl’s grandson, who was the first Third-Generation graduate.
This 1st day is significant to me because 2011’s 1st Day is 50 years after our 1st Day. To put the time scale into perspective, consider that the USMA Class of 1911 entered West Point 50 years before we entered Air Force, in the summer of 1907. The 50th 1st Day for 2011 will be in 2057, a full Century after our first day. Of course, we started 100 years after USMA’s Class of 1861 entered West Point in 1857. While we do not think we are old; I know the class of 2011 thinks of us as OLD.
On this past Thursday, when Jim Shaw was giving the incoming pep talk, he asked if there were any USAFA grads in the audience and from which classes. When I spoke up, he assured me that they had an oxygen bottle in the building just for me. Then he told the new basics that when he and I were at USAFA as cadets the earth had not quite finished cooling, and of course still had dinosaurs roaming the terrazzo. So, the class of 2011’s 1st Day started off kinder and gentler than ours, but I doubt it remained that way for long.
Now back to our 1st Day: We did not hear the "Expect Great Things" speech that General Nathan Twining gave to the Class of 1959 on their 1st Day. We were, however, the first fruits of the ‘59’s leadership since they served as our senior class for two years. The nation did expect great things of us also.
Close your eyes and think back 50 years. I imagine you can remember a conversation not far from this spot that went something like: Mister, pop that puny chest up. Put your weight back on your heels, break forward at the waist. Reach for Colorado, and cage those beady eye balls! Did you shave today? I thought not. Your mother may not care, but I do. Back in Cup Cake Indiana or in Ice Cream Illinois they may not care, but I do. We are going to shrink that delta x between your will and the abilities that the Lord Almighty gave you. Now, run your chin in! ….
For us, this event primes the pump for our 50th Reunion in 2011.
For the Academy it strengthens a tradition for class remembrances.
For Colorado it brings to mind what forward-looking citizens did for the nation over five decades ago. We can be proud of having delivered great things for our country.
Thank you, classmates, for your effort and expense in coming together. Remembering helps to keep us together as a class and contributes to our special bond. The photos we take, along with the stories we tell (and write down) today will add to the legacy of our class and the Academy.
About our swearing-in ceremony: I do not remember it at all. So, I leave it to the rest of you tell the rest of us what you remember about that day.
Those ‘61ers attending were:
Mark Anderson Doc Arnold Sam Barrazone
Ted Bradstreet Bob Brickey Jack Bright
Tom Brophy George Buchner Bill Combest
Randy Cubero Jim Darnauer Paul Dean
Drue DeBerry Tom Eller Dick Fairlamb
Pat Gregory Bill Griffis Jim Hinkle
Paul Hinton Bob Holcomb Gene Hopp
Dean Jones Brice Jones Bob Kellock
Bill Lane Bud McCollum Doug McConnell
Worth McCue Charlie Neel Mike Quinlan
Mike Rawlins Earl Saunders Ross Shulmister
Terry Storm Milt Summerfelt Dale Tabor
Charlie Thomas Jim Wilhelm Frank Willis
Tom (TWC) Wilson
Lowell Jones said that they attended a great 50th First Day party hosted by Jim Rogers and Linda Cain on Sunday, July 1st! Although he didn't count every head, he thought there were over 30 ‘61ers, counting spouses and friends, plus another 30 or so of Jim and Linda's special invitees - their friends and other USAFA and West Point grads. Thanks so much to Jim and Linda for again hosting a fabulous evening. Lowell has scheduled their next luncheon in August. Sandy and he leave on Labor Day for their two-month trip to Myrtle Beach and then on to Orange Beach for the Redneck bash.
Bill Foster summarized the celebration of our 50th, hosted by Jim Rogers and Linda Cain in Virginia:
On 5 July 1957, i.e., about fifty years ago, members of the Class of 1961 reported to Lowry AFB, Colorado to begin a memorable four years as members of the Third Class appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy. This number included 306 original appointees and seven who, for several reasons, washed back from the Class of 1960.
On 7 June 1961, we graduated 217 members, or 69% of the original number. Nonetheless, all of us who met at that memorable time still share a special bond unbroken through the years. On July 1, to celebrate the occasion of our appointment as cadets, Jim Rogers and Linda Cain hosted a cocktail party-dinner at the Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA. Those classmates attending included Hector and Joan Negroni, Jim and Judy Cassidy, Pat Buckley and Marilyn Kitching, Charley Dixon and Liz Powers, Bill and Theda Foster, John and Joan Kohout, Jack and Diane McDonough, Spike and Rebecca Nunn, Bill Sanzenbacher, Tom Skilling, Bill and Rhoda Stackhouse, John and Ellen Sullivan, Rees Wagner, Ron Mueller and, of course, the hosts - Jim Rogers and Linda Cain. With the attendance of Lowell and Sandy Jones, we were also able to "check out" Lowell’s new artificial knee.
Additionally, we were honored by the attendance of several representatives from West Point and Annapolis, as well as some of Jim and Linda’s friends from the FAA and fellow Country Club members. Special guests were Bill and Betty Kosko, USMA Class of ’61.
Jim had encouraged classmates to bring memorabilia and Bill Foster brought a plane-load of "stuff." Do you remember how to use a slide rule? We learned from VERSALOG! Do you still have one of your 1957 wooden hangers with adhesive tape to prevent marks on the closet? How about a Cadet Food Acceptability Report, Form O-96, or an actual 1957 Section Marcher’s Roll, Form O-60? Others shared group photos, sports programs, programs from the Follies or the Lido in Paris from the European trip, newspapers, yearbooks, and stories of yesteryear. Hector gave a PG-13 rendition of MaryAnn Burns over the microphone.
During the evening, as the wine flowed and the toasts got more creative, the crowd sang the Air Force song about a dozen times along with other patriotic music as they filled up on lamb chops, crab cakes, and cheese hors’doeuvres and then a delicious buffet with bottles of Brice Jones’ "Fighter Pilot Red" at each table.
Half a Century, you say – can’t believe it!
John Boesch returned the first part of August from teaching in the "E-MBA, SPORTS" program at St. Mary's College of (Moraga) CA. This is the 3rd year of a custom executive program aimed at creating familiarity with the American Sports Business culture. The program was developed for students from La SALLE of Barcelona.
Jim and Judy Cassidy attended the 50th reunion gathering in DC hosted by Jim Rogers. It was great to see everyone as he probably hadn't seen any of those there since our 25th in 1986. It was a great party and a fun evening. Jim’s only regret: he was in the men’s room when they sang the Marine Corps Hymn. Jim looks forward to the Air Force/Navy game in September which he'll be attending with the DC bunch.
And the beat goes on! Anne Eller sent me this picture of Tom and their grandson, Barrett Schake, 2011, following the Acceptance Parade yesterday. It was taken at the '61 class overlook just west of the chapel. Note the new shoulder boards!
Lou and Kate Hablas had breakfast with Charley Dixon while they were visiting children/grandchildren in Virginia in May. Charley and Lou were roomies at the AFA for a while, and their visit was the first since graduation. It was great seeing him and getting caught up at least a little bit on what they've been doing for the past 45 plus years!
Tom Hill said that his Elkhart American Legion baseball team won the Indiana American Legion state championship by beating Terre Haute and Kokomo, both much bigger cities than Elkhart. Tom loves coaching baseball with the youngsters, whom he reported were all great kids. He thought that the other teams may have had more talent, so he was especially proud of his team’s accomplishment.
Bruce Hinds writes that their son Bruce, who now holds an endowed chair at the University of Kentucky for his nanotech work, got back into the flying business. He must have missed Bruce’s Bonanza that they flew for many years, so he now has a Mooney 20C. Our Bruce played right seater for him, and they flew it from Mojave, CA, to Georgetown, KY, landing at such hot spots as Alva, OK. It was a great fun trip for both of them. Son Bruce and his wife Casey (USAFA '91) who was a C-130 pilot are having a grand time with their new machine, and ’61 Bruce thinks the nanotech world is on hold for a while.
Wayne and Mary Jones are celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary by going on a three week trip to the Northwest US to visit their son, Jeffery, and his family, Mary's sister and her family, and nieces and nephews, followed by an Alaskan Cruise and Land Tour. Their daughter, Julene, has just completed the requirements to become a certified Court Translator in Spanish. She will be practicing in the Ventura/Los Angeles area.
