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Legacy Class

We are now the Legacy Class for the Class of 2018 since fifty-years separate us. As the Legacy Class we will be following the Class of 2018 cadets as they progress over the next four years. As '68 graduates, we are invited to return to the Academy, sit with our old squadrons in Mitchell Hall, and watch as the members of the Class of 2018 celebrate their milestones. There will be several opportunities for us to interact with 2018 over the next four years. Click here for the schedule and more information. Legacy event reports and pictures will be posted on this page as they occur. Garry Dudley graciously stepped-up to be our Legacy Class point of contact - thanks Garry.

Classmates! Commissioning for the Class of 2018 is 22 May!

Attached you will find a excel spreadsheet in PDF format.

The cadet/AOC/AMT contact information columns on the left side will be filled in by the OIC/POC of commissioning. I have made contact with him; Mal Haedge.

Your job is to do several things starting with:

1. Send me an email or call me [email preferred] with your requests for speaking, commissioning, and or attending a particular squadron. I will enter you into the spreadsheet of which I am in control!

2. Send me hints if you have input to these instructions that will make it easier for others to understand.

As you can see, some of the spots are already filled in. Please let me know your next choices should your primary be already filled.

Once I have collected all of the choices, WE will attempt to de-conflict so that one may be able to speak at one event, attend for another for commissioning and or attend one in support of someone special.

I do not yet know if there will be two or three “shifts” which will really impact the ability to work miracles.

We will need speakers for all squadrons and speakers for the Aug and Dec graduations!

Assistance offered

Our class speech writer [Bill Eckert] will be drafting a couple of speeches for you to use, partially use or ignore completely. He is also providing fact sheets on our class and the Class of ’18. I will keep you informed as we gain more information that might impact the schedule.

As you know, the Legacy Committee is providing engraved Lt Bars with a ’68 “Card of Congratulations” for you to present to each graduate in the squadron in which you are the speaker. The Bars will be delivered to the ceremony by the Squadrons.

Please call if you have questions. (303) 520-6468.

On behalf of your Legacy Committee


Garry W. Dudley
USAFA Class of ‘68

Click here for the attachment.

Fellow Classmates,

The Acceptance Day Parade for the Class of 2018 went very well. The "doolies" were happy to be finished with basic training and excited to be a part of the cadet wing and wearing shoulder boards. Thanks to all of you who supported this event directly and indirectly.

We welcomed Bill with a no notice party at the VIP quarters at the Rampart Lodge Monday evening. We appreciate the wives that made time to join us. The pizza, beer, soda and water go great with friends - especially when they are classmates also.

Tuesday morning, Bill Begert addressed the entire cadet wing and academy leadership to deliver a superb speech that addressed the class of '68 as well as the class of 2018. History, circumstances, and personal commitment to the core values were all tied together in a short address! Well Done, Bill.

Contrails were delivered to one recognized basic for each summer squadron as listed below:

Aggressors (CS1 - CS5)              Carl Janssen
Barbarians (CS6 - CS10)             Garry Dudley
Cobras (CS11 - CS15)                Bill Eckert
Demons (CS16 - CS20)               Bill Crimmel
Executioners (CS21 - CS25)           Bill Maywhort
Flying Tigers (CS26 - CS30)           Bill Wood
Guts (CS31 - CS35)                       Dan Hites
Hellcats (CS36 - CS40)                  Al Blumberg

Thanks to the additional classmates who served as backup and members showing the colors in the stands! (The official 45 Reunion Hats) Chuck Jones, Bruce Buono, Ken Swanger, Doc Holaday and Vince Rusinak.

Tina Dudley, Wendy Hites, Sue Eckert and Bea Crimmel were also with us!

Again, thanks to all; '68 did proud today.

Click on thumbnails for larger images
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Thanks to Tina Dudley for the many photos!


