Tim's March 2015 Checkpoints Class News Article

HELLO '68!! Echoes of "Slash 'em with a beak! Rip 'em with a claw!" are still ringing in my ears following a fabulous football season for our Falcons. Mucho congrats to our team and coaches!!

Marking it as the first error ever made by our Checkpoints Editor, a caption under a photo in the Class of '67's column was mistakenly pasted under the photo of our Legacy Class Acceptance Parade participants. With apologies to all, here is the photo, again, with the correct caption.

“‘68ers at Class of 2018 Acceptance Parade.” L-R: Front Row and Contrails Presenters: Al Blumberg, Dan Hites, Bill Wood, Bill Maywhort, Bill Crimmel, Bill Eckert, Garry Dudley, and Carl Janssen. Back Row: Ken Swanger, Doc Holaday, Chuck Jones, Bruce Buono, and Vince Rusinak. Not pictured: Bill Begert”

With superior organization, hospitality, coordination, and communication skills, Jim and Candy Lozito served as host and hostess for Reese AFB's Class of 70-01's 45-Year reunion from 18-21 September. Lodging was at the legendary Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town. After months of planning, the reunion dates and the effects of a Category 4 Hurricane Odile appeared to be on a collision course. With Albuquerque weather forecasts calling for an 80% to 90% chance of rain, the Land of Enchantment lived up to its name and in lieu of forecasted wind and rain we had ample supplies of blue skies, sunshine, and white, puffy clouds. The itinerary consisted of visits to the: New Mexico Veterans Memorial; 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB; International Balloon Museum; tram ride up Sandia Mountain; and sightseeing around Old Santa Fe. A coat and tie banquet followed these activities on the evening of 20 September where classmates and instructor pilots said a few words about what they had been doing for the past few decades. As is the case with our USAFA reunions, the conversations were non-stop and the time seemed to fly by in a nanosecond. The next gathering for 70-01 is being planned for the third weekend in September 2016 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

"70-01 Muster in Albuquerque" L-R: Kneeling: Howell White, Ed Welliver, Scribe, Jim Kitchen, and Rhip Worrell; Standing: 1st Row: Hank Irwin, Tony Eden, J Ferron, Tom Olsen, Fred Bradley, Jim Lozito, Dana Drenkowski, Marty Cole, Andy Ferris, and Morry Morrison; 2nd Row: Bob Lutter, George Hoffman, Sully Sullivan, Ed Ashman, Dick Davidson, Brian O'Hara, Charlie Holland, Bill Drennan, Bill Gauntt, Geo Roberts, Ed Stadjuhar, and Bob Daley.

Steve McPhail organized a 45-year reunion for Randolph AFB UPT Class of 70-02 in San Antonio, Texas from 17-20 October. Thirty-three classmates and spouses enjoyed a fabulous four-day reunion at the Omni La Mansion del Rio Hotel on the San Antonio River Walk. Those '68 grads and spouses attending were: Bill and Jody Begert, John Carson, Denny Chrismer, Rick Colt, Mike and Linda Cryer, Garry and Tina Dudley, Gary and Dotty Hall, Hal and Kathi Higley, Pat and Nancy Hurley, Bob and Sonya Macaluso and Judi and Steve McPhail.

Thursday night featured dinner at a friend's house. Friday morning, eleven of the class played golf at the Brackenridge Public course and were joined by Steve Polk to make up three foursomes. The non-golfers took a trolley tour of the San Antonio missions. In the afternoon, the group chartered a bus to Randolph AFB where all the pilots had attended UPT. They were hosted by the current commander of AETC, General Robin Rand--a protégé of Bill Begert. Because of Bill's connections, the group was treated to a first class tour of Randolph Air Force Base starting with a briefing by General Rand, followed by static displays, technology demonstrations of the T-38C, a tour of the POW mini-museum, and concluded with rehydration at the Auger Inn. Saturday, the group drove to the Hill Country and visited a couple of vineyards for some wine tastings interspersed with a German buffet in Comfort, Texas. Then it was back to the hotel for a riverboat cruise terminating at the Casa Rio Mexican Restaurant for a sit down dinner and slide show. Sunday morning coffee and rolls were served in the class suite and then farewells. As Steve and Garry tell it, "All in all, it was a most excellent reunion!"

"70-02 Gathering in San Antonio." L-R: Kneeling: Hal Higley, Knox Bishop, and Larry Warren; Middle Row: Chief Tapia, Lt Col Joel Deboer, Carm Auwater, Gary Hall, Per Hanssen, Denny Chrismer, Rick Colt, Pat Hurley, Bob Macaluso, Mike Cryer, Bill Begert, Garry Dudley, Gen Rand, and Bill Gallogly; On Top by Canopy: Jim Baird, Steve McPhail, and John Hoffman

Employing a search of e-mail addresses for classmates who were in Cougar Flight with me during Basic Summer, I was delighted with responses from several who were off my radar screen for decades. The first note and Christmas letter were from Larry Maahs. Larry and his wife, Jan, have three children, Jim, Joanne, and Julie. After seven years living in Tampa, Larry and Jan pulled up stakes in 2014 and now reside on a one-acre lot with a fishing lake in the back in Anamosa, Iowa. Their e-mail address is: lmjm35@yahoo.com.

The second update came from Ron Jackson, who wrote "We're doing fine. I lost a leg to a very serious infection a few years ago, but I survived against all odds, and am currently hobbling along. Last year, I was at our church and they announced some visitors and somebody's brother-in-law turned out to be my old roommate Gary Vasek. Talk about small worlds. He hasn't changed a bit, but has a lovely wife who obviously keeps him in line." If you would like to get in touch with Ron, his e-mail address is: rnj5742@aol.com.
The third note came from Richard Vihel. Richard sent Season's Greetings and word that he was back in Flagstaff after retiring and flailing around the world for a while. He claims that he doesn't know what the next chapter will be, but he is healthy and ready for whatever presents itself. Richard's e-mail address is: rvihel@yahoo.com.

More news from my holiday correspondence will appear in future columns. Thanks to all of you out there in "Checkpoints Land" for keeping me in the loop.

Our classmate Jim Hix passed away on November 4, 2014 at his home in Pensacola, Florida. He served in Vietnam for two tours as a Forward Air Control O-1 Bird Dog pilot over Laos with the Ravens group. He was shot down and injured behind enemy lines twice. Air America pilots rescued him each time. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. Please keep Jim's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

Mind the flak; keep 'em flying, and keep those cards, letters, e-mails, and photos coming in to Pat Russell and me. Ciao for now. Tim

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