Well, the big 40 has thundered past us. What a great reunion! We had several classmates attend who had never been to a reunion but now vow never to miss another one. There were approximately 115 of the Original RTBs present. I could remember almost all of their names, especially when I sneaked a peek at their nametags. Caroline and I got to the Wyndham Hotel a few days early to enjoy some casual tourist activities. On Wednesday, we went into the mountains and stopped by Green Mountains Falls to see the Community Center that was the locale for several Fightiní Fourth squadron functions. I did my first and probably my last square dancing there. We headed up to the Continental Divide and were going to go to Cripple Creek but the temperature dropped quickly and snow clouds started coming in. So we headed back to the hotel and I missed the initial registration period on Wednesday.
The casual No-Host Social that evening was devoted to renewing friendships and catching up on the past five years. The accompanying picture shows five Redtags greeting each other at the front desk on Wednesday. The fifth Redtag in the picture is Kent Lammers who, with his wife, Pat, was killed in a car accident near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on December 7.
Picture #2 shows Nils and Nancy Ohman enjoying the Southwestern dinner with Pat Lammers. Our prayers and condolences go out to the surviving Lammersí family members. They contributed to the class in many ways and helped with several projects at the 40th Reunion. We will miss you, Kent and Pat.
I didnít make the Pikes Peak Cog Railway trip on Thursday morning. But Willie & Nancy Gray reported that the cars were not heated. It wasnít too bad at lower altitudes but as the train got higher, the clouds got denser and the temperature got colder. They said they watched the other passengers turn blue on the way up. While that was going on we registered that morning. The members of the AOG who helped with so much of the paperwork and planning did a great job. They were so pleasant for those hours of standing at the Registration Table. We picked up the Reunion merchandise at the first opportunity. That was quality stuff. I wear my jacket and baseball cap every chance I get.
What a rousing Thursday night we had at the Flying W Ranch. We had the entire place to ourselves. The steaks were good and the band played some great music and had some very funny routines. There was a little herd of deer by the front entrance and some wild turkeys running around inside. The merriment continued at the Wyndham until the wee hours of the eveningÖlike 9:30 PM, which was our Class bedtime. I take pills from Yugoslavia to stave off Alzheimers.. forgot where I put them. Woke up in bed with some strange lady. Found out at breakfast that she was my wife. Great gal. Glad I married her.
On Friday, some brave souls played golf. Tuck McAtee was reputed to have said "I deny any allegations by Ralph Spory that I hit an eagle, a birdie, a deer and a bear." There was a rumor that Jon Staples said that Dave Whitman couldnít keep his ball on the fairway. "He would have a tan like mine if he didnít spend so much time in the trees." While that was going on, Rip and Jean Blaisdell were guiding brave souls on a walking tour of the Garden of the Gods
Some of us went out to the Academy to have lunch with the cadets. While we wandered around, we talked to some of the Diggers and Fillers, who, coincidentally, were celebrating their 40th Reunion also. See accompanying picture with Judy & Deke Dinsmore and Caroline Jamba in front of the Diggers & Fillers Reunion Display.
Lunch with the cadets was a real treat. Caroline and I sat with a 5th Squadron table because they didnít have a 5th squadron Redtag available at lunch. During lunch, we were told that there would be an Honor Code informal feedback session with the Honor Rep immediately after the meal. Well, I assumed that the change in plans applied to all squadrons, so I went to the 5th Squadron gathering. It was quite interesting to hear some of the comments from the younger cadets. Anyway, I missed the Fightiní Fourth squadron gathering to which Owen and Connie Hawkins went. They had a ball.
Then we attended the State of the AOG slide show by Jim Shaw, AOG Pres. and CEO, in one of the Fairchild Hall auditoriums. That was followed by presentations by the Academy senior officers on the State of the Wing. One of the presentations focused on the recent cadet scandal and reinforcement of the Honor Code. The other issues included athletics, academics, leadership and character building. I felt that the wing was in good hands and there were going to be some enhancements coming. Immediately afterwards, we went to the chapel for the Memorial Ceremony.