Bob Kellock and Samantha attended his 50th HS Reunion in Watertown, NY. It turned into a trip to Bob’s roots (all family interment sites) and a reunion in Henderson Harbor with his childhood playmate (Richie) from ages 11 to 18, whom he hadn't seen since 1957! On the second day, they were in Richie’s boat, out to Stony Island, into the Pond, and then to anchor just off Calf Island. There, Richie's wife, Jena, opened a cooler of shrimp, ham, cheese, olives, pickles, fruit, salad, beverages, etc., and Café Calf Island was open! The next day, they had a mini-family reunion with Bob’s brother, sister and her husband, and cousin and his friend, at the much-upgraded (thanks to his cousin) family cottage. They passed through Dulles both going and coming and had enough time for quick tours of the Mall and its memorials, the Air Force Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Marine Memorial.
Jerry Lefton attended his 50th high school reunion in Indiana in June followed by a visit to Chicago to visit their daughter, son-in-law, and three year old grandson. Then two weeks later they were off to Atlanta to stay with Ginny and Mike Rawlins. They, along with Gwen and Sam Barazzone, hosted a great weekend of fun, food, drink, golf, and reminiscing for several 61ers and spouses. Then Jerry marshaled at the Women's US Open golf tournament which was won by Christie Kerr. Jerry has finished the cardiac rehabilitation program and is feeling just fine. He is playing lots of golf in spite of the hot weather (110º on 8 August).
Lee McCleskey reports that he is still making great progress in recovering from his brain surgery of August '06 and all seems to be fine. Joanie has also been released by the doctor after her knee replacement surgery of March '07 and is once again a challenge to keep up with. Their family reunion, which Lee headed in GA at the school named for his grandfather, was a wonderful success and he gets to do it again next year. They plan to attend their HS reunions in Sep (Lee, GA) and Oct (Joanie, AR). A real highlight for the summer was having two of their grandchildren go with them camping and visiting amusement parks in San Antonio. Only nine (soon to be 10) more grandchildren to go with similar trips. They certainly keep you young and on your toes!
Doug McConnell is still feeling the excitement and satisfaction from having participated in the "First Day" observances in Denver. It was great to remember those unique experiences as a group, to see the USAFA room at the Lowry museum, and to see old friends. Since returning, Doug has been working on his high school 50th class reunion...he is Chairman for the reunion and was Class President. He also volunteered to compile the 50th reunion bio-book...turns out to be a very big job!! Having had such a great book compiled for the Gray Tag 45th reunion, Doug has a great example to try to follow! Thanks to all those who organized and lead the "First Day" observance...a neat idea and very well done!
John Moore has authored a novel about terrorism, The Head of Khalid Salaam. His publisher says that it's a novel that will make you think. Although the book is fictitious, the threats are real and the possibilities are frightening. To order it online, go to the publisher: Authorhouse.com, click on: Book Store, search on Title: The Head of Khalid Salaam Or Author: John Moore. It costs $15. Good on ya, John.
Jimmy Poole’s update on the Graytag Redneck Riviera Reunion at Orange Beach, Alabama, October 19-22, 2007: As of August 9th, 26 classmates plan to attend. Contact Jimmy Poole or Doug Cairns if you want to attend.
Charlie and Sarah Stebbins were pleased to serve lunch on August 8th at Cafe Stebbi to Jimmy and Susan Poole as they passed through Charleston on their way home from sun and fun on Lake Erie. The Stebbins enjoy living a few minutes from one of America’s major interstate crossroads. Aside from that, they’ve had a busy summer that included their annual Nags Head family vacation and their 50th high school reunion. Sarah added that Charlie is now busy gearing up for (hopefully) his last year as Provost at the University of Charleston.
Charlie and Gina Thomas attended Memorial Day activities in Albuquerque Part of the event was a "Fallen Warrior Tribute". Eleven NM servicemen who died in Iraq were recognized; their families were presented with a memorial brick, plaque, and Native American blanket. There was only one AF member who died and his family could not make it. Charlie was asked to accept for the family of T/Sgt Scott Duffman. Scott was at PJ School when Charlie commanded Kirtland. He later served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was killed in a helicopter crash in February 2007. Charlie said, "It was a great honor to step in for the family. I will write to his wife." Charlie and Gina later spent a week at Hawks Cay resort in the middle of the Florida Keys. Their daughter Jennifer and her family shared a villa for the week. Great fun and food. A touch of the Caribbean. Charlie recommends it highly – it’s easy to find; the resort is at mile marker 61 (yes that's right) on Highway 1. Check out the picture of Charlie swimming with the dolphins.
As I write this, Charlie and Gina are off on another trip, this time to Alaska. They are spending a week in Denali Park, Alaska, followed by a week on Holland America from Anchorage to Vancouver. The trip includes several train rides (narrow gauge and normal), whale watching, panning for gold, and lots of good food and wine.
The China trip sponsored by the Association of Graduates from June 7th thru June 19th was as perfect as any trip could be. Bud and Judy Utendorf were joined by eight other USAFA graduates and spouses. They were honored to have USAF retiree, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a Tuskegee Airman and ex-POW on the trip with them. The Association of Graduates hosted a reception for the graduates on the trip, and the consensus of all of us was to invite Lt. Col. Jefferson to the event. He was kind enough to relate his experiences as a P-51 fighter pilot and a prisoner of war in Germany to them in a wonderful presentation. Bud had worn his prop and wings as a lapel decoration and, after consulting with all of the graduates, they decided to have General John Corley ('73) take Bud’s pin and place it on Lt. Col. Jefferson's lapel and declare him an Honorary Air Force Academy graduate. Bud informed him that he is now the oldest living graduate at 86 years of age. The graduates in the picture from left to right are: Terry Dessert '70, Rod Wood '69, Dan Roper '67, Bud Utendorf '61, Roger Neeland '64, Lt.Col Jefferson 2007, Bob Thomas '64, John Corley '73, Kevin McElvain '66, and Gary VanValin '66.
Nancy Williams said that Twy and his brother are currently on a sailing trip with Twy’s boat to Maine this summer. They have sailed as far north as Southwest Harbor and are starting the return part of the trip. So far it has been a great sailing adventure.
Terry and Kay Woelfel just returned from a Mediterranean cruise...started in Barcelona, ended in Venice with 10 stops in between. Terry had a great time "bargaining" for a leather jacket at that Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. The picture below shows Kay and Terry in the da Vinci dining room aboard the Emerald Princess. The trip exceeded expectations.
Roger Woodbury is very happy to report that he and Mary Sue are probably the oldest, first time grandparents of our classmates. Emma Ray was born Mar 19, 2007, to Sandi, their daughter--NJ parole officer--and her husband Scott Hill, an EMT/Firefighter. All thoughts of natural child birth were rapidly eliminated after Sandi stopped contracting, and Emma decided it was "Her Time". At 9 lbs, 9 ozs, she kicked A in the Delivery Room. She had a short period in the Neo ICU since she was so big, and they needed to get her sugar under control. Now at 4 1/2 months, she's 14+ lbs, and 25+ inches, and more than normal. In fact, she's bigger than my year old niece who was a "1 lb preemie". Am not sure if she will be a giant B-Ball player, a Smack-down wrestler, or the smartest child known to man. They are delighted, as all grandparents are. Baby sitting and diaper changing are a pleasure; well, part of that is true. Their other daughter, Michele has her Masters in Accounting and Finance, and is working for Deloitte in Philly. She just got back from a wonderful hiking and social trip (attending a wedding) in Switzerland. Ah the vitality of youth. Mary Sue and Roger visited their friends in Quebec in July, and are looking forward to his 50th High School reunion in Oct in Connecticut. They have to get a visit to Jerry and Sue Lefton somewhere in there since they had to cancel a May visit due to schedule conflicts.
Nelson and Teri O’Rear have had a good summer, including a week at the beach with the families of two of their children. Nelson has been golfing a few times a week and has watched his handicap steadily climb, discovering once again that practice is important (even though it is not nearly as much fun as playing). They are taking a European trip this fall. Their oldest grandson is enrolled at Purdue in aerospace engineering, mostly paid for by his 4-year AFROTC scholarship. Both were a surprise to them, but it seems that all of you had a part in it since the Air Force mission and its personnel influenced his decision.
