Hi Redtags! It is hot, dry and stifling in Florida in June. Already had some record high heat days. I dread to think what July and August will be like. Speaking about heat, here’s the latest hot news from Bob LIGHTSEY. After he got his doctorate about a year or so ago, he was made the chairman of the Systems Engineering Dept at Defense Systems Management College. Both of his kids are back in college but not at Bob’s expense. They’re paying their own way. His daughter left a computer graphics job to get a degree in biology so she can teach at the elementary and high school level. His son is getting a PhD in English, presumably to teach. It looks like the Lightseys have all become teachers. Great! We always need good teachers. You will do very well. Thanks for the news, Bob.

Got a summary of the Class of 1998’s Dining In which was attended by several classmates. Chuck CHEESEMAN writes, "On March 19, 1998, a new Academy tradition was begun, one involving two Academy classes widely separated in years who recognized a common bond. The current first classmen, the Red Tags of 1998, were visited on 19 March by the original Redtags of 1962 who were their guests of honor at the "98 Dining-In at Mitchell Hall. M/Gen George HARRISON spoke to the assembled group and his subject was Class Spirit. A lot of fine fellowship was had at the meal and, later, at Hap’s Place in Arnold Hall. The ’62 RTBs and the Class of 98 will remember always this historic rendezvous of the first and tenth Redtag classes to graduate from USAFA.

It is generally recognized that the Class of 98 takes its Redtagness very seriously and has developed a keen class spirit that sets it apart. The 62 RTBs learned of this ’98 spirit from the current Commandant of Cadets, B/G Steve Lorenz, during the Class of ‘62’s 35th Reunion last November at USAFA. The 62 RTBs recognized some similarities to their own class history and decided to pass on to this group of future officers some of what the ’62 RTBs had learned about spirit and class unity. Those in attendance were: Bob Baxter, Chuck Cheeseman, Tim and Nancy Gilmartin, Larry Gooch, George Harrison, Bob and Mary Hopkins, Nils Ohman, Jim Qualey, Al Sigman, John Staples, Butch Viccellio, and Mike Williams. Dick Klass did the lion’s share of the arranging but managed to get grounded in Wichita by the 18-19 March snowstorm and missed the event. " Thanks for the update Chuck.      (NOTE: Details of Dining-In are at the end)

Reminder: Penny and Jim Mack still have mugs and glass steins that they would love to sell to some Redtag who needs a few.

Sam Dehne is running for Mayor of Reno again. He tried to organize a celebrity fight against Mills Lane (he was the referee that stopped the Tyson-Holyfield fight) to raise money for his campaign. But the Nevada Boxing Commission stopped it. So Sam is continuing his battle against the current regime of which Sam doesn’t think highly. (Did you see how I ended the sentence properly, not ending it with a preposition. But it sounds better when its wrong. Oh well!)

I have an early e-mail from Troy Tomlin that resulted from all the jabbering on the Redtag Net about how we got our RTB name. Someone mentioned that we weren’t too far away from being typical college students. To which Troy answered: "Another thought regarding our unique experience. I don’t know why some of you think our lives were all that much different from the typical college student. I came from a little town in Texas and had never been in an airplane before I got to the Academy. Within 10 months I had: 1. Logged at least 7,500 miles in the air. 2. Sung in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC with the Protestant Choir. 3. Carefully patted an atomic bomb on its smooth flank. 4. Crawled up inside an Atlas rocket. 5. Sat in on a SAC briefing with guys who would be flying at least to the Fail Safe Line, and ready to fly through it if necessary, later that day. 6. Flown at Mach 2.02 over George AFB in an F-104 Starfighter with the ‘Fuel Low’ light flashing frantically ever since we arrived at the 40,000 ft level about 10 seconds after lifting off. 7. Intercepted and, electronically at least, ‘splashed’ a B-29 off the Golden Gate Bridge in an F-102 Delta Dagger out of Hamilton AFB…Typical college freshman stuff. Could have done all that if I’d gone to the North Texas Baptist Bible College…Thanks for the memories and regards to all."

Thanks for the thought provoking images of yesteryear, Troy. Once again, I will cut the column short to make room for more reunion pictures. Keep the cards and e-mail coming.

Cheers. Go Redtags!

Following courtesy of Chuck Cheeseman ................................