During the summer of 2014, I floated the idea among my doolie squadron classmates (24th Squadron) about having some type of involvement with the class of 2018 recognition as part of our legacy class activities. Everybody was in full support. The rationale behind this was that we felt recognition was one of the major milestones of "cadethood" and should be on the list of legacy events along with the existing ones such as the Acceptance Day parade. But recognition is very squadron specific so we wanted to have the direct linkage between the doolies of 1968 and 2018. It was our doolie squadron experiences that set the stage for the rest of our cadet experiences. Garry Dudley, our class Senator, was extremely helpful in pointing us in the right direction and Megan Nash of the AOG helped in some of the coordination. We decided to try this on a single squadron basis to see how it worked rather than trying to scale it to the entire Wing. Obviously, a problem crops up in that there are more squadrons now than when we were there. Subsequently, we contacted the 24th Squadron AOC who thought the idea was great, but needed to make sure the Comm bought off on it which he did. We worked with him and the C1C Training Officer who was in charge of recognition.

Click to enlargeBesides our presence at recognition, we commissioned a commemorative coin to give to each 4th classman in CS24. There were six of us who were able to attend, but many others wanted to but for various reasons could not. The attendees were Bert Bauer, Bruce Buono, George Kramer, Rich Moran, Neal Starkey, and Don Sutton.

Pat has included a followup message I sent to my CS24 doolie classmates as well as the more scripted comments. This was a very direct interaction with 20 some members of the class of 2018 (also the upper classes in 24th squadron) and I think they liked it. We tried to tie our history with their future and hopefully we made an impact. It was fun for all of us in attendance.

Don Sutton

Click to enlarge
Recognition is over. Turned out to be a beautiful day at the Academy. I think the 6 of us (Bert Bauer, Bruce Buono, George Kramer, Rich Moran, Neal Starkey, and yours truly) who were able to attend had a great time with the cadets. Besides that we had a great time reconnecting and having a little quality time together.

The challenge coins came out great. I will get yours sent off in the near future.

We actually stood behind the squadron during the retreat ceremony and then made our way to the SAR while the cadets showered and got into alphas (the retreat was done in fatigues after their march back from the rock). Click to enlargeThe actual pin on ceremony was conducted in private with the 4th classman and we were not involved with that aspect of the event. Each one of them walked by us on the way to the SAR after being officially recognized by their squadron mates. After all were recognized, there was a gathering in the SAR. The way we handled things in the SAR was that I gave some prepared comments and then everybody else spoke for a bit. We then presented each 4th classman with a coin. The entire squadron was present when we did this.

Click to enlargeWe then had dinner with the squadron at Mitchell Hall - I thought the main course would be steak and it was. I don't think any of us thought dinner was close to as good as the place we went on Friday night - Marigolds. It is Sharon Starkeys' favorite restaurant and I can see why. Sharon and Kathy Bauer joined us for dinner on Friday night as well as Garry (our class Senator) and Tina Dudley. The AOC (LTC Cook) thought everything went well and that the entire squadron really appreciated us taking part in the event.

I am enclosing a word doc with my prepared comments ( I may have deviated slightly from the script, but wanted to get these points across), a pic from the retreat (Bruce took this), as well as a pic with the class of 2018. I will have some more later on.

Bruce, Neal, Rich, George, Bert - Thanks for being there - Please share your thoughts with the rest of the squadron.

Best - Don

Recognition Comments - March 14, 2015

The 6 people in front of you are representing your legacy class of 1968 and even more specifically we started our cadet careers in 24th squadron.

50 years separates our time at USAFA with yours. In May of 1965, we along with 32 others in CS24 were recognized.

We were given our prop and wings just as you have been today. What led up to this day are the many training events and exercises we collectively experienced during our first nine months at the Academy.

While our experiences are different than yours, the key thing that binds our two classes together are the challenges we overcame to be in this position. We were tested over and over again both individually and as a group and we persevered.

The policy at the academy at the time was to split our class up after our 3rd class year so we didn't (with a few exceptions) have any of our doolie squadron classmates in our graduating squadron.

But over the years and the many reunions we have been to, we consistently get back together to reminisce about our experiences as Doolies in CS24. That bond has lasted 50 years and brings us here today.

We feel that one of the most significant milestones of being a cadet is recognition. It is a change both symbolically and real.

It is real because you will immediately notice a change in the way you are treated. You passed the test that everybody in the upper classes has passed. They are proud of you as you should be proud of yourselves. It is symbolic in that you have been given your prop and wings to wear proudly on your uniform. It represents the history of the Air Force and all those who have served before you and also the future with you as potential leaders in the Air Force and private sector.