Margy Dingle wants everyone to know that she is so appreciative of the many calls, cards, concerns, flowers, memorial donations, and prayers given by the class during Bob's struggle with pancreatic cancer and again after he passed away. As any who have lost a spouse know, it is a rocky road starting with numbness, frustrations, low concentration, many tears, endless paperwork, etc. Some of that is still a part of her, but she does see progress and is holding on to the message from others who have gone this journey, and that is that the sadness and feeling of loss never go away, but they DO get easier. That is the light at the end of her tunnel....or is it the beginning of her rainbow?
Mark Anderson got on the ski slopes for six days this year, which is nothing to brag about if you live in Colorado or Utah, but from San Antonio, it was a good year! Ginger and Mark have decided to forego any overseas trips this year and focus on places in the US they haven't seen. Their first stop was to visit Yosemite National Park, following a great weekend at Brice's Hospice of Sonoma event. Spectacular scenery! They highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't been (both Yosemite and Brice's event). Mark is still working with the Fisher Houses at Lackland AFB, the local AOG Chapter, and nudging along the hotel initiative. They continue to be blessed with continued good health, which is a bigger blessing each day.
Bob and Cathy Best are still enjoying the life in the Ozarks. After five months the new house is still not "in the dry," but they still have hopes of being in (but not settled) by Christmas. The local carpenters do not have the work ethic Bob and Cathy have enjoyed elsewhere. All work stops for fishing, deer season, turkey season, squirrel season, coon season, rabbit season, and anytime there is even a hint of rain in the forecast. Bob has doubled up on his high blood pressure medication. He is beginning to wonder why, at his age, they even started this project.
John Boesch said that Lydia was recently in Germany visiting her brother, an engineering professor at Cal Poly, who is in the second year of a teaching exchange program at a university in Munich. She returned in time for her first of six triathlons she is doing this season. John is the "pit crew/cheerleader." Both are still "balls to the wall" in their fight against forced annexation of their community. John had a 70-hour trip to CA in April to celebrate the launch of Brice's new label. Back home, John is getting in shape for his first 50th HS reunion, while leading the planning for his second, at his other high school.
Jack Bright enjoyed the Hospices of Sonoma event in California in April, thanks to Brice Jones. His efforts were greatly appreciated by all, especially Jack. He had dinner with John and Casey Goodley at the end of April, and they are both doing fine....even though Jack will never understand how she has put up with him this long! Sam Barazzone has invited Jack to spend a weekend in June with him and some of our classmates in the Atlanta area. He needs to go so that he can meet his wife, Gwen, and get her up-to-date on his activities while a Cadet. Meanwhile, Jack is just enjoying watching the San Antonio SPURS keep winning!
Dave Carlstrom and Rees Wagner both attended the NIT Final 4 basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Though seated on opposite sides of mid-court, Rees spotted Dave. Those eye operations must have been okay, but losing by 1 point was hard to take. It reminded them of the re-union game.
For those not on our Gray Tag Network on-line, you may not know that Johnny Caughman and Don Grant have had major surgery. Johnny said that he is well on the way to recovery and would like to tell everyone how proud he is to be associated with such good men as our classmates. He has had encouraging calls and get well cards from classmates that he hasn’t heard from for "ages". Sam Barazzone, Jerry Gill and Mike Rawlins even went to his house to "buck him up"! The fact that he is alive is only part of the miracle that is his blessing. To be a '61 Gray Tag is one of his life's greatest accomplishments. Don is on the road to recovery, but I’m sure would appreciate receiving a telephone call, a card, or a note.
Tom and Anne Eller’s grandson has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy in the Class of 2011. It was touch and go since he also received an appointment to West Point. He visited both schools in April, was very impressed by both, but finally chose USAFA. Regarding the hotel initiative, Mark Anderson and Sam Hardage will brief the AOG board on 12 May. Randy Cubero, Terry Storm, and Tom will be there for moral support. The feasibility study by consulting firm PKF is underway with results due in a few weeks. Sam Hardage is funding it. Members of the Hotel Initiative are: Mark Anderson, Lee Butler, Randy Cubero, Tom Eller, Sam Hardage, Brice Jones, Hector Negroni, and Hanson Scott. Some recent actions taken include briefing Lt Gen Regni, USAFA Superintendent, and receiving a favorable reaction; garnering support from a group of distinguished graduates; receiving support from the AOG Capital Campaign Steering Committee; and briefing the CEOs of three major 501(c)(3) organizations supporting USAFA. They plan to brief the AOG Class Senate soon.
50th Anniversary Celebration of '61's 1st Day Admission to USAFA as Cadets at the old Lowry AFB is a "GO" for July 5, 2007. Contact Dick Fairlamb, Jim Hinkle or Dale Tabor NLT June 1 if you will attend these planned events (they need to know!):
Hotel - Hilton Doubletree Denver Southeast 303/337-2800
July 3, Tuesday - Free time; Local Attractions?
July 4, Wednesday - Hospitality @ Hotel; Noon Golf; Dinner at
Pesce Fresco Restaurant
July 5, Thursday - 1st Day 50th Anniversary; 1000 hours @ Lowry;
Catered BBQ Lunch; Story Telling & Reminiscences; 1500 hrs
@ Wings Over Rockies Museum @ Lowry; 1800 hours Cocktail
Party @ Hotel.
July 6, Friday - Hospitality @ Hotel; Revisit Wings Museum;
Noon Golf; Free time.
The schedule will be on our Class Web Site "soon" www.usafa1961.org.
Although summer has not arrived yet, Bill Foster is planning for the Navy vs. USAFA game in Annapolis at 1300 on Saturday, September 29. (The forecast is for 'no rain.') As usual, he and Theda will be hosting a victory party, and Bill will be purchasing a block of tickets. So, if you want to be included, please let Bill know EARLY that you want tickets to attend. (Two years ago, he was unable to accommodate late wishers for tickets which he purchases through the USAFA Sabre Society when they become available in early June.) At present, the cost of tickets is unknown.
Lowell Jones reports that another great luncheon for the DC 61ers occurred on April 12, at Legal Sea Foods in Tysons II. Attending were: Pat Buckley, Charley Dixon, Bill Foster, Steve Ho, Lowell Jones, John Kohout, Jack McDonough, Spike Nunn, Tom Pattie, Jim Rogers, Bill Sanzenbacher, Bill Stackhouse, and Twy Williams. No need to say it was a lively group. The man of honor was Steve Ho who is departing this month for Birmingham, AL, where he and Lynn will settle for a while but still remain on the DC Roster to join the group when they come back for family visits. The DC group told Steve and Lynn that they are part of their family too. They agreed. Steve volunteered to pay for everyone's lunch, but everyone vetoed that and dug into the DC Kitty and found enough there to pay his bill. He wants all to know that their new place is open to all if you're in the Birmingham area. Bill Stackhouse made a commitment that is now written in stone - their new home (closing in on 5 years in the making) will be ready for a house-warming party in June (of this year) if you believe it! He, Spike, and Twy made the 2+ hour trek from the Northern Neck of VA together - a rarity to get all three at the same luncheon. A good way to fight the gas prices. Jack McDonough had just returned from a trip to Denver. Jim Rogers gave a pitch on where he and Linda are in the organization for the party celebrating our classmates meeting each other in Denver 50 years ago. It will be at the Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA on July 1st. More to come later. Pat Buckley, still surviving in Albania, had the longest commute to get there of course. Marilyn made the trip with him this time, so she joined Sandy and Lynn at another table in the restaurant - far away from the guys, so they could talk. Charley Dixon, Bill Foster, John Kohout, Lowell Jones, and Tom Pattie were their normal selves and tried to keep the rest of the guys under control. Their next meeting will probably be the July 1st reunion.
Jerry Lefton is happy to report that his recovery from heart surgery is still going well. He is in cardiac rehabilitation three days a week, and it is a 36-session program. He is also playing golf again although not very well. His short game is very rusty from the long layoff. The US Women's Open golf tournament will be there 25 June to 1 July. Jerry will be a marshal on hole #3. Thanks again to everyone who sent cards or e-mails or called him on the phone after his surgery. It meant a lot to Jerry and also to Sue. They will be going to Attica, IN, on 9 June for his 50th high school reunion and then going on to Arlington Heights, IL, to see their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.
Charlie Neel, our Class Senator, said that most of what they have done to date is cajole recalcitrant classes to appoint a senator and to get their "procedures" written for approval of the AOG Board. The clear "issue" of greatest interest of the Class Alumni Senate is the upcoming discussion and decision of the Board concerning "The Foundation." That will come to a head after the new Board is convened this summer. Meanwhile, everybody VOTE for new Board members and weigh in on your opinions about "The Foundation" and where we as a class think we should go. For details on these matters, visit the USAFA AOG website, www.usafa.org.