On March 19, 1998 a unique gathering was held, one involving two Academy
classes widely-separated in years and who recognized a common bond.  The then-current First Class, the Red Tags of 1998, hosted members of the original Red Tag Bastards of 1962 as their guests of honor at a ‘98 Dining-In at Mitchell Hall.
M/Gen George Harrison, ‘62, was the featured speaker and his subject was Class
Spirit.  A lot of fine fellowship was had both at the dining-in and, later, at Hap’s Place in Arnold Hall.  The ‘62 RTB’s and the Class of ‘98 will remember always this historic rendezvous of the first and the tenth Redtag classes to graduate from USAFA.

It has been generally recognized that the Class of 98 takes its “red-tag-ness”
very seriously and has developed a keen class spirit which sets it apart.  The
1962 RTB’s had learned of this ‘98 spirit from the current Commandant of
Cadets, B/G Steve Lorenz, during the ‘62 reunion at the Academy last fall.
The ‘62 RTB’s recognized some similarities to their own class history and
decided to pass on to this group of future officers some of what the ‘62 RTB’s
had learned about spirit and class unity.

Planning for the effort covered several months and was largely done by Cadet
Brett Comer, the ‘98 CIC of the event, and COL (Ret) Dick Klass, the ‘62 Class
President.  ‘62 alumnae Chuck Cheeseman and Jack Jamba pitched in where needed
and George Harrison spent the time to prepare an excellent talk.

The Evening Program

Acknowledging the ‘62 RTB guests commenced with the reading of   “A Welcome,
from the Class of 1998,” which was also printed in the Evening Program:

"Tonight, the original red tag bastards - the class of 1962 - unite with the
fortieth class to come through the Academy - the class of 1998. Their common link?
The identifying red class color. The class of 1962 was the first class through
the Academy parading around in red and the class of 1998 will be the last class in
this century to graduate with the color red. This common link has drawn the
two classes together to share stories, eat dinner, and learn (or review) the
appropriate attire for the Air Force officer.*

"The class of 1998 would like to welcome the class of 1962 and thank those
members who were able to attend."

Also read from the Evening Program was, "THE CLASS OF 1962 -

"The 457 new cadets of the Class of 1962 entered the Academy on June 27,
1958. We were the fourth cadet class admitted to the Academy and the first to
don the red name tags. After basic cadet training at Lowry AFB in Denver, we
marched to the Cadet Area from the North Gate to become the first class to
spend all four academic years at the new permanent site.

"We forged close bonds as one of the last classes to spend doolie Christmas on
our own at the Academy. The "Red Tag Bastards" appellation was earned on
our doolie-year ZI cadet field trip, where our independent spirit erupted
often, particularly during our Edwards AFB visit. We RTB's all wore the red tag from
that point onward as a badge of unity. The expressions of individuality and
spirit continued - we soon after relocated the X-4 to the terrazzo and set
other examples for later classes to follow. Our class became a close-knit,
unconventional group - and we made sure everyone knew it.

"After graduation, Vietnam was the Red Tag Bastards' war to fight as junior
officers and we did it with valor and honor. In our Air Force, then later,
civilian careers, RTB's have distinguished themselves in many ways. But just as
important to us are the enduring friendships and bonds we established with
each other nearly forty years ago.

"The 1962 RTB's are proud to join with the Class of 1998, the10th Red Tag
class, to contribute to your traditions. We wish you success and lasting class
spirit throughout your careers."

The Speaker

M/Gen (Ret) George Harrison, ‘62 then spoke to the assembly an the subject of
Class Spirit.  His talk was at several points humorous, at others it was
totally serious.  George recounted some of the ‘62 RTB experiences that formed
our class identity and led to our class spirit.  He illustrated our continuing
bonds in many ways during the talk; the most impressive of these, one which
held the rapt attention of the 1998 Class, was his recitation of the name of
each ‘62 classmate who has died since graduation, along with the nature of his
passing.  The main purpose for the ‘62 RTB’s attendance at the event, that of
passing on to the Class of 1998 some of the elements of our class spirit, was
outstandingly well-served by George’s remarks.

* The "appropriate attire" comment by the '98 author refers to the Cadet
fashion show which occupied a major part of the evening.

The RTB’s in attendance included (in alphabetical order):
B/G(Ret) Bob Baxter.....Chuck Cheeseman.....Tim Gilmartin and
Nancy.....COL(Ret) Larry Gooch.....M/G(Ret) George Harrison.....Bob Hopkins
and Mary.....Nils Ohman.....Jim Qualey.....Al Sigman.....John
Staples.....GEN(Ret) Henry Viccellio

All of the foregoing is being sent to CHECKPOINTS for inclusion as a news item
in the next issue.  What follows is commentary about the event meant for RTB’s and is
NOT intended for further distribution.  It consists of my personal observations
and reaction to the experience. Other RTB’s who were there please add your thoughts
as you wish.
.......Chuck Cheeseman

First, I think it was a worthwhile effort, as did the other RTB’s that
attended.  None of us was sure the '98 people felt the same, but we sure
wouldn't have missed the chance to do it. Some of the same spirit we exhibited
was evident in the '98 Cadets and it was rewarding to spend the evening in
semi-serious discussions with them. We also think that they appreciated the
gesture from our class to be there.