While we may look a little older than those you are accustomed to seeing around the academy, let me assure you that we feel like our academy days were very recent. But obviously a lot has changed. Can you imagine taking a math or engineering exam without the use of a calculator. No CDs, no DVDs, laptops or cell phones and heaven forbid, no internet. Nobody had been to the moon. We were fighting a war in Vietnam.

Our class has a rich history and what we have accomplished is a direct result of what we learned here in CS24 during that doolie year.

• 38 of us finished the first year in 24th squadron
• 34 actually graduated in 1968- 87% well above the average (62% for the class)
         o Many would have liked to have been here today and enthusiastically supported this effort
         o They want to see pictures and hear all about this and give you their best
• 1 was an All American in Football and another in Fencing
• 22 went on to pilot or navigator training
• Most of us served combat tours in one capacity or another
• 5 have died since graduation (2 on active duty) - our friends
         o  Byron Burnett
         o  Tad Draper
         o  Bill Gregory
         o  Don Harrington
         o  Dale Stephens
• 20 retired from the active duty Air Force, the Reserves, or the ANG
• Two were BGs and 5 O-6s.
• One became an Air Force chaplain
• Multiple advanced degrees including at least 2 PHDs and 1 MD
• Members of the class were awarded 1 Silver Star, 15 DFCs, over 100 Air Medals, and 28 MSMs - plus a few others)
• We (CS24) marched in President Lyndon B. Johnson's inaugural parade in Jan 1965 because of the squadron's standing in the wing
• Manny Bettencourt's step father was in the class of 1918 at West Point (a 100 year connection with the USAFA class of 2018).
• Manny co-authored a significant document on Intelligence for Central Command - post Desert Storm
• One witnessed the Apollo 17 liftoff (the last lunar mission) why flying Launch Abort Recovery
• In June 1972, a 24th squadron graduate from the class of 1967 was shot down over North Vietnam. He was rescued by a class of 1968 24th squadron doolie - pretty ironic
• Several members had commercial aviation careers
• Dean Kocian was at the leading edge of development and introduction of helmet cueing and night vision systems for the F-15 and was a winner of the very prestigious "Harold Brown Award" for technical excellence.
• There are many other tidbits of history that could be shared
• We were all leaders in and out of the Air Force

We have been lucky to have witnessed and/or participated in some amazing events in Air Force and US history.
We don't have any crystal balls as to what is going to happen over the next 50 years. What we do know is that you, whether it is through the Air Force or the private sector are going to be involved in that change. I think it comes with the DNA of anybody who had the desire to go the USAFA in the first place.

You want to see things happen, you want to lead others, you want to make a difference. You have proven that you have the physical and mental capacity to grow into the kind of leader that this country needs to compete in a global economy. You will be the ones who ensure that our country stays strong both economically and militarily. We are confident that you will stand tall in the future with integrity and character. And we stand ready to be a sounding board for you whether it be questions about the Academy or your career. Collectively, we have a lot of experience in a lot of different areas.

So on behalf of all of my classmates from the 24th squadron doolie class of 1968, we congratulate you on this significant milestone in your Academy life.

We encourage you to work hard, have some fun doing it, and continue your preparation to be leaders of the future.
I'm pretty sure we won't be around 50 years from now when you are back here talking to the class of 2068, but I'm sure you are going to provide those 4th classmen with a great legacy.
                                                                          Click here for a MS Word copy

Fellow Phantoms (and Watusi - not used anymore)! It was a fun time for the dirty half-dozen to represent CS 24 Legacy Class at the AFA. No football game to watch but we did get to “trail” the conquering Doolies as they marched back from the rock. Don did an amazing job pushing through the plan to be the only squadron to add the Recognition piece to Legacy events. It may spread from here, but that depends on making the objective of this event (as well as the others) truly relevant.