Hector Negroni summarized Brice’s latest annual Hospices of Sonoma function, which benefits many charities including the Barry Zito Foundation that benefits
wounded troops returning from war zones. Brice Jones orchestrated the 4th Annual Pinot Noir Barrel Auction Celebration, 19-22 April 2007. The 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron (Mythical) was present. Among those classmates and friends in attendance were Brice Jones and Susan Porth, Hector Negroni, Pete and Patti Lane, Dario and Iris Collado, Charles and Gina Thomas, Jack Bright, Sam and Viviane Hardage, Jim and Joy Darnauer, John Boesch, Bill and Betty Kosko, Jim Wiltcher, Dean and Jo Jones, Lanny Lancaster, Bob and Jan Brickey, Charlie and Linda Neel, Greg and June Boyington, Jim and Peggy Hinkle, Jim and Linda Rogers, Mark and Ginger Anderson, Dick Thompson, Bob and Winnie Wagner, Burke Mucho and Ben Malisow. The festivities began with a Thursday night dinner hosted by Brice at the World Famous Zazu Restaurant, Santa Rosa, CA. After consuming an ample supply of grilled and marinated vegetables, olives, cheeses, and breads they rolled right on to the marinated white anchovies. This was followed by the delicious salad of backyard lettuces. For the entrée, they had a choice of Grilled Scallops, Braised Chicken or Grilled flat iron Steak. All this was washed down with copious amounts of Brice’s unique "Fighter Pilot Red." The entire group was up early Friday, boarded luxury vans, and by 11: 00 they arrived at the Laurel Glenn Winery where the owner, Patrick Campbell, gave them a first class tour of his winery. This was followed by an "alfresco lunch." During the lunch, Brice distributed a new squadron blazer patch and a newly designed pair of Squadron boxer shorts. After lunch they returned to the hotel for a small siesta to recover for the evening’s main event, the Dinner Presentation and Launch of Brice’s new Pinot Noir’s line of wines: Emeritus and William Wesley. The world class dinner was prepared and served by Nitzi and Pat Rabin, Proprietors of the famous "Chillingsworth Restaurant" in Cape Cod MA. The first course consisted of Lobster Salad, Seared Scallops, and Corn Custard and was accompanied by Sonoma Cutrer’s Chardonnay Les Pierres. The second course consisted of Tuna Tournedos and was accompanied by Emeritus Pinot Noir Wine. After an intermezzo of Pinot Noir Sorbet, they engaged the main course: a pesto crusted Roasted Rack of Lamb accompanied by William Wesley Pinot Noir. The dessert course and coffees were equally world class. During the dinner, 61st TFS (M) members presented Brice with his very own leather flying jacket. They began the Saturday main event bright and early with a VIP Barrel Tasting activity followed by a tasty BBQ at the Emeritus Vineyards. That evening, the entire Squadron and Comfort Ladies attended the Pinot Noir Barrel Gala Dinner, Auction, and Artistic Presentation featuring a live performance by Eddie Money and his band. The dinner was another extravaganza featuring superb appetizers, wild Pacific Salmon, Roasted Duck Breast, and the normal good things that accompany a world class meal. The almost half a million dollars collected during the auction will go to benefit a host of charitable organizations. On Sunday, the Squadron moved operations from Santa Rosa to Larkspur and early Sunday they boarded a ferry boat that took them directly to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball club, who were hosting a visit by the Arizona Diamondbacks. From their excellent vantage point they saw the Giants beat the Diamondbacks and witnessed a kilometric homer by Barry Bonds. After the game, they returned to the Hotel, freshened up and met for dinner at Il Fornio Restaurant in Corte Madera where they feasted on Sea Bass, Roasted Chicken, Mesquite Grilled Tenderloin, and mouth watering homemade Ravioli. Once again, Brice managed to bring a bunch of bottles of Emeritus and William Wesley. Bob and Winnie Wagner spent an extra few days in the Bay Area with old high school friends, and even had more wine in the process. Well, what can I say? Those who attended carried away fond memories and those who missed it will never know the fantastic experience that they missed.
Susan and Jimmy Poole just returned from his 50th reunion in Mobile. It was great fun; however, lots of old people were there. John Payne also attended since his wife of 1 year graduated with Jimmy. The Graytag Redneck Riviera Reunion in Orange Beach, AL is scheduled for Oct 19-22 (Friday afternoon through Monday morning.) Mark your calendars for those dates, and detailed information will be out in June. Three beach homes are reserved (20 BR - 20 Ba), and 14 rooms remain available. Jimmy can get additional homes if the demand warrants more homes; however, there will need to be sufficient to fill a home before the home will be reserved. Motel accommodations within ⅓ mile are also available.
Bill Sanzenbacher said that Jack and Linda Taylor stayed there the last week of April for four cram-packed days of touring Monticello, the University of Virginia, some of the Civil War battlefields, Alexandria, and more. They managed to have lunch with John Kohout in Alexandria, and also with Terry Norris there in Fredericksburg. Terry and Bill have been neighbors for the past 5 years and manage to share some golf experiences occasionally. Bill said that he hated to see them go, but it was a blast from the past. They capped each day with some fun card games there at home. They also managed to finally answer the age old question that puzzled the Sphinx- namely how many Graytags does it take to screw the cap onto a water bottle. After observing Jack and Bill in action, Linda decided that the answer is definitely two.
Smokey Stover traveled to San Diego for the Air Force - San Diego State basketball game in early February. The game was a bummer. In fact, it was the start of the end of season swoon. The team righted itself in the NIT, to end up with the most wins in AFA history. He stayed with Haven and Roberta Hill in their great place, only a short rock throw from the beach, and he played golf with Haven, Wayne Jones and Rob Pollack '63. All played better than Smokey, but he doesn’t think anybody had more fun. Haven puts a lot into his drives, and he's got a lot to put into them! He would like to join those hearty souls that will be at the "Old Lowry" digs on 5 July, but he already had a family commitment. Raise a glass for him.
Tom and Laraine Sutton, since our ‘61 reunion, have added two grandchildren to make a total of 20. Three weeks ago they married off another of their ten children, which has made it a pretty busy few months. They were honored to have all ten children at their house for a week or more, along with the 20 grandchildren. Tom said that he is lucky to have had an Air Force career that offered him such a wonderful life for 30 years and now is in a position to enjoy a full pay retirement that gives him the freedom to devote time to helping shape the lives of 20 of the next generation. They'll be driving to Johnstown, PA, in June to help welcome number 21 to their ranks. Then they'll stop and visit all the other children who don't live in Utah and Wyoming.
Charlie and Gina Thomas left for the Florida Keys on 2 May. They will be with their daughter Jennifer and her two daughters. They plan to "swim with the dolphins" sometime during the week. Also, the Brice Jones wine auction was a great event this year, with a good turnout by ‘61ers.
Nancy and Twy Williams are doing the usual spring things--gardening, swapping storm windows for screens, mowing grass again, and, of course, preparing the boat for launching. Azaleas are in full bloom, and the weather is warm again. Corn is coming up even in some of the fields that were planted before the mid-April cold spell, so life is good on the northern neck. Twy’s brother, Dan, and he are planning a sailing trip to Maine beginning 22 June. Since for them it is "the going" more than "the getting there," they will mostly day sail. Their focus will be Penobscot Bay, but they may get to Bar Harbor for old times sake. On the way home they plan to meet Nancy and Twy’s daughter and granddaughter after their three-day cancer walk in Boston (3-5 August) and celebrate Twy’s 70th with a sail around the harbor and islands followed by some good Italian food. They plan to arrive back on the NN by the end of August. Their wives are happy to be left at home, but may join them for a few days along the way. They are waiting to see how it goes before committing. They will see how well Dan and he handle that much togetherness.
Jim and Nancy Wilhelm finally returned to Colorado Springs from Arizona on May 6. Their return was delayed because Jim went to the hospital for an Ablation procedure on his heart. He came through with flying colors, and should have no further problems of fast pulses. He has no restrictions and everything went well. His pacemaker is still running smoothly. After their return, it started snowing in C S. They always save the last snow for after they return just so they won't miss one of Colorado's snowstorms.