1. Surprise #1.  The Cadets were wearing, not mess dress for a dining-in, but
very casual civilian coat and tie (or dress, for the women.) 

2.  The overall level of intelligence, energy, enthusiasm and interest of the
Cadets I met was as high as ever.  No surprise.

3. Surprise #2. The Mitchell Hall prime rib dinner would have embarrassed Col
ke beyond belief: dry and overdone.  The overall level of food quality for the
Imeal was terrible.  I knew that noon meals had gone downhill a long time ago, but
expected a dining-in to have good food.  (And none of the Cadets seemed
embarrassed about it, leading me to believe they weren’t surprised.)

4.  Surprise #3. The main event of the evening wasn’t ‘62 RTB’s or Class
spirit, or anything else any of you ever went to a dining-in to experience.
The main event that night was a fashion show during which, for the better part
of an hour, Cadets, male and female, walked out on a “runway” of dining-hall tables
wearing various civilian outfits which were intended to instruct them how a
civilian wardrobe should be assembled. It appeared to be great fun for most of
the Cadets, but was just about the most unmilitary subject any of us  could
imagine for a (military) dining-in.

4. Afterwards, we were invited by our '98 hosts to "Hap's Place" which, for
those of you who haven't been back to the Academy lately, is where you can get
smashed in A-Hall instead of studying, if you're so inclined. The atmosphere
at "Hap's Place" is actually pretty typical of a music bar, except that, for that
night at least, the loudest Afro-Rock trio on the face of the Earth held forth. Even
our Cadet hosts seemed uncomfortable. Discussions among ourselves and the
Cadets were very difficult, so we carried on in the best way we could for as
long as we could, then adjourned to the Marriott bar in COS for a post mortem. The
conclusions were:

As described already, we were all glad we came.  It was a worthwhile
effort. The negatives, however,  were serious and disappointing. The food was
awful, the fashion show was long (and surreal), and the noise at Hap's Place
prevented any meaningful communication. But those were environmental negatives. The
substantive one, we all concluded, was that there was an unsettling lack of
focus on mission that evening - how else could a Firstie Fashion Show about
“how to dress civilian” become the main subject of interest at one of only two
pre-graduation dinings in?   

    I also became aware that the firsties were totally unaware of many of the
basic historical facts of the Academy's early years. It hasn't been all that long a
history, yet these young officers-to-be didn't seem conscious of those earlier
periods.  They did seem interested, however - the discussions we had at the
table, and their questioning, were lively.

As just one example, they had no idea of the pioneering efforts of Dean
McDermott to establish a Majors Program at USAFA and to have it accredited
from the start. I found myself explaining how service academies had for
100-200 years had a single course of study, that McDermott had changed that
fact forever, how West Point and Annapolis had followed the lead of the
“upstart” USAFA and McDermott by installing majors themselves, how we RTB’s
had scored, as Thirdclassmen, above Harvard's seniors on the GRE's because of
McDermott’s push to put USAFA on the map academically, and how the amazing
diversity of academic majors available today to the Class of ‘98 wouldn’t, in
all liklihood be anywhere near as great had McDermott not been the Dean in the
early  years and done what he did.

A second, similar discussion revolved around the difference in class size and
makeup between ‘62 and ‘98.  The cadets appeared to realize for the first time
that evening that we were all male, were all pilot-qualified at entry, that we
pretty much all wanted to be one thing after we graduated, that we were fewer
than 300 at graduation, and, most significant to class spirit, all of us knew,
or at least recognized by face and name, each of the rest of our entire class.
They can’t do or be any of that, of course.  And the largest group members of
the current classes can know individually appears to be their Squadron; we had
some interesting discussions on how that affects class spirit.  Again, the ‘98
Cadets were unaware, but seemed genuinely interested in, how our Cadet
experience was so markedly different from theirs.

The Academy is a lot different today, of course, as it must be, and those of
you who have been back regularly have seen that evolution first-hand.  But the
cadets I spoke with that night seemed unexposed to the changes that have
occurred and had very little grasp of what the Academy’s beginnings and the
early Cadet experience were like. They were only conscious of what the Academy
is now. I think that is unfortunate and that it could be fixed.