The Memorial Ceremony brought an emotional high to the group. Tim Gilmartin provided a solemn welcome to the class, followed by the Invocation by Brad Van Sant. After the Chorale sang "America the Beautiful," Mike Butchko delivered the homily, recalling some of the humorous episodes in our cadet days as well as some of the solemn ones. Tim had the tough task of doing the Roll Call. The Roll Call always creates deep-down stirrings of memories of strong friendships that never died. And to hear a cadet in the rear of the chapel respond with "Absent, Sir" at the sound of the next name on the list, elicits a stifled sob for classmates whose memories are forever etched in our hearts and minds. After a Moment of Silence, we listened to the mournful tones of "Taps" and then "Lord Guard and Guide the Men Who Fly." Bob McNaughton delivered the benediction to signal the ceremony was almost ended. The Cadet Chorale sung "High Flight" and we listened to a Postlude as we exited.
Once again we lined up on the chapel steps to have our class picture taken. We had to wait for the Class of Ď77 to get off the chapel steps. What a gaggle! Classmates with little or no hair had to wear hats or step to the rear to prevent camera damage. Classmates with a rotund appearance were positioning themselves behind taller ones. Others with lots of head hair or good hair transplants were jockeying for places in front. I figured that my round shape and thin hair would stand out in front. So thatís where youíll find me. I was sure that if I rubbed Dick Mangoldís shiney head, a Two-Star Genie would fly out and grant me three off-base privileges.
Caroline went back to the hotel and I headed to the Field House to see some exhibition boxing matches between USAFA and Navy. I almost got lost in that place. And to think they are making it bigger.
Back at the hotel, classmates were still arriving. The banquet started with a happy hour and then a scrumptious dinner. Musical entertainment was provided by "Blue Steel," a part of the Air Force Band of the Rockies. They brought the house down. Then the Entertainment Committee presented an eye-popping audio-visual show that just had us laughing and crying, smiling and remembering how we looked 40 years ago. They showed the Candid Camera Show that focused on us at the Cotton Bowl game. There was a national news reel that had a Redtag representative from every state give name and home state for the public to see. And finally there was the CDROM that was spliced together with newsreels and pictures of our start at Lowry; the march to the new permanent site at C Springs; our progress during the Doolie year; our regression during the Spring Field Trip that helped forge our class name; trips to Europe; athletic and intramural competitions; academic achievements; leadership accomplishments; POWs; names of those Killed or Missing in Action; and other highlights. Every classmate got a copy of the CDROM in the mail. I felt so very proud to be a Redtag after that show.
After some dancing to the "Gentle Rain Band" and more conversing, people started to head for bed. Some of us managed to stay up past 11.
Saturday morning found us heading for the Redtag Tailgate location to enjoy that hearty breakfast near the stadium. When we got there, Randy & Lieu Schamberger were there as was Jim Mack. Jim found out that the food caterer came out the previous night to discover that the Denver tent vendor put the tent in the wrong place about half a mile away. During the night, the caterer and his Dad moved the tent to the right location. When we got there, the tent was up and the crew was in the middle of placing tables and chairs. Then they started cooking the food. Of course, most of the class had no idea about this slight glitch in the plans. The food was well prepared and tasted great. Classmates were still arriving during the meal. The accompanying picture shows Bob Staib getting a chance to have some breakfast with Jerry & Freddie Smith and Chuck Turner.
From the breakfast, we trudged across the street and up the hill to our seats on the west side of the stadium. There was lots going on; flybys of Air Force planes, cadet activities on the field, the Cadet Wing march-on, cheers and announcements about our reunion. Most of us had something Red to wear. The accompanying picture shows Bob and Susan Lightsey seated at the stadium with Peggy Peck behind them. Peggy died a few weeks later from the cancer she had been fighting for so long. Gail and Peggy drove to the reunion from Las Vegas because the weather was too bad to fly in Gailís plane. It was nice to see her one more time. She was a courageous lady.