Tom and Judy Wilson survived his 50th HS reunion. It should come as no surprise to all who know Judy, but she was made an honorary member of the Sidney Lanier Class of 1957! They look forward to seeing everyone at the Lowry festivities in July.
Nelson and Teri O’Rear are beginning to think that maybe there is something to getting older since they have two grandchildren graduating from high school, as well as an AF son pinning on his eagles about the same time. And, all this time, we thought it was only you who were getting older! Life remains good, as we both can still visit with our mothers. (Perhaps we have been mistakenly judging our relative youth against their mid-90 ages.)
As an added bonus, at no additional cost and for your viewing pleasure, we offer a picture of our very own Jimmy Poole and his lovely bride Susan attending Jimmy’s 50th:
The 45th Class Reunion Book Committee is happy to announce that 125 classmates participated in the “book effort” and by mid-August they will be receiving a copy of the masterpiece produced by Bob Brickey, Brice Jones, and Hector Negroni. The book is hard bound, in full color, contains a large number of photographs provided by class members and special fold-out of our 1957 class photo.
Randy Cubero would like the class to send him pictures, whether they are hard prints or, preferably digital, of any of our 40 fallen classmates. He will then take them and publish them on our class gallery website in the fallen classmate’s individual photo album. If they have slides he is not sure that he currently knows how to transform them to digital but he is sure it can be done. Please send the digital pictures to him at his home e-mail: email@example.com or prints to his address: 7163 Wintery Loop, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. It is absolutely essential to also annotate a caption and summary of what the picture(s) is/are all about!!! Randy will be sending out a message to that effect after our Reunion Meeting Monday, Aug 7. Randy’s goal is to have a series of pictures all with captions and summaries on each of our fallen classmates before our 50th Academy reunion. If you would like to visit the class of 1961 picture gallery website you can do so at: www.afalumni.giph.com and you can log on with username: greytag and password: usafa1961 That username and password will allow you to view only the picture albums posted. When you feel that you would like to post your own materials (pictures of family, friends, classmates, Academy and any others you would like to share) on the website you will need to register on the website. Randy will then approve your registration and set you up with your own initial album. Then you will be off and running.
The only thing I could learn about Mark Anderson is that he has managed to lower his handicap by a stroke this summer. Good on ya, Mark!
John Boesch recently completed a short stint as a lecturer at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, CA. in a program presented to students in the La Salle (Barcelona) Sports MBA Study Tour. Presentations focused on international mega-events, such as World Cup Soccer, and the Olympic Games, and included smaller programs such as the organization of a US Open. En route to the reunion, John and Lydia will visit daughter Shannon and family, who have just moved to Boulder.
Jack Bright is very happy and contented in San Antonio. He started to get back into golf by going to the driving range close by, but lately it has gotten extremely hot there and will stay that way until about the end of August. In the interim, he’s been going to Gold's Gym a couple of times a week just to help keep his body parts functioning. [Sounds like a golf course hustler to me. Watch out for him at the reunion.]
Pat Buckley is still with Lockheed Martin in Albania helping modernize their traffic management infrastructure. The government has now approved another contract to provide a modern Coastal Surveillance System. The last week of July, Marilyn and Pat took the Land Rover on a one-week motor tour of Northern Albania. It was mostly mountain driving on rocky tracks, and half of it required the transmission in the low range. They averaged 8 miles per hour the first day. They saw gorgeous mountains, lakes, and good people, and had good food, good wine and good weather. They took guided tours of the new airport and a hydroelectric dam, canoed, swam, etc. People ask Pat when they are leaving, and the stock answer is "When we decide to do something else." He has one 2 year old grandson who calls him Baba Gjush, Albanian for Granddad.
Dee Cairns has decided to teach one more year and then retire. This is the 3rd year she has said that, but Doug thinks she really means it this time. They are planning accordingly. In self defense Doug is working, too. Last year it was for FEMA, now it is on a grant to the Family Guidance Center of Alabama to develop a network of local organizations who will work together responding to the next hurricane, or whatever. They call it a VOAD, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. It is a good job for him because it is a worthy cause, Doug works with super people in the community, and it has been structured around his desire for flexibility to travel – a lot. Other decisions for the coming year are to go to Italy to visit son Rob and family and to get two new knees in January. He can do the knee replacement thing because his Poole and Westbrook support team is in place and all checked out on how to take care of Dougie. They have been doing that for the last 18 years. Also, Jim and Patty Hourin and Doug and Dee Cairns went on a week-long “fly-about” the South East in Jim’s Lizzie (Cessna 310) in June. Stops were at Pigeon Forge, Pinehurst with Jerry and Sue Lefton, and Fredericksburg, Alexandria and Williamsburg Virginia. A most efficient and fun way to travel. Doug was co-pilot, totally engaged helping Jim manage his four GPSs.
Lily and Dave Carlstrom have been busy with plans for the re-union. They're hoping for a good turnout. After the re-union they will proceed to California to visit their son and two grandsons. On October 14th and 15th, they plan to attend the opening of the new Air Force memorial in Washington. If other 61'ers are attending this event it would be great to hear from them before hand.
Dick Coppock was able to get in touch last week with Jim Jardine, our classmate, who departed USAFA in 1960. He's a retired Bank of America exec, lives in Prescott , AZ, and has a daughter who's a 1997 Academy graduate (C-130 driver, etc). Jim will be out of the country over our 45th reunion time frame, but he's on our mailing list now so hopefully we'll be able to see him in the next few years. Dick enjoyed talking with him. Anyone who would like to contact Jim can contact Dick for an address
Bob Dean said that Patty is still working for Flair Data Systems as an office manager and loves it, and he is retarded.....oops...I mean retired......so there is not much going on with him. He is working on a second book (very slowly) and playing the stock market. And enjoying his Golden Retriever ....Ginger Marie. It is really hot there.
Tom and Anne Eller’s youngest child, Major Rob Eller, MD (Class of 1996) and his wife, Kristen, provided their first female grandchild, Anna Katherine, on 23 May. Rob just completed a fellowship in voice box surgery, becoming the first doctor in DoD to hold that subspecialty. He, Kristen (a pediatrician), and their daughter have just moved from Philadelphia to San Antonio, but went the shortest distance between the two by visiting Tom and Anne in Woodland Park on the way.
On August 6th, Bill and Theda Foster became grandparents for the fourth time to their second granddaughter - Abigail Mary Foster - to their veterinarian son Ted and wife Lori. Abby joins brother Jacob, 2, three dogs and a cat.
As of July 31st, Paul Hinton was again unemployed, having retired for the second time—this time from Boeing.
Henry Howe said that life continues in the fast lane. He and Peggy just returned from a visit to our daughter where we had the opportunity to pin on her Major leaves. Henry was given the opportunity to administer the oath as well. This weekend they will be with their son, Eric, just north of Austin, TX, where they will celebrate his wife's completion of law school and taking the bar exam. They will have to wait until November for the results. Photo of the pinning is below.
Dean and Jo Jones; Wayne and Mary Jones; Charlie and Lynda Neel; Charlie
and Gina Thomas reported aboard the Holland America flagship MS Rotterdam for a
Baltic cruise from July 4th through the 16th The cruise started at Rotterdam, with stops in Oslo, Arhus, Warnemunde, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm, finishing in Copenhagen. There were many tours at each location; lots of panoramic views, palaces and museums to explore. St. Petersburg (Hermitage, Peterhof, Catherine's Palace) was a tour highlight. Cruising past thousands of islands outside Stockholm was another. A surprise on the trip was Gail Zompa. The group did not know she was aboard until they gathered in the Crow's nest one morning among the fjords. Gail has taken a few cruises. Many hugs and stories were shared as they caught up. Gail is settled in Galveston and visits family often. They also met a woman from San Angelo who knew Judge Phil Lane. Charlie Thomas gave her a business card with all their names; hope you have it by now, Phil. So, they had too much food, a fair share of wine and champagne, dinner at the '61 table, and a lot of great memories. It was so terrible, they're thinking of doing it again.
Sandy and Lowell Jones are finally reorganized after their eventful 3-month trip to California and back. Other than three flat tires on the trailer and their return to Washington, DC, for a couple weeks for their granddaughter's brain surgery (she is enduring chemo treatments now), the trip was great! Now they are preparing for another trip: 5 weeks to guess where and back? They are looking forward to seeing everyone in September. Those in the DC area are having a pre-reunion 61er luncheon on August 9th in DC.