Although we all “shot from the hip” on our brief remarks (except for our organized leader), our messages were good. The question will be, was the message received? There was some good interchange with the cadets following our presentation of the challenge coins where several cadets came up to get more info or ask questions of us, but no real “sit down” time to give all a fair shot. I had several good discussions at dinner and as several of you know, the Sponsor program handled by grads in the local area is a real success. They had trouble imagining what Doolie year was like with no privileges at all (like an ac pro guy like me).
It was a kick to form up behind the CS 24 guidon as the soon to be recognized fourth classmen joined the squadron formation. Good thing we didn’t have to march off: “Mr Kramer get your chin in, Mr Buono, you are bouncing!”

I was impressed by the ingenuity and creativity of the training classes to add some “realistic” scenario rooms and events during the 2 1/2 days of Hell Week. The cadets were exposed to some mental stress with gun fire and “poetry” and saw several moulage scenes to demonstrate wounded or tortured classmates.

Don has offered some thoughts on how to tie the Legacy Class members to the cadets to help share experiences or mentor or tell old guy stories. I’m sure other ideas would help.

Ex-dumbsquat, Bruce

Class of 2018 Commitment Dinner

Commitment Dinner – Sit and dine with the Class of 2018 as they celebrate making a commitment to the Air Force

•10 August 2016 – a Wednesday

• UOD: cadets are in Service Dress, ’68 grads in business attire

• Grads Only (no spouses/guests)

•Transportation to and from Mitchell Hall will be arranged from Doolittle Hall

• One class representative gives very short welcoming/congratulatory remarks (2-3 minutes) – Carl Janssen has volunteered

• Cost: TBD

From: MJ Kellenbence []
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2016 8:30 AM
Subject: Commitment Dinner

I also wanted to say registration for the event is open Here is the AOG link for registration:

This link will be on the USAFA homepage under alumni events. I also requested an email blast to all members of the class of 1968. Both available next Tuesday.

MJ Kellenbence ‘80
Graduate Programs
Association of Graduates
3116 Academy Drive
USAF Academy CO 80840-4475
(719) 472-0300, Ext 139 DSN: 333-2073
(719) 333-4194 – Fax DSN: 333-4194


I had the pleasure and honor to participate in the commissioning ceremonies of two squadrons this past week at USAFA. The ceremonies are very formal with the attire being mess dress if you can fit into it (not me). They are done on a squadron by squadron basis the day before graduation and are ceremonial in that they take their official oath of office at graduation with the Comm reading the oath. The can choose who reads them the oath but the who is limited so not just anybody can do it. Their families then pin on 2Lt shoulder boards and they have a first salute from a chosen enlisted airman. Some of these were family members but often it was the enlisted person assigned as a training NCO in each squadron. As a legacy class, we had a set of 2Lt bars with some words of encouragement on the package which was presented by the legacy class member. We had a legacy class member assigned to each squadron whose primary responsibilities included a short talk and the presentation of the 2Lt bars.

Garry Dudley orchestrated the assignments. Neal also was one of the speakers. Some of us spoke at 2 events and others only one. There were other legacy class ceremonies that Ed Eberhart, Phil Pignataro, and Carl McPherson participated in. For my part, I spoke at the commissioning ceremonies for 24th and 32nd squadrons. Obviously, participating in the 24th squadron ceremony was great. Bill Eckert provided us with some example bullets with three different themes. We could use any, all, or none of them. I chose to use parts of them, but added some thoughts of my own.

One of the things I did at the beginning of my talk was to pull out my moth eaten 24th squadron sweatshirt. I told them that I had no idea how it ever fit me, but I could never throw it away. It just meant too much to me. The audience loved that. The gist of what I told them was that we were pretty much immediately immersed in a "fly and fight" environment and our classmates were recognized for their warrior spirit with a number of combat related awards and decoration, but that also came with a price in that we had 4 classmates who were POWs and 11 classmates who were killed in action. But over these past 50 years, our classmates have accomplished a lot whether it be in the military or civilian life and noted a few things. I then switched to them as about to be commissioned officers and noted that the only thing that mattered now was how good an officer they were going to be. Their education at USAFA was only relevant to how well they performed. I acknowledged their motto of "Fight to Win" and said they have been preparing for 4 years to put that motto to use and starting on May 23rd they will get their chance. Toward the end, I pointed out that we have no crystal balls as to what is going to happen in the future, but that they will be part of that change and they should be part of it with integrity and character. No doubt when they speak to the class of 2068, there will be some significant accomplishments for which they will be proud and we have no clue as to what they will be at this point.