The victory over Navy was overwhelming. It was an enjoyable afternoon. Afterwards, I headed off to the gift shop to buy some things for the grand kids. Then back to the hotel and the Southwestern Buffet dinner.
Owen Hawkins had procured a huge copy of our Doolie-year class photo and had it hanging at the front of the banquet room. Some classmates couldnít pick themselves out of the crowd. Talk about Alzheimers. A couple of months before the reunion, Tom Rausch had taken orders for special commemorative coins that he distributed at the dinner to those who ordered any. Bob Staib came, also. It had only been a few weeks since his wife, Marianne, had passed away. It was great to see Bob at the reunion.
We had an open mike again and heard some interesting and funny reminiscences. Of course, Bo Daugherty sang "Danny Boy" for us again. Bobby Gibson got up and spoke to us in his Marine tongue. I thought he was asking us to raise our beer glasses for a toast but he was warning us to protect our ***** from the bears in the parking lot. It seems that the drought had driven the wildlife, including, deer, bear and mountain lion down out of the mountains to forage for food on the outskirts of the city. So the hotel was carrying people to their cars using the hotel van to avoid three teenage bears while the mother bear cavorted in the swimming pool out back. Many of us stayed around the bar until after midnight, sipping Perrier with Motrin or Celebrex.
On Sunday morning there was a continental breakfast and more catching up. There just doesnít seem to be enough time in three days for a reunion. We said our goodbyes and hoped to see everyone soon. Iím looking forward to the 50th.
I also got some input from other classmates. Kirk & Rosemary Vaughan are still in Muscat, Oman, where Kirk is teaching at the university. They traveled to the Maldive Islands, Kenya, Italy, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other places. They have moved into a more spacious house and are still enjoying the tour.
Mary Jo and Charlie Price are still in Atlanta. He has oversight of 9 Trus Joist/Weyerhauser plants across the eastern US and Canada. They just finished their basement and Charlie is reputed to have a real home theater with real theater style seats and an HDTV. They have enjoyed the many cultural and entertainment amenities that Atlanta has to offer.
Also heard from Ted and Marcy Dykes. They didnít send holiday greetings last year because their small town lost 6 people in the 9/11 attacks. They celebrated Marcyís 60th birthday and their 40th wedding anniversary. Ted was in the hospital in March; something about getting older. They traveled to Florida and other places and enjoyed life to the fullest
In light of the academy's approaching 50th anniversary, the Academy is seeking inputs on squadron patches. If any of you know of the creation, history, and significance of squadron patches, please send the information to Duane Reed, Head of Special Collections at the Cadet Library at Duane.Reed@usafa.af.mil.
Hereís a message from Randy Schamberger: "I've only gotten 22 requests for
the reunion video from my e-mail announcements on RTBGen, Announce, and
Blatherers. I suspect there might be others out there that aren't on line. I'm
finishing a 4-hour video. It's being digitally mastered on four 1-hour DVD's
which in turn will be used to produce a 4-hour VHS tape. DVD copies are not
available because it takes about 5 hours per one hour DVD to edit, encode, and
burn. I am charging $20 for the tape, including shipping, on a first come/first
served basis. I hope to do at least 2 videos per day. The video covers all
events except the Flying W Ranch, Pike's Peak tour, and golf tournament.
Send $20 checks made out to: Randall L. Schamberger, 606 St. Anne Cove, Niceville, FL 32578-4028. Questions: Tel: 850-897-2509. e-mail: RSchamberg@aol.com. Have a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.
Bill Haugen sent this:"Each reunion means more to me than the previous one, because with time we increasingly appreciate family and friends. At reunions classmates you casually knew before become friends, and old friends become treasures. Reunions also remind us of our mortality. Some classmates and their spouses have died, so those who remain are precious. Some have health problems; you pray they'll be back in five years. And you hope your name won't be read at the next memorial service."
Here are my concluding remarks. I know many of you have dropped off the Redtag net and many of you were never on it.. Please send me your email address or home phone number so I can communicate with you for important events or situations that arise between Checkpoints issues.. Iíll keep them confidential if you wish.