Bob Kellock said that he hadn't replied earlier because he’s been so good recently! He’s still expanding his life with Samantha. They’re still looking forward to the reunion, and you'll all love her! Her birthday is September 8th, and he’s told her the Class is having a dinner for her! (Honor Code permits little white lies, doesn't it, especially when everyone knows the truth?!) They're running sailboat races in Marina del Rey for their yacht club, and for other clubs when invited. They have a new laptop and printer, and a small inverter so they can print on the high seas. Bob’s the Principal Race Officer (usually), and she's the official scorer. They're also cruising on his (and his partner's) Island Packet 26 Mk II, mostly to Catalina Island's Two Harbors at the Isthmus. They've been to Catalina once, to Long Beach once, and have two more to Catalina scheduled in August and September. They may go to Two Harbors' Buccaneer Days on another club member's Catalina 38 in early October, too.
Doug and Carol McConnell have just moved permanently to their lake home in Wonder Lake, IL. They have been waiting for Carol to retire from teaching to trigger this much anticipated event. Doug retired from Caterpillar 18 months ago and has been serving as cook and bottle washer. Also moving with them is Carol's mother, now 103½ years old and doing quite well. Doug's sad news is that he lost his brother last October and his 101½ year old mother in June, so is now the only surviving family member. Doug's good news is that daughter Tricia Eichler (Hillsville, VA) just delivered a healthy baby girl. After two boys, it was a real happy gift! Doug and Carol look forward to being near their other grandchildren since son Keith lives near their Wonder Lake home. Doug has been too busy with moving to play any golf this summer, so should be a real push-over at the reunion. They look forward to all the reunion events.
Jerry Mason said that number one son, Mike, and his wife Sharon are about to leave for a two week tour of Italy. This wouldn't be worth mentioning, except that Jo and Jerry will be babysitting their four girls (ages 4-13). Girls are an alien species for them (they each had three sons), so any tips from knowledgeable classmates would be appreciated. Jerry’s confident that they will survive, but he knows that there is a reason why God decided that young people should be the ones having children. Damage assessment will follow next quarter. Middle son, Dave, who owns a small aerospace company in CA, has just completed an interesting job: construction of the world's largest autoclave, to be used for manufacturing parts for the new Boeing superliner. Photo of Dave and his baby is attached. More details at www.aschome.com . Youngest son, Jeff, has some real excitement going on. In March, he and his wife Molly adopted their first child, a newborn boy, and they are *also* expecting another boy (home grown) any day now. (That will bring their grandchild count to ten.) They also recently adopted an abandoned Labrador, and are moving into a new house. Jerry suggested that they might as well adopt a highway too. Survey question of the quarter: How many grandchildren? (It will be interesting to see the distribution & maximum.) Any great-grandchildren yet? (We *can't* be that old, can we?)
Charlie and Lynda Neel have had a busy but fun year of travel and visiting with their daughters and grandchildren. Everyone is happy and well. They just returned from a Baltic Cruise that they enjoyed with Charlie and Gina Thomas, Dean and Jo Jones and Wayne and Mary Jones. It was fabulous!
Hector Negroni’s latest book is the history of his home town (Yauco, Puerto Rico). The 321 page “Historia de Yauco” (History of Yauco) is in Spanish. The town of Yauco is publishing and will present the book in September 2006. Hector needed five years to complete this historical study. Juan Ponce de Leon initially colonized Yauco in 1508, so it has a lot of history! Below is a photo of Joan and Hector with their newest granddaughter, Grace Marie (born Dec05).
Back to the Future for Spike Nunn and wife Becky! After he retired from American Airlines, they continued to live in their home in Raleigh, splitting their time between there and their "other" house in Kilmarnock, VA. The past few months have brought about myriad changes. First of all, while helping celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Indian Creek Country Club (serving Kilmarnock), Becky and Spike were approached by complete strangers who struck up a persistent conversational barrage. After uninvitedly joining them at their table, and much one-sided conversation, it became apparent why they joined the Nunns. They wanted to buy the Nunn’s house! Spike told them it wasn't on the market, but they persisted, insisting they only wanted to "see the inside - tomorrow!" To make a long story short, they met the Nunns immediately following Mass, walked to their house, gave cursory attention to "the inside," and offered the Nunns a price which, to be frank, was too generous for the Nunns to refuse. They settled within a month, with an option for the Nunns to rent until they could build another place in Kilmarnock. After much searching, they finally found the perfect place; a nice house about 90% complete, which through personal circumstances, was not going to be finished. Additionally, the owner was anxious to move to Florida. They negotiated and finally agreed upon a price. The only fly in the ointment was that the person they were buying from had his mother living with him, while he completed construction of her house a few miles from Kilmarnock. Not to be dismayed, they agreed to take ownership immediately, with a 90-day period wherein he and his mother could continue to live in "the Nunns" house while he completed "her" house and moved to Florida. It now approaches the time when he (and she) will be vacating. In the meantime, the saga continues unabated (in other words, "meanwhile, back at the ranch..."): After striking the deal to sell (and buy) in Kilmarnock, the Nunns returned to their Raleigh home. After some consultation between Becky and Spike, they decided to sell their Raleigh home of the past 19 years. Becky called the daughter of a long-time friend of theirs, who had told them she wanted to buy their Raleigh home in the event they ever wanted to sell. Becky called her. They bought their Raleigh home. So here they are, living in the home in Kilmarnock which they used to own, while waiting to move into their new (and only) home just a ten minute walk away. They plan on being "in" by the 20th of August, so they should have just barely enough time to unpack all their "stuff" and get settled in before hitting the road to Colorado Springs and the 45th Reunion of the Class of '61. Recall the Class Motto? "ILLIGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM."
Mike and Ginny Rawlins will be leaving on the 21st of August for a 12 day Princess Cruise to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and Finland. They have had a busy summer and are also looking forward to the reunion at the Academy when they return from Europe. Since relocating to Georgia they spend a lot of time with the 6 grandchildren and their kids as well. The six grandchildren between age 2 and age 16 provide Mike and Ginny lots of exercise. They are enjoying their new home and meeting new friends. Mike is playing in a tennis league, much like "Ford's Colony" where they formerly lived in Williamsburg. Their development has the largest tennis facility in the state of Georgia and will be hosting national tournaments in the future.
Earl Saunders administered the oath of office to his grandson, Matthew Karmondy (06) on the eve of graduation. Matt's father, Tom Karmondy (72), and mother, Cathryn Saunders Karmondy, pinned on the gold lieutenant's bars at the occasion. They took a picture under the B-52 Diamond Lil for the swearing in.
By the time this makes the printed page, Bob and Pat Smith will be back from a river cruise between Budapest and Nuremberg. Bob saw lots of Europe while at McGuire, but Pat is a West Coaster and was unfamiliar. They also just got word of the expected arrivals of grandchildren #13 (Jan 07) and 14 (Apr 07). The rest are spread between MD and CA and WA. Good reasons for more travel.
Charlie Stebbins continues to order the University of Charleston faculty around and Sarah keeps the home fires burning. They did their annual 10 days in July with kids and grandkids in Williamsburg and Nags Head... always great fun! Jim Wilhelm's and Larry Karnowski's big trip plan actually happened, and they were thrilled to be a part of it. They talked Nancy Wilhelm into flying to Charleston (WV) for a couple of days before she headed to Pinehurst. They had a great time visiting with her, and she was there to help greet the two at the end of the first leg of their trip. They gave the bikers baths, food, and lodging... and maybe a couple of drinks... and sent them on their way the next morning. They had a great time! For the USAFA tailgaters, the Sarah and Charlie’s #1 son and brewmeister, Charlie, Jr., has just moved with family back to Colorado Springs. They assume that he will reestablish his regular donation to the tailgate merriment.