I think my remarks were well received. The Comm was at one ceremony and she specifically thanked me but there were others also.

It was actually kind of emotional. It was the first graduation I had been to since ours and I think this group of graduates is just as motivated as we were to start our Air Force careers and see wherever it led us. Secretary Mattis gave a great, non political speech at graduation and shook all 984 graduates hands. You just couldn't help but be proud of our alma mater and always fun to see the Thunderbirds.

At one of the functions I attended, I had the opportunity to chat with the OIC of the cyber security program. He is an O-6 and really sharp. One of the things he told me was that he was going to ensure that future cadets could easily see what our class has done for the cyber security class gift. Not sure exactly what that means, but did get the impression that it was going to be very visible. I know enough money has been raised to support the endowed gift. Neal has sent you info, but there should have been somebody from your graduating squadron contacting you directly. If not, let Neal or I know and we can talk to you about the project.

As we close out this Memorial Day almost 50 years after our graduation, keep in mind Byron Burnett, Bill Gregory, Don Harrington, Tad Draper, Ralph Ross, and Dale Stephens for their sacrifice.

Hope all is well with everybody and look forward to seeing you in Oct.

Best - Don

We started the Legacy committee just over 4 years ago! The Class of ’68 was present for duty for all of the Legacy official events and more! The Legacy committee members are: Garry Dudley, Bill Eckert, Gary Hoffman, Carl Janssen, Mike Parkinson and added later, Don Sutton.

The official Legacy events . . .

Acceptance Parade

Exemplar Dinner

Commitment Dinner

Ring Dining-Out

100th Night

Commissioning ceremonies and the presentation of engraved 2nd Lt Bars

In addition, ’68 was there for summer honor training, for I-Day at the COS Airport & Doolittle Hall, Cadet Wing/CC Tapping Ceremonies and Awards Presentations, Saber Presentations, some Recognition Events, Flag Placements, etc. All of these items were managed by other individuals! (You would recognize those names as they are in this crowd as well!)

The culmination of the Legacy Events was the Commissioning Ceremonies. A special thanks to the folks who worked hard on the preparation for the iconic event . . .

Procuring the Correct Number of Engraved 2nd Lt bars – Dale Oderman

Fund raising for Lt Bars – Carl Janssen

Optional/sample Commissioning Speeches and guidelines – Bill Eckert

Card Insert to go with the Engraved Bars – Bill Eckert

Scheduling a Speaker at each Squadron Commissioning Ceremony at all Varied Locations – Garry

Standardized resumes to each AOC and Sq. Rep – Gary Vasek

The most visible part of the event – Speakers and Standby Speakers! We had two classmates who traveled from Bolder and Denver to serve as standbys! THANK YOU!

Our speakers and standby folks: Gary Vasek, Phil Pignataro, Geo Roberts, Neal Starkey, Chuck Jones, Garry Dudley, Dale Oderman, Ed Leonard, Carl McPherson, Mike Nash, Chuck Stockton, Rock Buraglio, Don Sutton, Ed Eberhart, Ben Stevens, Bill Eckert, Rhip Worrell, Alan Price, Bill Crimmel, Tom McCloy, Bob Denny, Al Blumberg, Gary Hoffman, Jim Terry, Tom Harkness, Jim West, Carl Janssen, Frank Palermo, & Howard Towt – THANK YOU!

A special thanks to the speakers who represented us so well. Thanks to the locals who are always there and never say “no”. A special thanks to those who traveled from out of town and out of state to participate.

I appreciate the kinds words passed to me by many of you recently. I am humbled and honored as classmate praise is about as good as it gets!

Three final comments:

Most rewarding was hearing from those of you who were moved by your participation.

I heard many positive comments from various folks, cadets, parents, and people I have mingled with these past three days . . .

My Classmates are the best! Your support and willingness to take on any task when asked is appreciated beyond words, but here is an attempt!

’68 – We’re STILL GREAT!


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