On August 6th, the Puget Sound 6lers enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Gene Hopp's house to view...gasp...the Navy's Blue Angels flying as part of the annual Seattle SeaFair/hydroplane races on Lake Washington. All of the Class of ‘61 contingent was present, including wives, Pat Cochrane, Betsy Komarnitsky, Linda Taylor, Holly Kerr and Annette Langille-Hopp. Jim McMonigle was unaccompanied. Gene lives on the western slope of the hills of Bellevue and has a wonderful view of Mercer Island/Seattle to the west. It would be a great location for an observation post, however a lousy position without air superiority. The Gray Tags enjoyed the Hopps’ hospitality, good food, and friendship. And they look forward to gathering again at the reunion in September. In this picture, they are in a full frontal view, trying to look important and squared away. Left to right are: Corky Cochrane, Jim McMonigle, Oleg Komarnitsky, Jack Taylor, Art Kerr and Gene Hopp. Notice how they were standing. In order to look good they had everyone stand, "If you're taller than the man in front, move up.", which resulted in a big argument between Art and Gene as to who is taller. They decided that since Gene looked older, they gave him the position on the end out of respect for his senior status...however, the vote was very close and they think that Art usually looks older, depending on the lighting.
Nancy and Jim Wilhelm want to remind everyone that they have not moved to Arizona. Several people have asked if they have moved, and they have not. They still live in Colorado Springs permanently, and go to Arizona for five month in the winter. They live at 7048 Bell Circle in Colorado Springs, Co, and from December through April, in Arizona at 8701 S Kolb Rd, # 18-222, Tucson, Az 85706. Jim went on to tell me about "The Last Great Geezer Ride". Larry Karnowski and Jim decided they weren't over the hill yet and it was time for another "great ride" on their motorcycles. They have been all over the country, so they decided to try something different this time--sponge off classmates! Jim trailered his bike to Polish Pond, (Larry's estate in Ohio), and they left the next day for Charleston, WV. First victims were Sarah and Charlie Stebbins. Nancy flew to Charleston the day before so we had a great time touring the Stebbins mansion and reliving old times. Next stop was Pinehurst, NC. It took them the better part of the day to ride there, while Nancy preceded them by plane. They invaded the Leftons’ beautiful home in Pinehurst. Jerry and Sue were great hosts. Jerry took them on a tour of Pinehurst #2 and they had their picture taken with the Payne Stewart statue on the 18th hole. After a great visit, they hit the road for our next destination—Caswell Beach, NC and the O'Connor's beach house. By now the Sponger group was up to 5. Larry and Jim biked while Jerry drove Sue and Nancy and raced them to Caswell Beach. The O'Connors were ready and waiting, and the big party night included John and Sheila May and Jimmy and Susan Poole and PB's sister, also a Sheila. What a great party!! Having run out of classmates to visit, Larry and Jim headed for the Great Smokey Mountains to do some camping while everyone else headed for home. Nancy flew back to Colorado Springs, and Larry and Jim made a stop at Ft Knox, KY to visit Jim’s daughter and her family. The irony was they wouldn't let them on base. They had all the required riding equipment with the exception of reflective safety vests, so no admittance. They found a motel and called for a taxi ride to get in. The trip was a great success and certainly an
improvement over sleeping on the ground and eating out of a can. They thank to all who hosted them, and classmates beware--the geezer spongers may be coming your way in the near future.
Twy Williams sailed down the shore of the northern neck, up the Rappahannock and Corrotoman Rivers, over to the eastern shore (catching Reedville, Urbanna, Onancock, VA and Crisfield, MD) among a number of creeks. A friend sailed with him for about two-thirds of the 13 day trip. Nancy managed to catch him near good restaurants at quiet anchorages for overnights. They also enjoyed a 10 day trip to Nancy's sister's cabin on beautiful Green Lake near Ellsworth, Maine. Back to the heat, Nancy taught Bible School Music while Twy caught up with grass and chores at home. Lastly, they enjoyed a reunion of the Williams clan at the Mill Hole near Lexington, VA followed by a visit from Twy's golfing brother John and wife Toni. Two consecutive days of golf with heat index in the hundreds was tough but still enjoyable. They are looking for some cooler weather to enjoy more sailing. Health is under control and life is good. Twy also would like to announce that he just celebrated the last of his birthdays in his 60s, and he figures that a lot of you can’t be too far behind. [I’m not.]
Tom and Judy Wilson just returned from four days with their children and grandchildren (10 of them) at a water park/lodge in central Wisconsin. What a FUN time they have each year! For the record, Judy and Tom did not miss summer in Minnesota this year -- just experienced the HOTTEST July since 1935 or so!! Come on fall and jeans and sweatshirts!! FYI: The Minnesota NG has started a first for returning combat vets -- a program designed to aid in the reintegration of war vets into their civilian community and adjustment to life after combat. The MNNG returns 3000 members from Iraq and Afghanistan next March and the Guard is trying to prepare for this event. Anyone interested in more info on this can contact Tom and he will answer questions as best he can. It's a wonderful program.
Not much new to report for the O’Rears that wasn’t in the last quarter’s news. Our trip to Ireland confirmed what we have read and heard in the news: the Celtic Tiger of Europe is roaring economically. We saw vast differences from our trip there 25 years ago. There was a lot of construction everywhere, particularly in the eastern portion. A tour guide told us that a one-bedroom condo overlooking the River Liffey now sells for 400,000 euros (about $500,000). It was good to see the prosperity.
Thanks to all who took the time to contribute. It’s always good to hear what everyone else is doing. We all truly appreciate the efforts of our reunion committee to make this a very memorable reunion. Thanks, again. We all hope to see everyone there.
Our 45th Reunion Committee has done a great job planning our upcoming reunion. Don’t forget to make your reservations, as well as send your inputs to Hector HANegroni@cox.net for the reunion book (and your $20 to Bob Brickey). See my last Reunion message, or contact them for the details.
Mark and Ginger Anderson are enjoying their first grandchild, Emily, who will be about six months old by the time you read this. She and her parents live in Beaumont, TX, about 300 miles from San Antonio, but close enough for frequent visits by the proud grandparents. (Now, remember not to spoil her!)
Bob Best said that he has severed relations with his old company, so he has a new email address. He bought into a new company in Arkansas that makes a lift system for the disabled. They just started marketing in December. He thinks it has great potential, but you can check it out at <h2o-ramps-lifts.com> They have a great product that, unlike the rest of the market, is economically priced for the disabled, and most of the disabled in the world are also financially strapped. So, if we ever have any Gray Tags that ever need a medical lift for themselves or their family, Bob says he can provide it. They manufacture it in China, for obvious reasons. Bob was in China the end of February to take care of some quality control issues. He was quite impressed with the strides that country has made and at the rate they are progressing. He’s afraid that mainstream America is oblivious to the potential strangle hold China has on our economy. He believes that the only good thing is that at our age we probably won't have to witness it.
Jack Bright has settled in San Antonio. His new contact information is: 5903 Babcock Road, Apt 701, San Antonio, TX 78240. Home Phone: 210 877 2780;
Cell Phone: 702 285 7453.
Jackie and Tom Brophy took a trip to the Holy Land last December. He doesn't know what he expected, but the trip was the highlight of their year! They spent a lot of time in the "West Bank". It was instructive and provided a unique frame of reference for reading about the election of Hamas and what has happened since their short visit. We do indeed need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Tom is still working as a support contractor at the Special Operations Command. SOCOM is really a wonderful group of people, so it is still fun to go to work. Jackie and Tom will be going back to South Africa in July to visit their son and attend the birth of their 15th grandchild! Life is great.
Lilly and David Carlstrom visited Ron and Susie Weeden a few weeks ago. Ron had been excited about going to the reunion, when he received the initial reunion letter, but he now feels that the trip would be too much for him. They enjoyed seeing the Weeden's new home. Ron also showed them some neat pictures from his "Ranch Hand" days. One picture showed a C-123 with a palm tree embedded in the wing. Dave accused Ron of trying to find an alternative to Agent Orange for tree removal. Lilly and Dave will attend the reunion, but they are running behind in their planning. Dave is currently completing training to be a science teacher augmentee in the Boston middle schools. More on this attempt to re-invent himself will be found in the Bob, Brice, and Hector reunion book.
Bill and Theda Foster proudly attended the graduation ceremonies for their son, Theodore J. Foster, from the Virginia-Maryland Regional School of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech on May 13. Dr. Ted will specialize in large farm animals, especially cows - an interest from his many experiences living in base housing with such pets (ha,ha,ha). They will be visiting son, LtCol Chris Foster IDF J3/J5, in Iceland during June before he is reassigned to the USAFA in the flying training squadron and assisting on the soccer field.
Kate and Lou Hablas recently returned from some "free time" that two of her aunts provided by "sitting" with her wheel-chair bound mother. First, they went to a "Heart Cry for Revival" Conference which was held at the Billy Graham Training Center, "The Cove," which is located at Ashville, NC. They spent four days and three nights at their wonderful facilities, soaking up some really great spiritual food as well as "the other kind". (Lou gained 9 pounds on this jaunt! He says that he is trying hard to shed at least some of them before our reunion. I empathize.) After their stay at The Cove, they drove to Charlotte to visit two of Kate's other aunts, their husbands, some assorted cousins, and a couple of pets. Then they drove to Alpharetta, GA, (Atlanta suburb) to visit Lou’s elder son, Lou, his wife, and their two young children. They had time for only an overnighter, but it was well worth the time, as Lou (Sr) got a chance to satisfy himself that besides being a good son, Lou is also a great husband and father. Most important to our classmate, he witnessed his son’s devotion to Christ first hand.
Tom and Liz Hill spent 3 months of winter in Florida. Tom said that his new hip has really made a difference. He made sure he got back here in time to coach high school baseball. He says that life is GREAT with the new hip.
Wayne & Mary and Jo & Dean Jones went to the Seattle area in March/April to visit their niece, Karen Jones, and Jeff & Vera Jones in Yakima (W & M's son/wife/2 grandsons), Mary's sister, Ruth and husband David in Everett, and then on to Whistler Resort in British Columbia for some spring skiing. They really enjoyed that beautiful resort, and the skiing was great, as long as you stayed high on the mountain. In Everett, they toured the Boeing 777/747 assembly plant, the world's largest building, and their new Future of Flight Building, featuring the 787 Dreamliner. Very impressive. The Chinese Premier spoke there the following week.
Sandy and Lowell Jones were about half-way through their California trip (left VA on April 1 and will return July 9), pulling their trusty Airstream trailer when he sent me an e-mail. (Talk about a faithful classmate!) They had only one flat tire on the trailer, and the rest of the trip had gone well by then. They missed all the tornados and storms going through Texas. They were in Palm Desert seeing many old friends and relatives in the area when he sent his e-mail. So far, the classmates they have seen are: Larry and Kathy Freeman, and Richard and Carolyn Smith in San Antonio; and Ron and Jeri Fullerton, and Jerry Mason in Tucson. They missed a planned get-together at Jimmy and Susan Poole's house (with the Westbrooks also included) in Montgomery, because of their flat tire in Alabama. They are looking forward to another trip in September!
Bob Kellock is pulling better on the Boeing yoke (see the stock go up!), and sailing to Catalina with his magical mate more often. Fun is starting to make work look less and less necessary. He said that he hopes to see everyone in Colorado, as well as in the reunion book.
Jerry and Sue Lefton got home from Tucson on the 17th of March. Jerry went to the Tuesday practice day for the Masters golf tournament. Augusta National is a beautiful place and so much better to see in person than on TV. He is still working with the County committee that is helping Bay St. Louis, MS, recover from Hurricane Katrina. Jerry heads up the group that is developing the plans for restoring a neighborhood park in Bay St. Louis. They have signed the contract for the playground equipment and will finalize the landscaping contract in a few days. They hope to have the park done by the end of July. Jerry played golf with several Academy graduates from AFA, West Point, Annapolis and the Coast Guard on May 13th. There were 44 total with 13 from the Air Force Academy. Most participants live in the Raleigh area. Jerry was the oldest AFA graduate, and the youngest was a '92 graduate. They will have another tournament in September and combine the results from the two tournaments to determine which service wins. A silver coated combat boot tops the revolving trophy which AFA has won the last two years. Sue and Jerry are looking forward to a two day visit from Jim and Patty Hourin, and Doug and Dee Cairns on 29 May. They are flying to Pinehurst in Jimmy's Cessna 310. Dee and Doug will stay with the Leftons, and Patty and Jim are staying with friends in Southern Pines. On 16 June, Nancy Wilhelm will arrive for a week’s visit. The following day Jim Wilhelm and Larry Karnowski will arrive on their motorcycles after spending the previous night at the Stebbins in West Virginia. From there they are going to the O'Connors’ at Caswell Beach, NC.
Doug and Carol McConnell traveled from their Chicago area home at the end of April to be with daughter Tricia (Hillsville,VA) for the birth of her much prayed-for new daughter, Nellie Grace Eichler--the entire family had been hoping for this wonderful outcome. This makes the 6th grandchild for Doug and Carol; two others live a little closer near Chicago with son Keith's family. The "name-sake" Great Grandmother Nellie (Carol's 103 year old mom) also traveled with Doug and Carol and was on hand for the joyous occasion. A wonderful photo was taken of the 4 ladies with 103 years between the oldest and "newest"! Doug and Carol are also in the final throes of moving to their Wonder Lake, IL lake home for permanent retirement since Carol will finish her teaching career in June. Doug retired last year. They have lived in the same home for a family record of 28 years! Moving will be a chore, and leaving a neighborhood full of long-standing friends will be difficult, but they are looking forward to the lake setting and many new friends. Doug has always enjoyed singing, including high school chorus, USAFA chorus (remember the Easter sunrise performance at Red Rock Cathedral?), and many church choirs. For the past 8 years he has also been a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, and was a featured lead in the annual stage show for the past three years. First as the Captain on Gilligan's Island, then as The Green Hornet, and this year as Zorro! Much fun, but a new barbershop chorus will also need to be found as a result of the move. Doug and Carol have signed-up for the reunion and look forward to seeing many "old" friends!
Ross and Benita Shulmister attended the 40th anniversary of the Moody AFB Undergraduate Pilot Training class of 66-G. The reunion was held in Las Vegas, and included a special tour of Nellis AFB, where Ross and two other 66-G members completed F-105 Combat Crew Training. "Still hotter than Lowry in the summer," he said, "and that's HOT!"
Bob and Pat Smith just returned from another cruise, this time sailing from
southern Florida through the Panama Canal to Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. It was a fun trip, but the plane ride home reminded him of McGuire to Rhine Main: long! They plan another trip later this year with a river cruise from Budapest, Hungary, to Nuremberg, Germany. It will be a totally different kind of cruise than ocean sailing. Last November Bob was re-elected (for the seventh time) to the Board of Directors of the local Health Care District. He's been president of the board for the last five years.
In early March, Bob and Winnie Wagner visited relatives in the Las Vegas area and took a great side trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. A late snowfall in the canyon made it even more special, and Winnie was relieved that it kept Bob from hiking into the canyon. For those of you who have not tried the El Tovar lodge, they recommend it highly, but plan well ahead at grandcanyonlodges.com. Later in the month they had a very pleasant stay with Doug and Dee Cairns at the family condo in Tybee Island, Georgia. That lodging is highly recommended also!
The day Tom and Judy Wilson sent their information, it was rainy and cold. Tom said that he hoped that they haven't missed summer in Minnesota. They are looking forward to their annual family get-together in early August at the Cedar Lodge and Water Park in Wausau, WI. All three of their children, along with all 10 grandchildren will be there for 3 nights and 4 days. It's a great time for the cousins as well as for the adults to be together without a BIG demand on Judy. Tom has begun his "slow-down" in his work schedule in preparation for semi-retirement. He says it feels good. He thinks he will be ready for the "real thing" soon.
Roger Woodbury writes that their daughter Michele finished her Masters in Finance & Accounting at Weber State. He and Mary Sue went to Ogden for her graduation ceremonies in May. She graduated with honors, and begins a job in Philadelphia with Deloite & Touche in September. Her husband, Paul, is now a 1st Lt, and a Communications Officer at Hill AFB. He could be assigned to McGuire next year. Their older daughter, Sandi, and her husband, Scott, continue with their careers in New Jersey as a State Probation Officer, and EMT/Firefighter, respectively. They are doing well too. Mary Sue and Roger went to Ireland and Scotland on May 12th with their good friends from Quebec (whom they met in Morocco in 1973) for their two-week trip. They will try to leave some Guinness for the locals.
Teri and Nelson O’Rear are staying busy in Indiana. They spent a few days visiting their AF son and his family in April. They have also enjoyed a few visits with their Iowa daughter and her family, plus their local son and his family. This summer looks full, starting with two family reunions in Missouri in June. In July, after taking their twin 12-year-old granddaughters to Ireland, they plan to celebrate their 45th anniversary with their three children and their families in South Carolina. Except for celebrating some family birthdays, they may use August to rest up for the September reunion (or practice golf to be competitive with the likes of John Goodley, Dean and Wayne Jones, et al).